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Goals, Strategies & Tactics

Assessing the big picture, focusing your campaigns, and everything in between.

Communications & Policy
Much of what we do to mobilize others, is to communicate and educate about our issues and campaigns, to invite wider discussion and participation.

Solidarity-Working with Others
How to work with everybody, and let everybody work with you.

How to recruit volunteers, and make the most of their efforts.

You know why they call us organizers? Because the better organized we are, the more we can accomplish.

All the things we can do to improve the environment, like recycling, eating organic, a clean-up, rally, teach-in or civil disobedience.

Goals, Strategies and Tactics

One of the most important factors in success, is picking the right campaign for the right time.

Broadly speaking, strategies are medium to long-term goals (2-20 years), and tactics the many steps taken to get there. Both should be thought about carefully, again and again.

It helps immensely to have justice on your side, because people are inclined to support a righteous cause. As becomes clearer with each passing year, environmentalists are on the right side of the issue. That helps.

To a certain extent, tactics are created "on the go" to take advantage of situations as they arise. But for the most part, tactics are pre-planned in a timeline that builds momentum.

For example, if an end to clearcutting in BC is the overall strategy, then some tactics might be a European boycott of clearcutting corporations, securing local timber licenses, purchasing a forest for a land trust, or a local blockade. Tactics are short to medium term, one day to a few years.

It pays to constantly be aware of the shifting political framework, and be prepared to change one's strategies and tactics accordingly. For example, September 11, 2001 changed everything; especially for peace activists.

Here are some of the issues to consider in developing and shifting your strategies and tactics:

Communications and Policy

There is only so much one person, one group, or one coalition can do. To accomplish more one must enlist the support of others... the public, allied groups, governments and corporations.

To reach these broader audiences it is necessary to communicate clearly and concisely one's vision and campaigns, in a way that reaches these audiences' hearts and minds.

Good communications are essential. The communications section of this manual explains how.

But how do we impact the policies of governments and other organizations to effect broad change?

To move others in our direction we must understand them, work within their processes, and adapt our tactics and messages to their needs.

On a broader front, the success of our plans to work with others, and for them to adopt policies congruent with our aims, is directly related to the level of support we achieve in the broad public and among a diversity of organizations.

In other words, our work to effect government and organization policy change goes hand in hand with our public outreach.

Here are some of our policy and communications tools:

Solidarity-- Working Together

By "solidarity" I mean working with as wide a diversity of people and organizations as possible. You've heard all the slogans before, and they are all true… Together we are stronger. The people united will never be defeated. Divide and conquer.

But working with a wide diversity of interests is difficult and can also be frustrating. That is why so many coalitions and parties (the "big tent") fight internally, splinter and fail.

There is usually a tradeoff- between the laser focus of working on a single issue with a small group, or increasing the breadth of activity and participants, by watering down to a common denominator. The small cell can work quickly and efficiently. A coalition is cumbersome and slow to move forward. But in unity there is strength.


Volunteers take a lot of time, and add a lot of value. Unless you think you can save the world by yourself, it pays to learn how to recruit, motivate and channel volunteers. It is the work of thousands of volunteers that will make a difference. Properly managed, volunteers will multiply your effectiveness greatly.


The best activists are the ones who are well organized. They know how to keep track of people, priorities and deadlines. They don't need to search again and again for the same phone numbers, or lose vital pieces of information they have written on little bits of paper. They know where everything is- in its place.

While good organization won't guarantee success, it is a skill that will give you an edge. Here are some tips…


There are as many actions and activities as there are people. I have categorized a few of them below. Don't think of this list as extensive, but only as indicative of the kinds of things we can do with our organizations and issues.

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