Don’t Play Games With Our Lives Toolkit

Overview

The government is finally open again. Well, at least until February 15th. After Trump and McConnell held our government hostage for over a month, Trump finally caved and agreed to a deal because of massive public opposition to the shutdown. The deal is a “clean” short term funding bill that funds the government until February 16th and (because of constituent pressure!) includes no additional money for Trump’s wall or for immigration enforcement. Check out our Shutdown Resource for the most up to date information

Now, a conference committee tries to hash out an agreement. The members assigned to the conference committee, or conferees, will negotiate a year long agreement for funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with the aspirational goal of finishing their work by February 8. If they do come to an agreement, Congress will vote on that agreement the following week. If they do not come to an agreement, we could have another shutdown, another short term funding bill... or Trump could declare a national emergency.

It’s more important than ever that we keep up the pressure. All MoCs need to hear from their constituents over the next few weeks to ask them to fund the government with no new funding for Trump’s wall, ICE, or CBP. Over the next few weeks, we’ll need to keep up with consistent coordinated phone calls to make sure both the conferees and all MoCs (both the Senate and the House) are going to vote to fund the government with no new funding for a wall. Meanwhile, start getting together with your group because there’s going to be a National Day of Action of February 11th!

Start planning your February 11th Day of Action. On February 11th, Indivisible groups across the country will come together to use our unified national voice to show what we stand for. These should be rallies outside of district offices—either House Members or Senators—where your group (and neighboring groups!) come together to say don’t play games with our lives!

Asks

Your ask, for all Members of Congress, is straightforward: fund the government with no new funding for the wall, ICE, or CBP. If the conference committee announces an agreement before the Day of Action, we’ll let you know what you should be asking about it.

Timeline and Tactics

Feb 4th - 10th, Sustained Calls: Keep calling your MoCs each day!

February 11th Day of Action: On Monday, February 11th, four days before Congress’s deadline, we’ll be encouraging groups across the country to go to their Senator or house member’s offices to pressure them in person by holding rallies or office visits.

Planning a Day of Action Event

Local Indivisible groups across the country have been through many Days of Action already! But just to make sure we’re all on the same page, the below outlines the before, during and after of pulling together this particular event and some helpful resources like media advisories and sign in sheets.

Rallies vs. Office Visits: If you can, we recommend organizing a rally outside your congressional office that you can invite reporters to and aiming to get local media coverage. Local and national coverage showing mounting public pressure on Congress in the days before these votes could have a major impact. If you’re able to organize a group to do an office visit and meet with staff, but can’t swing holding a rally this time, that’s still great. Because office visits are harder for media to cover, in that case we recommend focusing on making those interactions with staff as powerful as possible, and on documenting your visit with photos, videos and stories for social media.

How to Plan an Event

Notify your group members and work on your theme. Start talking to your group members and let them know that you’ll all be working together to plan this event. Think about how you’ll be using the Don’t Play Games theme in your event—bringing board game pieces, making themed signs, etc! For example, for a Democrat, you can bring Settlers of Catan with the message ‘don’t settle.’ Or for Republicans, you can do Chess with the idea of ‘don’t be Trump’s pawn.’

Set a time and meet up location. District offices are generally open until 5 pm (and doing an event before 5 also gives you a better chance of making it on the evening news!). While many Indivisible activists work during the day, think about how you can make this as accessible as possible—perhaps during lunch or late in the afternoon if folks can get off early. You should also determine where you’ll be doing your event. That is, which district office or public place if you don’t have one yet.

Decide on event roles. This event is a leadership opportunity for everyone in the group. Split up the work and encourage members to take on new challenges to build an effective event and an even stronger group. Projects folks can work on may include: recruitment captain, media lead, materials coordinator, etc.

Register your event. Once you have the time and place, upload the event to the map. The map helps us coordinate our national voice, recruit new activists for your events, and identify areas for growth. Teach a new (or existing) activist how to upload your event to the map.

Make a recruitment plan (and start recruiting!). This event (and really every event you have!) is a strategic chance to grow your group. Start with setting some goals and then make a plan. How many new faces do you want at your event? How many seasoned activists? Having a goal will help you target your recruitment.

  • Register your event on our map. Once you upload your event, you will have a unique RSVP link. Post the link to you social media sites, direct message new activists, send it around to your listserv, and get it tattooed on your forehead. Your event will also be included in national recruitment emails leading up the the big day.

  • Hit the phones. Call each member of your local Indivisible group, and personally invite them to join you in this action. The personal touch can make all the difference. People will be more invested in coming when they know that you are invested in them showing up.

  • Map your networks. Ask your leaders to list out (on paper) 3-5 people who aren’t currently involved in Indivisible but who they think would enjoy the event. Think about members of your book club, your neighbors, or that coworker who is always posting memes about resisting Trump on Facebook. Then commit to making a personal ask to each of these people.

  • Check in with partners. See if other progressive groups and other Indivisible groups in your area have plans or if they want to join forces. Since we’re focused on stopping funding for Trump’s wall/immigration enforcement, it’s important to reach out to local immigration groups—do they have plans? How can you support the work they’re already doing?

  • Make asks and assign roles. This is good organizing. Pro-tip: people will be more invested in events, and more likely to show up when they have a clear role. So ask some of your newer volunteers to take tasks. Maybe they can bring some pens or snacks?

Invite Media to Your Event!

Local media coverage forces your MoC and their staff to spend time reckoning with your issues and your stories. No coverage is too small. Because of the magic of Google Alerts, whenever a media outlet mentions an MoC, their staff hears about it right away.

See Sample Press Materials

If you’re holding a rally: Make a press plan. Press outreach is most effectively handled by one person who can build relationships over time. If you already have a media liaison, great.

  • Get a media advisory and press release ready. See our sample press materials for ideas and guidance on when and where to send these.

  • Reach out to local reporters. Check out tips for inviting media to your event here.

Discuss material needs. Determine what materials you need in advance of the event and make a plan to ensure you have all the things you need—chances are folks in your group already have many of the items you’re looking for. Some ideas include: board game pieces, talking points, sign in sheet, leave behinds for you MoC and staff, pens, and warm clothing items!

Prepare sign in sheets. There is power in knowing who your people are. It allows you to show your strength in concrete terms when talking with elected officials. You can identify potential leaders when you keep track of who comes to what type of events. Finally, you can understand the geographic identity of your group when you know where people live. For 100 Days Campaign Events, the Indivisible data team will load any sign-in sheets turned into organizers into a volunteer management tool that will be rolled out for groups' use early in 2019. Download your official Indivisible sign-in sheet here.

What to do at Your Event

Gather the people who have key roles. Make sure that key folks like the speakers, volunteers bringing materials, and media liason are there about 45 minutes before the event starts. Bring snacks and hot beverages, assemble any art pieces that need assembly, test any technology, and make reminder calls to everyone who signed up to attend.

Have a final check in with key activists. Huddle with the speakers and run through their talking points. Make sure our demands are clearly articulated in each speech, and that they know the order they will be speaking.

Sign in attendees. Around 15-20 minutes before the event, attendees begin to show up—make sure everyone gets sined in! Huddle with all your activists (and new faces!) to remind them of the importance of these events. Meanwhile, the media liaison should greets local press and gives reporters a press packet.

Kick-off the event: The MC starts some chants and welcomes the crowd. She explains the purpose of the event and introduces the first speaker. Here’s a sample agenda:

  • Introduce event and speakers (5 mins)

  • 2-3 speakers (about 3-5 minute each)—ideally speakers are folks that are directly impacted by the issues at hand. Since we’re talking about stopping Trump’s hateful wall, it’s important to center the voices of folks most directly impacted.

  • Closing (5 mins)—end the event by thanking everyone for coming, clearly reiterating our asks and finishing out strong with some chants

Take a lot of pictures and post of social media. The Social Media Coordinator should record, live-tweet and/or Facebook-live the entire experience. You can tweet excerpts from speeches, pictures of the crowd, or gifs that perfectly express your emotions.

  • Make sure that you are recording and taking photos horizontally, not vertically. It really helps the video get shared and makes it usable for press.

  • Be sure to tag your MoC.

  • Share stories in writing, too, about your interactions with staff and the messages you shared with them.

  • Be sure to tag @IndivisibleTeam and your regional org on Twitter.

  • Post photos of the action to your social media accounts!

After the Event

Thank your attendees. A few hours after the event, email your attendees to thank them for a great action. Immediate follow up is important for recruitment and group longevity!

Debrief. Invite all attendees and activists to a debrief meeting. Whether you’ve been organizing for decades or are just getting started, there are always things to learn. Taking the time to do an intentional debrief is critical to make sure you are taking away learnings from your events. We’ve included a sample debrief agenda below:

  • What went well at this event? Why?

  • What didn’t go so well? What was the cause? You will get the best results if you approach this without assigning blame.

  • Were there any equity implications from how we approached this? Positive or negative?

  • What feedback do we want to highlight for our organizer? Positive or negative?

  • Overall, what should we do differently in the future?

  • What are our immediate next steps?

Use your great takeaways from this debrief as you’re planning your upcoming 100 Days campaign events.