In this support pack, we have provided information about:
- Communication Channels
- Receiving Information
- Where are actions listed?
- How to start getting your AG involved
- A list of working groups (coming soon)
- What to do at your AG meetings
- How to plan your own action
Within your Affinity Group
We recommend that Signal is used for all chats, rather than WhatsApp. The two apps are very similar (and Signal is free to download) but signal is more secure than WhatsApp. Some groups choose to have a WhatsApp chat for non-sensitive information and a separate Signal chat for sensitive information. However, this is likely to end up becoming complicated so we recommend that you keep everything on Signal.
It is good practice to set the “disappearing messages” to 1 week, so that sensitive information regularly disappears from people’s phones.
Communicating with other Affinity Groups
You will be added to the Affinity Group coordinator signal chat. This is a group for all the affinity group coordinators to chat, ask questions, ask for help and share information. If there is anything you’re not sure about, this should be your first point of contact.
Telegram and WhatsApp Announcements channels
- We are encouraging people to join the XR Cambridge Telegram channel rather than our WhatsApp channels. There is a link on xrcambridge.org to join the telegram channel.
- At the moment (as of Feb 2020) there are 2 WhatsApp announcement channels (because there are too many people for one channel) and 1 Telegram channel (Telegram has a much higher capacity). The three channels should all have identical messages on.
- There are a lot of people on these announcement channels, and only admins can post. As an AG coordinator, you should be an admin (if you’re not, then let us know)
- XR actions can be announced here, with up to one reminder. To post about an action, you should include a title which you can make bold by putting *asterisks* around it, followed by the date, time, location and a short description.
- Call-outs for resources/people/help can be announced here, e.g. “I am collecting plastic bottles for an action, please let me know if you have any” followed by contact details.
- You can also send details of the announcement to firstname.lastname@example.org and specify that it is an announcement for the Affinity Group bulletin and/or for the email newsletter. You can also share with other Affinity Group coordinators in the AG signal chat.
Sensitive information should NOT be shared on WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform. It should only be shared within signal, and ideally with “disappearing messages” turned on. This could include names and contact details of XR members, and plans for actions that are not yet public.
Receiving InformationYou will receive information from two places:
- The AG bulletin (this is the main source)
- The AG coordinators Signal chat
It is up to you how you pass on this information, and we recommend that you have a discussion with the rest of your group to decide how to do it. These are some suggestions:
- Get hold of everyone’s email addresses and just forward the bulletin to everyone each time you receive it.
- Go through the bulletin yourself, pick out the bits that you think are relevant to your group and then send these out either by email or on your group’s signal chat.
- Wait until your next AG meeting and then use the bulletin points as agenda points, or read out the bulletin at the meeting.
Where are actions listed?Hopefully, if everything has gone according to plan, actions and events should be announced:
- On the website: https://xrcambridge.org/events
- On facebook
- On the WhatsApp announcements channel
- On the email newsletter (not all actions will go out here)
How to start getting your AG involvedHere are 4 suggestions of ways to get involved:
- Get a wad of leaflets from the office and take your AG out leafleting (email email@example.com)
- Look out on the above channels to see what actions are happening, and go out together to one of the actions. You don’t need to take your whole AG, anyone can go to an action, but it’s a good bonding experience if you can go together.
- Plan your own action! A new action support working group is currently being set up who can support you with this - more info coming soon. Remember that Extinction Rebellion is made up of autonomous groups, so as long as you plan an action that fits with the 10 principles and values (https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/), you don’t need to get anyone’s permission.
- Get your AG members to start joining working groups. The working group structure is in the process of changing, and some of the groups you can see on the website (https://xrcambridge.org/get_involved) might be changing - watch this space. But in general, to join a working group, just send them an email.
What to do at your AG meetings
It is important to meet regularly if you can. Other groups have found that it helps to pick a regular time (e.g. every-other-monday) for simplicity.
Here are some suggestions for how to structure your meeting:
- Start with a check-in. Go round in a circle and let people talk about what they’ve been up to, how they are feeling, what’s on their mind. Make sure that people are not interrupted whilst they are speaking. You could choose to set a time limit, or not. Some groups do very short check-ins (just a few words or sentences), others like to do long check-ins (5+ minutes each). It’s completely up to you.
- Structure the meeting with an agenda of points that you want to discuss. These could be other actions that you’ve heard about, tactics, rebellions, working groups, your own action ideas etc etc.
- If there are a lot of agenda points, prioritise and/or assign time limits to each one.
- If there are a lot of people in your AG, you might need to use the hand signals to make sure that everyone gets a chance to speak and people don’t interrupt each other.
Hand signals and letting everyone speakMany XR meetings are facilitated using hand signals so that everyone gets a chance to speak and people do not talk over each other. Here is a list of the main hand signals:
- Hand up: “I want to speak - please put me in the queue”
- Two fingers up: “Direct point - I want to skip the queue and respond immediately”
- T-symbol with hands: “Technical point”
- C-symbol with fingers: “Clarification point”
- Waving both hands - agreement
- P - shape - proposal (to resolve a discussion possibly).
If you can’t meet in person or just prefer not to, you could meet on zoom. You can create a free account which allows meetings for up to 40 minutes (you can always re-click the link). Or you can contact the systems and tech working group to get the zoom login details for our paid Cambridge XR account.
There is also a similar platform called Jitsi but it’s not as widely used.
How to plan your own action
Here are some resources from the Action Support Working group. They are there to help you with your action, answer your questions, give you guidance and help you with practicalities. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Actions menu: https://tinyurl.com/actions-menu
- How to plan a roadblock: https://tinyurl.com/roadblock-guide
- Swarming guide: https://tinyurl.com/how-to-swarm
- Deescalation guide: https://tinyurl.com/deescalation-guide
- Practical debrief: https://tinyurl.com/practical-debrief
- For help with leaflets, contact the leaflet group (a subgroup of the media and messaging working group) on email@example.com
- To request legal observers for your action, contact the LO team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To measure the success: the best way to measure the success of your action is to have a debrief after the actions and get feedback from those involved.
Suggested actions:If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas (the Actions Support working group can give you more help and guidance):
- Swarming (temporary road blocks)
- Leafleting (no risk of arrest)
- A static road block (e.g. for 1 hour)
- A banner drop (e.g. drop a banner from a bridge)
- A performative action, e.g. big banners, music or flash dance in a public space
- Occupying a space, e.g. a bank that invests in fossil fuels or a petrol station, or the entrance to a college that has links with fossil fuels, or a talk that promotes fossil fuel use etc.