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As some here at dKos know, for many months I have been advocating building a renewed antiwar movement based on local grassroots action, coordinated nationally through the internet.  Last night's vigils are almost exactly what I've been talking about.  Of course the leadership that Cindy Sheehan has provided was the indispensable catalyst for this action.  Nonetheless, this is a model that I have felt for a long time offers the most promise for building an antiwar groundswell.  

Best organizing practices teach that after action assessment and review is one of the most important parts of any action.  I've put together some questions that could be useful in assessing the effectiveness of the national vigil action, and to begin a conversation on how we can build from this event toward a more sustained and effective antiwar movement.  If you were a participant in last night's action your feedback is incredibly valuable, and I'd like to throw the floor open.

Here are some questions to start the discussion.  I don't expect anyone to answer all these questions, but I believe answers to questions like these can provide us with a valuable assessment both of a snapshot of the antiwar movement immediately post-Cindy, and provide us with direction on how to build and improve our antiwar organizing.  I've done enough organizing to know how valuable this kind of feedback can be in building a movement or campaign, so I'm not too proud to beg all who participated in the vigils to provide this kind of feedback here

Was the vigil larger, smaller, or about the size you anticipated?  Was the general experience such to make you more or less likely to participate in future antiwar events in your area?

Was it held in a community/neighborhood where protest type actions are common or unusual?

What was the general reaction of passersby?  Were there people that spontaneously joined the vigil when they saw it?  

Did the vigil seem well organized?  Were there speakers?  If so, were the speakers an effective part of the event?  If there weren't speakers, do you think it would have been better if there were?  

Did the vigil stay on message, i.e., Iraq, Cindy, bring 'em home?  Were there a large number of other issues being raised by speakers and participants, on signs etc?  Were there vets/servicemenbers/military family members among those attending/speaking/organizing the event?  Was there publicity being done for the September 24 march in Washington?  Information about other upcoming local antiwar events?

Were there media in attendance?  Law enforcement?   Did you interact with either, and if so, what were there attitudes?

Was the event run by an existing local peace group?  Were contacts being collected?  Have you participated in a local peace group before?  Recently?  If not, would this even make you more or less likely to want to participate regularly in a local peace group?  If you've been regularly active, were there a lot of new faces?

More generally, after participating in the vigil, would you be more or less enthusiastic about an antiwar strategy that placed greater emphasis on local action?  


*Ironically, after all these months of calling for action like this, I was unable to participate.  When my Mom finally came home from the hospital last year after her liver failed, us kids split up the week to spend evenings with her, and one of mine is Wednesday.  By the time I knew the vigils were for Wednesday, it was too late for me to make a switch.  My appreciation to all the thousands and thousands of you who were able to participate.

Originally posted to Dancing Larry on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 03:19 AM PDT.

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