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So you're ready to start a movement!
Is something really bothering you? Do you want to change it? First, see if there's some organization already working towards this goal, get involved with them - no use in duplicating organizations - you'll just spread your numbers thin. If there's not, (which is much more likely for a local or single issue than for a national or broad one), you may want to start something on your own.
First, you'll need people to work with - no one can do it completely alone. You may want to start by talking with friends and seeing if anyone around you is interested in the issues you are. Keep your eyes and ears searching, and don't hesitate to approach someone who sounds motivated - even if you don't know them. You can place ads in papers, post to newsgroups, make up and hand out flyers, write on the ground in chalk, or anything else you can think of to find people. You can schedule a meeting and see what kind of response you get.
Once you have even two or three people to back you up, you're ready to get started working. More people will show up as your visibility rises.
Different types of problems call for different types of activism. You need to decide how you want to approach it. You should not simply say, "hey, let's do this." You should compare the problem to the situation to the message you want to send. There's no simple formula, and there are many complex, intertwined issues, but it is possible, and useful, to discuss what sorts of protest work best in what sorts of environments.
First, you must determine your problem. You need to be able to articulate what is wrong with how things presently are. Choose a specific, attackable issue. You can't say, "I don't like the Government". You can say, "I don't like the way the Government tries to silence us by having its controversial legislation rushed through Congress." It is often helpful to come up with some alternatives to be able to site to people who challenge you.
Write your own constitution with a mission statement and bylaws. Start by brainstorming among the members of your group. What are they there for? What do they want to see the group accomplish? What do they want to get out of the group for themselves? What values, standards and goals do they never want to lose sight of?
Write down everything people suggest at first, without debating the ideas. When you've run out of new thoughts, see if you can find some that are similar or have common themes. Try to come up with statements summarizing these concepts. Let people discuss and make adjustments until everyone can agree with, or at least not object to, what you've written.
put together a draft based on what you've agreed on, and bring it
back to the group for final adjustments and approval.
Next, you must analyze the situation. How much power do you have? What kind of power is it? Economic, political? Who has the authority to change what you want changed? Is there a specific individual you can go to, or is your target dispersed? Who are your allies? Your enemies? Do you want to change one little things or do you want to create an entirely new system? Don't forget timing. Will people be available to help out? Will you be overshadowed by some other event?
Third, what sort of message do you want to send? Do you want to seem willing to work within the system? Do you want to reject the system? Do you want to make the public aware of the issues or do you want to target those in power? Do you want the media involved?
Once you've done this, you are ready to determine what the best tactic is in response to your issue. Here are some useful ones:
Meetings - Before holding a major demonstration, make sure that those in power know you feel something is wrong. This works best when there is a clear person in charge, but if not, meet with a representative who can them speak with the rest of those in power. This is a good starting place to find out how seriously those in power plan to take you.
There are also
types of protests which are specific to the issue. Voter registration
campaigns for underrepresented groups, strikes by workers, etc.
are useful and should be considered based on your cause.