Checklist for writing Meeting Minutes

We are publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Checklist – Meeting Minutes v1 . If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.

Before the meeting

I know the topics and agenda of the meeting.

I know how detailed the meeting minutes are expected to be: just the decisions and information, or all the discussions? (In the latter case, it may be better to have more than one person taking notes.)

I know if there is any validation process: if the notes are to be sent to approval or modifications.

I am aware of the deadline to send the minutes.

I know where to send the minutes to.

During the meeting

I took note of the attendance list (if considered necessary).

I structure the notes as topics and subtopics.

I interrupt the discussion if it is too quick for me to take notes.

For the cases in which the reader is supposed to act, I use ACT (bold and in capitals) followed by the description of the necessary action.

Example: “ACT: Everyone fill in the form [link] until next Monday.”

For specific tasks, I write the name of the responsible person in bold.

Example: “On Tuesday we will have an action training. Ernesto will prepare the content.”

After the meeting

I formatted and organized the notes so that a person who was not in the meeting can understand the summary.

At the very beginning of the minutes I created a section, KEY, where I compiled the to-do lists by person.

Example:

KEY

Vladimir: write press release proposal

Rosa: prepare speech for Wednesday action, prints pamphlets

Ernesto: prepare action training, schedule attendance for the clinic

etc.

I sent the meeting minutes, or started the validation process.

If there is a validation process: I updated the document and sent the final version.

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Checklist for sending Press Releases

We will be publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Checklist – Sending Press Release v1 . If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.

This checklist is about how to send a Press Release, a much simpler task than writing one.

Before

I have the final version of the text. / I know where to find the final version of the text.

I have the list of emails (of media and journalists, and/or other organizations).

I know from which email account to send (and I have access to it): This is important, because some actions involve creation of a separate email account. This can be a false account (to avoid relating individuals to the action) or a common account (as in the case of a protest organized by many groups).

If photo/video will be attached, I have the contact of the person who will send them to me.

I know at what time to send:

immediately after an action (e.g. in mass mobilizations)

during an action (e.g. strikes)

at the beginning of an action (e.g. blockades, direct actions)

early in the morning (e.g. declarations, report releases)

Sending

The title of the email is “PRESS RELEASE: [title]”

I formatted the text carefully. It should look like this:


[date]

PRESS RELEASE

[Title]

[One-paragraph Summary]

[Text]

[signed collective/organization]

*

[Name of contact person: Phone number of contact person]

More information:

[Sources and links, if any]


The email has the logo and website of the organization sending it.

Email has contact person information.

I am sending always BCC.*

I am sending in smaller groups of 20 contacts instead of one massive email: This is because large amount of recipients may cause the email to be marked spam. For instance, Riseup servers do not allow for such use.

⎕ At each re-send, I pay attention to any formating errors.

After

I prepared an image to accompany online publications.

I published the Press Release on our own website: Sometimes it is better to wait for 1-2 hours before doing this, to see if media covers the story in their own words.

I deleted the contact person information in public posts.

The contact person is ready to receive phone calls.

I follow the news website carefully for 3-5 hours.

I share all news coverage on social media.

Also, I share the full text of the Press Release on all social media accounts that the organization has.

I deleted the contact person information in public posts.

I check email and other social media accounts for if any journalist tries to contact us.

I updated the contact list, deleting the email addresses that bounce back.

assessoria_de_imprensa

Checklist for filming in actions and events

We will be publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Checklist – Filming v1 . If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.

Disclaimer: Filming in public (particularly of the police) may have legal consequences in some countries. This checklist aims at helping you with logistics and perhaps serving as a reminder for some key components of filming actions, but does not include legal issues.

Before the action

I know who else is filming.

I know what kind of video we aim at. (live stream, documentation of repression, footage for action video, footage for documentary)

I know where the activity will take place.

For action videos: I know higher spots on the route.

For repression documentation: I know safe spots with good angles and light.

Am I supposed to publish the videos directly, or should I just send them to someone?

I know to whom I should send / where to publish the videos.

I know when I should send/publish the videos.

If you will publish: I know the hashtag of the action.

I have a badge/t-shirt to identify me as a media responsible of the organization.

I always hold my camera horizontally.

For footage filming: I filmed the preparations.

For footage filming: I filmed the arrivals of the activists.

For footage for documentary: I interviewed some of the activists about what they expect and why they are participating.

I am aware of possible police reactions: Do we expect physical confrontation? Should I be saving the videos immediately online, in case police takes away my camera?

I am aware of security measures: Are there activists who should not appear in any part of the footage (in case security takes my camera)? Are there activists who must definitely appear in the video (e.g. police violence against members of the parliament, elderlies, or families)?

I set up my camera (considering brightness, flash, angle/lenses).

My camera has enough battery. (In case of live streaming: I have a back up battery.)

I checked the microphone quality of my camera.

I know who will be taking photos during the action.

I talked with the filming team and I know what they need from me (photographers might take 3-5 second short videos together with the photos).

During the action

I always hold my camera horizontally.

From which directions does the light come?

We have at least five short videos where the principal slogans are filmed.

We have at least one short video where the crowd and the principal banner are filmed.

For live streaming and for action video: I filmed the entire action so one can confirm the number of protestors.

For action video and for documentary: I have one single footage that could highlight the diversity of the participants.

For action video and for documentary: My footages have signs or banners that identify the action. In these, all banners are legible in my photos.

We have footage of all banners.

For documentary: The activists in my videos do not look distracted or tired. (They may be shouting a slogan, or simply smiling to the camera.)

We have close-up and audible videos of all speakers of the demonstration or conference.

For photos of speakers: I have videos that show various emotions of a speaker. (anger, joy, determination, cheerfulness etc.)

We have some detail footage: people talking to each other, families, an interaction with security authorities, people with colourful costumes or t-shirts with slogans, people holding signs with long phrases, celebrities, etc.

I always hold my camera horizontally. (Seriously, do not ever forget this.)

If there is a banner drop: I shot a video catching the entire banner drop.

If there is confrontation: I filmed the banners that police took away.

For repression documentation: I documented police violence and I am in a safe place to protect the footage.

For repression videos: My videos include the political message – and not just the physical confrontation itself. (Sometimes a sign or a banner is visible. Sometimes the building entrance has a logo. Sometimes activists have t-shirts that identify them with a cause. Perhaps some verbal messaging from activists. In the worst case, I myself spoke to describe and contextualize the situation.)

I am delivering all the urgent videos right away. (The reasons for this may be: An immediate press release must be sent. / Police may take away my camera. / The hashtag is becoming a trending topic and the organizers are expected to feed in.)

After the action

I know where my camera is, and if and how I could get it.

I got into contact with others of the filming team and confirmed that we have good videos of all kinds.

I sent all the videos to the organizers.

If you are expected to publish: I made a careful selection of 5-10 short videos that include crowds, banners, slogans, speakers and details; and I published them with a descriptive text and with the right hashtag.

If there is an immediate video to be edited: I sent all my photos and short videos to the person who will edit the video.

TURKEY-POLITICS-PROTEST

How to present an action in an action briefing

We will be publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Action briefing v1. If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.


Some actions are organized over several meetings with the participation of all the activists involved, and some actions are organized by an affinity group while other activists only show up to take part in the action. This note for organizers applies to the latter case.

Many people show up in an action briefing with some doubts, because they didn’t participate in the process of its creation. Other people may have doubts because they may not feel sufficiently informed about the issue. So, what we as organizers need to do is not only to explain the action, but also contextualize the action and motivate people to participate in it.

Here is one way we frame actions in those meetings.

1) Context: We first explain the political context in which the action happens. Depending on who is there, you may start with climate urgency or carbon budget. Or maybe there is an auction or voting coming up about a particular project.

Basically, we start by explaining why we must act now.

We do not open a discussion about this point.

2) Concept: So, something bad is happening and we must respond. What is the message we want to transmit? This is the second step of the briefing. We try to express it as succinctly as possible, hopefully with a single slogan. In a way, this would be the summary of the press release.

We do not open a discussion about this point.

3) Image: Now, what is the action that would transmit that message? We typically think in terms of image. This is defined by the concept, but determined by our capacity (resources, logistics, availability, media outreach etc.).

It’s maybe hundreds of people putting their bodies in front of a coal excavator (like in Ende Gelände), or maybe a group of animals invading a corporation’s office (like in EZLN actions during Climate Games).

We discuss this point a little bit, because there may be interesting supplementary proposals or there may be substantial objections to the proposal.

4) Details: Then we talk about turning it operational. This is open discussion. We discuss about

– preparations: materials, trainings, meetings, meeting point and time, etc.

– action roles: activists, mediators, filming, communicators (for media and for passers-by), back-office, etc.

– communication: press release, video, live-stream, etc.

– debrief: when and where we would make an evaluation.

We start with the context (motivate), continue with the concept (inspire), then demonstrate the image (amaze), and finalize with the details (execute).

But perhaps this is still too abstract.

Below are some examples.

GALP Energia vs EZLN – Exército Zoológico de Libertação da Natureza

https://vimeo.com/218201229

Context

GALP/ENI consorcium wants to start offshore drilling for oil and gas next week. The Portuguese government talks a lot about carbon neutrality, but it gave permission for this project. This would be the first offshore oil drill in Portugal. The fossil fuel reserves already tapped and being extracted are more than our carbon budget, this drill must be stopped now.

Concept

Portugal has a strong cultural connection with the oceans. The extractivist GALP/ENI threatens to attack our ocean and our climate. We will fight back. We are nature defending itself!

Image

We will dress up as sea animals and invade GALP headquarters. We will bring the ocean with us. We will make noise and a mess, although uncomparably less than what GALP/ENI would do to our oceans. We will stay for a couple of minutes, then leave, make our dance, and go away.

Details

costumes, filming, choreography, banners, video, press release, trainings, meetings, etc.

EDP (Ende Gelaende, Lisbon)

https://vimeo.com/244485620

Context

A few days before COP-23, thousands of activists will occupy one of the biggest open air lignite mines in Europe. The governments have been negotiating for 23 years, and emissions keep on going up. Ende Gelaende will show how to actually cut emissions: by stopping the fossil fuel industry.

While in Portugal, EDP has the coal power plant in Sines, responsible for 10% of national emissions. EDP does a lot of greenwashing talking about electric cars (coal cars?) and a lot of whitewashing too – with its recently opened art museum.

We should show our support to our comrades in Ende Gelaende, and we need to bring coal into climate agenda in Portugal.

Concept

We will go to the museums of EDP and draw the red lines for a liveable planet. We will tell EDP that coal belongs to museums and not to energy production any more.

Image

We will draw our red lines around Museu de Eletricidade (old power plant, now electricity museum), because fossil fuels should stay inside the museums. Then we will literally knit and weave red lines at the entrance of the newly opened art museum (MAAT).

Details

knitting material, banners, photos, video, press release, flyers to distribute

Marcha pela Ciência & Marcha pelo Clima

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HXNZs5a2IE

Context

Trump’s policies triggered a massive movement all around the world defending evidence-based policies for climate and social justice. In April, there will be global marches for science and (one week after) for climate.

It is important to underline that one doesn’t need to say what Trump openly says to do what Trump does. In fact, science in Portugal is underfunded and precarious, and while the government talks about carbon neutrality, it also allows new oil and gas projects.

Trump’s election is an opportunity for revealing the hypocrisy of all governments, and demand evidence-based climate policies.

Concept

Over the course of 10 days, we will have the opportunity to summarize the world and society we want.

First, on April 22nd, we will march for science, demanding more funding for those who set the factual base of evidence-based policies: scientists, teachers, universities.

One week after, on April 29th, we march for climate justice. We demand sound policies for a liveable planet, and more concretely the cancellation of new oil and gas contracts.

This will be a bridge to the May 1st labour demonstration, where we will demand jobs and justice.

Image

We will bring people from all backgrounds and all priorities to the streets throughout ten days: scientists, students, environmentalists, frontline populations of fossil fuel extraction, youth, and workers from all sectors.

Details

banners, posters, flyers, meetings

These examples may help to visualize how to frame an action and how to structure an action briefing.

Of course, preparing an action briefing is perhaps the least difficult part of preparing an action. But if you need numbers or if you need to motivate people for confrontation, a well-planned and carefully designed action briefing may be a useful organizational tool.

Here, you can draft your action briefing:

Context

(why we must act now)

Concept

(what do we want to say?)

Image

(how will we say it, what is the action?)

Details

(what do we need to execute the action?)

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Checklist for taking photos in actions

We will be publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Checklist – Photos v1 . If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.

Disclaimer: Taking photos in public (particularly of the police) may have legal consequences in some countries. This checklist aims at helping you with logistics and perhaps serving as a reminder for some key components of taking photos.

Before the action

I know who else is taking photos.

I know what kind of photos I should take. (large crowd, landscape, banners, signs, speaker, details, confrontation etc.)

I know the route.

For crowd photos: I know higher spots on the route.

For confrontation photos: I know safe spots with good angles.

Am I supposed to publish the photos directly, or should I just send them to someone?

I know to whom I should send / where to publish the photos.

I know when I should send/publish the photos.

If you will publish: I know the hashtag of the action.

I have a badge/t-shirt to identify me as a photographer of the organization.

I am aware of possible police reactions: Do I have to take photos of a banner before police/security takes it away? Do we expect physical confrontation?

I am aware of security measures: Are there activists who should not appear in any of my photos (in case security takes my camera)? Are there activists who must definitely appear in my photos (e.g. police violence against members of the parliament, elderlies, or families)?

I set up my camera (considering brightness, flash, angle/lenses).

My camera has enough battery.

I know who will be filming the action.

I talked with the filming team and I know what they need from me (photographers might take 3-5 second short videos together with the photos).

During the action

From which directions does the light come?

We have at least five photos where the crowd and the principal banner are visible.

For large crowd photos: I took several photos with the principal banner and the demonstrators behind.

For large crowd photos: I took several photos where one can confirm the number of protestors.

For landscape photos: I took several photos with several banners and signs.

For landscape photos: My photos have signs or banners that identify the action.

We have photos of all banners.

For banner photos: All banners are legible in my photos.

For banner photos: The banner holders in my photos do not look distracted or tired. (They may be shouting a slogan, or simply smiling to the camera.)

We have a selection of photos with various signs.

For sign photos: The sign holders in my photos do not look distracted or tired. (They may be shouting a slogan, or simply smiling to the camera.)

We have close-up photos of all speakers of the demonstration.

For photos of speakers: The photos are not blurred.

For photos of speakers: I have photos that show various emotions of a speaker. (anger, joy, determination, cheerfulness etc.)

We have some detail photos: people talking to each other, families, an interaction with security authorities, people with colourful costumes or t-shirts with slogans, people holding signs with long phrases, celebrities, etc.

If there is a banner drop: I took many horizontal and vertical photos catching the full phrase.

If there is confrontation: I took photos of the banners that police took away.

For confrontation photos: I documented police violence.

For confrontation photos: My photos include the political message – and not just the physical confrontation itself. (Sometimes a sign or a banner is visible. Sometimes the building entrance has a logo. Sometimes activists have t-shirts that identify them with a cause.)

I am delivering all the urgent photos right away. (The reasons for this may be: An immediate press release must be sent. / Police may take away my camera. / The hashtag is becoming a trending topic and the organizers are expected to feed in.)

If the filming team requested something: I have enough material for the video.

After the action

I know where my camera is, and if and how I could get it.

I got into contact with other photographers and confirmed that we have good photos of all kinds (large crowd, landscape, banners, signs, speaker, details, confrontation etc.).

I selected some 10-20 photos in good conditions, and I sent them to the organizers separately.

I sent all the photos to the organizers.

If you are expected to publish: I made a careful selection of 5-10 photos that include crowds, banners, speakers and details; and I published them with a descriptive text and with the right hashtag.

If there is an immediate video to be edited: I sent all my photos and short videos to the person who will edit the video.

Checklist for preparing a meeting

We will be publishing simple practical lists for organizers, under the tag “checklists for activists”. The pdf version of this one is available here: Checklist – Meetings v1 . If you download it, pay attention to the version number as we might update the files later.

Disclaimer: Organizing is a political act. A meeting cannot be reduced to a checklist. However, this list may help you with logistics and perhaps serve as a reminder for some key components of organizing the meeting.

Before the meeting

The meeting is announced, meaning either that it is publicized (through the group’s website, newsletter, Facebook page etc.) or that the members of the group are informed (through the mailing list, individual emails, phone, SMS, Whatsapp/Telegram/Signal group etc.)

The meeting location is confirmed.

We have everything we need for a meeting.

projector

screen for projection

sound system

computer

internet connection

whiteboard

board markers

flip charts

papers

I know how many people to expect.

I read the previous meeting minutes for pending topics and tasks, necessary feedbacks, and upcoming events/tasks.

I prepared a tentative meeting agenda.

I know who would facilitate the meeting.

The facilitators developed tools to facilitate collective decision making.

The participants know about the meeting agenda, or at least the objective of the meeting.

I know the group’s attitude/policy/decision about progressive moderation.

I know when the meeting should end.

During the meeting

Participants know each other or at least the organizers of the meeting.

Participants know the hand signals that may be used during the meeting.

The meeting agenda is announced.

There is a facilitator (either decided upon at the moment, or announced if pre-decided).

Everyone knows when the meeting should end.

We are writing meeting minutes.

We make sure everyone participates (Progressive moderation? Newcomers?).

We time topics carefully in order not to rush potentially important subjects.

We make sure people are assigned to tasks.

We make sure deadlines are set for tasks.

We know when and where the next meeting will be – if any.

After the meeting

We cleaned the meeting space.

We delivered back any borrowed materials.

The meeting minutes and decisions are shared with the group/organizers.