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Direct Action Planning

For the group that is new to the concepts, this training provides an interactive introduction to Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Disobedience. Participants identify the benefits of using NVDA, explore what makes an action effective, and clarify their personal beliefs about what nonviolence means.

This how-to training steps a group through the process of developing a creative, strategic nonviolent direct action for their campaign. Tone, messaging, group capacity, and staying true to goals are highlighted, as participants practice designing actions for different scenarios. Definitions of tactic, strategy, and organizing are reviewed.

This hands-on workshop helps groups prepare for an upcoming action. We start by looking closely at the action scenario, making sure the group has solid plans for direct action roles, decision-making processes, safety, and messaging. After assessing the action, the group uses role-plays to practice de-escalation skills and street tactics.

When planning a direct action, the site truly sets the stage. Scouting helps ensure that the action will be successful at the chosen location. Learn how to choose a site that fits your campaign and creates good visuals. Gain skills in evaluating accessibility, creating contingency plans, and troubleshooting for your specific action.

A number of legal issues arise through the whole process of doing direct action, from planning to implementation to follow-up. Learn the best ways to keep your action team covered legally, and know your rights as a protester.

Direct Action Support Skills

Knowing how to keep people safe and healthy during an action is an important support role. Learn the basic skills you would need to be an action medic, from caring for those dealing with trauma to treating people affected by chemical weapons.

Successful actions rely on the ability to communicate quickly and effectively. Learn how to set up equipment based and non-equipment based communication support systems for an action. Practice using a variety of equipment commonly used in direct actions.

This training was designed by the Midnight Special Law Collective to prepare Legal Observers for direct actions. Focus on collecting information that will be useful in criminal defense of activists or in civil prosecution of police and government.


Learn the basic principles behind using blockades as a tactic for nonviolent direct action. Practice blockades skills with and without equipment.

For the group that already has a basic working understanding of blockades. This workshop explores more options for using equipment in your blockades.

Direct Action Climbing

This workshop covers climbing techniques tailored specifically for use during nonviolent direct actions. Participants will get familiar with climbing gear, knots, standard safety practices, the basics of ascending and descending ropes, and develop skills for solving common problems.

Participants who have learned the basics of climbing work at their own pace to get deeper into problem solving and learn more on-rope techniques like rappelling, lowering over an edge, rope transfer, or building anchors. Instructors may give demonstrations in banner deployment, climbing-based blockades, or mock-hangings. Learning tree climbing skills can also be an option.

Media and Messaging

This workshop uses the current media landscape as a framework for building skills in creating and conveying messages through a story-telling framework.

Practice your interviewing techniques and delivering messaging using catchy sound bytes. This training includes tips on working with reporters, and provides a refresher on how to frame messages.

Arts in Action

This workshop provides an introduction to the basics of designing, organizing, and carrying out actions grounded in creativity. Messaging, improvisational theatre skills, and case studies of previous creative actions will be covered.

This session focuses on how art can help get the message out about your campaign or issue during a direct action. Participants will learn techniques for making creative visuals including: using stencils, making banners, and building puppets.