[This Guide to an activist celebration of #Sukkot4Climate Healing was written by Faryn Borella. She is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Ira Silverman Memorial Intern at The Shalom Center. The Guide is intendedd to support groups of Jews and memberss of other religious, spirituaal, and ethical groups who joiin in celebrating Sukkot, the Jewish Harvest Festival tht traditionally welcomes participation by all communities that seek to honor, protect, and justly share Earth's abundance. In our generation, this includes insisisting on public policies to heal Earth and Humanity from the climate crisis. What follows is Part 1 of the Action Guide. Part 2, which offeers more deatil on the ritualss of Sukkot and their signifocance, will follow tomorrow. -- AW, editor]
The most essential aspect of organizing an effective direct action is being in relationships of trust with those with whom you are taking action. Take time to get to know and build relationships with your team.
Figure out who will be playing what roles leading up to the execution of the action. Such roles include:
Activist, Organizer, Coordinator, Campaigner
Researchers: to learn about the target and gather facts for the campaign.
Scouting the site or route
Outreach and organizing
Logistics and support
Artists, Painters, Sewers to make props, signs, banners, political theatre, etc.
Media outreach: Send out media advisory and media release
Media kits: write, gather and photocopy contents.
Writers: write materials, flyers, media kit contents, web site, etc.
2. Building alliances
The communities most impacted by climate change are the ones that are already marginalized and disenfranchised, and these communities have often also been on the cutting edge of climate justice struggles. Therefore, who can you build alliances within this action? What groups in your area are already engaged in climate justice work? What are interfaith organizing coalitions with whom you can partner? What are the indigenous collectives in your area, and how can you encourage their leadership?
3. Identifying your Target
What congressperson is your target, and why? What is their record on climate justice initiatives? Where is there local office, and what do you need to know the effectively pull off an action at that location? Make sure to effectively scout the location.
4.Devising an Action Plan
What do you want to happen during your action? Where do you want to begin, and where do you want to end? Do you want to remain outside the building, or do you want to go inside, either the office or the lobby? What is your main tactic? Picketing? Locking down? Sit-in? What is your demand? What level of risk are you willing to take?
Who do you want to take part in this action? Is it open to the public, or will it be carried out by a smaller group of trusted allies? Will only Jews be participating, or will you be inviting participation and leadership of other interfaith and indigenous groups?
What do you want your specific Sukkot Ritual to look like? What ritual items do you want to bring with you? Will you have a traditional lulav, or one made from the materials of your local environment? See our list of ritual resources later in this document for ideas.
7. Assign roles for each person during the action, as well as roles that need to be held after the action is completed. Such roles could include:
People risking arrest: intending to risk arrest and commit civil disobedience
Direct Support People: risking arrest by staying with those locked down as long as possible and necessary and providing a human shield to those locked down
Ritual Leaders: Who will be leading chant? Leading song? Giving speeches? Benching lulav and etrog.
Police Liaison: maintains communication between police and demonstrators.
De-escalators: another “layer” of human shield protection for the demonstration, specializing in nonviolent de-escalation techniques.
Media spokesperson: delivers crisp, 6-second sound bites to hungry reporters.
Media outreach: stays back in the office faxing press releases and making outreach calls.
Communication team: helps “clusters” of affinity groups stay in touch.
Demonstrators/Sign-holders/Chanters/Singers/ Hand out literature etc.
Videographer(s): to document the action and provide images to media.
Still photographer: to document the action and provide images to media.
Live Streamer: to livestream the action to Facebook/Instagram/etc. While it is happening.
Medic/EMT/Medical Team: deal with emergency health issues of participants.
Legal Observer(s): observes the police action, paying close attention to police violence.
Jail Support Contact person: the person on the “outside” who we call to update.
For lock-downs: an off-site key holder
Legal Support to help the people in jail and coordinate with lawyers, if necessary
Lawyer: provides support and information about our choices, if necessary.
Documentarian/Historian/Archivist: keep track of the paperwork and footage.
Fundraisers: To raise money to pay for legal fees, if necessary
Public speakers: to be in contact with the media after the action.
8. Contacting the Media
Let the media know what is happening, and when and where to be. Write a press release to be released during the action.
9. Collect supplies
What ritual objects do you need to effectively pull of this action? Do you want to have an art build to make posters, signs and banners prior to the action? And how do you want to transport all your supplies to the action? Example supplies include:
- Lulav and etrog
- Other ritual objects
- Megaphone and/or portable sound system
- Song/ritual sheets
- Flyers about the action to hand to passers-by
- Banners and Signs
- Any supplies you might need to execute a higher-risk tactic (lockboxes, chains, etc.)
- Meet at a central gathering place, potentially your local synagogue, its sukkah, or the park. Engage in grounding rituals to bring everyone together
- March to your target destination. Depending on your action plan, either set up inside, outside or both.
- Engage in your action script. This should include Sukkot ritual, such as building a temporary sukkah, benching lulav and etrog, inviting in the ancestors, chanting Hoshanah, petitions for intervention, and more (more information on these rituals below.) It could also include theater, songs, chants, making demands, and refusing to leave the premises.
- Throughout this time, you should try to have someone/people leading the ritual, someone livestreaming, someone taking photo, someone taking video, someone/people deescalating angry customers, staff, someone liasing with the media and someone liasing with the police, if present (see roles above).
- If you are refusing to leave, announce this intention.
- Make sure the action ends in a way that people feel unified, with a closing song or ritual together.
- If people were arrested, contact your legal team and keep them updated on the situation.
- Find which station those arrested were brought to and make sure people are there, with snacks, for when they get out.
- Raise money for legal funds.
- Make sure to de-brief with your whole team. What went well? What can you celebrate? What did you learn for next time?