A foreword: This version of the Town Hall Society Doctrine: A Training Guide is currently a work in progress which is constantly evolving based on input by readers like you and of course, the experience I gain as I move forward in implementing this plan.
The Town Hall Society
The necessity to instigate a grass roots campaign is self evident to the success of any social movement. In order to find success in this area we must see clearly the structures in place and utilize them. Community colleges represent an amazing climate for grass roots to take place:
1) They are inhabited by a preponderance of young able minded people ready to join a cause.
2) The goals of our movement are close to the hearts of students.
3) The Occupy Movement has already found a great deal of solidarity in student bodies across the California region.
We must use these places in our distinct communities to enable local town hall meetings to take place. In order for us to find success with these meetings we must first establish a free public venue in which citizens can participate. This will entail research on the part of the volunteer to first, find a venue available to the public’s liking (you can do a temperature check at your first few events by telling people about your plans to host such an event and finding out what times work for them).
The first five or so times you set up your table in a public place to hand out information you must be sure to be working towards simple goals: 1) Information gathering: Get people to join a mailing list. Emails gathered can be used to organize effective town hall meeting strategies. 2) Name recognition: If you have a table set up outside the cafeteria often enough people will remember you and be curious about what you’re standing for and want to approach you. 3) Emphasize on outreach through flexibility: Be clear about the agenda to set up a town hall meeting and that you’re attempting to do so in a manner that makes it easy for people to show up by adhering to their schedules on a majority basis.
It’s not a bad idea to enlist the more enthusiastic individuals you encounter as volunteers. Don’t be afraid to delegate authority to people who, in your best judgement, are capable of meeting the tenets of an outreach person. Those tenets are as follows: 1) The individual must demonstrate a mastery of the material to be covered in the outreach process. 2) The individual must be able to conduct themselves in a calm, nonabrasive manner at all times. 3) The individual must be unconditionally committed to the principles of nonviolence.
To establish a venue you might want use google to search event venues in your area: they might include nearby public parks, libraries, meeting halls provided to the public by state institutions, or be available on college campuses. Always be sure to hold a town hall meeting in a venue that is free and is in compliance with all regulations. These are NOT meant to be protest sites, but instead a place to instigate communication between local members of the community and let people know about the issues we face as a nation.
Once the venue is established you need to organize a manner in which participants can speak in an orderly manner which both addresses their concerns and establishes a dialogue between the event coordinators and the public. Our event coordinators are ideally going to be motivated public speakers who are able to direct the event calmly. Anyone committed to those principles can cultivate communication in their community utilizing the town hall model.
Meeting Structure Suggestions
The first large scale meeting will be used to establish a dialogue between organizers and the community. Common goals of the community are to be established after being focused on national issues. The second large scale meeting can be used to establish events in which locals who are interested in taking action can come together and bring about more public awareness.
Setting up tables with paperwork handouts to provide other people knowledge about localized activities and the established system of town hall meetings, if correctly instigated, will inevitably bring about a proliferation of knowledge regarding the aberrant policies upheld by local state and national government officials.
Opening yourself to being able to speak to the public requires summoning your internal strength. It requires a knowledge of the material you are providing with the public and an ability to commit to consistency in one’s message. It requires submission to the principles of nonviolence, and an ability to listen, disseminate and respond to all kinds of questions, be they pointed, or easy to answer.
Immersion in the study materials one must utilize in order to master the subject matter of the social movement can be achieved through establishing a routine of checking local online publications. Mass media outlets are paid to show you sensational stories designed to sell more newspapers, or make you watch a show so you’ll see more commercials. It is all based on consumer control and there is not a law which compels news corporations to tell the public the truth.
By searching out key terms on the internet related to the organizations you are already familiar with you can find credible citizen journalist networks in the form of live streaming communication during demonstrations, articles about local, regional, national, and world news. You are a powerful volunteer, and your knowledge in paramount to facilitating the future of the grassroots phase of the movement. Immerse yourself in the study materials which will fill you in on current events both of the relevant past, and the present as well as the near future.
Mastery of the key issues which affect people on a local, national and global scale takes time. Those who demonstrate mastery of the material understand that because the needs of the public can change, the issues may change. This means that someone who is going to stand up and educate the public must make a commitment to staying on top of the issues as the needs of the public continue to evolve.