This installment focuses on brief reports from some of our many camp-wide training workshops outside of the intensive tactical skills tracks that participants focused on for half of the camp.
Nonviolent Direct Action (NVDA)
A typical part of our camp curriculum is grounding people in Non Violent Direct Action theory as well as practice. At this action camp our non violent direct action training was conducted entirely in Spanish. We also put to work a new Ruckus trainer directly from the migrant rights community (and she rocked it!).
Direct Action Prep and Planning
Direct Action Preparation and Planning is a followup training to our non-violent direct action trainings. These trainings walk participants through the steps of planning non-violent direct action as well as preparing for different scenarios that take place during direct actions. Participants in these trainings (it was offered twice at camp) got a chance to flex their action muscles while engaging in problem solving and quick thinking!
Ruckus Action Framework
This year’s Action Camp provided the opportunity to introduce the Ruckus Action Framework, which has been several years in the making. The action framework includes Ruckus’s theory of how change happens, the kinds of actions we want to support, and protocol of how Ruckus engages frontline communities.
Here’s a brief glimpse into the "Ruckus Action Framework":
- Pick a Fight!
- Break the Rules!
- Build the New!
- Change the Game!
Action Strategy session aimed to provide participants a general structure of how Ruckus defines and approaches the characteristics and categories of direct action strategies. We began by defining the types of strategies (point of intervention, point of destruction, etc.) and had participants discuss and give examples of each type in breakout groups. Then, we used the Ruckus tactic star to define the strategic elements of direct action, and had participants dissect an image of a past action (blockade @ Arpaio jail) in order to put the analysis framework into practice. It was an interactive workshop that felt successful in reaching its pedagogical/informational goals, as well as building good momentum with the group on the first day of camp to be able to advance through the rest of camp with a solid foundation of Ruckus’ strategy framework. Folks very actively participated, which I think the small group dynamic fostered well. The image dissection seemed powerful in offering a structured anatomy of direct action strategies, and getting the group to be introspective about actions they have planned or participated in in the past and how they could apply those lessons to plan in the future. As a new trainer, training with another new Ruckus trainer, it was fun and powerful for myself to lead this workshop and convey the information – it pushed me to deeply understand the information and gave me confidence in my understanding of the framework and the ability to workshop it to others. My co-facilitator had great energy, and I think we also injected a lot of excitement with the group about learning and developing direct action skills.
Check out our Action Strategy Guide here!
The Scouting workshop introduced participants to the basic theory and practice of direct action scouting: why and how we scout. We covered broad, thematic topics such as creative visualization – how to envision a future action in a public space, as well as the practical nitty gritty of measurements, security (ours and theirs), prioritizing the safety and success of an action, and evaluating potential action sites. We paid specific attention to discussing how to use our appearances to our advantage during scouting, by playing on the assumptions people make about us in order to gain access.
Check out our Action Scouting Manual here!
In this session we covered issues that are often overlooked when rigging a banner for deployment. We looked at the rigging of banners for holding, unoccupied banner drops (bridges, buildings, etc.), and also rigging an un-retrievable banner that can be deployed by throwing lines over objects such as streetlights. Some of the material covered was how to reinforce corners so that grommets will not rip out. The use of a grommet punch so that people felt comfortable making their own grommeted banners. The use of a curtain line verse simply tying to corners. How to weight banners with jugs of water, sand, etc. Lastly, using simple materials from a hardware store (lag or molly bolts) to rig a banner that can be set to hang from a height and is not retrievable from the ground. In the session we used many and varied stories of person successes with banners and humorous anecdotes describing the times when we were not so successful.
Sustaining the Movement: Why Health Matters in Direct Action
This workshop covered the four rings of health (individual, affinity group,
campaign/community, global) to demonstrate how having healthy activists
and including health issues in our campaigns can contribute to the
sustainability of our work on all these levels. Participants watched
demonstrations and practiced extremely basic first aid. The workshop was
not intended to teach first aid, but to impress upon participants the
importance of having people in the affinity group or campaign who are
trained in first aid and community health. There were 35 participants in
Tennessee and the workshop went really well. The only difficulty was that
participants most enjoy hands-on activities that let them walk away with
valuable skills and that is difficult to do in 2 hours.