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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Each month we bring you a nonviolence training workshop based on the experience of the Nonviolent Action Training project and INNATE.

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Brainstorming, also known as ?board blasting? and by other names, is good crack. We?re all inhibited and we need to let our imaginations loose if we are to come up with creative suggestions for promoting and furthering our work.

In a brainstorm, a positive topic is set, e.g. ?Nonviolent methods of opposing uranium test drilling in Donegal? (a brainstorm which took place in 1980, the suggestions from which follow), or ?How we defend Irish neutrality?, ?How to get nonviolent action known in Northern Ireland? etc. Then the facilitator opens it up and everything suggested is written down without any comments; one idea can of course lead to another, but no comments are permitted on ideas expressed (even where something suggested might be considered violent rather than nonviolent, or dangerous, or whatever). This is to free up everyone to suggest anything that comes into their heads, however silly, ludicrous or even serious the suggestion might be. This is crucial; a ?brainstorm? that allows comments as it goes along (as many do) is missing the point of the exercise so the facilitator is wise to get clear agreement beforehand that no comments are allowed until afterwards, and stop any that do start.

One person (who may or may not be the facilitator) writes up the suggestions on a large board or sheets of paper (if the facilitator wants to concentrate on getting ideas out they may prefer to get someone else to act as scribe). If written on (e.g.) a whiteboard, the ideas need to be copied afterwards so they are kept. The scribe or facilitator can help by saying if an idea has already been suggested or by grouping it with another idea it closely resembles.

The facilitator may say beforehand that the brainstorm will be let run for ?about ten minutes? or whatever, but they need a sense of when ideas have been exhausted. Just because there is silence for a minute does not mean more ideas may not emerge. The facilitator can also nudge people into thinking of particular kinds of actions, e.g. ?What about symbolic actions??

There are different ways that the list which evolves can be evaluated. It is wise to take a quick spin through the ideas for clarification before deciding (note ? clarification, so people understand what was being suggested, not general discussion of the idea). Everyone can be asked to pick two or three and indicate which they are, these are then marked with an asterisk by the scribe or, faster still, people go up and add their couple of ?ticks? to the list; the top several are evaluated further. Or people can be paired off and talk about those they would most like to see done before coming back to the group. It is sensible to cut the number down quickly to several that can be evaluated further, but something on the list which does not make sense to do now may be just the thing to do in a year?s time. So keeping the list and looking back on it some time later may pay off.

Various analytical tools can be used to look at individual suggestions including listing the ?positives? and ?negatives? of doing a particular action. Another useful question is simply to ask ?Who would do it??. If there is no one present who would take a particular action, and no prospect of getting others to do it, then it can be safely set aside, for the moment anyway. What is not appropriate now may be just right at another time. And are people willing to act on the borders of legality or be positively illegal? If either borderline legality or illegality is involved then much greater preparation and training (as well as support) are needed before undertaking the action. But there are also plenty of ?legal? actions possible.

An idea can also be the catalyst for another idea; No. 7 on the list below, getting bishops to condemn something, might or might not be feasible but it raises the question ? how can the church(es) be got onside? This itself can be brainstormed further. Or lateral thinking can be employed to look at how the same effect can be achieved by different means.

Advice may also be sought after the brainstorm meeting if the idea is controversial as to how it will go down with both supporters of the cause and the general public. An idea may sound great to supporters but if it is likely to alienate the general public then that may put a very large question mark over the action, though if it was felt it would positively influence key decision makers could be a reason to still go ahead.

It may be the task of those holding key roles in the group to act as custodian of the ideas which emerge in the brainstorm, drawing on them as necessary and appropriate to suggest for actions in the future.

Nonviolent methods for stopping uranium drilling in Donegal (1980)

1 Letter writing
2 Turning drilling derricks into windmills
3 Letting off balloons to show the extent of radiation drift
4 ?Haunting? workers [a nonviolent tactic of following people around etc]
5 Interesting people in cattle
6 Revamp ?Horizon? film in Irish context
7 Getting bishops to issue statement condemning uranium
8 Free beer for uranium workers
9 Phone-in at local RTE office
10 Organise framers? protest
11 Withhold work permits from uranium workers
12 TV coverage
13 Get Raidio na Gaeltachta and Irish language and schools involved in it
14 Rock concert
15 Airplane with smoke writing and dropping leaflets
16 Visit pubs
17 Hunger strike
18 Medical personnel involved
20 Get ?Donegal mafia? involved (i.e. certain Donegal politicians)
21 Round Ireland walk to villages
22 Round Ireland cycle to different uranium sites
23 Slide show on mining
24 Travelling theatre
25 Meeting with company officials
26 Build alternative technology on site
27 Sponsored climb of Errigal
28 Fires on hilltops of Donegal [St Patrick driving uranium miners out of Ireland]
29 Surfing competition to demonstrate wave power
30 Planting of cross on every site
31 Commemoration of future dead
32 Close Donegal bars on Hiroshima day
33 Involve Amharclann Gweedore in showing position (theatre)
34 Get Peace Pledge Union film van to tour Donegal with films
35 Have an Oireachtas fringe
36 Use Letterkenny Folk festival and Buncrana fleadh
37 Horse festival
38 Get anti-uranium postage mark
39 Get support of eminent scientists
40 Organise visits by local people to uranium mining sites
41 Establish uranium weekly magazine
42 Have a shop/stall with literature/films/video in Letterkenny
43 Churches against uranium day
44 Education on radioactivity and health including regarding babies/children/pregnancy
45 Reading list
46 Organise spoof uranium vision where Our Lady condemns it
47 Ask Pope John Paul to condemn it
48 Get EEC [=EU - Ed] office and Minister for Energy involved
49 Marathon session of condemning uranium
50 Provos and UFF to ecumenically organise disposal display
51 Badges
52 Follow course of uranium from ground to wherever it ends up
53 Petition
54 3-way march from Donegal, Carlow, west cork uranium sites to central point
55 Perpetual monument
56 Leafletting
57 Postering
58 Cutting a mountain sign
59 Mock nuclear station (fences, guards etc)
60 Marine anti-nuclear day
61 Festival on site
62 Pirate radio station ?Radio Active?
63 Bomb models
64 Visits to county councillors and TDs
65 Exhibition
66 Universal school day
67 Gaelic League tournament
68 Heat conservation competition
69 Pageant
70 Die-in
71 Anti-uranium cards
72 Work on EEC connection
73 Dye-pouring in rivers
74 Support from Scotland and Western isles
75 Closing roads/access
76 Street theatre in communities
77 Filling in drilling holes
78 Free beer for anti-uranium workers
79 Alternative employment
80 Vigilante groups
81 Growing more plants [All except nuclear ones ? Eds!]
82 Drill in company offices
83 Street speaking
84 Monitor of work already done
85 Poster competition
86 Pressure re State?s mineral rights
87 Legal representation
88 Visiting all concerned
89 Day of solidarity
90 Day of boycott
91 Poetry competition
92 Sail around Ireland
93 Contact women?s groups
94 Trip to Windscale [= Sellafield ? Ed]
95 Creativity day on site/Letterkenny
96 Anti-uranium cups, stickers etc
97 Sit-in
98 Occupation
99 Geiger counter
100 Bonfire
101 Recyclable monument on site
102 Car with loud hailer
103 Removal of equipment
104 Local alarm system for vigilantes (against uranium lorries etc)
105 Local training weekend in nonviolent tactics
106 Using grazing rights as delaying tactic on prospecting

Adapted from Dawn magazine, No.72, on Nonviolent Action Training, 1981.


Copyright INNATE 2016