mass action handbook
getting your community on the road and into the street

what to expect at convergence

welcome center/convergence. this is your ACTION HEADQUARTERS…a must visit. Stop in to find maps, schedules, important phone numbers, FNB (below) feeding times & locations, housing info, updated announcements, message boards, opportunities to get involved. Trainings (for things like jail solidarity, legal observers, anti-oppression) are usually announced and often held here. There is always a need for volunteers to help staff the Welcome Center—an easy and social way to get involved—answering phones, running errands, doing security. Meet and greet local and out of town activists and help them get plugged in!

When you enter an action's convergence center, be prepared for sensory overload. "Convergence" is often a rented warehouse or similar kind of space. The concrete walls and floors, few if any windows, and high ceilings create a space that probably has really terrible acoustics. Upon entering, you will probably encounter people doing security. They will invite you into the space as long as you are not with the media (except indymedia) or law enforcement but will ask you to leave any knives (including leatherman tools or swiss army knife-like tools), glass, or weapons at the door. This is done for the protection of the collective space and people who are using it: it must be kept free from any materials that could be construed as being collected for use in violent activities. [We had little mud seedballs for a permaculture garden planting "arrested" from the convergence center in Sacramento]. Usually, the mainstream media are only invited into the convergence space at designated times during which they are escorted around by "media handlers" working with the Media Team. While we expect undercover law enforcement to be in the space, cops are not invited in.

Inside, the walls are likely to be covered with what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information, but spending some time reading what is up on the walls will help you get your group plugged in to what's going on. On the papers covering the walls, there are typically updated schedules of events, actions, meetings, trainings, etc. You can also find important information such as phone numbers (like numbers for legal, indymedia, medics); where to find housing if you still need to line something up; where and when meals will be available (usually provided by food not bombs); local area maps; where and when the next spokescouncil will be. An example of important information you won't want to miss: in Miami when there were a few cases of scabies discovered, the Medics posted helpful information about the outbreak, how to treat it, and how to get it diagnosed.

The convergence center is shared space which means that the area is probably divided into different workspaces. Don't be surprised to see puppet or banner art being done in one corner; "know your rights" trainings being done in another; the media analysis team set up in another corner; and an info/welcome desk and phone set up in yet another corner. Then, in the middle of the space, folks tired from traveling or without anywhere else to hang out safely are likely to be napping next to their backpack and sleeping bag.

more tips that may be helpful

  • be prepared for the messiness that accompanies several hundred bodies sharing a small, poorly-ventilated warehouse.

  • dress accordingly: i.e., don't wear your favorite outfit to convergence, especially if you plan to hang out for a while.

  • Some people like to make sure they carry toilet paper for emergencies?sometimes there are continuous TP emergencies in convergence restrooms.

  • think camping, but inside.

  • don't plan to take pictures inside: many people will not appreciate it; always ask first if you are tempted but don't be put off if someone refuses. (see our section on security culture)

  • with scarce resources, the space is multi-purpose so cooking for food not bombs, medics, artists, activists armed with cider-vinegar-soaked bananas, activist dogs may all be in close proximity, sometimes creating unusual aromas.


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Table of Contents

  1. introduction/home page
  2. get ready! what you need to know to make your participation effective
  3. becoming an affinity group & living the world you want to see
  4. putting on a teach-in
  5. outreach is something that everyone does!
  6. trip logistics
  7. legal
  8. media
  9. at home, while the mass action is happening
  10. when you get to protest-town
  11. back home, after the action

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links you need:

international listing of major protests.


Video Activist Network,
Big Noise Films, Whispered Media, Cascadia Media, indymedia videos



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