The Citizen Handbook
Citizen Tools for Participation
Many of the tools discussed so far focus on two-way dialogues with other stakeholders and government officials. Sometimes two-way dialogues do not make progress, or important officials will not speak with you about your issue. At this point, you have several options to raise awareness in the community. The most effective way is a peaceful public rally that can bring together your supporters in one place. A successful rally is one held in a venue that is easy to access, has facilities to allow the participants to hear speeches from specific spokespeople, and is of an appropriate size to accommodate the number of people who you expect to attend.
Steps to Organize an Effective Rally
- Choose a venue. Ensure that the venue has facilities to support large crowds (e.g. washrooms, parking, etc.)
- Choose a date and time that is convenient and does not conflict with devotional times, religious or public holidays when people may be with their families.
- Work with local authorities and/or police to obtain permits and permissions. Always inform the relevant authorities for security and emergency considerations.
- Draft an agenda for the rally (e.g. arrival time, speeches, facilitators, etc.)
- Invite spokespeople to address the participants. Have an idea of what it is they are going to say and give them clear time limits.
- Draft speaking notes that outline the issue, propose solutions, and identify those responsible for regulating or resolving the issue.
- Make sure members of the community are involved and can participate in the public speeches.
- Consider inviting entertainers or making sure there is music available.
- Provide access to water and food. If you cannot afford to buy it then make sure to be in an area where people can purchase it themselves.
- Publicize the rally well in advance. Use flyers, radio, newspapers and other forms of media. Also, consider using social media like Facebook and Twitter.
- Use your networks and partners to invite supporters.
- Invite relevant State or public officials. Be sure they understand though that you are not holding a political rally and that issues or topics discussed should be the focus of their comments.
- Invite the media to cover the rally and give interviews to explain your objectives. Also, if possible, draft a press release or fact sheet on the topic or purpose of the meeting.
- Ensure the speeches and presentations stress peaceful and respectful messages. Again, stay away from politics or other issues that may cause division in the crowd. Do not tolerate hate speech or tribalism.
- Collect contact information from as many participants as possible through a sign-in sheet. This will be valuable data when you conduct follow-up activities in the community later on.
- Make sure to leave the venue clean and free of rubbish after the rally.