Forming Groups & Projects

Affinity Groups, Discussion Groups, and other Containers for Reflection and Work

  • The Social Emergency Response Center model is being proposed on the Design Studio for Social Intervention According to the site, “SERCs will be temporary, emergent, and creative pop-up spaces co-led by activists and artists around the US. They will function as both an artistic gesture and a practical solution. As such we will need to figure out the balance, like how will we feed people–and their hunger for justice? How will we create a shelter–where it’s safe to bring your whole damn self? What will reconstruction–of civil society–look like?”The site includes interesting diagrams about what SERCs might do that could serve as a basis for planning and discussion for local groups. At this writing, the site also includes information about the first SERC, opening January 2017 in Boston.
  • Gabriel Arkles, Boston and New York-based trans anti-prison activist and educator, responded to the call for models with this description of a group he is in that may be a useful model to try: “I’m part of a tiny group that has decided to meet together regularly. We’re thinking of it as a sort of support group for action. Our model is basically to gather and go around, with each of saying how we’re doing emotionally and physically, reporting on what actions we’ve taken in the last week (or whatever other length of time), sharing what actions we want to take in the coming week, and then asking for whatever help we want or need from others. Then we have some time to either just do work on our various planned actions, or work on helping each other in ways we asked, or have dinner together, or whatever. We don’t have any materials about it, but that’s pretty much our whole model.”

    Image from Cascadian Gossip.
  • Five Tips for Forming and Affinity Group from Resilience Circles. They also provide a guide for your first meeting, and lots of other information about building small groups and circles.
  • War Resisters International provides a guide called Techniques for Consensus Decision Making in large Groups: The Spokespersons Council Method and a guide called Groups for Action that talk about the purpose of affinity groups, how to run groups, how to make decisions, roles within groups and more.
  • This zine from Activate Grand Rapids addresses how to form an affinity group.
  • On Conflict and Consensus is a very useful book about how to do consensus decision making.
  • The Ruckus Society’s website has lots of resources about how to plan various kinds of actions, principles for doing direct action work and training tools.
  • Beautiful Solutions is a useful site collecting stories, solutions and theories about transformation. Check out their page on horizontalism which links to many specific accounts of people creating and sustaining horizontalist projects.
  • Gay Shame just released a new zine about how to do direct action that includes useful guidance about forming groups and initiating projects. You can also email gayshamesf at yahoo dot com and they can send you a lot of paper copies to distribute in your community.