Friday, 16 December 2016


So far the CSB network seems to be going well. It started off tiny and it has more than doubled in size in little more than a month. If we are able to maintain this rate of growth we will be an influential force in Australian politics less than 12 months. So while we might want the group to grow faster - we should also be careful to highlight that the network relies on consistency as much as it does passion. However, it is obvious that participation is still at a tiny fraction of what it needs to be. So what types of things could we do to help increase participation over the coming months?

Without really having any way to prove it, it could be argued that the 4 banner drop photos that were taken in November - were more crucial to mobilising people in December than the thousands of hits to various online articles/videos explaining how to participate in #CantStandBy. Showing is more important than telling.

Part of this has to do with the fact that articles/videos are aimed at the general public. As the network manual said a significant majority of the general public is not going to be interested in participating. We're looking to mobilise the most radical 0.1% of the population, so if a video is seen by 5000 people, (as a rough guide) that means that it has probably only reached about 5 people in your target audience (assuming all those hits were Australians). General outreach is still important as it is one of few ways to break out of just existing in little self-contained activist networks but it also has limitations.

It is possible that the 4 photos taken in November could have had a bigger impact because they concretely demonstrated to people who were already interested in taking action - what their participation could look like.

Some people may have seen the video of the man dancing by himself at the concert who eventually attracted a crowd of people to join him. He didn't do that by handing out manuals on how to dance. He also didn't walk up to people who weren't dancing and say "why aren't you dancing!?" Instead, he made what he was doing look accessible and fun.

Even though many participants were camera shy in Nov - the photos still showed real human beings in real locations carrying out the actions as they were intended to be. Then the next month twice as many people participated in twice as many locations.

Another reason why banner drop photos may have a bigger impact than online links to the manual is because, at this point, no one is looking for CSB banner drop photos unless they are already very sympathetic to the movement. People who are looking for banner drop photos are already looking for evidence to let them know its ok to take the to streets.

It may be easier to focus on these people in the initial stages rather than trying to get the entire general public to spontaneously rise up.

One potential limitation at the moment is that the only visible human components of the network have been the banner drop photos. While these might be one of our most effective forms of outreach, there could easily be other types of media that supporters could also create which could fill the gaps between the monthly demonstrations and allow people to see the other people who are participating in the network, making it more relatable.

People can:

* Upload photos of CSB posters or other materials which have been displayed in your local area. This can be a way to get content online which shows CSB activity. The more things that move #CantStandBy from being an idea to something that is being put into practice the better.

* Create "Why I support CSB" blogs, vlogs and interviews etc and upload them social media. If there's a part of the Network Manual you think that people need to be aware of you could create a video or article or graphic explaining why you think that this element is important. Don't worry if you have no credentials. People who support CSB don't care. The refugees don't care.

CSB reduced demonstrations down from having politicians speaking and mainstream media coverage to a single individual with a scrap of paper and hashtag written on it. Because of the politics behind the actions - they were still effective in inspiring others to participate. Following the same logic it also doesn't matter if you're just an ordinary person speaking into a webcam about #CantStandBy or writing articles or creating art. Others will still find your voice (and your example) inspiring in ways you might never predict.

* Extend banner drop photos to also include banner drop videos. There were reports that there were lots of cars honking in support of CSB demonstrators last month. It would be good to get some of that on film. Even doing quick little vox pops with people who volunteer at the demonstrations will help to raise the network's profile.

* Take photos of as many rallying points in your city as possible (even outside of a day of action). Use them to create media and upload it to social media. The more familiar people are with the locations - the more confident they will be to participate. This might also help to weed out any rallying points which are unviable - so that they can be avoided or replaced by new rallying points. If you wanted to you could combine some of this footage with a "Why I support CSB" blogs/vlog etc.

These are just some suggestions for anyone who is trying to get more people active in the network.

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