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

taking it to the next level

introduction/what it means to take it to the next level: going to a mass mobilization offers activists an opportunity to briefly live in the world we want to see. we have democratic spokescouncils, we share jobs, we solve our own problems, we provide for each other, we share skills, we learn skills...we spend those few days in participatory living on a mass level, not solely on a local level.

this handbook was written by activists who have participated in organizing to take nearly 100 different people from our community to 11 different actions for a total of about 120 person-trips. We've made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. coming from a midwestern state has provided ample opportunities to learn how to travel to a mass mobilization. our community has participated in most of the north american mobilizations, from seattle to québec to cancún. sometimes effectively, sometimes walking away understanding that there is much to learn. we feel that we have discovered some things that work. we're hoping our experience can be useful to you.

to give you a sense of where this is coming from, here are some of our values and principles:

  • we operate as democratically as we can figure out how to.
  • we operate as inclusively as we can figure out how to. we are vigilant about avoiding elitism, "security culture", ideological rigidity, and vanguardism.
  • we try to prioritize the "process" (building skills and community) over the "product" (doing it "right") as much as possible. that means we encourage people to take on new tasks as much as possible and we try to be ok with people making mistakes.
  • we have learned that there are some moments in which to temporarily give some people authority or responsibility which means that decisions will not be made democratically (getting up in the morning and sorting people into vehicles are two of those moments).
  • we think it is revolutionary for people to challenge their individualism and learn to work with a group, particularly if that means learning new skills because things need done, learning to confront people rather than avoid them or leave, learning to give voice and to listen, and learning to be accountable to other people.
  • we see mass actions not as a substitute for organizing locally nor as the most important kind of activism. we see them as very useful ruptures of ordinary life in which activists have an opportunity to live the world we want to create, to experience being with other people who are critical and believe in change, and to learn skills and perspectives to enhance local organizing and future activism.

this website is intended as a tool of empowerment for people who are ready to push themselves to new forms of activism. it is focused on traveling to mass mobilizations, but much of the information is extremely helpful in organizing within your own community. the tools that we are trying to pass on come from action planning, workshop training, our own experience, and a lot of discussion about how to bring our theories to live. you will recognize elements from the ruckus society, sierra student coalition, southern empowerment project, black cross, and anarchism in action.

please remember that mass actions should not eclipse local organizing, nor are they the bravest or most effective activism. they provide another way to express your resistance and participate in actions to create a more just world. think of traveling to a mass action as an opportunity to challenge your activism, taking your organizing to another level of commitment, skill, and expression.

is it the last minute already? are you just a few people?: here are just the essentials

information specific to the next major mass action


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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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let us know

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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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