Activism Made Easier: Move Grassroots Information Out Of Meeting Rooms & Into Public Spheres


the most basic level of an activity or organization.
“the whole campaign would be conducted at the grass roots”
Synonyms: popular, of-the-people, bottom-up, nonhierarchical, rank-and file
“a grassroots movement”

ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership
“you have lost touch with the grass roots of the party”

I received a postcard inviting me to a three hour meeting on a week day night for grassroots action on a county wide issue. A neighbor and I attended for an hour. That first hour was a series of short talks by several people. But presenting the information only at a three hour meeting on a single night eliminated whole groups of possible participants:

Single parents

Second shift workers

People with standing commitments for that night

Limiting the number of people who can participate makes any action less effective. Therefore, anyone who wants to take effective grassroots action needs to do the following:

Make grassroots information easily available.

Make grassroots participation easy.

Make grassroots action a matter of personal choice.

I came right home from the meeting and wrote up the suggestions below.

Some planning is necessary, of course. In 2012, nonviolent strategy icon Srdja Popovic identified three strategies the Occupy movement had to get exactly right:

Clear vision of tomorrow

Clear plan for pursuing that vision

Clear understanding that whatever happens in New York
or Boston or Denver is connected to a larger global
movement that stretches from the alleyways of Cairo to
the beaches of the Maldives

We now know that Occupy did not follow Popovic’s strategies.

Srdja Popovic created nonviolent strategies to bring down Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic resigned in 2000, then died in prison during his trial for war crimes.

Popovic’s strategies were so effective that people from around the world came to him for advice. He set up a website ( and a university course. See the PDF files below for the information he makes free to anyone, including the textbook for the university course.

Popovic has stated that when it comes to ending oppression, fun can overcome fear. Keep that in mind as you read through my suggestions and plan grassroots actions.

Use the idea of fun as an effective strategy for all kinds of change. A neighborhood in Detroit thought up a way to have fun and get the city to pay attention.

Activism Made Easier

Set up a website for one particular community issue with a mailing list option.

Create one page for each topic with a comments section.

Each page has one topic paper with links to more resources, written by a presenter. The topic presenter becomes responsible for responding to comments and keeping this one page up to date.

Each topic paper lists only the high points first, followed by a detailed explanation for each high point. Some people want only high points, other people want all the details. More high point people would participate if you satisfy their need for mostly high points. Too many details frustrate them. I know, because I’m a high point person.

Participants could include links to more information in the comments section, ask questions, and read responses from topic presenters.

Publicize the website on social media. Announce the date and time for a 90 minute meeting. Say the meeting is a project meeting that requires participants to have read the topic papers.

For county or city wide issues, hold meetings in different parts of the county or city.

In each meeting room, have tables set up for each topic, identified by standing signs.

Have name tags and pens at each table.

Upon arriving, every member sits at the topic table that interests them. Shift chairs around if necessary because participants will be most effective working on the topics that matter most to them.

Use the first 10 to 15 minutes for topic presenters to provide last minute updates, then set the groups to work.

Each topic participant can speak only 2 minutes at a time. Everyone gets at least one turn to speak. No one speaks a second time until everyone has spoken once. No one speaks a third time unless people decline their second chance to speak.

Each topic group should discuss:

Ideas for individual and/or group action, including fun actions

Methods for measuring the effectiveness of each action

Topics for further discussion

The last 15 minutes could include one sentence statements about actions each member of each topic group will take.

One participant from each topic group then posts the ideas for action, methods for measurement, and topics for further discussion in the comments section for the topic paper.

People who can’t attend meetings will have all the same information as well as ideas for action to choose from, including fun actions. They can participate through the comments section. Use the mailing list to make announcements.

Srdja Popovic

“The Revolutionist”
Liel Leibovitz
The Atlantic
March 2012, 21-22

Some controversy exists over Popovic’s actions after Wikileaks revelations. He is in Wikileaks because his strategies are effective. Just use them ethically.

“2000: Milosevic quits, street celebrations continue”
On This Day: October 6

“Wikileaks Docs Expose Framed Serbian Activist’s Ties to ‘Shadow CIA'”
Carl Gibson and Steve Horn
In These Times
December 2, 2013

“Without a path from protest to power, the Women’s March will end up like Occupy”
Micah White
The Guardian

January 19, 2017

PDF Files

Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points

CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide To Effective Nonviolent Struggle
(Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies)

Making Oppression Backfire

Detroit Neighborhood

“Sinkhole in Detroit Turned Into Fishing Pond by Residents”
Avianne Tan
ABC News
August 25, 2015

“Urban Detroit fishing hole drained; finned tenants relocated”
Gus Burns
August 25, 2015


Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present.
All rights reserved.

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