Perth Tactics Jam 2018: A new way of building momentum

By Emma Davies

Emma works as a journalist while studying a Masters in Human Rights and volunteering with Amnesty International WA.

Earlier this year Perth volunteers and activists workshopped new ways of building momentum at the Perth Tactics Jam.

I tagged along as a new communications volunteer to get to know the people who take time out of their busy lives to raise awareness for causes they are passionate about. The Jam was a perfect opportunity to gather likeminded people in one room and brainstorm new and innovative project ideas. It was also a chance for activists who were feeling a bit lost to get some direction while empowered activist leaders were able to build connections across different action groups.

To brainstorm you need brain food, so to kick things off we ordered pizza and introduced ourselves and our stories, sharing personal experiences and the ‘why’ behind our activism. From my perspective as a relative newcomer to activism, it was a great insight into how different people from all walks of life with different backgrounds and different passions can come together to share ideas for change.

The discussion led to the first question of the night – “what was the most meaningful activism we each had engaged in with Amnesty over the last year?”

The stories were all deeply personal and inspiring and we explored what made those particular moments different? What was a common theme in everyones experience and could we replicate it? We tried to be as specific as possible and eventually developed a theory of change:

‘Human Rights impact is made through empathy-building conversations on the ground.’

But what were the practical tactics we could use to achieve this goal in our projects? What kind of obstacles commonly get in the way of our activism and meaningful action?

This was the tricky part as everyone has different obstacles in their lives, whether its work, uni, or kids. How could we work around these factors and what steps could we take to lessen them in our activism?

We determined that our effective, simple tactics should consider;

  1. Repercussions – can anyone do this regardless of who they are?
  2. Less prep more presence – does each action take less than an hour to prep for?
  3. Access – can all 200 of our WA activists reach the space and audience this uses?
  4. Rinse-and-repeatability – how simple is this action to continuously execute?

From here we were introduced to the goal of generating 10,000 signatures in 2018 and played the alphabet game to generate a range of ideas that could meet all of the steps above and the end goal of names on paper.

Some of the ideas had potential, some focused on the novelty factor and some were downright weird. While it may not have been the more fruitful exercise, the activists definitely had fun and enjoyed the challenge of shaping their ideas around the signature goal. A smaller, more practical goal for each activist group might be a way to avoid crazy ideas that could be hard to implement.

For example the number of signatures could be determined by the size of the action group, 3000, 2500, 2000, 1500, 1000 depending on the number of volunteers and time they could commit to the implementing the idea. If the goal was broken into smaller chunks it could lead to more practical and effective ideas and not leave volunteers disheartened by the enormity of the task.

All in all it was a good experience for myself as a new volunteer, and for current activists to build connections and foster a culture of sharing tactics to enable empathy building conversations on the ground. In future it would be great to have more tactics jams to come up with practical, achievable tactics to break that big goal of 10,000 signatures into smaller, more manageable goals.