US CAMPAIGN TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Part of the Abolition 2000 Global Network
The Network-Plus structure proposal, adopted at the Ann Arbor meeting, is in three parts, arranged here in order from the most basic and fundamental to the most specific: 1) a proposal that the US CAMPAIGN TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS be network-based; 2) a structure proposal describing how the Network Plus concept will operate, and including some examples of the types of common activities it might undertake; and 3) a decision-making proposal for a coordinating committee describing the makeup of the coordinating committee and its relationship to working groups and the networks member organizations. PLEASE NOTE that many of the details included in parts 2 and 3 are examples or place holders included here as a starting point for discussion and open to revision.
1) WHAT DO WE MEAN BY A NETWORK-BASED CAMPAIGN? This means that fundamentally, our campaign will be rooted in a network of existing organizations who will strive to improve communications and coordination as a basis for undertaking common activities. This does not preclude the idea of creating a leadership structure or hiring staff (see below), but it does suggest that building and strengthening the network in order to build a strong platform for common action and thus build the movement is a priority. This model is consistent with the sentiments set forth in the Santa Barbara Mission Statement and Declaration and the draft statement on Democracy, Power, and Nuclear Weapons, as well as the structure of the Abolition 2000 Global Network.
2) NETWORK-PLUS can be characterized as an effort to take advantage in a realistic way of our existing resources and strengths, while going beyond the limited information exchange network we already have in place. A central assumption of this proposal is that our movement at present has neither the breadth nor the depth of commitment necessary to bring effective political power the bear on these issues in the United States, and that building a broader and more active movement must be our first priority. The goals of this proposal, and some means to accomplish them, are summarized below.
The goals of the Network-Plus structure are
To build a broader constituency for nuclear weapons abolition:
By identifying other organizations and constituencies who are our natural allies;
By explaining to/exploring with them why nuclear weapons abolition is important to them, and why action on this issue is an urgent priority now;
By using one of our primary strengths -- that we are a diverse network, representing a diverse set of communities in different parts of the country, and possessing a range of skills and information relevant to the people we are trying to reach, to reach out to communities that we as individual organizations, in our particular region or sector of society, may have difficulty speaking to effectively if we are acting alone;
By carefully choosing achievable, joint network actions which both provide a sense of the national context we are working within and build lasting organizations and activism on the local level.
This proposal aims for a structure which will improve our ability to act together, and in which we will not be competing with each other (or, as a network, with our individual organizations) for resources. The goal is to support, expand, and coordinate local and regional efforts, not replace them.
This proposal does not contemplate hiring staff people in the immediate future. However, building a stronger and better coordinated network can lay the groundwork for hiring staff in the future (i.e. through a phased developmental process, over time). The first priority is to establish an operational network in order to support an evolving, sequential campaign, undertaking coordinated projects. If staff people are hired, however, they should be housed in a host organization which does work which is diverse both in the issues it addresses and the communities it works with and serves. This will increase the possibility of success in identifying and making lasting connections with other organizations and movements having common interests. The staff should not be located in Washington, D.C., but rather in some other metropolitan area with a broad spectrum of activist activity.
Some types of activities which might be pursued within this structure include:
*A newspaper sign-on ad campaign, with content developed by the network. Signers and contributors would be obtained and the ads placed by the individual member groups in regional newspapers, with timing coordinated for maximum impact. Additional press work could be done nationally in a coordinated way. This would provide a national context, a common theme, and a means for groups to do local outreach connected to a broader national effort.
*Organizer exchanges. Organizers and resource people from our various groups can visit other organizations and provide assistance in making new connections and building our movement in ways the host organization may have difficulty doing. As a national network, we come from diverse backgrounds and have a wealth of information and experience. But each of us has felt the need in our local or regional settings for help in reaching out to sectors of the population who are not well represented in our local groups, or for knowledge relevant to our work ranging from technical information to different organizing approaches. We already do this to a degree, but systematically "pairing up" organizations with different strengths and capabilities to make new connections in our local work could be very effective.
*Issue area focuses through working groups. The working groups formed at the Santa Barbara meeting represent different strands of work within the effort to abolish nuclear weapons, and different perspectives concerning what other issues are closely connected to the problem of abolition and what our priorities should be. This range of opinion is healthy, and is inevitable in work on an issue of this magnitude. We can use the working group mechanism not only to coordinate activities among groups which have a similar focus but to keep the network as a whole informed about more specialized aspects of the work. We might consider revisiting the working groups to see if all are active or if additional working groups may be needed. An efficient, non-burdensome system for summarizing working group activities and developments in the various areas for the broader network also might be useful.
3) NETWORK-PLUS decision-making structure:
1) THE US CAMPAIGN TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS is a network of organizations, rather than an independent entity. Membership is by organization, and participation in decision-making and delegated decision-making bodies would be by organization via representatives. This does not mean that there is no way that individuals can participate in the work of the network, but that individual participation will be via working groups focused on issues, constituencies, and service areas (e.g. media).
2) WORKING GROUPS will be organized around task areas (e.g. tracking the activities of the U.S. weapons laboratories, focusing on Congressional activities, local and regional outreach and alliance building, coordinating media work among groups and for joint network actions, group affinities (e.g. indigenous and faith based organizations) and particular projects (e.g. collecting signatures on a petition). Existing working groups may continue; others may be added. There should be a strong effort initially, revisited regularly, to make sure that all working groups have sufficient interest and resources to be viable.
3) There will be a COORDINATING COMMITTEE of 8 to 12 members which will meet monthly via telephone conference calls (with additional special calls if needed) and twice annually face to face. The coordinating committee should represent a mix of types of participating groups by region, group type, and sector of the population represented. Its initial focus will be to assess the state of the network: who is participating and what their areas of interest and emphasis are. The coordinating committee will be responsible in the first phase for compiling a directory of participating organizations and for putting in place an effective e-mail (and otherwise, as necessary) communications network. (If appropriate, the existing Abolition USA list serve can be used.) The coordinating committee also will be responsible for coordinating work by network members on joint initiatives agreed to at this first meeting. Coordinating committee members will be elected at the general meetings, and will serve finite, staggered terms.
4) Each coordinating committee member will also serve as a liaison to one or more working groups, providing the coordinating committee with information about ongoing efforts and encouraging information exchange and cooperative work across issue areas. In any instance where the coordinating committee considers it to be useful, working group conveners can participate in the monthly conference calls.
5) There will be a general meeting of the network twice a year. The coordinating committee will be responsible for meeting planning, fundraising, outreach, including diversity outreach and concomitant fundraising, meeting invitations, and providing for meeting facilitation.
6) The coordinating committee in this initial phase will be empowered to do fundraising for network and meeting expenses conference calls, meeting and travel expenses, materials printing and distribution, and mailing.
7) The coordinating committee in the initial phase will gather further proposals for joint activities by all or part of the network. These proposals will be discussed by the coordinating committee (with the working group conveners as an additional resource as needed), compiled, and presented to the next general meeting, with recommendations from the coordinating committee.
This proposal does not require the hiring of staff at the outset. It should be noted, however, that the administrative workload flowing from coordinating committee activities, twice yearly meeting planning, and necessary fundraising even for this minimal structure will be substantial, and some staff support, even part time, would prevent this work from falling by default on already overtaxed small organizations. The priority of staff during the initial phases, however, will be network and movement building rather than abolition program activities, which will be carried out by the working groups and the constituent organizations.