WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS (10 MIN)
Welcome to the launch of our ______ (name) Resistance Circle. We will spend time today getting to know each other and starting to plan for the resistance work we will do together.
The strongest building blocks for our movement are small groups. Small groups like ours help us create a resilient social movement that is built for steady, sustainable growth and that can mobilize beyond big actions.
Let’s start by going around and having each person share the answers to the following questions:
- Gender Pronoun: this refers to the pronouns people like others to use when they speak about them (ex: she/her/hers and he/him/his)
- Why you came to today’s meeting?
- What you are interested in being part of this Circle?
AGREE ON CIRCLE PRINCIPLES (10 MIN)
Resistance Circles across the country are committing to a common set of principles. A set of unified principles allows us to act under a common umbrella with other Resistance Circles while also having the autonomy to take action within our specific circle that makes sense for our context.
Let’s read the principles together (have a different person in the room read a different principle):
Can we all agree to abide by these principles and to hold each other accountable to doing so?
RELATIONAL PUBLIC NARRATIVE (25 MIN)
In just a short while we are going to delve into doing resistance work together. In order to effectively work together, we need to root ourselves in deep relationship. In order to transform the world, we must also prioritize personal and collective transformation.
We are going to start getting to know each other by engaging in the practice of RELATIONAL PUBLIC NARRATIVE. This is a community organizing tactic that was used very well by the Obama campaign. This kind of storytelling—developed by theorist Marshall Ganz as “public narrative”—encourages activists to develop a “story of self,” a “story of us” and a “story of now.” First, we share the struggles we have undergone or witnessed as individuals. Then we connect those struggles to our vision and values as activists. Then we connect that vision to the crisis of the current moment. Grounding our activism in these perspectives lends our words moral weight and surprising effectiveness as we reach out to others. In terms of building active popular support, it’s enduring work.
Relational public narrative teaches us skills to to tell powerful stories that can build strong relationships and community. By sharing our stories with each other we allow others to connect with our challenges and values. This practice helps to set up a culture of vulnerability and honesty in which we can build the kind of trust that makes it possible for us to do work together.
When someone shares their story with us, it is a gift. As a way of showing gratitude for and connection with the person who shares their story, we engage in a practice called RESONATING.
Resonating is responding with empathy. We know we are resonating when:
- we see vividly the imagery others are using to describe what they see
- we feel deeply the sensations that others are reporting that they feel
After we hear each other’s stories, we resonate to signal that we recognize the humanity in one another and appreciate what it helps us to learn.
How to share resonance:
During the story, pay attention to what engaged you. Notice what you are sensing (hearing, seeing, smelling, etc) and feeling (sad, excited, afraid, calm, inspired, etc).
After the story, take turns resonating with the following prompt:
Share back to the storyteller one moment you felt like it was happening to you (ex: I felt like I was right there with you when….)
Resonating is NOT:
- Asking questions (“So how old was your mom when she had you?”)
- Giving Advice (“You know you really should consider skydiving.”)
- One-Upping (“You think that’s bad, listen to what happened to ME!”)
- Making Meaning (“From your story it sounds like you’re actually depressed.”)
- Telling Your Own story (“That reminds me of…” resonator launches into their own story and forgets they are resonating.)
Now we are each going to break into groups and spend time answering the following prompt:
“What’s a personal struggle or challenge that has led you to this room?”
We’re going to get into groups of three now and each person will share their story and and receive resonances. Every group should pick the order and a timekeeper before they start. Each person will have 5 minutes each to share their stories and then other group members will resonate for 2 minutes.
Each meeting we will have one member share their story with the group for 10-15 minutes. Is there anyone who would like to volunteer to share their story at the next meeting?
ORGANIZING INTO ACTION (30 MIN)
Resistance Guide recommends that every circle should make some contribution to three types of action:
- Showing up to either a trigger event protest with game change potential or a small, group-led action.
- Putting pressure on decision makers with phone calls or at town halls.
- Voting for and doing get out the vote work for movement candidates in local, state and federal elections.
We are going to spend the next ten minutes brainstorming actions that we could participate in or carry out that fall into one of these three categories (write down ideas on poster paper-- if your group is having trouble brainstorming, check out Gene Sharp’s 198 methods of nonviolent action).
Now each person will express which action idea they are interested in and we will tally up interest to determine our top three ideas.
Now that we have determined our top three ideas, we will break out into teams based on what action each of you are interested on working on.
Each action team should collectively answer the following questions and designate one person to report back to the rest of the circle what they spoke about:
- What are the goals of your action?
- What are the next steps you need to take to make these goals a reality?
- How will your team communicate with one another?
Now we’ll have each team report back to the rest of the group on the work they are planning. Celerate each group (clapping, snapping, words of encouragement) after they present!
TAKING ON CIRCLE ROLES (10 MIN)
As a movement of volunteers building change, it is important for everyone to have a role. Even though we are just beginning this work, there is still important work for you to do in this circle! Here are the roles there are to play in our circle. As we describe them, think about which one you would like to fill. Ideally there are two people holding each of these roles.
- Facilitator: These people will help the host run the circle by preparing the agenda for each meeting, taking notes, helping set-up the space, welcoming people, and helping to answer questions.
- Logistics: These people work with the host to make sure we have a space to meet, supplies for the meeting, snacks if we want them, and any other logistical considerations. These folks hold the needs of the group so that everyone can come to the Circle ready to learn, listen, and work.
- Coordinator: These individuals help keep other people on task. They send reminders to the group, check in with the host, facilitator, and logistics people, and hold the Circle’s “to-do” list to help everything get done.
Is there anyone who feels inspired to take on one of these roles?
CLOSING (5 MIN)
After this meeting you will receive an email from us following up on any commitments you have made today. We will also add all of you to our facebook group so that we can stay in touch with one another.
By showing up together, we are accomplishing three critical things: We’re sustaining the movement by maintaining active popular support. We’re keeping one another in relationship, and probably—just as importantly—having more fun doing this work together than alone. And we’re encouraging others to show up. These are simple things, but they are what ultimately make up the building blocks of a successful movement.
We are so grateful that you came today and are looking forward to continue growing this resistance movement together!