Prior to the Meeting
Spread the word! Invite people to come, ask them to commit to joining the meeting, and follow up with them beforehand to confirm. Think about how to invite a diverse group that includes people from communities most impacted by the Trump agenda, such as people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ people.
Print out and bring sign-in sheets.
Designate someone to take notes during the meeting.
Bring a concrete idea for an action that your group will take the following week. That way, you can recruit meeting attendees to participate!
Welcome and Introductions
Welcome everyone and outline the goals for the meeting, including:
- Get to know each other;
- Commit to the values that will guide your work in the coming months and years; and
- Plan and commit to your first action.
Write your agenda somewhere everyone can see it (or pass it out to everyone). If you are using this agenda, you can write only the bolded section headers in this document: Welcome and introductions, group name, principles, roles, communication, action plan.
Remind everyone of the ultimate goal: to apply pressure to your Member of Congress to stop Trump.
Have each person in attendance briefly introduce themselves and explain what motivated them to get involved. The amount of time you have for this will vary depending on the size of your group. If your group is large, you may want to ask everyone to keep their introduction to one sentence. Model the type of introduction you are looking for by going first.
Decide on a Group Name
If you already have a name, skip this step! Otherwise, propose a name and open the floor for additional suggestions. A good place to start is with a name that includes the geographic area of your group. If multiple names are proposed, take a vote. Try to keep this section of the meeting as short as possible—you want to get to the action.
Agree on Principles
This is your chance to say what your group stands for. We recommend two guiding principles:
- Donald Trump’s agenda will take America backwards and must be stopped.
- In order to work together to achieve this goal, we must model the values of inclusion, respect, and fairness.
Lay out your guiding principles and make sure there are no objections from the group. For example you can say, “Does anyone have any objections to using these principles to guide our work together?”
Volunteer for Roles
This part of the meeting will vary a lot depending on how big your group is and who is in the room. The goal is to figure out how you will divide roles and responsibilities among your group.
We recommend the following roles:
- Overall group coordination (1-2 people): Responsible for scheduling group meetings, coordinating communication within your group, and leading the group in planning and strategy for local, defensive congressional action.
- Media/social media lead (1 person): Responsible for coordinating your group’s outreach to the media and presence on social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook).
- News monitoring lead (1 person): Responsible for tracking news about your Members of Congress and any major Congressional issues/decisions.
- Congressional office tracking (1-2 people): Responsible for tracking your Member of Congress’ schedule, events, and upcoming votes. This will be essential to scheduling your group’s visits to your Member of Congress’ office, attendance at town hall events, etc.
- Tech and Inclusion help (1-2 people): If there are members of your group who may need extra help with internal communications like Facebook invites or emails, appoint a helpful person to make sure they’re in the loop.
This is also a good time to talk about the different ways that group members can contribute to advocacy efforts: attending events, recording events, asking questions, making calls, hosting meetings, engaging on social media, writing op-eds for local papers, etc. Ask each person in attendance how they would like to contribute. Have your note-taker take good notes during this section. Whenever possible, have people commit to a specific action at a specific time (e.g. I will write an op-ed next week about healthcare).
Adopt a Means of Communication
You need a way of reaching everyone in your group in order to coordinate actions. This can be a Facebook group, a Google group, a Slack team, an email list, a phone tree—whatever people are most comfortable with.
Commit to Action
Set a time and date for a specific action that your group will take the following week. It’s a good idea to come to the meeting with something in mind so that you can actively recruit people to attend. Attendees may have additional ideas, and that’s great! Depending on the size of your group, you can decide on one or you can organize multiple actions.
We suggest that new local groups make a plan to visit the offices of their Members of Congress to tell them that you will be standing, indivisible, against Trump’s agenda, and you’ll be watching to make sure they do the same. This could be your first action.
Select someone who will be the lead coordinator for the action. For the first action, this may be you! But in the future, you may want to designate a group member as the lead on each action. This person will ensure that everything runs smoothly the day of your event. You may also want a media spokesperson for each action.
Sign up group members to attend the next action(s). Ask a clear yes or no question: will you attend our visit to Congressman Bob’s office at 3pm on Tuesday, January 10th? Write down everyone’s name who volunteers. If many people don’t, ask the group why and try to solve the problem. Your group will only have an impact through action.
Make sure you get everyone’s contact information so that you can follow up with a reminder the day before the action.
After the Meeting
Send a message thanking everyone for attending. Remind them about the upcoming action.
Ask group members to recruit additional people to join your group. If each member found one more person to join you would immediately double the size of your group!