So you want to be…

There are many ways of engaging in public life. There is the part where you learn about things. Then there is the part where you start to take part. This series look at some directions people go in. For beginners and finding out what is good for you. This is not instructions on what to do. Just some encouragement to do something. The only instructions we need is. Never do or believe anything till you have checked out the facts yourself. Part 1. https://youtu.be/zR7CMVlywEY

The case of North Kelvin Meadows and The Glasgow Effect

meadows1

North Kelvin Meadows

Think about it. Is there another campaign at present in the city that has used its assets, common sense, media, resources and everything else to the best of their ability? Can you think of another campaign that has as good a prospect of winning, if given the right support? A project that has helped to delineate the council bosses, position clearly, of profit over people? This campaign if successful would set an example for others to follow in the de-privatisation of public land. The campaign is well run and seems to do all the right things in many ways. It would be a very important model and win if successful and as well to the encouragement of other incipient campaigns and growing spaces in the community. But remember, It could also have the complete opposite effect if it fails. It would set greening spaces back years. The city council bosses also know this, (and the Scottish government) as well as having the added incentive for development opportunities and of stocking the council coffers with the moneys involved, by the selling of this commons and many others like it, that will inevitably come into the future sights of developers .trigger more text

The Meadows, would be just the kind of win to boost campaigns of this nature all over the city. Do people in growing spaces realise how important this campaign is to the sustainability of growing and green space? I hope they do and start to come up with some ideas in supporting the campaign, learning from it and using the inspired imagination in building solidarity for the next round in defending this space and others. There is a need to keep up momentum and it should not be left only to the people directly involved at the meadows. (Or other places.) The city council, or/and the Government, will decide the fate of this space. But it will need a collective “City Peoples Council” to make sure they make the right decision and set a precedent for future community development.

Whats this to do with “The Glasgow Effect”?

Quoting from the article links below: ‘A recent report finds that radical attempts to solve Glasgow’s housing problems in the 1960s and 1970s left the city vulnerable when government policy steered investment away from housing and towards retail and other industries in subsequent decades. Walsh added: “The Scottish Office embarked on a series of policies that effectively wrote off the city – they designated it a ‘declining city’ and their plans focused on economic growth elsewhere.”
“This was a policy that went on for decades despite an awareness that this was having a massively negative impact in socio-economic terms and therefore on health.”’

Basically they are saying in the early 80s, the city stopped investing in its people and social housing and shifted its interests to business investment. Which is a big part of the reason for the so called “Glasgow Effect”.  Why the poverty levels in Glasgow, were 30% higher than other cities, such as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, that deindustrialise at the same time as Glasgow.  You can read about this below. But it also needs to be remembered, importantly. At the same time (early 80s), as the government were de-investing in people, a group of folk in Reidvale, Dennistoun, were investing in themselves. (As the corporation were ripping down tenements and communities with them and packing families of to the schemes and tower blocks, as the corporation, geographically blighted the city space for the use of motorways and commerce.) Many of the people in Reidvale Dennison, during these clearances, said No! We want to stay in our community. Fix our houses we are not moving! And they did stay in their houses, in their community. The rest is history as the people of Reidvale, created a model for Community Based Housing Associations, that is used, not only in Glasgow, but all over Britain.

We have now suffered 30-40 years of de-investment in people. Now the car loving motorway builders are proclaiming “People make Glasgow”  If people make Glasgow, it is going to need more than a branding exercise, that has more to do with selling produce than investing in people. If people make Glasgow, it will be about making council bosses do what they are told and forcing them to invest in our kids, our vulnerable and those trapped in poverty. We need basically to make them eat their own words.

Ideas for looking forward

There is no reason “The Glasgow Effect” should not be made into something wonderful, something unique and meaningful to the people of Glasgow. Turned on its head from something that is done to the city’s people, to something that they do for themselves.

The council did not listen to the people in the community of Reidvale at that time , they were made to listen. And in the case of Kelvin meadows and other such like projects, (the city administration should really be boasting about, the achievements of its citizens, rather than taking the credit), they didn’t listen to any of them either. They were made to listen, Govanhill baths, Kelvingrove bandstand,  Kinningpark Complex, to name a few. As Glaswegian’s, we may have a few attitude problems and don’t think positively enough, as Carol Craig, et al, will remind us. But most, commonly ignore, or underestimate the states role in all of this. The systematic draining of money, resources and assets that took place during the 80s (and continues to this day) that had and is still having a massive effect on the poorest in our city. This was no news to the many who, experienced, have reported and written about it throughout. They were also ignored, and still are.

People “do” make Glasgow. If only more of them realised this simple fact.

The Meadows should become a collective meeting grounds as part of helping to create a “Dear Green Place” benchmark – for those with any interest in freeing the soil of this city in perpetuity for our kids and future generations – until the developers are completely cast off this bit of public land. Winning could be easier than we think and the effect could spread to awaken the public conscience to more ideas for looking forward. And perish the thought, there is a lot of fun to be had to.

It is not rocket science, when we look around us, to understand where the money is being spent, invested and where it is not. Do we really need reports that take years to write to tell us this? It is right in front of our eyes. Like everything else, we have just gotten used to it. So much of our attention is being diverted by, the positive thinking industry, or the  “But this is the real world” theory. So much energy put into ideas, concepts, explanations, excuses of why things are happening to us. We are all just getting used to all of it, learned to live with it and to shield ourselves from dealing with it. There was an old 60s saying that is fitting when the glut of rhetoric outweighed the practicalities. “Move you arse and your brain will follow.” Not poetic, but It has never been more apt advice, than it is at present. People make Glasgow, sure, but which people, you? Me? What are the ideas for doing it together? Because it’s not going to happen otherwise.

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/8404/scotland-office-policies-blamed-glasgow-effect-forthcoming-report
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14493634.Revealed___Glasgow_effect__mortality_rate_blamed_on_Westminster_social_engineering/?ref=ebln

https://northkelvinmeadow.com

The secret History of our Streets
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ck993

Half of it is about showing up. Frida Berrigan

 

City Strolls “Enough already” walk

With their 1994 battle cry, “Ya basta!” (“Enough already!”) Mexico’s Zapatista uprising became the spearhead of two convergent movements: Mexico’s movement for indigenous rights and the international movement against corporate globalization.

‘I think we have to start by admitting that we don’t have the answers. The fact that we think that taking state power is the wrong way to go does not mean that we know the right way. Probably we have to think of advancing through experiments and questions: “preguntando caminamos” — “walking we ask questions” — as the Zapatistas put it. To think of moving forward through questions rather than answers means a different sort of politics, a different sort of organization. If nobody has the answers, then we have to think not of hierarchical structures of leadership, but horizontal structures that involve everyone as much as possible.’ John Holloway

Join us on an “Enough already”, walk. Meet at Govan underground and come on a walk into town, taking in the landscape and discuss the changing social dynamic and ways we can move forward. Or just come for the stroll. All ages welcome.

Saturday 18th June. Meet 12:00 Govan Underground. Walk around two hours. Finnish with tea at the Electron Club CCA Suchiehall street.

From an activist notebook

The term activist is a bit odd as it implies everybody else is inactive, which is far from the case. But for this we will imagine an activist as someone engaged in public life, in political life, is interested in things outside of the private. Should that not be everybody? Is there such a thing as inactivism? After all, to do nothing has as big an impact on things as whatever else happens.

trigger more text

Today maybe more than ever. So what is meant by activist, or activism, here is a marker to describe those odd people, to varying extents, that have some kind of political obsession. I guess what is meant by politics here needs some clarification to. Politics, in this sense, is what we do together; by discussing things, coming up with ideas consensually, by inclusion and by keeping as many people happy as possible, before making final decisions and acting on them. Politics is the act of engaging in public life. This description for the purposes here, should not be confused with “party politics”, which is something completely different.

So what is activism here, in terms of what has being described above? Well specifically, activities towards implementing ideas that will force institutional change. The banking institutions; corporate institutions, state institutions and the powerful conglomerates, who for profit, ensure that many live in poverty. This is the high end of what needs to be achieved. If we can understand a bit about what is going on up there, we can understand what we need to do down here. This is the bit, apart from the obsessed, where peoples eyes start to glaze over. Attempting to explain to folk who are politically disengaged for many reasons, what is going on up there, in the corporate stratosphere . All they can see is the mad rush of their lives flashing past. All the things they need to do, or would rather think about, apart from, (to them) the abstract and intimidating world of the “activist”. What’s this got to do with me?  A question constantly posed and rarely answered.

The general problem with the activist, (self included) is that they usually know a lot more about what is going on up there, than they do about what is going on down here. This isn’t a criticism of the need for better understanding, more a question of context, more a question of what is needed at this point in time. The question is not only about getting folk away from the television, consumerism and private life into public life, into the community, but also about getting the activist away from academia, social media, esoteric groups, the protest culture and the constant defense of their own righteous position, into the same community. We all need to have things we enjoy doing and that interests us. The point is. If that is all that we are doing, no matter how important we feel it is, we also need to ask. Who, and what purpose is it serving?

“If you look over the developments in recent years, there’s been severe retrogression on economic and political issues, but considerable progress on cultural and social issues.” Noam Chomsky

In other words we are making much progress in cultural change and around social issues. There are a mass of wonderful things going on. But there are two things. Where is the infrastructure work growing out of this progress that will be powerful enough to challenge institutional power, i.e. the banks? Where is the work going on to engage the many ordinary folk we will need to raise to that challenge? In the world of the activist, we can usually fill rooms to listen to and watch how others, in other countries build and raise the kind of awareness and solidarity needed to challenge corporate power. Which is ok in itself. But in our own communities the same handful of folk will turn up when the problem is our own social housing, or such like, that is at stake. Sure there is commendable stuff going on on the ground and much to admire that we should be thankful for.  But it is enough to shift the might of the powerful? To hurt as Michael Albert says, what they hold dear? That will take a massive mind shift in the population, but will still have more to do with practicalities than philosophy. A bit less peer to peering on the network and a bit more education to where it is needed most. By us getting out more, by showing up, by being active, in all the right places.

The following offers some ideas for going forward. Yet again not much is mentioned of building grass roots networks that relate to peoples day to day lives. Maybe that could be part of a shared program?

People for a Shared Program
People for a Shared Program is a place to explore, develop and organise around left programmatic ideas. http://www.sharedprogram.org/#!faq/ryp9j

City Strolls “Enough already” walk

With their 1994 battle cry, “Ya basta!” (“Enough already!”) Mexico’s Zapatista uprising became the spearhead of two convergent movements: Mexico’s movement for indigenous rights and the international movement against corporate globalization.

‘I think we have to start by admitting that we don’t have the answers. The fact that we think that taking state power is the wrong way to go does not mean that we know the right way. Probably we have to think of advancing through experiments and questions: “preguntando caminamos” — “walking we ask questions” — as the Zapatistas put it. To think of moving forward through questions rather than answers means a different sort of politics, a different sort of organization. If nobody has the answers, then we have to think not of hierarchical structures of leadership, but horizontal structures that involve everyone as much as possible.’ John Holloway

Join us on an “Enough already”, walk. Meet at Govan underground and come on a walk into town, taking in the landscape and discuss the changing social dynamic and ways we can move forward. Or just come for the stroll. All ages welcome.

Saturday 18th June. Meet 12:00 Govan Underground. Walk around two hours. Finish with tea at the Electron Club CCA Suchiehall street.

Recent videos – Radical Imagination Project

Film crew


Norman Armstrong Free Wheel North
Radical Imagination Project. Discussions with folk who have worked and committed much of their time to community activism. Norman Armstrong
Norman, a tenacious community worker, who “gets things done” but unlike many fly-by-night “social entrepreneurs” is rooted in his community and has the philosophy and principals to match. freewheelnorth.org.uk
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO

May Day picnic Glasgow Green 2016
A small may Day event on the Glasgow green at Free Wheel North. Part of an effort to have the Glasgow’s May Day event in the open. More information for next year to follow. spiritofrevolt.info    iwwscotland.wordpress.com
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


John Cooper on the spirit of revolt and the Castlemilk connection
John Cooper, a name synonymous with Castlemilk and community struggle over the last 40 years or so. The evening took us through the adventures and campaigns of himself and his Castlemilk comrades, from the miners strike to the present. A social history. Find more on the “Spirit of Revolt” website at. spiritofrevolt.info Film in two bits Talk and after discussion. facebook.com/castlemilkagainstausterity/
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


John Cooper – After talk discussion (Castlemilk Against Austerity) Castlemilk, experience and its relevance to the youth who take up the mantle today of community organising. facebook.com/castlemilkagainstausterity
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


The Downtrodden Tenant
Bad housing exists not because the housing system is not working but because it is the way it works. Peter Morton has taught me more about technology in the last few months than I knew before. His boundless energy to educate, given the fact he is in a wheelchair and on strong medication through bad health is an inspiration. We are working on a pile of projects around the Radical Imagination and opening the “Open Source” to the people who need it most. This film denotes Peters struggle with Renfrew Council, their lack of duty of care and how the use of his technological skills were used to collect empirical data to back up a case against their failure to uphold their own housing policy. Downtrodden Tenant Blog
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


Self Determination Power Event Common Sense and Freedom 1990
A wee blast from the past. The Self-Determination and Power event was organised by a loose alliance of the Free University of Glasgow, the Edinburgh Review, then under the editorship of James Kelman advocate Peter Kravitz, and Scottish Child magazine, edited by Rosemary Milne. Also involved were Variant, then a glossy magazine containing provocations from Stewart Home, Pete Horobin’s Dundee-based Data Attic and others; West Coast literary magazine, Here and Now magazine, the radical-based Clydeside Press, and the Scotia bar, then a hub for free-thinking dissent down by the river just across from the Gorbals. radicalimagination.co.uk/about/what-happened-in-1990
(Produced by Street Level) streetlevelphotoworks.org
View on VIMEO

Videos can also be viewed on Youtube

Open Learning

Free University Open Learning

“Workers City; the subversive past”. 45 mins duration.
A documentary chronicling some ideas around radical Scottish working class history.
Interviews with:

Farquhar McLay, poet, editor of “the Voices of Dissent” and “Workers City” anthology of prose and writing, subtitled the Real Glasgow Stands Up’.
John Taylor Caldwell, archivist, biographer of Guy Aldred and author of “Come Dungeons Dark” recently published by Luath Press.
James D. Young, historian and republican socialist, author of “The Rousing of the Scottish Working Class” and others. Recently working on major biography of Red Clydesider, John Maclean.
Hamish Henderson, Folk collector, songwriter and founder of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University. Writer of such ballads as “Freedom Come All Ye”. Variant Video


Spirit of Revolt Archive Glasgow from City Strolls on Vimeo.

April Third Movement  – Father and Sons

In Fall Quarter of 1968 and the Winter Quarter of 1969, a Public Broadcasting Laboratories team led by filmmaker Don Lenzer followed members of the Stanford Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society to meetings, parties, rallies, and protests. Their 90-minute documentary, Fathers and Sons, was broadcast in the Spring of 1969. While many of us criticized the film for its focus on four male undergraduates, the movie offers unusual behind-the-scenes glimpses of activists in that era. A video of this film is available on YouTube. Due to its length, it has been posted in seven parts:

Go to

The April Third Movement WEBSITE • PSC • 278A Hope Street • Mountain View, CA 94041

The Control Game

Public involvement or public relations: what does it mean?

A reference guide for recognizing political/social control tactics by power brokers, large corporations, public relations firms, and government entities.    By E I N

Tactic 1 Make it impossible for people to be involved: These typical control tactics set things up so that it’s difficult and inconvenient for interested parties such as the affected public to participate.

Examples:

  • Meetings are scheduled at inappropriate locations or times; i.e., during regular working hours, highway rush hours, dinner times, or deliberately conflicting times with similar interest meetings. Strict meeting “guidelines” and use of question cards discourages real dialogue and keeps attendees under control.

Variations:

  • Schedule lengthy one-way presentations that will not allow give and take exchange. This precludes the public (including the press) from asking questions or clarifications.
  • Conveners may insist that all questions be held until the end, by which time people are tired, the meeting area must be vacated, and the press has had to leave to meet deadlines.
  • Allow the public limited time, and a limited number of questions that must pertain to their predetermined set of allowable topics; while the conveners drag out their answers, essentially filibustering away the rest of the time for the meeting — and coincidentally time for open discussion of issues and answers that many attendees showed up for.
  • Staff may be trained to be nice, while having been trained to handle the public by using subtle harassment or baiting techniques, which also discourages public involvement.

These tactics are used to fulfill requirements for public outreach in order to legitimize the process. If attendance is sparse it will be blamed on public apathy, rather than a deliberate effort to exclude public participation. Reject this pretense for public involvement. Short circuit this tactic by standing up as a group and announcing an immediate press conference that will give the press the real story from the citizens outside of the meeting room or across the street from the building, then get up and leave as a group. If this is not immediately possible, let the conveners know that your group will hold its own meeting, protest, and/or press conference the next morning and will continue to inform the media of their non-cooperation on these issues.

Tactic 2 Divide and Conquer: This is a well-established tactic that effectively places similar interest groups at odds against each other, when they would otherwise be a formidable force for bureaucratic responsiveness and accountability. This tactic uses existing tensions and divisions between organizations. Name this tactic as soon as you recognize it to short circuit its effectiveness. Make sure that everyone understands what interests they share in common, and why it is in their best interest to continue to work together. A few favorite tactics are described below.

Examples:

  • Divide a large issue into many small ones. This forces people and/or organizations to fight many small battles, dispersing their energies. Small groups working in isolation of each other may not be as effective as coordinating efforts to maximize through solid communication and networking.
  • Provide enough resources to cover only part of the problem. This can include preparing only a few copies of handouts or important documents so that self-imposed constraints prevent them from being able to provide x, y, or z service — while it is obvious that there is plenty of budgetary allowance for gratuities, amenities, or items that fulfill their bias or agenda.
  • Appoint a committee using key members of the public — including appointees with views similar to the convener, funder, or directing agency to maintain their control of the committee. Their involvement is then publicly highlighted — whether or not they attend or participate. Their names will be used strategically (sometimes in absentia), or photos are used to imply consent, agreement, or consensus with the committee — although they may object or disagree with the viewpoint or findings of the committee. Citizens (token) used in this manner may or may not be aware of their names or pictures being used to artificially lend credibility to the committee or findings in question. In some cases, they may be unaware that they are considered to be a member of the committee.
  • Many separate tables are used in large banquet or meeting rooms to break a meeting up into small discussion groups. This effectively keeps valuable information that would otherwise be revealed in the general discussion from being heard by the larger group, which would have enhanced communal brainstorming and questioning of the process or problem at hand. These small group discussions may then be summarized and reported back to the larger group. Carefully placed shills or committee members may serve as group leaders to control group feedback. This suppresses any controversial discussions that don’t fit the convener’s agenda, and inhibits networking or brainstorming on the issue.
  • Seating arranged in “audience fashion” delegates you to a passive role in these meetings. Short-circuit this by playing Musical Chairs. Insist that the tables and/or chairs be moved (circle or horseshoe shape) so that everyone can be an active participant with the conveners or presenters. Put yourselves at the same level and/or table with the power brokers so there is no distance to allow them to feel comfortably in control (no shield). Convert their agenda to your agenda.
  • Public relations campaigns (blitzes) into the community will seek out homeowners associations, service groups, schools, and so on, to present biased, incomplete, or misleading information to sidestep opposition to mould and win over public opinion about key issues.

Variations:

 

  • Conduct private (behind closed-door or impromptu) meetings with civic groups, government, or public officials (i.e. city council, county commissioners, etc.) of similar political or philosophical leanings — without informing citizens or organizations with opposing viewpoints of these meetings.
  • Wrong information regarding time and location is provided — too late to be corrected (The scavenger hunt). This ensures that their message will be presented without all sides of an issue being recognized or openly discussed.

The Government in the Sunshine Act legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress to discourage clandestine or private meetings of government bodies or officials for the purposes of excluding general public or interested parties.

Tactic 3 Pack the Meeting: The power brokers will encourage employees to attend x, y, or z meeting. They may also establish telephone trees (which we should be doing) to get employees and supporters to pack a meeting to simulate public support for their position on an issue, and to set the tone of the meeting.

Variation:

  • Comment or question cards are used in place of a communal microphone for participants to go to, so everyone can hear and participate in the discussion. Their supporters will stack the deck of comment cards with time wasters, and may continue filling out more cards throughout the meeting to defuse opposition discussion (see tactic 1 — filibustering).

Short circuit this by meeting with your neighbors, colleagues, or constituents for a pre-meeting conference to discuss opposition tactics and strategy that are barriers to getting your views aired. Come up with your own list of strategy and critical points, then divide them up among yourselves. Go to the meeting prepared with fact sheets, questions, and comments that support your views. Brainstorm with your colleagues, refine the information, then pass it around the neighborhood, or the target audience for and after the meeting. Call the tactics as you see them occur in the meeting to defuse them. Insist on a fair airing of the issues, within everyone’s hearing.

Tactic 4 Economic Blackmail: When dealing with politically heated issues, especially “company town” polluters, the first threat may be that massive layoffs will occur if they have to: change a process, stop polluting, fix safety problems, clean up contamination, and so on. This is a Red Herring scare tactic that should be immediately brought to everyone’s attention.

  • In 1988, the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility (RFP) was faced with changes that included decommissioning, the contractor threatened massive layoffs. Economic developers and chambers of commerce predicted local devastation. To the contrary, the cleanup has been a huge economical boost for subcontractors and RFP personnel, who have nearly doubled the numbers of employees that were needed for full production and chemical recovery of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads.
  • Retraining and educational programs have blossomed at local colleges. The people to watch are the Developers and Chambers, who will attempt to create new projects, while “dumbing down the workforce” by bringing in minimum wage workers for cleanup jobs, lay off union people, and funnel profits to special interest chums. Stay united, call that tactic, and make them accountable.

No one likes to be picketed, boycotted, or pictured negatively in the press — these citizen tactics are relatively easy to implement.

Tactic 5 Give the appearance of action without doing anything: When faced with an obvious need for change, bureaucrats may try to give the appearance of taking action without actually doing anything. These tactics may sound like this:

  • “We have decided to appoint an advisory, special, sub-committee, or commission to study or handle the problem. We want (or need) members of our group to volunteer assistance because we do not have money for staff.”
  • “Your knowledge, input, or time is so valuable (and so on), we would like you to help us with x, y, or z to work out solutions” (but they will fail to assimilate your information, suggestions, or concerns).
  • “We would like to help you by doing x, y, or z for you” — but the reciprocal help never appears (carrot on the stick).
  • “We plan to issue a policy or statement regarding that problem next week, month, year…, so that everyone will know what to do in the future…” Beware of bureaucrats stealing your uncompensated time to tie you up, keeping you out of circulation in the community. Volunteerism can be abused, becoming a time quicksand.

Don’t accept inconsequential actions, excuses, and “donothingitis”. Set a reasonable amount of time for genuine action, and then tell everyone that you expect action by that date. Think twice before joining “study committees or advisory groups” that are not policy-changing bodies that have no real power to do anything about the issue or problem in question, are funded and directed by your adversary, or by those that represent the other side of your issue. There may not be an accurate record of what has happened from the beginning, during, or at the end of these efforts. Refusal to allow the recording of meetings, or have an accurate paper trail to document important meetings and proceedings is a serious red flag of cover-ups and problems.

Tactic 6 Give them a Red Herring, or Get them to Chase the Wrong Bunny: This is an issue or information offered to belittle, patronize, or confound and derail your efforts. When a bureaucrat tries to change the subject from what you are concerned about to what they want you to focus on, they are using a “Bait and Switch” routine.

Examples:

  • “I don’t know what you’re talking about; You don’t know your facts; That issue is not important; Why are you interested in that issue?; You have not done enough research; You aren’t an expert; Your issue is beside the point, irrational, emotional, or not practical; Why don’t you check into, or work on x, y, or z, instead?”
  • Engaging attendees in detailed explanations or debates that are intended to sidetrack the issue of concern, hoping that in the heat of debate, you will: Give up, get tired, go home, and forget the key issue.

Be aware of time wasters that will eat up meeting time, and are designed to wear you down. When confronted with this tactic, don’t get side tracked. You don’t have to be an expert to ask questions, ask for information, or to have legitimate concerns.

Write notes throughout the meeting — this will help keep you on track. Stick to the issues you want to discuss, while making a special note to follow up, or address the other person’s issue later, if they genuinely desire to do so.

Tactic 7 Refuse to give out information, or make it impossible to get it: Bureaucrats plan that this tactic will discourage you, so that you will give up and go away. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) format may have to be invoked to get cooperation. You must know what information you need, what agency to request it from, and what to look for. The “Key and Lock” buzzwords and descriptions must be included, or the very information you seek may be withheld from you.

Examples:

  • Bureaucracies protecting damaging information may try to charge exorbitant fees for information to be searched, copied, and sent to you. Request fee waivers based upon public interest needs and public right-to-know laws.
  • The requestor may be flooded with huge amounts of useless information that is out of order and out of date. This is called a data dump in legal circles. This is a common tactic used by legal rivals on cases to eat up valuable pre-trial discovery time. It takes a critical eye, speed reading, and some research or historical knowledge to be able to weed through the useless information to find what you want.

To deal with the system effectively, you need the facts. If you have the facts, the system has to deal with you more openly. Democracy depends on people having the information needed to allow meaningful input and interaction with the system. The refusal to give out information may sound like this:

  • “We don’t have that information; x, y, or z is not in today, and I’m not authorized to fulfill this request; We can only give out a summary (They decide what is meaningful, included, excluded, or redacted); Why do you think that’s important?; Justify your interest, or legitimize your need; We don’t think you need that information.”

Recognize these tactical phrases meant to put you off the track of the information you need to level the playing field with your opponent, and don’t accept lame excuses for non-performance or non-compliance.


 

 

STRATEGIES TO SHORT CIRCUIT THE CONTROL GAME

  • AS SOON AS A TACTIC HAS BECOME APPARENT, LABEL IT: When you name that tactic publicly, it loses its power. You can counter these tactics with a minimum of wasted effort by keeping the lines of communication open with your colleagues and other similar interest organizations.
  • BE OBSERVANT OF INTERACTIONS, TACTICS, AND WHO MAY BE CALLING THE SHOTS BEHIND THE SCENES: Recognize that although individuals make up the bureaucracy, they should not be the targets of your efforts. Evaluate where strategic counter-tactics would be the most effective. Good mottoes to keep in mind. Always go to the top, and the squeaky wheel gets fixed.
  • DO NOT ALLOW BUREAUCRATIC FIGUREHEADS TO LABEL YOU as a troublemaker, or as someone with emotional or personal problems (i.e.: “Psychiatrically” linked to a site or set of issues, don’t have a life because you volunteer a lot of your time, are a paid staffer or knowledgeable citizen, so your opinion doesn’t count, or don’t have “x” number of constituents behind you.) to legitimize side stepping serious issues and/or your concerns. Be alert to the evaluative patronizing concern look. This is contrived to give the appearance of questioning your mental or emotional stability to elicit a reaction. Keep cool and don’t give them the reaction they want from you. Any person might become dedicated to seeking solutions, and become angry or frustrated over the distancing treatment bureaucracies and corporations use to keep the public at arm’s length over difficult issues.
  • MAKE YOUR ISSUE OR ADVERSARY AN OBJECT OF INTENSE STUDY: Never stop questioning your previous conclusions about them. Get all the information you can and keep getting it. Put this information to productive and meaningful use, then network it around.
  • NEVER RELAX AFTER A VICTORY, and don’t underestimate the power of determination.
  • RENEW YOUR OWN OUTREACH REGULARLY by having current concerns and information prepared and ready to distribute at every opportunity. Use their meetings for opportunities to pass out your own targeted information. Use several people to see that all attendees end up with copies of your information. Ask local copiers or businesses to help duplicate materials.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead, Anthropologist“Ignorance is compounded by the sins of omission.” — Dr. Edward A. Martell, Radiochemist

“Reports based on faulty foundations of inconsistent, missing, or biased data are meaningless, misleading, and worthless. To deliberately present bad data as if it were meaningful is scientifically invalid and immoral.” — Environmental Information Network (EIN), Inc.

EIN — A think-tank involved in researching and analyzing hazardous waste and radiotoxic environmental information and issues in order to disseminate technical information for public education.

Environmental Information Network
P.O. Box 280087
Lakewood, CO 80228-0087
pjelofson@aol.com

Paula Elofson-Gardine, Executive Director
Susan Hurst, Publications Director

PLEASE NOTE: EIN is a 501(C)(3) non-profit public education and networking organization that accepts contributions. Permission is granted for copying or transfer of this publication, so long as contact information for EIN is kept intact. The EIN logo is a unique trademark that belongs exclusively to EIN. The EIN logo may not be copied or isolated from EIN publications for use by other organizations or individuals, without specific written permission from the trademark owner, Paula Elofson-Gardine.

 

This page coded by the ACTION Center. Direct any web-related inquiries to catalyst@actionpa.org.