Occupying small towns isn’t easy. The scale of the occupation and the issues activists want to highlight are often different from camps in larger cities. A successful occupation in rural Canada requires a few tweaks to standard organizing. Getting the message out might be the easy part – maintaining commitment and momentum with community support can be harder. But with the right approach, small towns can support all kinds of radical movements. This guide details how to
Putting together a working group is the first step. Small town working groups can be difficult to coordinate. But you don`t need a large group of people to be effective. When seeking members of a working group, think about the folks you know and ask yourself: who lives there by choice? Who feels relatively alone? Who belongs to a larger social network?
Work within the group of interested people to unpack community privilege and communicate in a healthy way. These issues tend to arise in small town politics, so talk about them openly.
Appreciate the members of your working group and consider the group’s relation to other community organizations. Are there burnt out activists in town or social groups that would be sympathetic? Many people get involved because of who they know, so use these connections to nudge folks to action. Make a realistic timeline – small groups can’t be everywhere or participate in every activity, but decide on short and long term goals.
Expand your community by drawing from surrounding communities. Attend regional events and gatherings to make your group known in the area. Make yourself known by giving away free zines, newsletters and information at every possible chance. News travels quickly, so be intentional.
Let folks known who you oppose (ie local government) and why. Also think about whom to maintain contact with for important information. This can be frustrating in a small town, but these resources can be invaluable.
Small towns need activities more than anywhere else. Get involved and start hosting. Whether its informal workshops, block parties or other awareness events make sure that your group is associated with it. A good reputation in the community is essential.