On Friday, I hosted a meeting at my home with 27 people. (No, I do not have a large home. Yes, it was slightly ridiculously crowded.) This was a meeting of the Resistance: individuals who don’t just want to rant on Facebook (although let’s be clear, sometimes that helps, too) but who, for the most part, we’re sure what to do next.
My plan: create a space where they could take CONCRETE, DIRECT ACTION IMMEDIATELY. My goal for the meeting was to harness all of that energy and concern for the world into something tangible. I planned the party before I read about the “huddles” on the Women’s March website, but you can read how to host a huddle here: https://www.womensmarch.com/100/action2 .
How to Host a Resistance Party
Give people about a week’s notice. I used an Evite, but email or a Facebook invitation would have worked just as well. Invite people from a wide cross section of your life: having a variety of ages, professions, and backgrounds will only improve this party, and since you’re going to be busy you don’t need to worry about a crowd that is comfortable chatting up strangers. Mix it up!
Before people arrived, I assembled the following:
- Directories of King County Elected Officials, ranging from the President down to county executives, and everyone in between. My local League of Women Voters office had them available for the cost of postage, but if you don’t have such a publication in your state then you could print out your list of elected officials, HERE on their website. You just enter your zip code, and it tells you who your politicians are.
- Blank postcards for writing officials. I downloaded mine from the Women’s March website and printed them at Vistaprint (they mailed them to my house), but you could buy local postcards from the drugstore, design your own, or whatever suits you. The Women’s March Postcard Template is available HERE.
- Postcard stamps. They’re cheaper than regular stamps, and I think it’s important to provide them for your guests, because otherwise those cards might end up sitting on a desk or in a purse and not get sent.
- Nametags. Especially helpful if you have an eclectic group as I did, where people did not all know one another.
- A written guide that you type up for your guests. Include the following:
- Instructions to program senators’ and representatives numbers into their phones. Provide those names and numbers.
- Instructions for Daily Action.
- Instructions for Planned Parenthood text updates.
- A script for calls and postcards (same script!)
- A single call to action (ours was “No Bannon on the NSC” and I provided the number to Homeland Security to make that call.
- A list of topics to call or write about. Include problem areas (the refugee ban, canceling ACA, Bannon, etc.) but also include thank you notes for senators and other politicians who are making progress – let them know that they should keep up the good work.
- Here is that guide in case you’d like to use it as a template: welcome-to-the-resistance
- Giant post-it posters to put up around the room, with topics on them such as:
- Best Ways to Resist
- Our Top Issues. Add yours!
- Support these organizations!
- Tips for Our Next Meeting
Here are a few photos of our giant post-its taken at the end of the evening: people added some creative ideas.
- LOTS of pens, and Sharpies for adding to the posters, and clip boards if you don’t have enough table space (I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a table for 27). When I ran out of clip boards we used kids’ picture books as a hard surface to write the cards.
- Food and drink. Especially if your guests are not used to politics, it will make them feel comfortable, and give them a chance to relax a bit before you get started.
- Get settled. As guests arrive, set them up with nametags, have them pick up handouts, and direct them to food and drink. Ask them to make their way to the posters to add their ideas before you start. Allow about a half hour for mixing and mingling and late arrivals.
- Begin by polling the room with a show of hands: how many already feel politically engaged? How many are new to this kind of political involvement? Remember those who are already politically active, and keep them involved in leading the discussion! This agenda works best with a group who is primarily new to political action.
- Tell them that by the end of the evening, they will a) know how to be involved in easy, manageable ways; and b) they will already have taken action. IMMEDIATE, DIRECT ACTION!
- Make sure everyone has the handout, and ask everyone to take out their phones. Explain that their senators and representatives work for their vote, and are their direct lines to democracy. DO NOT call senators from other states; focus on your home state. (There are exceptions, but this is the general rule.) HAVE EVERYONE PROGRAM THE NUMBERS INTO THEIR PHONES. Emphasize that this means that when you’re driving and you hear an NPR segment about a cause that you care about, or when you read a news article on Facebook, you can respond IMMEDIATELY with a call to your representatives. No waiting, and you can call frequently.
- Explain what Daily Action is. Have them text Daily Action to receive a daily text with a single call to action.
- Have everyone sign up to stand with Planned Parenthood via text.
7) Give THEM a chance to talk. Go around the room, and ask them to say their name and an issue that they really care about (you can add “and why you care about it” but that can take some time!).
Now you’re really ready to go, and it’s time to practice!
8) Have a single phone call planned with a call to action. Using the script provided, have every person make one phone call. This shows them how easy it is – and also is their first important action! They can make an impact right there, on the spot, in less than a minute. BOOM!
8) With all those ideas shared, and some on the post-its around the room for all to see, pass out the postcards, make sure they know how to locate the addresses in the directory, and have them start writing postcards. Our group did 100 postcards, about 4 per person, and that felt like a good number, manageable but certainly not bare minimum.
9) When postcards are complete, collect them, and cheer for the effort. This is democracy in action!
10) The last step is to plan together what next steps are, and what the group sees as key issues moving forward. This could be meeting logistics (how often, who hosts, etc.) and it can also be longer term thinking such as “how to tackle mid-term elections”. Our group had some great ideas, and several people self-identified as wanted to join the leadership team to keep this moving forward.
The results of our party were as follows:
- 27 people who knew how to engage with senators and congresspeople and are set up to call them regularly
- 27 calls to Homeland Security to say “no Bannon”
- 100 postcards written
- a plan to meet again in two weeks
- 27 people signed up for Daily Action
- lots of ideas about how to keep moving forward
The feedback that I got was that by giving concrete, tangible actions, people felt like it was a great use of time. I wrapped up the whole thing in 2 hours, which included a half hour of getting settled and an hour and a half of action items including postcard writing. After two hours some had to rush back to babysitters etc., and others hung out just to be social, and it was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night.
If you use this format, let me know if it works for you. I’d love to hear your ideas about moving forward, and keeping this movement happening. We’re just getting started, and we have a lot of work to do. I hope this outline helps you in that effort.
Vive la Resistance!
Here are a few of the good people who participated – we forgot to get a picture before everybody left!
And here are our good works going out into the world at the local post office. The woman who took my picture was also mailing postcards from another Resistance Party. Gotta love Seattle!
Vive la Resistance!
If you’re at all like me, when you watch the news or read a newspaper or just glance at Facebook, your heart starts beating fast and your mind starts going into a loop that sounds like, “No! Not… but how… it can’t be… no!” It’s hard to tell what’s worse: is it Bannon, or a Muslim ban, or pissing off every nation from Australia to the entire U.N. or E.U., or simply the fact that when our President doesn’t like someone’s idea he attacks them on Twitter or fires them?
It feels like an authoritarian regime, and it’s depressing. It would be easy enough to crawl in a hole and cry.
But that’s not what we do, and as for me, I’m fighting as hard as I can NOT to do that even when I want to. I’ve learned that when I take action in life, I feel better. Not only does action potentially lead to a solution, it gets inside me and makes the unbearable bearable. Perhaps you felt that at the Women’s March: the beauty of all of those faces around you, speaking up for goodness and inclusion and equality, was glorious and filled with promise and hope.
So let’s keep going! We are the leaders we’ve been looking for, and it’s time to lead.