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Proposing Action: A Practical Guide to Activism


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Learn more about the various ways in which humans can act in the 21st century. This presentation acknowledges traditional political activity such as signing petitions, as well as new media phenomena like crowdfunding. This material has been used to teach freshman writers about researching and composing proposal arguments. For instructors teaching proposals, major assignment suggestions for audience are included near the end. The content from this powerpoint could be applied to any teaching and learning context, in which audiences need to know more about accessing (and creating access) to resources.

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Proposing Action: A Practical Guide to Activism

  1. 1. The Researched Proposal Developing Plans of Action
  2. 2. Considering the Available Means... ● Legal Action ● Labor Action ● Commercial Action ● Policy Action ● Community Action ○ Geographic ○ Organizational (for and non-profit) ○ Familial ● Individual Action
  3. 3. Assessing Types of Action ● Your action depends on an assessment of at least three factors: ○ Critical Mass ○ Leveraging Networks ○ Money ● The evaluation of factors should be adapted to the problem you want to solve
  4. 4. Organizing for Mass Objectives: ● To Raise Awareness about a new or controversial issue ● To Expand Group Demographics ● To Expand Membership ● To Attract Support for a New Organization ● To Maintain Network Size Examples: ● ● ●
  5. 5. Analyzing 'Mass Appeals': Demographic Classifications ● Geographic Location ● Gender ● Age ● Able-bodiedness ● Race/Ethnicity ● Social Class/Work ● Sexuality ● Political Affiliation ● Educational Status ● Recreation ○ Fitness ○ Fashion ○ Travel ○ Hunting/Fishing ○ Volunteerism ● Lifestyles/Habits ○ Media Consumption (TV, Music, Sports etc.) ○ Food Consumption (e.g. Vegans, Health- Conscious) ○ Spirits Consumption (Wine and Beer Drinkers) ● Modes of Expression ○ Artists ○ Scientists ○ Writers ○ Techies ○ Gamers
  6. 6. Leveraging Networks Objectives: ● Save costs ● Expand networks (increase mass) with shared goals and values ● Distributed governance Examples: ○ ○ ○ ○
  7. 7. Analyzing Network Characteristics ● History ● Social Language (jargon) ● Symbols: colors, clothing, insignia, branding e.g. slogans) ● Rituals: Meeting Places, Times ● Governance: Who does what? Who has the 'power' to maintain and/or transform the discourse community ● Demographics ● Intertexts ● Conversations *Categories drawn from linguist James Paul Gee’s “Discourse Analysis” Consider how each of these exemplifies values, beliefs, ways of seeing the world.
  8. 8. Fundraising or Cost Cutting Objectives ● Give critical mass an easy means of action ● Convince individuals or groups to donate ● Demonstrate cost-effective courses of action as a persuasive strategy ○ Crowd-sourcing ○ Micro-financing ( ○ DIY Examples ● ● ●
  9. 9. Analyzing Resource Needs ● Where does the group meet? ● What supplies does the group use? ● Who designs and circulates materials? ● How much does information add up to (platform, production, circulation)? ● Who fundraises? ● Who plans the group meetings? ● How much time do group actions take? (meetings, voting, canvassing, canning, other communications?) ● Who informs the group about necessary action? Examples:
  10. 10. The Internet Transformed Organizing What are some of the ways in which the Internet affects organizing? ○ Websites (including blogs) ○ Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) ○ Vlogs (YouTube) ○ How-To (Yahoo Questions, eHow, ○ Prosumer Sites (Etsy, Ebay, Amazon) ○ User Feedback (Yelp, Urbanspoon) ○ Micro-Financing (Kickstarter and Flattr) ○ Funds Transfers (Paypal) ○ Forums and IMC (Sparkpeople or YahooGroups!) ○ Archives (Wikipedia, Blake Archives, Doris Duke Collection)
  11. 11. Legal Action Most difficult to accomplish ● Law-making (e.g. THE LAW) ○ Involves representatives in both legislative and judicial branches ○ Need lots of critical mass for voting and public forums and petitions ● Law-suits (e.g. law) ○ Involves individuals ○ A law needs to be broken ○ Contestation over financial compensation needs to be sought Note: a lawsuit may turn into law-making, for instance Brown Vs. Kansas Board of Education, Voting Rights Act
  12. 12. Refresher: Branches of Government Executive Branch: Ratifies laws, organizes departments that communicate with congress (e.g. Department of Education), goes to war. ● Superpowers: Can Command Military Action or Dictate Foreign Policy Legislative Branch: Passes laws, including the budget, civil rights matters, appoints ad-hoc committees, approves appointees ● Superpowers: Determines where the money goes and Amend the Constitution Judicial Branch: Interprets the law, abides by constitutional regulations, has the power to set new precedents ● Superpowers: Determines who gets locked up and who goes free, hacks constitution--gives rights (or takes them away)
  13. 13. Congress: 535 (435 House/100 Senate) Judiciary: Supreme Court and 13 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and District Courts Executive: 15 Cabinet Departments, President, VP, Chiefs of Staff, AG Departments of: State, Justice, Labor, Treasury, Commerce, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, Veteran Affairs, Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security Gov. Facts: Their Critical Mass
  14. 14. Purpose of Knowing about Gov ● A Very Large Bureaucracy! ● Knowing the different functions enables you to modify claims accordingly ○ Don't assume someone can resolve your problem who doesn't have the power ○ Enables you to understand why major sweeping change doesn't happen overnight ○ Identify parties responsible for making necessary reforms and participating in reasonable debate over their duties ○ Knowing you and fellow citizens' LEGAL rights and recognizing when they are being infringed upon
  15. 15. Labor Action Change in the Workplace is the next most difficult... ● Depending on the size of your organization and its culture ○ Right to Organize vs. Right to Work: Living Wage vs. Privilege to Have Opportunity to Work ● Depending on your role in the organization ○ Three types of work ■ For-profit ■ Non-profit ■ Entrepreneur
  16. 16. Commercial Action What you buy matters... ● Individuals' consumer decisions represent a form of action ● Paper or Plastic? Neither..."I brought my own bag!" ● Fair Trade or Slave Made? ● Boycotting ● Organic or Non-Organic ● Buying Local, National, Global ● Energy Choices: Wind, Solar, etc. vs. Coal, Petroleum, Natural Gas ● Discrimination: Who's represented in commercials--'ethnic hair products,' or think scandals like Paula Deen using the N-word, or companies pulling ads from athletes engaging in 'bad behavior' (Michael Phelps’ bong ripping)
  17. 17. Policy Action These tend to apply to bureaucracies. ● These are top-down directives that get translated into forms and statements--respect my authority! ○ Form(al) documents like ■ Memos: circulate policies ■ Contracts "honor policies, which include laws" ○ Lack an identifiable author: Boilerplate. "The organization" inaugurates the document ● Depending on your role in an organization and its governance structure, policies may or may not be an appropriate response for expressing authority ● Exceptionalism is how people in this organizational culture gain power
  18. 18. Community Action Easier to accomplish practical proposals ● Address immediate problems ○ PTA meetings ○ Meals on Wheels ○ Habitat for Humanity ○ Serving Soup on Sunday ○ Writing groups at Domestic Violence Prevention for abused self-mutilators ● Fundraise ○ Rock Out for Cancer ○ 5K for Anything ○ Canvassing your Block for Petition Signatures
  19. 19. Local and University Resources ● Student Affairs ○ Almost 1,000 Student Organizations! ○ Begin a new organization! ● Student Organization Resources ○ Information Packet ● Local Organizations ○ Centre Connect
  20. 20. Individual Action ● What we buy ● How we relate to our own bodies ○ What we eat ○ How we move ● Who we talk to and hang out with ● Who we have intimacy with ○ Dating ○ Marrying ○ Children Remember: Persuasion is likely to occur in your everyday life with people who already trust you. Arguments take place in intimate contexts, as well as ‘public ones.’
  21. 21. A Sample Writing Assignment: The Audience Analysis Portfolio ● Make a tentative argument outline: complete with a claim that proposes action, reasons for proposing action, and tentative evidence ● Research three different audiences: sympathetic, neutral, and hostile. Take notes. ● Choose a specific audience, and revise the outline to meet the expectations of said audience. This will require you to identify and name their discourse community. Consider how specificity and broadness can work for and against you (e.g. Americans vs. College Students vs. Penn State Students vs. Sierra Club Members vs. Gym Enthusiasts.) ● Write a reflective essay that addresses your choice. You should explicitly state the criteria that affect your evaluations of demographics and organization type. Furthermore, you should discuss how such an analysis influences your proposed action, reasons, evidence, and tone. Instructor Tip: Students could turn in each writing task as one major assignment portfolio, or each could be evaluated as homework assignments for a Proposal Argument unit.
  22. 22. Hello, My Name is... Thanks for using this powerpoint! If you use and/or modify the presentation, I would appreciate your feedback to improve future efforts to design curricula and innovate my pedagogy approaches. Please contact me: alexandrialockett@gmail. com or visit my website: www.