Taking down rape culture, one heart at a time

Sex should be good for you and your partner(s) and for that to happen it must be truly consensual!

The dominant culture teaches some of us that we are entitled to sex and that the object of our sexual interest is just that, an “object”, and not a person. Sexual predation … how to “hit that”, “score”, etc. follow as normalized expressions of sexual interest and behavior. These are inherently non-consensual modes of expressing sexual interest and often lead to violations of other’s boundaries and well-being. This rape culture is deeply ingrained and must be addressed on an institutional and societal scale. Here are also some suggestions for challenging it on a personal level:

Tips for regaining power:

• Know yourself. Listen to your heart; articulate your needs and boundaries.

• Don’t apologize unless you have done something physically or emotionally harmful. Whether you want to be intimate with someone is always your choice.

• Exercise your ability to reach out to friends and family for help.

• Practice saying no powerfully to yourself and your partner. “Fuck off” is acceptable at times too.

If you have power, question it:

• Compassion. Listen to your partner’s needs despite your wants, and desires.

• Follow-through: if your partner is uncomfortable in any intimate situation respect their discomfort and check-in later on how they are doing.

• Build your peers up; emotional demolition is not stylish!

• Build your emotional vocabulary and talk about your feelings! It’s beautiful and powerful.

• R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Every body is a temple.

• Be vocal about sexual assault you, or friends experience or perpetrate.

Practicing collective power – for everyone:

• Be aware of power dynamics in a relationship.

• Be an ally – engage bystanders and intervene!

• Use the buddy system and let your buddy know what you are and are not comfortable with prior to entering a social situation.

• Check-in, “Hey, are you okay?”

• Practice talking about consent with your partner. An enthusiastic, non-intoxicated, verbal “yes.”

• Encourage others to be aware of the structures of power in society and engage compassionately with one another to be emotionally aware, articulate, comfortable, compassionate, and expressive.

• Practice saying yes, emphatically and excitedly to yourself in the mirror and your partner!


Breaking barriers

We come to radical spaces or events hoping that we can be ourselves, and it can be heartbreaking to discover that the same barriers and hierarchies we experience in mainstream society are often recreated in these contexts. Whether it is certain people talking over everyone else, class assumptions, someone calling the cops or sexual assault, it sucks to find that we are once again on the margins. What can we do to make our spaces more inclusive and egalitarian?

We all bring our histories with us. Each of us is a unique combination of identities and experiences, so what we need to participate fully in community or collectives looks pretty different. Part of making our anti-oppression ideas stick is understanding how we have been trained to marginalize others or to expect marginalization. This can manifest itself physically or socially, as we develop more inclusive spaces.

First, we must do an inventory for ourselves. What identities do I embody that normalize or prioritize me? What identities do I embody that marginalize or disempower me? Consider sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, age, citizenship, religion… When I interact with others, what do I need to a) check in myself and b) know others will accommodate for / include?

Spelling out these boundaries from the beginning is much easier than stopping in the middle of an interaction. For example, non-masculine-identified people are often trained not to take on physical tasks, so making space for each participant to learn / explore / do with the level of instruction they desire is a reasonable accommodation. When planning a public action, the group could consider who is most vulnerable to state violence — such as people of color or people without papers — and find out what risk level feels acceptable to them. In brainstorming or discussion, giving everyone access to background material and acknowledging our theoretical assumptions can increase participation.

Often it is small differences that add up. Taking good stack at a meeting so each person gets their turn, or using phrases like “I agree” instead of “You’re right”, can change the power balance and set precedence for people with more marginalized identities to step up. The (inclusive) heroes of our stories, the focus of our resources, and an increased accessibility of radical culture can all increase participation by people who work for a better world but haven’t found solidarity in the radical scene.

Know your rights 2017

These suggestions from the National Lawyers Guild “Know Your Rights” guide summarize the rules to which the police are theoretically subject. However be careful: the police, the courts, and the government can and do ignore these rules when they feel like it. Sometimes, police retaliate against people for exercising their rights. These tips may help you later on in court, and sometimes they won’t. But even though the state can’t be counted on to follow its own laws, it still may be helpful to know what these laws are so you can shame particular state agents or deal with particular situations. Always use your best judgment — if you aren’t doing anything wrong, there may be no reason to be excessively paranoid or escalate a potentially innocent and brief encounter with a police officer who is just saying “hi” into an ugly situation by acting suspicious and refusing to say “hi” back. The point is to avoid giving information.

Providing this information isn’t intended to scare you into inactivity or make you paranoid. The vast majority of radical projects proceed with no interference from the police. The police hassle and arrest people because they hope that such repression will frighten the population into submission. We can take reasonable precautions while continuing the fight for liberation.


Never Talk to the Police

Anything you say to an FBI agent or cop may be used against you and other people — even if the questions seem routine or harmless. You don’t have to talk to FBI agents, police or investigators on the street, if you’ve been arrested, or if you’re in jail. (Exceptions: Your name, date of birth and address are known as “Booking questions” which are not included in your right to remain silent. Also, in some states you can get an additional minor charge for refusing to identify yourself after a police stop based on reasonable suspicion). Only a judge has the authority to order you to answer questions. Many activists have refused to answer questions, even when ordered by a judge or grand jury, and subsequently served jail time to avoid implicating others. It is common for the FBI to threaten to serve you with a grand jury subpoena unless you talk to them. Don’t be intimidated. This is frequently an empty threat, and if they are going to subpoena you, they will do so anyway. If you do receive a subpoena, call a lawyer right away.

Once you’ve been stopped or arrested, don’t try to engage cops in a dialogue or respond to accusations. If you are nervous about simply refusing to talk, you may find it easier to tell them to contact your lawyer. Once a lawyer is involved, the police sometimes back off. Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer. Don’t lie to the police or give a false name— lying to the police is a crime. However, the police are allowed to lie to you — don’t believe what they say. If you’ve been arrested, don’t talk about anything sensitive in police cars, jail cells or to other inmates — you are probably being recorded.

What To Do About Police Harassment On The Street

If the police stop you on the street, ask, “Am I free to go?” If yes, walk away. If not, you are being detained but this does not necessarily mean you will be arrested. Ask, “Can you explain why you are detaining me?” To stop you, cops must have specific reasons to suspect you of involvement in a specific crime. Police are entitled to pat you down during a detention. If the police try to further search you, your car, or your home, say repeatedly that you do not consent to the search, but do not physically resist.

What To Do If Police Visit Your Home

You do not have to let the FBI or police into your home or office unless they have a search warrant. If they have an arrest warrant you may limit entry if the person surrenders outside. In either case, Ask to inspect the warrant. It must specifically describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. You do not have to tell them anything other than your name and address. Tell the police that you can not consent to the search unless it is also inspected by a lawyer. If the officers ask you to give them documents, your computer, do not consent to them taking it. However physically trying to block them from searching or seizing items may escalate the situation. You have a right to observe what they do. You should take written notes of their names and what they do. Have friends act as witnesses.

What To Do If Police Stop You In Your Car

If you are driving a car, you must show police your license, registration and proof of insurance, but you do not have to consent to a search or answer questions. Keep your hands where the police can see them and refuse to consent (agree) to a search. Police may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.

What To Do If You Are Arrested

Repeatedly tell the police “I am going to remain silent, I would like to see my lawyer.” If you suffer police abuse while detained or arrested, try to remember the officer’s badge number and/or name. You have the right to ask the officer to identify himself. Write down everything as soon as you can and try to find witnesses. If you are injured, see a doctor and take pictures of the injuries as soon as possible.

Searches at International Borders

Your property (including data on laptops) can be searched and seized at border crossings without a warrant. Do not take any data you would like to keep private across the border. If you have to travel with electronic data encrypt it before crossing and make an encrypted back up of any data before crossing in case your computer or phone is seized.

Police Hassles: What If You Are Not A Citizen?

In most cases, you have the right to a hearing with an immigration judge before you can be deported. If you voluntarily give up this right or take voluntary departure, you could be deported without a hearing and you may never be able to enter the US legally again or ever get legal immigration status. Do not talk to the ICE, even on the phone, or sign any papers before talking to an immigration lawyer. Unless you are seeking entry into the country, you do not have to reveal your immigration status to any government official. If you are arrested in the US, you have the right to call your consulate or have the police inform the consulate of your arrest. Your consul may help you find a lawyer. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

Police Hassles: What If You Are Under 18 Years Old?

Don’t talk to the police — minors also have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to talk to cops or school officials. Public school students have the right to politically organize at school by passing out leaflets, holding meetings and publishing independent newspapers as long as these activities do not disrupt classes. You have the right to a hearing with your parents and an attorney present before you are suspended or expelled. Students can have their backpacks and lockers searched by school officials without a warrant. Do not consent to any search, but do not physically resist.

Common Sense Activist Security Measures

Don’t speculate on or circulate rumors about protest actions or potentially illegal acts. Assume you are under surveillance if you are organizing mass direct action, anything illegal, or even legal stuff. Resist police disruption tactics by checking out the authenticity of any potentially disturbing letter, rumor, phone call, or other form of communication before acting on it. Ask the supposed source if she or he is responsible. Deal openly and honestly with the differences in our movements (race, gender, class, age religion, sexual orientation, etc.) before the police can exploit them. Don’t try to expose a suspected agent or informer without solid proof. Purges based on mere suspicion only help the police create distrust and paranoia. It generally works better to criticize what a disruptive person says and does without speculating as to why.

People who brag about, recklessly propose, or ask for unnecessary information about underground groups or illegal activities may be undercover police but even if they are not, they are a severe danger to the movement. The police may send infiltrators/provocateurs posing as activists to entrap people on conspiracy charges of planning illegal acts. You can be guilty of conspiracy just for agreeing with one other person to commit a crime even if you never go through with it — all that is required is an agreement to do something illegal and a single “overt act” in furtherance of the agreement, which can be a legal act like going to a store. It is reasonable to be suspicious of people in the scene who pressure us, manipulate us, offer to give us money or weapons, or make us feel like we aren’t cool if we don’t feel comfortable with a particular tactic, no matter why they do these things. Responsible activists considering risky actions will want to respect other people’s boundaries and limits and won’t want to pressure you into doing things you’re not ready for. Doing so is coercive and disrespectful — hardly a good basis on which to build a new society or an effective action.

Keep in mind that activists who spend all their time worrying about security measures and police surveillance will end up totally isolated and ineffective because they won’t be able to welcome new folks who want to join the struggle. We have to be aware of the possibility of police surveillance while maintaining our commitment to acting openly and publicly. Smashing the system is going to require mass action as well as secretive covert actions by a tiny clique of your trusted friends.

More info contact the National Lawyers Guild: 415 285-5067 or 212 679-5100; read The War at Home by Brian Glick or Agents of Repression by Ward Churchill


Take good care of yourself – tips for wellbeing

Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re crazy, or is it the world that’s crazy. Watching while our society destroys itself triggers despair and anxiety. Yet it is possible to summon the courage to stay engaged with the world, survive and fight back. When you’re suffering from depression and anxiety is often the hardest time to ask for help from others around you — and paradoxically when you need help the most. Feelings exist for reasons — if you repress them too hard, you can miss important lessons they may have for you. Here are some tips you can use when you’re in crisis which can also be helpful if you’re trying to care for someone having a breakdown.

• It can help to focus off the crisis and onto what you find joyful until you can gather more resources.

• Our brains are connected to our bodies so concentrating on physical health can help treat mental distress. Eating healthy food on a regular schedule and getting enough sleep are key. Exercise, dance, biking and physical movement can help. So can fresh air and having a stable, calming place to stay.

• It is okay to ask for help or to discuss disturbing mental states with others. It helps everyone when these feelings are out of the closet.

• When things are really painful or stressful, it can help to step back and disconnect from feelings that you’ll be destroyed unless you achieve a particular outcome like keeping a particular lover or avoiding changes. Change is inevitable and our greatest source of pain can be our attachment to keeping things static. A year or two from now, whatever is happening now will be a memory and the pain of wishing it was otherwise will be gone. Most changes, even when they are painful, open up other opportunities. When you accept that your life is an adventure, you can see painful changes as plot twists – great stories you can tell later. When you avoid attachment to a particular outcome, you can step back and watch your life like you would watch a movie, which can really reduce your suffering.

• Joining a mutual support group of peers listening to and helping peers as equals can validating, while not necessarily endorsing your feelings. You can form one yourself or join an ongoing group.

• Find a counselor who supports your self-determination. Ask about confidentiality if someone else — such as your parents, boss, or governmental program — is paying for your therapy.

• Drugs and alcohol often make mental health problems worse.

• There is no shame in using psychiatric drugs such as those for depression or bipolar disorder if you know they work for you.

• Keep in mind that some current emotional crises may be caused by traumas from the past, which may need to be emotionally and consciously processed in order not to keep recurring.

• When you’re depressed, the most helpful thing to realize is that the depressed feeling will eventually pass and your life will begin to seem meaningful again later. Depression inhibits your ability to perceive and understand the world correctly. Your perceptions of isolation, loneliness, un-lovability, and hopelessness are not accurate when you are depressed. You have to get through the low point so you can correctly understand reality again on the other side. Avoid making any decisions or drastic moves such as hurting yourself when you are unable to correctly perceive reality.

• Distracting yourself from depressed thoughts can help: listening to music, making art, washing dishes, or doing a project alone or with others.

• Many communities have 24 hour a day crisis hotlines or crisis centers. Call 800-SUICIDE if you’re thinking about killing yourself or 800 646-HOPE to reach a rape crisis line for survivors of sexual violence.

• For anxiety, try to remember to breathe. Practicing meditation may also help you relax.

• Acupuncture, massage and other body work can be ways for others to give your whole self some gentle attention.

• Ecopsychology is realizing nature and wilderness are our greatest healers. Spend some time outside the city to get centered and get away from pollution which is in itself mind-altering.

• If you have a loved one in crisis, the most helpful thing is to make it clear that you care and be there to listen. They may not be able to call or ask for help — it can be very helpful to keep calling them every day or two to check-in, even if they don’t answer the phone or seem to want help. Sometimes it is okay to want to be alone so don’t be too pushy. Just make it clear that you care.

• Social change: Actually address the stressful factors in your environment. Revolution can heal.

• If someone is having delusional thinking or expressing violence related to mental issues, these suggestions may not be enough and it is okay to reach out for professional help.


Hey hey ho ho Chants

Below are some chants you can use and adapt at the next street action. Joining your voice with others gives us power we don’t have alone. A good chant translates political vision, rage and resistance into language. It can move a street full of people forward together. The best chants have a good rhythm and build excitement and energy. Clever words, humor and passion make chants fun. If you’re in a protest where a chant has gone on for too long, help save the day by starting a new one! We’ve also listed a few protest songs.


There ain’t no power like the power of the people, cause the power of the people don’t stop. Say what?

If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace!

What do we want? _________! When do we want it? NOW!

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!

We will not be silenced in the face of ___________ violence

When _____’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!

No means no and nothing less. How we dress does not mean ‘yes’

Get up, get down, there’s a ______ movement in this town!

1, 2, 3, 4 We don’t want your fucking war

2, 4, 6, 8 stop the violence stop the hate

The system has got to die, hella hella occupy

Fuck the _________, we don’t need them, all we want is total freedom

From Oakland to _________, fuck the police

Who’s streets? Our streets!

Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!

Hey Hey Ho Ho _______ has got to go

This is what democracy looks like

No justice, no peace

We’re fired up, won’t take it no more! No to Oil, no to War!

Two four six eight – no more chants with rhymes or meters that work!

What do we want? Brains! When do we want it? Brains!

A slogan, exhausted, should never be repeated!


Protest songs:

Which side are you on?

This little light of mine

We shall overcome

Solidarity forever

We shall not be moved

The world turned upside down

The Diggers Song

Introduction to Organizer 2017

The world is suffering from information overload — a constant barrage of distraction, seduction, and ultimately fear and despair that makes it harder to see the big picture, plan long-term, or just breathe the air and live your life. The constant speed up and centralization of data, money and power favors authoritarian power-grabs and makes home-grown do-it-yourself alternatives seem invisible and impossible. The system loves it when everyone feels scared, hopeless and resigned, because that means the system can do whatever it pleases with no opposition, no resistance, no disorder. The system wants us to think that our only options are the bad choices that it offers. We need to struggle for other options: neither fear-based violent authoritarianism nor hum drum economic servitude as a worker and consumer.

Being part of the resistance — creating alternatives to the top down dehumanizing system —isn’t a burden or a lot of work. It is the secret to happiness and being fully alive, awake and engaged with others and ourselves. Living within the system is boring — we demand a world filled with music, creativity, playfulness and spontaneity. In this world of hate, fear, violence, greed and arrogance, acting with love, generosity and tenderness is resistance.

When we focus on making life meaningful and taking care of others around us and the earth, the sense that the world is so totally out of control doesn’t go away, but it becomes contextualized with the reality that each of us is actually experiencing. Our lives aren’t all great all the time, but they aren’t apocalyptic, either. The looming sense that the world is ending is robbing us of our ability to see that we’re still here now and what we’re doing in this moment is what really matters.

It’s time to disconnect and slow down. The Organizer you hold in your hands is a tool to help you step away from the computerized rat race and reconnect with other people in a face-to-face, non-virtual, cooperative fashion. Writing stuff down with a real pen on real paper changes the quality of thought in ways that we’re only beginning to realize we miss and that we need. Try it! This is the 23rd time we’ve amused ourselves by publishing the Slingshot organizer. Its sale raises funds to publish the quarterly, radical, independent Slingshot Newspaper. We distribute the newspaper for free everywhere in the US, often at the places listed in the Radical Contact List. Let us know if you can be a local newspaper distributor in your area. Consider sending us content for the paper. Thanks to the volunteers who created this year’s organizer: Amy, Angie, Bellamy, Casey, Courtney, Dane, Dov, Eggplant, Elaine, Ellie, Elke, Erica, Fil, Francesca, Hailey, Isabel, Jason, Jesse, Katie, Kermit, Korvin, Lew, Lindsay, Mel, Michael, Moira, Piper, Rachel, Rica, Rory, Solomon, Vanessa & those we forgot.

Slingshot Collective

A Project of Long Haul

Physical office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705

Mail: PO box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 • http://slingshot.tao.ca • slingshot@tao.ca • @slingshotnews


Printed in Berkeley, CA on recycled paper




All volunteer collective – no bosses, no workers, no pay.


Help a prisoner escape

The systems of oppression operated by the 1% are vulnerable — they are unsustainable and they can be defeated — but they won’t crumble on their own. People just like us help with protests, riots, middle of the night missions and other acts of resistance. Affinity groups are small direct action cells — usually 4-8 people — who share attitudes about tactics and who organize themselves during actions for effectiveness and protection. Affinity groups can organize actions or make them better once they’re going down.

Many affinity groups choose a legal support person for each action who stays at another location to avoid possible arrest so they can handle things if members of the group are arrested. Jail aims to isolate and disempower us so we’ll sit down and shut up. But when we support each other, we can resist and return to the streets stronger. Here are very brief tips for being a jail support person.

Before the action

• Agree on a phone number that accepts collect calls to call if someone gets arrested and then be at that number.

• Make a list of the real full name, arrest history, outstanding warrants, emergency contacts, and other special needs of each member such as kids that need childcare, medical needs, doctor’s names, etc. Note if a person’s chosen name is different than the one on their ID and if there is a concern that they might be held in housing that does not match their gender identity.

• Discuss scenarios for bailing people out of jail if necessary. If bail is high, some people may want to use a bail bond which involves losing 10% of the bail. Other people might be okay waiting a while in jail to save money and because bail bond companies prey on the poor. Paying bail puts resources into the state and may incentivize arrests. Some people may have money available to pay bail in cash and the support person needs to know how to get the money. Groups can also prioritize people to get bailed out first based on who may be injured, gender non-conforming, have childcare responsibilities, risk losing their jobs or other factors.

During the action / if an arrestee calls

• Remind people that phones may be tapped and conversations in police cars or jail cells recorded so it is best to avoid discussion of the circumstances of anyone’s arrest.

• Write down arrested people’s booking and arrest numbers, jail #, charges, bail, expected release time, special needs, information about injuries, and upcoming court dates. It can help to keep a log and write down the time and date and all (non-incriminating) relevant information which can help if there is a lawsuit or criminal trial later. Write legibly!

• If someone is arrested you can notify loved ones and the other group members.

• If someone calls from jail, you can pass on messages form the outside which is a huge morale booster. Being in jail can be scary. Ask if they are okay and offer emotional support to arrestees (and their family and friends.)

• When you know someone has been arrested but they haven’t called, you (along with a lawyer in some cases) can call the jail to locate them so the system knows someone is looking out for them and so you can inform their family and friends and feed pets or pick kids up from school, etc. Lawyers may be able to invoke the right to remain silent / not be questioned without representation.

• Arrange travel home when people get released. Often the support person and other affinity group members wait outside jail for members to be released and greet them with donuts and hugs.

• In some cases a support person can help organize demands for prisoners to be released or notify the media and government officials about unlawful arrests and police violence.

• Once people are released, write down relevant information about the arrest, police misconduct and other relevant information while it is fresh in everyone’s mind.

Info from Midnight Special Law Collective (www.midnightspecial.net) gone but not forgotten

DIY Bike Touring

Here are some tips on low-cost, do-it-yourself bike touring — taking your bike on roads outside cities. You don’t have to have a ton of money, a fancy bike, or tight spandex pants to bike 100 miles to the next town over a couple of days — or even bike across the whole damn country.

Planning your trip

Picking a good route is key to a good trip. Look for secondary roads that will have less traffic. Even if there is no shoulder, you can just go in the ditch whenever a car goes by. If your trip is in a hilly area, you may want to look at a topographical map to avoid hills. If a road follows a river, it will usually be more or less level until it leaves the river and jumps to the next valley. You can buy fancy bike maps from groups like Adventure Cycling that show lots of details important to cyclists or look at books about bike touring or just use a road map. Asking about routes at bike shops also helps. If your route doesn’t go through a town at least every 40 or so miles, you’ll need to carry extra food and water. Not every town on a map has food and water in very rural areas.

What to bring

You don’t need a fancy bike but more gears helps. Tires thinner than knobby mountain bike tires are better because they have less friction. Make sure your bike is adjusted so riding doesn’t hurt your body. Check that the seat is adjusted to the right height — your knees shouldn’t be too bent at their lowest position. A comfortable seat makes a huge difference. You’ll at least want working brakes. Pumping the tires to the full pressure is free and makes riding easier. Make sure your bike has a rack for carrying camping gear if you are going to camp. Carrying stuff in a backpack or shoulder bag is hard on your back. You can get used bike bags or make your own out of plastic tubs. The most common mistake bike tourists make is bringing too much stuff but you’ll at least need the basics:

• bike tools like a patch kit and pump, allen or hex wrenches, and a pocket knife with a screwdriver. You don’t necessarily need every tool there is. If you break down you can usually hitchhike or take a bus to a town with a bike store. Avoid silly weight like extra tires!

• water bottles and a bit of food, but keep in mind that bike touring is not like backpacking. You don’t have to be self-sufficient for days. You’ll fill your water bottle and get food every time you hit a town.

• a tent or tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, sunscreen, toiletries, and soap.

• fewer clothes are better. One change is sufficient if you wash each day and dry ‘em on the back of your bike when you’re riding.

• safety stuff like a helmet and bike light which can double as a flashlight.

Where to stay

Some people camp in campgrounds, a few of which even have cheap hiker/biker sites. Some city parks, churches or country stores allow bike camping; ask around. Lots of times people will let you stay in their yard or on their land if you make friends and ask. Or you can camp illegally where no one can see you. Figuring out where you’ll stay before you go will make your trip WAY less stressful and more fun.

Bonus tips

You can put your bike on some city bus routes or commuter trains to get beyond the urban sprawl for a nicer start for your ride. The more you talk to people you meet and ask questions or for help, the better time you’ll have.


Not another damn meeting …

As we build new non-hierarchical projects, houses and communities, clear and open group process can make our work a lot easier. Making decisions as a group doesn’t have to mean sitting in endless frustrating meetings or letting our groups be dominated by those with the loudest voices. Here are some tips on how to create effective, fun, cooperative structures for liberation.

Decision Making Process

• If possible, come to meetings having already thought about concrete things to say and discuss.

• Starting a meeting well sets the tone for what is to come. Make a clear agenda that everyone understands and agrees on. Select people to play roles at the meeting: a facilitator or co-facilitators, a time keeper, someone to take minutes, and maybe a stack-keeper and vibes watcher for bigger meetings. Go around the circle and have everyone introduce themselves and perhaps check-in with how they’re feeling to build a cohesive spirit for the meeting.

• Meetings are more fun when there’s food and drink served.

• It can be helpful to have a brainstorm to generate ideas on a particular agenda item. Everyone throws out ideas and no one comments on them or discusses them at the time. They’re written down and organized or discussed later.

• Sometimes people raise their hands to speak to a point. The facilitator or stack-keeper will call on people and keep their comments in order. Other times a “talking stick” gets passed around — only the person holding the stick can speak.

• Sometimes, it is nice to have a “go-round” so that everyone in the circle can speak to a point or at least say “pass.” That will give quieter people who might not raise their hand a chance to speak.

• During the meeting, after discussing a point on the agenda, one or several people can state specific proposals or counter-proposals for the group to act on. This avoids general discussion that doesn’t lead to a clear decision or action.

• When a meeting is having a hard time getting to a decision, it can be helpful to take a non-binding “straw poll” to get a sense of how people feel on an issue. It may be that most people already favor one course and a straw poll can move the meeting from discussion to reaching a decision.

• Many groups use consensus to reach a decision — the process of only making a decision when, after thorough discussion, everyone agrees to a proposal or agrees to stand aside and not block it. This can take longer because it takes time to hear everyone’s point of view and requires people to compromise but avoids a group splitting between winners and losers.

• At the end of the meeting, make sure the date is set for the next meeting. Doing a check-out to state how people thought the meeting went can help heal hard feelings that may have developed during the meeting. It also helps to have people repeat what they agreed to do at the meeting so everyone remembers who will do what later. Write up minutes and distribute them to the group.

Organizational Development

• Groups that grow slowly and organically — starting with small goals and letting the project expand with the group rather than biting off a huge task right from the start — tend to keep going rather than burning out. Avoid endless discussions of abstract structure and procedures before you’ve actually done anything.

• Collectives work best when they stay small — maybe the size of a band or at most a smaller chamber orchestra. If a project requires more people, several independent collectives can communicate and cooperate on it.

• Having an established welcoming ritual for new members will help the group seem open rather than a closed clique of friends.

• Some collectives are open to anyone who wants to join. Others are closed collectives — new members have to be invited to join by the existing group. Figure out which kind your group wants to be based on the goals and needs of the group. It is okay to decide who you want to work with — being closed can help deal with disruptive people. On the other hand, open groups can include new energy, people and diversity outside your personal friendship network.

• Finances should be open and not mixed with anyone’s personal money.

• Keep a binder with all the minutes of meetings to maintain history as membership changes.

• Avoid development of an “in-group” by rotating tasks, sharing information about how things work, and publicly posting meeting times if the group is an open collective.