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Looking for articles, books, case studies, tips about social change and activism? You’ve found the right place – The Commons Social Change Library.

A number of African American students sit along a lunch counter.

Lessons from the Greensboro Student Sit-ins

The Greensboro student sit-ins had nonviolence at their heart and succeeded, not only in their immediate goal, but also in building a lasting organisation in the SNCC. It stands now as yet another example of the successful use of nonviolence to stand against oppression.

Cover of 'In the Tigers Mouth'.

In the Tiger’s Mouth Empowerment Guide: A Book Review

A review of Katrina Shield’s ‘In The Tiger’s Mouth: An Empowerment Guide for Social Action’. What most distinguishes this books is its emphasis on three elements not often considered in other campaigning texts: self-awareness, collaboration, and self-care.

a worksheet template

Networked Change Campaign Grid: Worksheets

The Networked Change Campaign Grid provides a clear path for integrating top-performing approaches into your strategic planning and design process. This worksheet helps you apply the principles of the directed-network campaigning.

Protestors walk across the street with Stop Adani banners and placards.

Six building blocks of distributed organizing campaigns

To support organizations rolling out distributed organizing efforts, NetChange have put together a new campaign design framework drawn from best practices of the dozens of successful networks they have advised or studied closely.

Photograph of a group of people having a meeting.

On Conflict and Consensus

Making collective decisions and navigating conflict and are core activist skills. Conflict is usually viewed as an impediment to reaching agreements and disruptive to peaceful relationships. However, it is the underlying thesis of Consensus that nonviolent conflict is necessary and desirable.

A stack of balancing rocks on a seashore

Principles of Co-operative Conflict Resolution

Navigating conflict is a core activist skill. These tips from peacebuilding have the potential to depolarise and de-escalate tense and challenging situations. This is an excerpt from the Nonviolent Community Safety and Peacebuilding Trainers’ Manual which is also available for download on the Commons.

Photograph of multiple coloured plastic balls.

The Pt’chang Games List

Games are great for energising a group, lightening the mood, promoting playfulness, and building morale. This list is an excerpt from the Nonviolent Community Safety and Peacebuilding Trainers’ Manual which is also available for download on the Commons.

Legal Handbook for the Victorian Coal and Gas Movement

The purpose of this handbook is to help you understand your rights and what risks you might be taking, including when you could be arrested and what you could be charged with, if you choose to participate in protests and other actions.

A group of friends stand with arms around each other looking out across a valley.

Activist Support and Debriefing

Activists need to individually and collectively deal with feelings such as loss, grief, frustration, anger and despair. We can set up our groups to provide support to each other including emotional support, support for action, and educational support.

Close up photo of three hands holding small autumn leaves.

Group Strategies to Prevent Stress and Burnout

A group’s culture can have a big impact on the likelihood of stress and burnout for members and staff. It’s possible to create a group culture that supports self-care, balance and sustainable work loads and patterns.

A city scene at night. There are bright lights and people walking with their features blurred. Arrows are painted on the road, pointing downwards.

De-escalate, Manage and Transform Conflict

Many conflicts get worse than they actually need to be because the participants lose control of themselves and retreat into self-reinforcing patterns of attack and counterattack. Here are some suggestions, drawn from the literature of conflict resolution and psychotherapy, that can be used to de-escalate conflicts.

Two transmasculine people sitting together and having a serious conversation

Giving and Receiving Feedback

‘Feedback’ is a communication to a person or a group which gives that person information  about how they affect others. It is important to be able to give feedback in such a way that people can hear it, take it in, evaluate it, and change behaviour which affects their relationship with others.

A genderqueer person sitting on a therapist's couch, listening

Active Listening

Active listening is a fundamental skill for peacebuilding and social change. It is more than hearing, it involves processing what has been heard and skilfully selecting a response. Active listening serves to encourage the person to tell more and most importantly, communicates to the person that you are interested and listening.

Smiling archers carry cut out letters spelling peace.

Nonviolence

As a means of radical social change, nonviolence draws on a rich history of people’s struggles from around the world. Grassroots people’s movements have brought down dictators, stopped armies, undermined corporations and halted entire industries with nonviolent resistance.

Smiling archers carry cut out letters spelling peace.

3 Strategies For Peace

Learn about the three major approaches to peace identified by Johan Gultung: peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding.

Aerial photograph of huge crowd filling Federation Square and surrounding streets.

Tips for Turnout from Your Rights at Work

The Your Rights at Work campaign ran from 2005 to 2007 and included some of the largest mobilisations in Australian social movement history. This article draws out some of the lessons in relation to ensuring strong turn-out at rallies and other events.

A stack of balancing rocks on a seashore

Empowered Fundraising

Anne O’Brien interviewed John Croft, developer of the Dragon Dreaming project model. John’s ‘Empowered Fundraising’ approach challenges groups to take their projects seriously and invite others to contribute funds, as a way to further their own social change values and make a difference in the world.

A graphic of a hand grasped around money raised in the air

Tips for Fundraising

We’ve gathered together tips on building a donor base, running successful crowdfunding campaigns, and where to access more resources on effective fundraising for social justice causes.

A group of people gathered to protest the proposed development at James Price Point

What makes Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) effective?

Nonviolent direct action can play a powerful role in campaigns. This article summarises some of the characteristics that can make NVDA either effective or ineffective, and encourages the use of clear tactics criteria in developing campaign strategy.

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