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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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Comment Preferences

  •  The floor is yours (none)
    What practical lessons can we take from the vigil i going forward and building an effective antiwar movement?
  •  Great post (none)
    Our vigil in Tampa had over 100 people--Except for a core of 6 or 7 from our regular Downing Street Memo protests, these were all new faces.  130 had RSVPd, but there was a bad rainstorm that ended exactly at 7:30, so that could have kept people away.

    The location is known as Patriots' Corner and is often the site of sign holders for various causes.

    No speakers except a brief welcome by the organizer, but we all gathered to sing Amazing Grace at the end.

    Response from passing cars was almost all positive.

    As we were breaking up, we decided to meet again next Wednesday evening to hold another vigil.  I wish someone had thought to gather names and e-mail addresses so we could keep the group together.

    We had two tv photographers and several other media reps there.  Didn't watch local coverage, so don't know what they said about the vigil.

    It was a very subdued crowd (on purpose).  The organizer urged us not to engage if we had any counter protesters.  None showed up.  We didn't have any "Bush-bashing" signs because we were there to honor the dead and to support Cindy.

    The event was run by a DFA Meetup host, who is also a member of our Save America Coalition which has been protesting over the Downing Street Memo since May.  Many attendees were with Veterans for Peace.  There were also a lot of former Kerry supporters there (not sure which e-mail blast they were responding to--MoveOn, True Majority, or DFA).

    BTW, did you read Peter Beinart in the Post this morning?  If so, please explain the logis in this statement:  "This time, mass protests would only cloud the issue."

    Honest to God. The Daily Show jokes just write themselves these days, don't they? --Kevin Drum

    by Susan S on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 04:52:12 AM PDT

    •  Thanks Susan S (none)
      I appreciate that you took the time and thought to compose such a meaningful response.  Unfortunately you stood almost entirely alone.  Coming on top of the minimal response to my other antiwar organizing diaries this week here and here, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is little to no interest in the organizing tools and techniques I can offer in the blogosphere--more or less the same fate my Talkin' Organizing series at LSF suffered.  I'm not sure why, it could be any number of thigs;  I don't know whether people consider these just more useless diaries driving more deserving diaries off the recent list; whether they're boring, or irrelevant; if it's that I'm a lousy/ineffective writer; if maybe it's because I've clashed a time or two too many with dKos "big names".  I just don't know.  But it's seeming less and less worth making any commitment, and sustained to providing this kind of diary.  I'll probably try one more, but if that gets the same sort of response, or more correctly non-response (except, again, for you , and bless you for it!) that'll be it.  I don't need to be doing this.  Tuesday was my 50th birthday; the ex-gf that I've continued to lave from afar for years came back into my life in a big way on Tuesday night.  I have the option right now of totally immersing myself in her, and right about now that's about exactly what I feel like doing, chucking this whole trying to help people organize thing entirely.  
  •  Excellent post, Larry (none)
    I was unable to attend one of the vigils but I can only hope, DFA, and True Majority are doing the same kind of analysis this morning.

    Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

    by mini mum on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 05:52:14 AM PDT

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