Setting out to fight fracking in your area may seem daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. There will be other people living near you who are as concerned as you are. While it may not seem like it from the media, few people are keen on the idea of fracking when faced with it on their doorstep. Once you’ve found some like-minded people you can work with, anything you want to do will become a lot easier. Here are some ideas on how to link up with other people in your community:
- Tell everyone you know – It sounds obvious, but send texts, e-mails, facebook message etc. to friends and acquaintances in your community, explaining that your area is under threat and that you’re proposing to start a group to do something about it. Encourage them to share your message with people they know.
- Host a film screening – This is a simple and effective method of getting a decent sized group of interested people in one place. Preface the film(s) with a short introduction about the intention to start a group, collect contact details and have the date of a follow-up meeting booked so you can advertise it on the night (See our Top Films for some ideas for films to use).
- Hold a public meeting – Get in touch with the nearest existing group to you (or if there aren’t any, contact us) and get them to give a short talk about the regional threat before showing a couple of short films. Take contact details from those attending and have a follow-up meeting (your group’s first meeting) already arranged so that you can advertise the date on the night.
- Advertising with leaflets/posters – When you have a date/venue/time sorted for your public meeting/film screening or first group meeting, print a stack of fliers and put them through every door in your immediate area. We have known friendly posties to help with this. It is also a great task for you to share with any keen people you have already met.
Community organising is proven to be both an efficient and effective way to fight fracking. Visible, organised and active local groups holding public, accessible meetings, generating local news and making decisions about what happens in their own community, can be a very powerful force. There are some key-things that can help your anti-fracking community group be as healthy, functional and effective as possible:
- Regular face to face meetings – Organise meetings that other residents can easily attend, with a decision making process that everyone in the group can contribute to. Create working groups for discrete tasks like research and funding so that general meetings are not bogged down in detail. This can make a big difference to engaging people in the campaign.
- Be easily contactable – Have a dedicated non-personal email address that is regularly checked and made publicly available via a simple website, as well as on group literature (e.g. flyers, posters etc.). Get a non-personal phone number (a cheap PAYG mobile) and share responsibility for answering calls.
- Presence in the local community – Have regular events and actions that people can get involved with and attend existing community events. Generating local news stories (via press releases) and publicising company/industry activity will help to raise the profile of the issue in your community. Produce a newsletter, window posters, flyers, badges, t-shirts, car stickers and signs, etc.
- Have a social media presence – Facebook and Twitter are both useful outreach tools. Update them regularly with local/group news and try to include lots of pictures/videos. N.B. Social media companies can and will sell detailed information about you and your group to fracking companies as well as to advertisers, in addition to sharing information with the police – Organising is for face-to-face meetings, the internet is for publicity.
- Make connections with nearby groups – Regional networking, organisng (consider building a regional coalition of independent groups) and solidarity can save on repeating work. It will build the pool of skills you might be able to draw on, vastly increase numbers at big local events/demos/actions and intimidate the industry. It can also inspire others to form groups.
Spread The Word
Once there is a group in your community, spreading the word about the fracking threat is an ongoing priority. Let residents know that an anti-fracking group is organsing in their community and looking for their support and involvement. Think about building the group’s visibility, contactability, membership and the pool of resources and skills you can draw upon in your area. Here are for some suggestions on how to begin:
- Run stalls/information points – Set up information stands at a local events or busy town/village centre. These opportunities are great for collecting contact details, donations and spreading awareness to new sections of your community.
- Host local film screenings – Showing films about fracking with a short talk at the beginning and an information stall in a local community venue, can be a very useful way of spreading awareness and engaging your community.
- Create a group website – A simple group website can be a great place for interested residents (or journalists) to find your group, to read about the regional fracking news and to contact your group. There are plenty of platforms where you can create a simple website for free (e.g. wordpress.com, tumblr.com) and hosting a more complex websites doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Flyering your community – As well as targeting local events, organisng mass door-to-door leaflet-drops is a great way to get new people involved in your campaign and to spread the word throughout your community.
- Maintain your social media – Facebook and Twitter are useful outreach tools if you use them to let people know how they can get involved! Accounts should be updated regularly with news and publicity (for security, keep discussions about plans and organising in face-to-face meetings).
Skills & Resources
Effective campaigning requires a wide range of skills, resources and sometimes some cash. Gaining new skills and sharing what you already know with others, is one of the most rewarding and crucial parts of grass-roots campaigning. There are some great trainers in Britain & Ireland offering a broad range of workshops designed specifically for those in the anti-fracking movement, including training aimed at helping members of your group to share the skills they have as effectively as possible. Here are some ideas on how your group can maximise its potential:
- Find out what people can do – Your group will already have lots of transferable skills you can use. People with good time management, reliability, admin & organisational experience? Maybe you already use social media? Do you have an eye for design? Fill out forms regularly at work? Is photography your thing? Can you drive a car or minibus? These are invaluable campaign skills that are useful and can be shared with others and used in your group.
- Get new skills & knowledge – Contact one of these training collectives – they will be able to deliver useful training tailored to your group’s needs: Seeds for Change – Oxford, Seeds for Change -Lancaster, Rhizome (Manchester), London Roots, Tripod Collective (Scotland) and Turning the Tide.
- Seek out sympathetic local people/businesses – There may be people and businesses who are sympathetic to your cause, who can not be actively involved in the campaign. They may be able to contribute financially. They may be able to help by donating resources, loaning equipment, advertising space, meeting space or a venue. There are lots of ways that people can be involved in supporting the campaign even if they have little time.
- Organise a group fundraiser – Quiz nights, sponsored walks/cycles, raffles, gigs, bring and buy sales, etc. There are a multitude of way to raise cash and increase the visibility of your group/campaign, gain new members and give existing members a chance to work together and socialise outside of meetings.
- Apply to sympathetic funding bodies – Grassroots community campaigning shouldn’t be expensive particularly if you prioritise and plan regular group fundraisers. However there are some funding bodies who are sympathetic to the plight of communities threatened by fracking. Sometimes an injection of cash can help increase the scale of you plans. Writing funding applications is not everybody’s thing – if you need a hand let us know. Some funders who might be sympathetic include: Lush, The Edge Fund, The Network For Social Change, Terre Humane, EYFA,
Defend Your Community/Take Action
Widespread, visible, organised, local opposition is the fracking industry’s worst nightmare and your community’s best chance of defending itself. There’s a wide range of action your group can take to grow the movement where you live and beyond, whilst being a real threat to the fracking industry. Here are just a few examples of actions your group can take:
- Staying visible & engaging – Whilst regular face to face meetings are crucial. Getting out into your community will grow your group and strengthen your campaign. Think about holding regular weekend stalls; collecting contact details, donations, spreading awareness and advertising upcoming events and public meetings. Host fracking film-screenings and advertise your open organising meetings.
- Conduct your own research – Get familiar with your local councils planning portal and monitor it regularly for planning applications. Check company websites and local newspapers and keep tabs on what is physically happening in your community. Remember to share information via regular updates on your group website and social media. Contact us if the information deserves a wider audience.
- Organise regular group activities – Everything from badge and banner making to signing objections is quicker and easier done together. Find an appropriate venue, advertise the event well and suddenly your group has new banners or 100’s of signed objections and most importantly new members and supporters .
- Demonstrations – A well-timed, well organised, well documented, family friendly march is a great way to show the strength of the local and national campaign and remind local and national politicians, companies and industry investors how slow and expensive attempting to frack in your community will be.
- Seed new community groups! – If you are part of an established group where you live? Help those in neighbouring areas to start groups of their own. Set up film screenings or public meetings in likely areas to find people that are concerned and want to take action. Use your experience to support them with the process of starting their own group. When there are several groups in your region, consider forming a coalition.
- Solidarity activities – We’re all in this together. Other threatened communities will need your group’s visible support and in turn, there will be times when your group needs support. The interconnectedness of the UK anti-fracking movement is it’s strength. The more visibly connected we are, the larger the threat we present. If we can help in any way please get in touch.