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Action Planning Template

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what are we trying to accomplish – concrete, tangible, winnable. What does victory look like? What do you want the headline to read the next day?


who has the power to decide? Who are we trying to impact/move, what is strategic reason for it/them. If there are multiple sites, which is best suited for an action?

Messaging & Demands

what do we want our target to do, what do we want them to know.
Are there other audiences besides the target?


who is delivering our message? An impacted person or community leader working on a particular issue is always more powerful and credible than a talking head spokesperson. Is there a process for getting feedback/response from target?


how many people do we need? What are our turnout goals? Who will we reach out to—people, groups etc? What are the recruitment plan, rap, commitment, reminder and follow-up plan? I use a 50% rule…that is what I expect will turn out based on the commitments. So if 100 people say yes, expect 50!


what will happen, what does it look like? What are the beginning, middle and end? How will message/ story be told – visuals, words, props, and signs?

The following are the areas of work needed to implement the vision and plan above

  • Publicity: fliers, ads, PSA’s, emails, mailings, facebook, blogs, calendars etc
  • Program: Speakers, performers, diversity, culture, participatory, when, where
  • Schedule: break it down, what happens by who and when, from pack up to clean-up…
  • Outreach: fliers, door-knocking, phone calls, allies work
  • Logistics: all the things you need! (See below)
  • Legal: police relations, permits, etc
  • Media: press releases, phone calls, spokespeople, media liaison, follow-up
  • Props: signs, banners, puppets,
  • Security/Traffic Plan: what is needed? Who will coordinate, train and recruit? We often skip this step, but it is critical for mobile tactics. If groups are crossing intersections or moving through the streets, we need people paying attention to traffic and who are facilitating our safe passage by holding cars back.
  • Coordination/Prep: trainings in advance and prep meetings day of or day before with as many people involved in filling a role as possible. Make sure everyone is on the same page and schedule, communications, review maps, communications, contingencies, getting everybody on board and knowing who is who and what will happen. This is a really critical step that is often overlooked.

For Civil Disobedience/Direct Action

  • Scouting and Mapping – of site(s)
  • Trainings – how we orient and prepare for the plan and risks we are taking, also legal etc
  • Model of Org – Affinity Groups, Action Teams, Buddies, Clusters, Blocs, Gaggles
  • Spokes Councils or Tactical Leadership – will it be a small group who will decide and direct or will it be a meeting of representatives of the participating groups or some collaborative process between the two models.
  • Legal Strategies and Plan – lawyers, observer, laws, jail solidarity, court plan
  • Police Strategies and Set-Up – do we inform them, get permit, how do we build a web of restraint on them?
  • Media – press releases, phone calls, spokespeople, media liaison, follow-up
  • Documentation plan – video, cameras, audio, blogging etc
  • Street Medics – got some? Do you know where hospitals are, any relationship with EMT’s or fire department?
  • Communications –scouts, bikes, radios, flags, twitter, text mobs?
  • Jail Strategies – support outside and inside – Jail Solidarity
  • Trauma and Healing – when people are hurt or really afraid.
  • Post Action Legal Follow-up – Courts, Diversions, Community Service. Lawsuits

Logistics – vary depending on event

  • Date, Time, Place
  • Route / Maps
  • Megaphones
  • Chant / Song Sheet
  • Sound System
  • Staging
  • Permits
  • Banners
  • Flags
  • Signs
  • Stickers, Buttons, Armbands
  • Leaflets to Distribute
  • Armbands, sashes, hats for role identification
  • Vehicles
  • Trash Bags
  • Water
  • Food
  • Bathrooms
  • Transportation
  • Directional Signs or chalking the sidewalk
  • Cameras to Document

Things to look for when mapping a city

  • Highways
  • Roads / Streets – how many lanes / traffic flow at various hours
  • Bridges – where they are, are they accessible and how, good for banners, posters etc
  • One Way Streets
  • Police stations
  • Jails
  • Court Houses
  • Meeting spaces
  • Parks
  • Rivers/waterways
  • Construction sites
  • Parking Garages
  • Heart of the City
  • Symbolic Locations
  • Tourist Sites
  • Community Centers
  • Public Transportation
  • Hospitals
  • Public Buildings, Bus Stations, Libraries,

Some things to look for when scouting buildings:

  • Security: desks, cameras, personnel
  • WIFI
  • Entrances, exits, loading areas, fire escapes
  • What kinds of doors/door handles: important for planning how to get in and out quickly or how to close down. (As always, keep in mind your goal before doing anything!)
  • Lobby Lay Out and security procedures
  • Elevator locations, floors, access
  • Sidewalk space, landscaping, trees, etc
  • Windows: visibility in and out
  • Places for possible banner drops
  • Parking and parking garages (great for banner drops, which ware great small team actions that can really lift spirits during a demonstration)
  • Other tenants?
  • Retail Outlets/Eateries as tenants
  • Janitor/staff schedule

Other suggestions for mapping and scouting:

  • Make a map for the people coming into your city with lots of information (don’t forget to include where bathrooms are along your route!)
  • Phone cameras are a great way to discretely capture important info about locations, maps of buildings, directory of tenants etc
  • Make yourself invisible, act like you fit in, wear clothes that won’t stand out
  • Know where you’re going and what you want to look at before you get there. Do online recon first
  • When making a map, be thorough of what is where, obstructions etc, collect measurements (i.e. number of steps)
  • Scout at about the same time of day as when the action will be; multiple trips both driving and walking to collect info can be helpful as well
  • Have a story in case you’re stopped, “students doing research” is generally solid -actually eyeball the location! Don’t just rely on the internet like google earth, for your information, although that can be very helpful!