Affinity Groups - building, joining and support
An AG is a group of people who support each other to take part in nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
Forming an Affinity Group
An Affinity Group (AG) is a group of people who support each other to take part in nonviolent direct action (NVDA).
The ‘affinity’ part could mean anything that unites the group - this could be where you’re from, what you care about, what kind of actions you’re interested in or it could just be that you like each other and want to make a difference together.
It’s crucial that those people willing to risk arrest are properly supported through this experience, so not everyone in an AG needs to make that commitment.
XR is it’s AGs and what we do is NVDA.
Listen to rebels talking about their AG experience: Watch the Affinity Group video here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=279880469898569
Here are some resources to get you and your Affinity Group started:
The AG Little Green Book: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hpwtmr1y58G3b7t23QTfS7j6ZrRdRmTJ/view
The NVDA How To Action Guide: https://rebellion.earth/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/XR_NVDA_Guide_A5-rgb_lowres.pdf
Forming an Affinity Group
Are you a part of a Local or Community Group, and would like to organise using the Affinity Group structure to take part in action together?
We have a script just for you! https://docs.google.com/document/d/19jSlNsiZrtEOZ0zAXbw0KhL3l8A_9V5hh8aVFrc67DM/edit
This workshop is intended to be a 20-30 minute activity for groups that already have some familiarity, to organise into Affinity Groups before a specific action/Rebellion.
It can be led by anyone, and should be fluid and flexible for the relevance and needs of your group. Have fun with it! Make it your own!
First steps in setting up your Affinity Group
Introduce yourselves, giving a brief idea of your interests and skills, and your hopes for the group
Exchange contact details, and start a communications channel (ie. whatsapp group or Signal group)
Name your Affinity Group!
Sign up to AGSN database: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/affinity-group-registration
Arrange the date and time you will meet next (within 2 weeks is encouraged)
Decide some of the group roles:
External Coordinator - joins AG communication channel on Mattermost, liaises with other Working Groups, receives information from AGSN
Internal Coordinator - organises meetings and ensures rebels feel included, engaged and supported
Wellbeing Support - arranges regenerative activities for the Affinity Group
Remember: these roles should rotate and change!
Some things to consider for your first meeting
Deeper Introductions, getting to know each other!
Active Listening exercises
Plan an Action / discuss and take part in a Regional / National Action
Pair up into buddies (2 or 3 if an odd number) to provide closer support
Participating in Trainings
Action Design / XR DNA / Action Wellbeing / De-escalation / Know Your Rights Legal Training
Further Reading for you and your Affinity Group:
For more information about Affinity Groups, explore the Little Green Book here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hpwtmr1y58G3b7t23QTfS7j6ZrRdRmTJ/view
For Action Design ideas, read the Planning Effective NVDA booklet: https://rebellion.earth/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/XR_NVDA_Guide_A5-rgb_lowres.pdf
For Trainings, check out the Rebel Academy: https://uk.rebellion.academy/ Or for more talks, trainings and workshops, tune in to ResetTV HERE
For more information, ideas and inspiration, view the Resources Page: https://rebellion.earth/act-now/resources/
And keep an eye out for actions and news on the XR Newsletter (join us here!), and the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages.
With much love and rage,
The UK AGSN Team 🍁
One method for helping keep members engaged and supported is to start a buddy system in your affinity group:
- Have someone to keep track of buddies
- Not everyone will want a buddy and that’s OK
- Different buddies will want to meet more or less frequently
- Buddies can be support buddes (but if your AG has formed for an action they could be action buddy)
- Confidentiality is required
- Encourage active listening
- and review buddies in AG meetings
What is an AG buddy system?
An AG support buddy system basically pairs up rebels together for emotional or general support. Each person is the other person’s “buddy”. Buddies can check in with each other periodically and just have a chat about how they are doing. It can prevent rebels from feeling isolated or feeling awkward about reaching out for support, and it also takes pressure of the affinity group coordinator to keep in touch with everyone in the group.
This is different from a buddy system on actions - we recommend that people have specific buddies for specific actions as attendance may vary.
Buddy Point Person
It is important to have a point person to keep track of buddies. Responsibilities will include: Matching buddies and keeping track of pairs Checking in on buddies periodically to see if it’s going well Reworking pairs as needed if things aren’t working out
Using whatever communication method works best for your group, whether that’s a meeting, email, or group chat, to find out if your group would like to have buddies and how they would like to match people up. Select a point person. Discuss an idea of what your members want to get out of a buddy -- of course this is just a starting point, buddies will develop a rapport that works for this over time.
Active listening for buddies is strongly encouraged. This is known to foster a regenerative culture that helps people feel listened to and in a safe space. Additionally, confidentiality between buddies is critical. Matching buddies There is no one right way to pair buddies up, but here are some suggestions! Rotating Buddies One option is a rotating method. Randomly assign buddies for a fixed period of time and then rotate later. This can be great for new affinity groups so members can get to know each other better early on. One AG rotated every 8 weeks, and it worked well for them.
Another method is to ask your AG what they want out of a buddy. Get a sense of how often people want to check in and what communication methods they want to use. Use this information to pair people together, or where there is an odd number, three people. This can work well if you know your members well and can use this to try and put people together who you think will get on well.
There might be some benefit to pairing members who are more able to make meeting and attend actions with members who are less able to.
Members can also try self-selecting buddies, though this may run the risk of leaving out members who are less comfortable reaching out to other members asking to be buddies.
The point person should check in occasionally with their AG members to ask if their buddy is working for them. Is their buddy on the same page in terms of how to communicate and how often? Are they able to foster a regenerative environment with their buddy? Do they still want to have a buddy at all? Would a member who didn’t want a buddy at first want one now?
If there appears to be a poor buddy match, that’s perfectly fine. Just try to find a way to rematch any buddies that aren’t working out. This might require turning a pair into a threesome depending on how things are working. If you find yourself struggling to figure out how to make it work, reach out to AGS and we can talk it through with you..
Example Questions for Pairs
How often do you want to catch up? Daily / Every few days / Weekly / Every couple weeks / Just as needed for support (less frequently)
How do you want to keep in contact? (Circle all that apply)
Over text (whatsApp, etc) / Phone call / Video chatting / In person
What do you want to get from your buddy?
A friendly connection at a stressful time / Only XR related things - to help you keep in the loop and answer questions / Climate things in general - to share your concerns / A supportive person to provide a ‘active listening ear’
AGs Reconnect to Rebel - re-energising ideas for 2021
ORIGINAL DOCUMENT IS LINKED HERE: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OvRXXTernmsQ6j50AHRCwf7hicJCc-dJSNNAAuCDtgQ/edit?usp=sharing
Growing the AG Spiderweb
Act now! Ideas and training
Let’s get Creative...
The pandemic has taken its toll and left some Affinity Groups feeling depleted and/or low on energy and direction. Check out some of these revitalizing ideas:
REACH OUT to your Affinity Group
Call or personal message Affinity Group rebels: find out how they are, check in about participation in the Rebellion, and invite them to a meeting.
Include listening circles in your meetings or longer check ins.
Have an outdoor meeting (if permitted). Choose a local beauty spot, park or just accessible local space. Have a picnic! Genuinely check in - how has everyone coped over past year? Surprise bonuses? Surprise difficulties?
Build a Buddy System within your AG: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1viIwPdfNyYZXsWHqudgfYoCXWhm0xwO_aKc6c3tf6dU/edit
Consider regular Affinity Group meetings for Action Planning
Host a discussion on a live topic, eg. Actions Strategy Update: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RblwAZajvUJUke9RidxLRvzRrMjy5tFv/view
(Keep in mind these zoom security tips: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZGYWcR9dmUEDZohvX4AV_WU6X25E1f-CQbHOUtwogUo/edit)
Start with our XR Story… https://rebellion.earth/the-xr-guide-to-the-impossible/ Send out a topical article to the group, or host a fully-fledged book club - discuss together during a meeting
Watch the Heading for Extinction talk again, to remind ourselves of why we’re here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2VkC4SnwY0
Check out the Rebel Academy: https://rebellion.earth/act-now/trainings/
Run an Affinity Cafe to gel your AG or to start planning for something bigger
Visit Reset TV here for talks and trainings to explore and discuss together: https://www.resettv.co.uk/
Invite a speaker, eg. your Local Actions Mobiliser
Struggling to motivate your group?
Consider buddying with another local AG, forming a new AG, or grouping together to form a local AG Supergroup. Check out Rebel Academy:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZGYWcR9dmUEDZohvX4AV_WU6X25E1f-CQbHOUtwogUo/edit or contact the AGSN for some of our Online AG Formation training.
Here is a 20 min Local Group and Community Group AG Formation Activity which can also be used in an AG meeting to connect and motivate: Quick AG formation here https://docs.google.com/document/d/19jSlNsiZrtEOZ0zAXbw0KhL3l8A_9V5hh8aVFrc67DM/edit