Problem: Every person who is distressed by current events is trying to do everything possible to fix it all at once, reducing efficiency and causing burnout.
Input: My friend Tiffany Rose says “Pick a lane and drive like hell.” A woman at a protest, whose picture ends up on Twitter, wears a cardboard sign on her backpack with her name and what she can provide (“I have charger cables, power strip, tampons, cough drops, ibuprofen. Please ask!”). These things swirl around in my head with my experience at the women’s march, trying to pack everything anyone could possibly need. One tiny backpack full of snacks, water, first aid kit, back-up batteries…too many things, making them all more difficult to get to.
Solution: Character sheets.
Start With Your Stats:
Are you strong? Creative? Agile? Huge? Smol? Fill out that part of your sheet to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. (You can print the sheet or make a new copy to edit from.) This should help you pick a class.
Pick Your Class:
Team Lead: The team lead makes phone calls, organizes events, starts chants, and has ideas. They know their friends & who has what skills, as well as how to put them to good use. They also have to be watching the news for new things to jump on. They have everyone’s emails, phone numbers, etc., and protect that data. Probably a job for extroverts.
Tank: If push comes to shove at a protest, you get to the front. Take serious self-defense classes and swear to only use your new skills to prevent harm coming to yourself or your friends. Try something (other than boxing) on this list. Get some good combat boots and a thick hoodie.
Medic: This requires training. Get an education in first aid, CPR, and household hedgewitchery. Learn your legal rights and responsibilities. You are the one who needs to carry a full first aid kit. This includes protest-specific things like L.A.W. You can find some resources here.
Supply: Carry all the necessary stuff. Bring food, water, phone chargers, ear plugs, bandannas, heat packs, basic first aid kit, hygiene supplies, and a little book of helpful phone numbers & addresses (like lawyers, hospitals, friends, local orgs, etc.). Get a good backpack and a quick-access bag. A little grocery cart or tough-wheeled wagon wouldn’t hurt, either. If you live outside a major city, you should also have a car. A van is even better.
Engineer: Those awesome LED protest signs? The messages projected onto buildings? Those are your job. If you can program an Arduino, you can do even better. You have the gadgets; flashlight, laser pointer, 2-way radios, multitool, anything you think might come in handy. It would also be good to learn basic household emergency skills.
Messenger: This encompasses artists, writers, and people papering the streets. Make sure any facts you use to craft a message are accurate before you use them. Run a blog, a Pinterest board, a local mini gallery inside a coffee shop. Make powerful art and make sure as many people see/hear/read it as possible.
Spy: Not as much fun as it sounds. Involves some technical setup (likely running TOR inside a vm, for starters) and hanging out in hate groups anon/pseudonymously. Would have to keep an eye on places like Stormfront, 8chan, and Breitbart, and report on them to their potential targets. Get lots of screencaps. Not for those with PTSD. Will be stressful. Can also spend time reporting hate groups on social media.
Specialist: You’ve got a skill that other people don’t. You speak three languages. You make phone apps. Somebody needs you. You might want to volunteer with a local organization who needs your skills. If your skill isn’t full-time useful, you can still choose one of the other classes and use your skill where you get the chance: teach your friends sign language, knit hats and scarves in cause-promoting colors and patterns, cook for a gathering.
It’s just an idea. But it might help.
For more protest advice, see this slightly older blog post.
Stay safe out there.