setting up a group from scratch

Starting up a Group from Scratch #

Groups like the Friends of Twyford Down and Save Our Solsbury grew from a couple of people deciding to actively oppose road schemes. If you decide to set up a group to initiate opposition to a scheme, here are a few ideas for getting started. Firstly, get in touch with other local groups with similar interests - your local Earth First! (EF!), Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FoE), Council for Protection of Rural England (CPRE) group or cycling campaign - and see if there is any concern in these circles too. Get in touch with ALARM UK (see Chapter 16) to see if there are any activists or groups in your area. Write letters to the local papers and see who responds, then get in touch with them.

When you feel as if you have enough people to kick things off (remember, you'll only need a few) then consider setting up your first meeting. Book a hall, or hold the meeting in someone's house, and make sure as many people who've expressed interest can come along. Organise refreshments. Advertise in sympathetic places that a group is being set up to oppose the development you're fighting, and that a first meeting is being held. Do not invite the press.

The first meeting should be open, inclusive and inspiring! You could begin by getting to know one another and letting off steam about the development. If there are lots of people it might be an idea to do this in small groups of 4 or 5. Be at pains not to let a few people dominate the whole meeting. If people decide to respect one another as equals, encouraging active involvement from everyone in decision making and action, then both the campaign and the people in it will grow and blossom.

The task of this first meeting could be to choose the group's name. Once a group of people is set up, there are a few essentials to sort out without which your group won't really exist.

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