IF folks like the sound of it, we encourage you to think about getting an affinity group together for the mass action on Sunday. An affinity group is a small crew of people who work together autonomously on direct actions or other projects. If you would like to organise in such a group you can form one with your friends, people from your community, workplace, or organisation. Sometimes we also call ‘em blockade teams, action groups, cells, action collectives, and a whole bunch of weird and wonderful names.
Affinity groups challenge top-down decision-making and organising, and empower those involved to take creative direct action. Affinity groups allow people to “be” the action they want to see by giving freedom and decision-making power to the affinity group.
We’re exceedingly keen to support cats in starting up affinity groups in their community – for 2009, for Climate Camp and beyond. We’d love to come help out with discussions, preparation, training and skillshares for direct action and a whole bunch of things. Contact us: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Dom on 0415 258 301 or Mar on 08 9371 3791.
Some of the ideas we’ve got for startin’ up our own affinity groups are:
- Get together a bunch of your mates with similar interests in issues and actions.
- Have a think about what sort of decisions your affinity group need to make before climate camp. Where you stand on big issues, what your aims are, how you wanna interact with police, debriefing processes after actions and other organising, how you want to communicate during actions, how you are going to make decisions (consensus, voting, appoint decision makers, and chatting about quick decision making).
- Chat with other crews on their aims and tactics, how you might want to work together, what support you need, what methods of communication between affinity groups could be used before and during a protest (spokescouncil, blocking up, phone number swap for communication people, fist raised huddles, cycle communication crews, walkie talkies)
- Your affinity group might even wanna take on a specialised role in the way it interacts with other crews, or operates within the breadth of the protest or campaign. You could *specialise* in cop-watchin’, legal observation, food, communication, medical, or good old common garden variety blockading. With a role focus, each affinity group can do their jobs and support the work of other affinity groups. In this way, many affinity groups form an interdependent network that achieves so much more than a large group of individual activists.
- You might wanna form a cluster with other affinity groups to work on a certain task or part of a larger action. A cluster could be responsible for blockading an area, organising one day of a multi-day action, or putting together and performing a mass street theatre performance. Clusters could be organised around where affinity groups are from (such as da Brisvegas mob), an issue or identity (such as Climate Bloc), or action interest (such as street theatre or blockading).
- You might wanna participate in a SpokesCouncil – a larger organising structure used in the affinity group model to coordinate a mass action. Each affinity group (or cluster) can empower a spoke (representative) to go to a spokescouncil meeting to decide on important issues for the action. For instance, affinity groups need to decide on a legal/jail strategy, possible tactical issues, meeting places, and many other logistics. A spokescouncil does not take away an individual affinity group’s autonomy within an action; affinity groups make there own decisions about what they want to do on the streets.
- We reckon the aim at the end of the day is to look after yourself and each other, have fun, and work towards a maximised degree of constructive social change.
What can an affinity group do?
Anything!! We can use affinity groups for mass or smaller scale actions – to drop a banner, blockade a road, provide back-up for other crews, do street theatre, block traffic riding bikes, organise a tree sit, or play glockenspiels in a radical marching band.
What makes affinity groups so awesome for actions is that they can remain creative and independent and plan out their own action without an organisation or person dictating to them what can and can’t be done. There are endless possibilities for what our affinity groups can do. Let’s be creative and remember: direct action gets the goods!