Why Direct Action?
Direct action is a means of obstructing practices we protest and reclaiming our agency in creating the world we live in. Direct action manifests in many ways such as sit-ins, strikes, blockades, boycotts, banner drops, culture jamming, and performance among many others. The roots of direct action are deep and range from Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. to Rachel Corrie and Tim DeChristopher. Our social fabric is woven with direct action from the Boston Tea Party, to the Silent Sentinels’ pickets for women’s suffrage, the NW timber workers strike of 1935, SNCC sit-ins and the Freedom Rides, the occupation of Alcatraz, actions against nuclear power and weapons, the forest defense movement and the shutdown of the WTO in Seattle. Through direct action we can begin to build another world based upon cooperation, mutual aid, and social as well as ecologically connected community.
Direct action has been a successful tool of people seeking freedom and justice for thousands of years and has been an effective and central part of the Occupy Movement. It has taken many forms in global struggles and has been critical to social change.
Understanding and Planning Direct Actions
Great resources for everything you need to know about how to plan your action, what type of action works for your group, and how to successfully execute your action, are available for free online. Here are links to some of the great resources out there.
The Network for Climate Action in the UK has some great resources on planning direct actions. Please check this out if you are looking for different ideas! They have a break down of a lot of creative and effective tactics. These include ideas, roles, preparing for actions and so much more.
The Ruckus Society has a variety of excellent resources. They have an Action Planning Manual, an great primer on Security Culture for Activists, and a guide to making creative visuals for direct actions.
Organizing for Power, Organizing for Change offers a good overview of direct actions and also has a lot of other resources and links on the website.
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) has a great resource on planning civil disobedience actions. It includes history, action planning, roles and a lot more important information.
SmartMeme offers amazing resources for thinking about how to plan actions in a way that creates compelling narratives about the world we want to create. Re:Imagining Change is especially useful and free, though donate if you can.
Additional resources on activism and action planning:
The Change Agency in Australia has a great links to info on social action skills, which are associated with the campaign strategies and tactics needed to coordinate community action in ways that are purposeful and suited to the specific context in order to achieve declared goals.
Starhawk’s website offers a variety of resources for nonviolent direct action and anti-oppression trainers/preparers and magical activism workshop facilitators. You’ll find web resources, sample agendas, exercises, wall charts, handouts, and notes on how trainings went.
The RANT Collective has a variety of information and sample agendas for the direct action trainings and spokes council meetings that you might be working on.
The War Resistors League has a comprehensive non-violence handbook available in full and free online.
George Lakey, formerly of the Movement for a New Society, has an extensive training website with lots of links and information.