How to Host a House Meeting

What do you feel about the Climate Crisis?
And what does it mean to you to be part of Extinction Rebellion? Then, there’s how do your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues feel, too? Sometimes, it can be hard to have a conversation about all this because the science is shouting we’re heading for extinction and it can feel like the world doesn’t want to hear the truth.

How a climate conversation can bring people together.
The planet is running out of time, so by hosting a house meeting, you’re doing your rebel-best to grow the movement, especially as we countdown to Rebellion. Coronavirus has had huge impacts - from global to individual, and as rebels and Local Groups, and we acknowledge going to Rebellion is a personal choice, and we respect each other’s decisions. If you aren’t able to attend a rebellion on the street, rebel by hosting these meetings and help spread the truth.

Where?
It’s really up to you - it could be on a video platform which is very lockdown-friendly and accessible, or a socially-distanced gathering for a small number in an open space, or even at work - host as many meetings as you can.

When?
Try multiple time variations - your friends, family and contacts are probably free at different times. And by hosting, many more people will engage with the climate crisis more deeply.

How?
How you invite people is important - don’t round robin everyone. Make it personal - preferably with a call, emails and messages are easy to ignore! Perhaps tailor your groups - pockets of friends, family groupings, and people connected by faith, background, or interests; people are probably more likely to come if they know someone else, so let them know who’s invited/coming to encourage attendance. If someone declines, ask why - there’ll be valuable learning here.

Be ambitious!
For this rebellion, aim to invite everyone you know to one, with probably no more than 6-7 per meeting to give everyone time to contribute meaningfully.

What happens in a House Meeting?
Start with introductions - not everyone may know each other, and everyone shares why they have come.
Then, choose the following method you’re most comfortable with (this takes around 15 minutes):

  1. Give a short talk - cover why you joined XR, your tipping point, the science that keeps you awake at night and the facts you wish you could forget… what you think about peaceful mass civil disobedience… the government response to the ecological emergency… C-19 and why we must build back better. Be vulnerable with your fears, express your love and rage… And remember, you don’t have to learn a talk off by heart - you can have crib notes to help! Also, you can offer to share some facts links with your guests, so they can do follow-up research too, after the House Meeting.
  2. Or you can show a short film of a 15 minute talk (you can receive this link if needed, from LG coordinator)

What happens next?
After this 15 minutes or so of you chatting, it’s your guests turn to talk and share how what they’ve heard has made them feel (this part takes around 30 minutes).

  • It’s possible someone may now be upset - remember, your guests aren’t members of Extinction Rebellion and the science is hard to hear, so you might need to pause so guests can emotionally regroup.
  • Ask your guests to treat this discussion in confidence, with respect for differing opinions and feelings.
  • When your guests feel ready, one by one, ask them to share their feelings about the Climate Crisis, without interruption.
  • Then, have a more general group discussion on the issues raised. Listen.
  • Ask your guests what they think about Extinction Rebellion - it’ll be interesting feedback!
  • This discussion can lead you all to chat in more depth about:
    • What they think about the government's response to the climate crisis.
    • Why Extinction Rebellion believes peaceful mass civil disobedience is necessary, referencing history.
    • What are our Demands, and what your guests think about a Citizen’s Assembly.

Next steps for engagement, or not?
Of course, it’ll be great if any of your guests want to now join XR, but not everyone will, so acknowledge that and thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and feelings. Your goal is to make everyone feel comfortable, and also give a range of options for involvement:

  • Sign up sheets for joining (copy and send to xr.data@gmail.com), and invite these people to your Local Group. Inform everyone of social media links too.
  • Provide dates for upcoming Heading for Extinction online talks.
  • Sign up sheet for the rebellion (you’ll receive the links).
  • Explain supporter roles in more depth - many have less chance of arrest, eg, red rebels. police liaison, legal observer, first aid. Then, there’s the non-arrest roles in off-street roles like arrestee support, back office...
  • Or if they’re too nervous to fully attend a rebellion or local action, ask if they can attend as a spectator; or if you’re going, bring you a care package.
  • Or support by making a donation - one off or regular https://chuffed.org/xr/uk

For guests keen to join our next Rebellion Offer a follow up space where they can chat in more depth with you, and direct them to your Local Group meetings or actions. Connect them to NVDA and Know Your Rights trainings in your area - this is vital.
Please buddy any guests who join the movement, it will help them feel supported and stay engaged.

How to wrap up the House Meeting

  • Thank everyone for coming, acknowledging this has been a challenging and emotional hour, and if people need further support, you’re there for them.
  • Ask if there’s any constructive feedback on the experience, to help you improve the meeting for future guests.
  • Everyone checks out with how they feel, comparing it to how they felt after the first fifteen minutes.
  • Post-meeting, send a thankyou to everyone, checking that they’re OK.

Well-being suggestion to host:
Giving this personal talk, sharing the science and hosting the discussion can be draining, especially if you host more than one. Many of your Local Group rebels will hopefully also be hosting them, so please check in with each regularly to support each other.