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View Full Version : How To Build The California Civil Rights Grassroots, In X Easy Steps!!!!


oaklander
08-25-2011, 1:50 AM
LOL,

That was a joke!!!

BY DEFINITION, you can't build something that has no structure!!!

Please let me explain how everything works. This is not based on me guessing, this is based on me knowing the people who do this stuff, and talking to them about it. Some of these folks have been doing this stuff for nearly 30 years, so I figure they kind of know "what is up."

Gun Rights will be referred to as Civil Rights, for the sake of clarity.

The California Civil Rights Movement has FOUR components (and this applies to all Civil Rights movements, not just guns). Actually, the entire movement kind of "is" grassroots, but that word also has a more detailed meaning that I will explain below. . .

Here again are the four things:

1) Litigation

2) Grassroots

3) Public Relations

4) Politics

I will now explain how these things work together (and apart):

LITIGATION

There is a strategy. It can't be known, since that would ruin it. I don't even know it, since I am not really that smart on strategy stuff. We DO NOT touch the strategy. That is what the lawyers do, and what CGF "does." Period. They do an intensely good job at this, and WE DO NOT TOUCH IT.

We "help" it, when we can. And we support it financially, etc. . .

The litigation builds the foundation for everything. In my personal opinion, it is the most important part. It needs little help, except for funding. That is why we send money to CGF when we can. I myself just sent $100, and I am broke. But I still help when I can. NOW - you might wonder what an "Of Counsel" does. Well, that position is more like an "adviser" on things that affect the Foundation itself, and not on the substantive work that CGF does. That is the standard role of an "Of Counsel" person, in relation to most 501(c)(3)'s.

GRASSROOTS

The function of the grassroots is to organize people so that when the litigation "part" needs our help, we can help them (like by showing up in court to watch things, or doing ANTI-MAIG events, etc). The grassroots also helps the politics part, and the PR part. In addition, we do the fun things too!!! Like build parties, and City Council pwnages, etc. . . (those truly ARE fun events, BTW).

The grassroots is the most fun part, and that is why I choose to only do grassroots (I like doing fun things)!!!

:D

PUBLIC RELATIONS

This is the part where we educate the general public, decision-makers, and ourselves! Since our entire movement is really grassroots, we don't have a PR firm to do this for us. But we have people like ME, who have done this professionally for a long time (I used to be a Director at a PR firm). I generally switch back and forth between marketing, law, and PR in my "day job" stuff. Right now, I am doing all three at my day job, and that is a lot of work!!!

The point is that we absolutely know what we are doing, and we are not amateurs. There are several folks who do this, and I am actually the least skilled. And I have written about 70 published articles on marketing and PR, so that gives you an idea of how good we actually are (very good).

This is the hardest part to get right, since there are many variables. So that is why we are very careful, and why we ask folks to avoid interacting with the press. It's just something that can go sideways, easily. If you do not believe me, think about the word ebonics!!! I actually used to work with the woman who handled the PR on that for Oakland. The City of Oakland totally screwed the pooch on that one, BTW - and my poor friend had to clean up the mess. PR is gnarly stuff, so we are very careful with it.

NOW - there are all sorts of "soft" PR things that we "do" and most folks do not even notice them. One of them is asking folks to dress nice when they attend public meetings. There are literally 1000 little things like this, and we think about them at night when we can't sleep (like tonight).

Bottom line, this is hard work, and people are doing it, right now - for free - for you.

POLITICS

I sit on the B.O.D. of a group that has a legislative liaison (lobbyist). There is another group that has one too. These folks are like ninjas. We just let them do their thing, and they are way outside of "my" league, since I am just a grassroots person. The political stuff is the most intense part of what we do, and it is the most complex. I am somewhat smarter than the average bear, and I myself won't touch state politics. Sometimes I do slight local politics, but again - I do that outside of any group affiliation, and what I do generally never gets talked about, or posted here.

NOW - all four of the above fit together in an insanely complex way. The dynamics of how they "fit" change from day to day, and from issue to issue. It is like a house of cards, in that things can get fragile sometimes.

SO - I generally ONLY do the traditional grassroots events stuff. This makes things easy for me, since it is hard to really screw up a BBQ (burnt tri-tip is not as bad as AB144, for example).

Now it seems flippant for me to mention AB144, but I know some of the history behind it, and I can tell you that it is kind of the result of folks not understanding the PR and political aspects of certain actions.

For folks who want to get involved in civil rights, here in California - the best thing to do is to start with the traditional grassroots. This means hosting and attending events, going to city council meetings, and contacting state and local representatives - WHEN ASKED.

If you want to actually "do" litigation, or PR, or heaven forbid, POLITICS, please check with someone who is already doing those things first. Sometimes that one extra person helps us, and sometimes that one extra person hurts us.

I have NEVER been a team player, but I learned early on that it is absolutely required here to be on the team.

Now, it might look like there are several "teams." Well, there are several teams, but they all work together now. So what this means is that you need to coordinate some things with the team. If you are planning on doing a BBQ or a shoot-n-que, then there's not much to do other than just "doing it."

BUT - if you get the idea that you want to finance a lawsuit or something, PLEASE contact one of us first to get a reality check. If you have a great PR idea, please contact us, if you have a great political ninja trick, please contact us.

We do not seek control over things, since that would be impossible - BUT - we can often save you work, since it is common for "new" projects to be the exact same as "existing" projects.

Now, I am working on a simple website that will kind of serve as a starting point for folks who do not even know where to get started. But it is going to be simple. MY BIG COMPLAINT is that everyone wants to make some complex structure for everything. One of the reasons that we can kick DOJ/BOF butt so easily is that their internal structure used to suck, big time. There was a lot of intertia, and folks worked there who should not have worked there. Well, a lot of that was fixed under the last AG - so we have a little less of that particular advantage now - BUT the lesson remains - complicated things end up consuming energy just to operate, and lose sight of their external mission.

SO - we do not make complicated things. We leave that to the well funded national groups. Here in CA, at this level, we keep things simple, informal (but still highly professional). . .

IN SUM -

Less really is more. If you want to do an event, just do it. If you want to get involved, just start showing up at things, etc. . .

JeffM
08-25-2011, 2:12 AM
Thanks Oak.

The problem with trying to get a tribe working together is that too many want to be Chiefs, and too few Indians.

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/attachment.php?attachmentid=111788&d=1314267083

Rekrab
08-25-2011, 4:43 AM
And that is why I became a C3.

RKV
08-25-2011, 5:01 AM
Speaking of PR - teach your friends and family to shoot. The time you spend at the range making them into shooters is priceless. After that, every time they hear a gun-grabber, they KNOW they are lying. My 2 cents.

greasemonkey
08-25-2011, 9:41 AM
Speaking of PR - teach your friends and family to shoot. The time you spend at the range making them into shooters is priceless. After that, every time they hear a gun-grabber, they KNOW they are lying. My 2 cents.

Absolutely. A really important part of the Grassroots category is taking people shooting and that can be one-on-one or a 100 participant family event. Choosing the antis and the generally uncomfortable around firearms due to lack of exposure type of people plays out in THEIR perception of News/PR and subsequently politics.

Who knew Civil Rights action could be so heavily reliant on having fun??!

oaklander
08-25-2011, 10:04 AM
Absolutely. A really important part of the Grassroots category is taking people shooting and that can be one-on-one or a 100 participant family event. Choosing the antis and the generally uncomfortable around firearms due to lack of exposure type of people plays out in THEIR perception of News/PR and subsequently politics.

Who knew Civil Rights action could be so heavily reliant on having fun??!

YES - what we have done is made doing this stuff seriously FUN!!! In fact, that is my personal problem, I enjoy this work so much (including friends like you) that I now don't do enough day job stuff. Those who have not yet come to a build party, or gone to a city council meeting, or a BBQ, or a shoot-n-que, etc. are totally MISSING OUT on fun stuff.

I am not joking here, for some reason, we end up having FUN - AND - DOING GOOD WORK. This is not like other volunteer work, not by a long shot!!!

Speaking of PR - teach your friends and family to shoot. The time you spend at the range making them into shooters is priceless. After that, every time they hear a gun-grabber, they KNOW they are lying. My 2 cents.

YES.

And that is why I became a C3.

YES.

Thanks Oak.

The problem with trying to get a tribe working together is that too many want to be Chiefs, and too few Indians.

Correct. In fact, we are all Indians (I am saying that as an actual indian on my mom's side). Folks that "think" there are chiefs are the main problem right now. There are no chiefs -- in the grassroots part, at least. (There are in the other 3 parts, since that is required by what those "things" are).

BUT IN THE GRASSROOTS - we are all chiefs and we are all indians. Every problem we see is when someone starts smoking too much medicine pipe and thinks that "he" is now "Chief Shooting Bull."

It simply does not work that way. Just "do" - don't complain, etc. . .

There are no:

1) forms to fill out
2) anointing processes
3) royal lineages
4) job apps
5) cabals
6) star chambers

There is only people who "do."

Here is an example:

I recently did the really fun and awesome Murphys "thing." Like I keep bragging about, it was the largest true grassroots event ever held in this state. The folks on the panel discussion (which for some strange reason, they let me moderate) are absolutely the real CHIEFS.

I started this, and funded it, with my own money - and my own time. I did not seek permission - I just did it. NOW - I was super careful to not screw up certain PR things we are doing, and certain other things - so it required some cooperation with other "moving parts" - but there was no vetting process, no permission slip, no form to fill out. I just did it, with Sierra's amazing help. (She actually did just about everything "at" the event).

See http://murphys.gunrightsarecivilrights.org/

NOW - I even tried to make it complicated by having a volunteer sign up sheet - well, that didn't work for crap. So, I just made some calls, and begged for help. About 12 hours before the event, everything actually came together in a small miracle that reinforces why I choose to go to church!!!

:D

THAT is how shizzle is done!!!

We do not talk talk talk - we work work work.

;)

NOW - for an "opposite" example. Someone has recently contacted some of us via PM. He seems like a nice guy, but it appears that he wants to make things complicated. I am not really sure what he "wants." The general rule is that if you want to do a grassroots thing - you just do it (and just be sensitive about appearances and affiliations, so you don't screw up the PR part that others do).

Think about the movie Apocalypse Now!!! Kurtz "just did it." He was winning the war in that part of "Vietnam." You can do this too!! We are not going to send someone up the river after you. Just win.

DocSkinner
08-25-2011, 11:22 AM
Speaking of PR - teach your friends and family to shoot. The time you spend at the range making them into shooters is priceless. After that, every time they hear a gun-grabber, they KNOW they are lying. My 2 cents.

Absolutely - or if they don't want to learn to shoot, you can answer general questions.

This is an aspect the Brady types have FULLY utilized - most people's ignorance of firearms. When people do not know something, they fall back onto what they have heard the most or most recently, and rely on stereotypes that have been created that way (much like racism, sexism,, etc - "gunism?"). These are things we know from cognitive psychology - regretfully, they are fantastic tools that we could be using FOR us, instead of just having others use them against us.

A little education can go a LONG way. Offer to answer, they might not take you up on it, and if not that is fine. BUT - you will probably find that they will start coming to with questions after a little bit.

THAT is a win!

Basically - we need education to cancel propaganda and FUD tactics used by the other side. We really are the reasonable side (well, most of us!), and as people learn more about firearms, and start finding out who all they know own firearms, The smoke starts clearing and the mirrors go away.

wash
08-25-2011, 2:55 PM
Damn it, I wanted to be on the Star Chamber :(

Dreaded Claymore
08-25-2011, 3:23 PM
My little cousin keeps begging me to take her shooting. I guess I need to get up and do it.

oaklander
08-25-2011, 3:25 PM
Damn it, I wanted to be on the Star Chamber :(

It is all so random that I can't even explain it. Bottom line is "just do it."

:D

oaklander
08-25-2011, 3:26 PM
My little cousin keeps begging me to take her shooting. I guess I need to get up and do it.

Yes, and you have an awesome range right there in your backyard!!!

L84CABO
08-25-2011, 7:53 PM
Damn! Now I want Tri Tip! :grilling:;)

Nice summary btw.

oaklander
08-26-2011, 12:03 PM
Damn! Now I want Tri Tip! :grilling:;)

Nice summary btw.

Thanks!!!!

Yes - it is both complex and simple at same time!!!

HBrebel
08-26-2011, 12:16 PM
THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. there are anti-gun folks and there are folks that are afraid to try or have not had a chance. From what I see there are not many people who go shoot firearms and decide they hate it or all of a sudden detest firearms. Speaking of PR - teach your friends and family to shoot. The time you spend at the range making them into shooters is priceless. After that, every time they hear a gun-grabber, they KNOW they are lying. My 2 cents.

oaklander
08-26-2011, 3:30 PM
THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. there are anti-gun folks and there are folks that are afraid to try or have not had a chance. From what I see there are not many people who go shoot firearms and decide they hate it or all of a sudden detest firearms.

So true!!!

The local NRA M/C's have what area called "Fun Shoots" all around the state. They are opportunities for folks to get involved, and bring new shooters into the sport.

I urge all Calgunners to do TWO things right now:

1) Get involved in your local "C3" chapter. You can browse the forum to see info about "joining up" - it is free, BTW.

2) Get involved in your local NRA Member's Councils. Just do a google search, and you will find the page that tells you how to get involved.

I personally know the people who run both of those, and they are good people, and they will get you hooked up (if you are not already).

When we talk about grassroots, we need to remember that we are already doing a boatload of stuff here in CA (when I say "we" - I mean "you," BTW). The trick is to continue this, and grow it.

The way to grow it starts with a single phone call, or email message.

hoffmang
08-26-2011, 4:22 PM
The one thing that I'd add to Oak's analysis.

Anyone who wishes to be serious about advancing gun rights in California is going to have to learn to love and embrace change - since that is, at the bottom, what we all want.

-Gene

KarLorian
08-26-2011, 4:24 PM
I like the subtle reference to Malcom X in the title :)


BTW +1 to everything covered in the thread.

oaklander
08-26-2011, 11:27 PM
I like the subtle reference to Malcom X in the title :)


BTW +1 to everything covered in the thread.

wow - i did not even intend that, but I have been thinking a lot about him. he was actually who I wrote my entrance essay "on" when i applied to Hastings.

i like these cool coincidences!

oaklander
08-26-2011, 11:33 PM
The one thing that I'd add to Oak's analysis.

Anyone who wishes to be serious about advancing gun rights in California is going to have to learn to love and embrace change - since that is, at the bottom, what we all want.

-Gene

Yes, I may try and do a longer post that tries to explain the concept of "change." President Obama nailed the concept, but only in his campaign, unfortunately.

What I have been hearing (kind of directly from policy people, and not from blogs and stuff), is that both sides of the aisle are disapointed with him.

OUR VERSION OF "CHANGE" - WELL - IT FRICKEN DELIVERS "CHANGE."

Sometimes it is not comfortable, or nice. BUT, it is fun to participate in, and the results are happening right now.

oaklander
08-27-2011, 2:35 AM
OK - had some time to think. . .

--------------

First off, I think I know what Gene is getting at. As some of you know, Gene is a "change person." If you know about his day job, and the stuff that he has influenced, you may never look at your digital life (and real life, for that matter) the same way again, and that is all I will say.

Here are some elements of "change" - and these aren't from a book, rather, they are from my pointy little head:

1) change is not easily defined:

True change does not mean simple rule changes, or a different arrangment of deck chairs. Here is an example: moving deck chairs on a boat is "movement." Having the entire boat completely disappear and reappear somewhere else is "change."

2) change itself is fluid:

What this means is that "change changes." A concrete example is that the CA grassroots used to be run via "telephone trees." Now it is run on the internet. It started out in blogs, then kind of moved over here, and it is shifting yet again to various social networking sites.

3) change is hard to "see" properly:

I am in a strange position in that I have affiliations with many of the key players (both groups and people in those groups). I can give concrete examples of misperceptions, based on lack of knowledge. Here is a concrete example. There USED to be big split between UOC and CGN. I know this because I was the biggest a-hole talking smack about UOC. Well, this has changed. Ironically, a galvanizing event for UOC'ers was the Tuason incident. If you don't know about it, do not worry, it is now old news. But the funny thing was that it was ME who broke the story (in a certain way) to national media. I did this, even back when the appearance was that I hated UOC. It would have broke, no matter what I did, but I wanted it to break in a controlled fashion so as to not cause damage to LE, or CGF, or CGN.

Would I do it again? No. I now know that such things can be dealt with in other ways, without media. But the point is that the entire thing happened in a way that was not even seen by most people.

A lot of what we "do" - especially in the realm of PR, is kind of hard to explain, and many times should NOT BE EXPLAINED, since everyone (including our opposition) reads this forum.

If you think that "we" are "hiding" something, just call me. My cell is 415.843.1776. As long as it is not something related to litigation, or is otherwise protected or confidential, I will tell you what is happeneing, at least to the extent that I know, and to the extent that I am not sharing something confidential.

We can call that the "Oaklander Promise" and I do not break promises. That being said, I will want to know who you are, and I will want to know who you know. I am open about grassroots, but I am not stupid. We DO have opposition to our little efforts here, and some of that opposition actually comes from gun owners who do not like the thought of "universal rights."

Do not even get me started about the Johnny The Jet Boy (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=6309076&postcount=190) episode.

OK, TOO LATE!

;-)

There was a poster on this forum who bragged about his own private fighter jet. In a later post, he started to make veiled threats against our own gun rights efforts, and implied that he "knew" certain people, and all sorts of kind of douchy things like that. My personal opinion is that he is one of those guys who only wants guns for the folks at his high desert country club. He seemed uncomfortable with the concept of guns as a right.

Well, his mistake was naming the make and model of his jet in the earlier post. That, combined with some other public information allowed me to determine that he is the CEO of a somewhat large company. As a matter of courtesy, I will not name him. But he is off the forum. He thought he could browbeat us into slowing down, or changing course. He was wrong, and he gave up. I am still waiting for his minions to appear at my door. They never will. . .

If they do, I will invite them in for some tri-tip! Everyone likes tri-tip!

:D

We do not fade in the face of anything. We just BBQ more tri-tip. . .

4) Change is complex:

Some of you might find it strange that I generally support LE. Well, people change too. I am now married to a DOJ employee (not BOF, thank goodness!) I also have LE folks in my family. From my own personal interactions with folks in law enforcement, I have changed my opinion. And I am entitled to that.

My own personal opinion does not conflict with anything that "we" do, since we all are strong believers in the rule of law. And we all do not like it when things go off the rails. Folks forget that "we" are the ones who work within the system to change it.

It is NOT 1969, and we do not need to burn our bras anymore. We do things within the system now, and we have fun doing it. But we always follow ALL laws. This little point is not negotiable, BTW.

But the point is that the very folks who are currently engaged in making change *also* change. So, now we have the methods changing (per the example in #2 above), and the "people" changing. I think you all can see how complex this can be!!!

I will stop before I confuse myself any further.

I will leave with one word:




I think it conveys the sense that we are talking about. I am hoping that people who actually know traditional Chinese can correct me if I got the wrong subtleties here!!! Google it for some strange and unexpected "correlations" to the concept of changing things. . .