Next Think Tank Meeting

Our next meeting will be:

Tue 4 Apr/17

7 pm – 9 pm

Hamilton Central Library, 4th Floor meeting area

Everyone Welcome!


Notes from 3rd Meeting 28 Feb/17 – The Tower – 7 – 9 pm

Attended by Dave Urquhart, Dave (Chewie) Cherkewski, David Bennett and me. Due to low attendance, we once again had discussions that touched on the agenda topics and more but we really didn’t make any decisions. We did not use a Time Keeper or Reporter. These notes are my recollections, others in attendance may want to add theirs.

We did quickly go over past agreements, discussed our structure and generally agreed that the cellular organizational model will work best. We are going to try to find people to start plugging into that model. I put out a piece on Structure a while ago, we went over it very quickly at the meeting. I have done a ‘mind map’ type of visualization of the sort of cell structure I’m proposing, better organized visually into sensible branches with sub-branches. I’ll send copies of it separately.

We talked a little about the recent Institute for Change Leaders and CanRoots 2017 training in Toronto and some immediately obvious results. Like nothing gets started without a leader. So I agreed for the moment to be the leader of the Think Tank but I will be happy to relinquish that honour to anyone willing to take it over. We talked briefly about how advantageous it would be to have the 2 Day Organizer training in Hamilton that should become a priority once we have the 30 – 50 people it would need to fill it.

We talked about using our personal narratives to try to bring another person or two with us to the next meeting, to start effectively growing the TT. We also decided to try holding meetings on regular nights, twice per month on the first and third Tuesdays. Tuesday has been the most popular night in our Doodle Polls. This we hope will make it easier for people to commit to attending. We need to meet twice per month at least initially to try to breathe life into this project.

It was decided our next meeting will be Tuesday 21 Mar and thereafter we will meet on the first and third Tuesday of the month. I will need to confirm our location and announce that later.

I committed to bringing two new members to our next meeting and speaking to at least 2 groups about our TT, groups that we never usually talk to, looking for new members, looking for people who know we’re in a climate crisis and need to act urgently.

I continue to learn more about Slack (like just now discovering my post was too long and needed to be cut in two) and I see it’s utility in community organizing where it is VERY popular. I have now figured out how to set up each discussion (or ‘channel’ in Slack speak) so that you are joined to it automatically rather than having to join it. In future, if you find yourself getting information you do not need, you can remove yourself from the relevant discussion.

One thing I cannot do for you is join you to Slack. That you must do. This will take a bit of work but it is well worth getting to know Slack. It can replace email and do some pretty amazing things in terms of group communication/conversation. It can handle text, audio and video meetings and will automatically keep track of each of our discussions. There are tons of learning options available, lots on the Slack website and lots on YouTube in video format.

It is possible to hook other applications into Slack (called Integrations) and I have done so with things like Polly which integrates polling right into Slack, obviating the need for Double, Mail Clark for email integration, so you can access and send email from within Slack, ToDo Bot for keeping track of To Do commitments, ‘Must-Read’ so that important information pops up without you having to look for it. I have also set up Dropbox, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts integrations so all of these resources can now also be handled from within our Slack group. This is all great, it enhances communication possibilities tremendously so we can do a lot more and its Totally FREE for unlimited users. So this is well worth checking out but in order for to work, you need to join.

I will send another invitation to each of you who has not yet joined so it’s dead easy for you to click within that to join the group automatically. Anyone who joins is in future will receive an invitation to our group where they will be able to get up to speed with us quickly.

At the moment I’m communicating with you via email, the website blog and Slack.

3rd Think Meeting Tue 28 Feb/17: The Tower 7 – 9 pm

Our next Think Tank Meeting is tomorrow evening Tue 28 Feb/17 at The Tower, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Anyone is welcome to attend,  in fact it would be great if you could bring other potential members to the meeting with you.
Please note, in order to encourage attendance I am making a commitment to you to start these meetings on time. We will allow 5 minutes for people get in and get settled and we will start precisely at 7:05 with those present. This is part of our agreement to respect each other in our work.
In terms of an Agenda I propose this:
  1. 5 min: Appoint a Meeting Timer and a Reporter
  2. 15 min: Quickly review what was discussed/agreed at our two past meetings.
  3. 15 min: Agree on
    1.  A basic structure so that we have something to start building on
    2. Leadership
      • Please look at the Structure note, it deals with both of the first two items
  4. 15 min: Possibility of Holding a 2 day Institute for Change Leaders training in Hamilton for 30 – 50 organizers
  5. 60 min: Discuss how to grow our membership to fully animate the Think Tank
    1. 10 min: Membership – needs to be more of a commitment than just showing up
      1. This can be the first hard step in attracting new volunteers
        1. A membership fee can actually help attract and build commitment
          1. Used as a tool of growth
          2. Would provide basic funds to buy books, etc.
    2. 20 min Specific organizational goals
      1. How many members do we need?
      2. By when
      3. How are we going to find them
    3. 15 min Who should we approach
      1. How?
    4. 15 min Specific Commitments
  6. 5 Min: Next Meeting Date
We have discussed a cellular organizational structure. In ‘Ganz’ parlance it is referred to as a ‘Snowflake’ structure which seems to be more neutral language. If ‘Cells’ are known to people, many know them in reference to violent terror group organizations; so it’s probably best to adopt the snowflake semantic. Also the snowflake model is a slight embellishment of the cellular idea in that it attempts to add  another dimension – the layout itself to some extent shows the level of commitment; with less committed on the edges and more committed in the centre of the flat structure.
My head is reeling after 4 days of training over two of the last three weekends!  It was the Canroots 2017 Organizers Gathering at the Toronto Reference Library on the 10th and 11th and this past weekend at Ryerson University I was taking the Institute for Change Leaders training, subtitled Story Telling for Social Change.
I have enclosed the workbook from this past weekend’s training.  This is a condensed version of the training provided by Marshall Ganz at the Kennedy School at Harvard each Spring.  It is offered with Dr. Ganz full cooperation and guidance. Thus far the Ryerson ICL has provided this training for over 1,250 people. They are very interested in working with us to provide this full training in Hamilton. There is also a possibility to train some trainers so that we could incorporate this training into our Movement. It is advisable in starting a Movement to incorporate leadership training as a fundamental. this helps to build an organization that is volunteer centred and seeks to provide positive outcomes for its volunteers. One of these positive outcomes is training. With training built into our structure, we will always have something positive to provide our volunteers and it gives us an increasing level of resilience as we grow, which any volunteer organization needs.

The Tower Confirmed for Next Meeting Location


Home Page - The Tower.png

The Tower – Inspired by the Tarot Card


Nonviolence Think Tank 3rd Meeting
The Tower 281 Cannon Street East
Tuesday 28 February 2017 – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm 
This gives us 9 days to talk this up and promote it through our social media contacts to get more people out to join us.
I will circulate a discussion list but I probably won’t get it out until the day before the meeting because I’ll be at the Ryerson training both days on the 25/26 Feb weekend.
It would be great if each member would reply to their Slack Invitation or just go to the website:, when you provide your email address it will direct you to any group you have been invited to join. Once you join Slack you need to also ‘join’ each discussion to start getting those discussion feeds; this needs to be done only once for each new discussion as they are created.
Slack is an effortless way for us to track and keep separate our various discussions. Moving to this platform will become increasingly useful and important as we build our membership because new members will have it to use in coming ‘up to speed’ with the Think Tank. In addition and probably most notably, you can tune in and out of the discussions of interest to you and not get barraged by everything else that is not of interest. As we build out, this will become crucial for effective communication.
If you know of anyone who wants to join us they can email me directly, they don’t have to attend a meeting. I can set them up in our email and Slack groups. Add them to our Doodle polls etc.
Please take a look at our website home page because  I have substantially rewritten it based on the consensual discussions at our first two meetings. Everything, of course, is open to discussion but it would be good to get a consensus on how the site represents us to the public.
Is Tuesday evening a good day for us to settle on? Should we meet every two weeks on Tuesday evenings? Based on the last Doodle poll Tuesday seems consistently most available. This makes it easier for us to build members by having a regular schedule and I think it realistic to believe that some will drop in and out of attendance depending on what’s happening at any given time. The hope is that everyone can stay involved between attendance using the Slack discussion site.
The first order of business at this meeting I believe is to discuss and formalize a structure to build around. I have previously circulated a “Structure” Document as a blog post on the web and Slack sites.
If we move forward with a structure anything like I have proposed, we need a Coordinator and a Reporter for each meeting. To this date, given our low preliminary attendance, we have not been this formal. The Coordinator essentially runs the meeting and the Reporter notes what gets discussed and decided in note form, not intended to serve as minutes, to be posted on the Slack and web sites.

Lively Second Meeting

Unfortunately, the weather was working against us on Sunday, with steady freezing or near freezing rain. I almost went down on my bike twice just getting through the parking lot to the street. Once there it was much better with salted roads. This was not conducive to getting people out unfortunately so we had only 4 people present. This included one new member, Dave “Chewie” Cherkewski.

There were only 4 people present, Dave U, Chewie, an anarchist who preferred to remain unnamed and me. David Bennett did express his regrets.

So, once again we didn’t have a ‘meeting’ as much as discussion on how to move forward. The first thing discussed was how to expand our membership. One idea is getting the word out more effectively through face to face contact with people. One way to do that is to go out to community meetings, give a brief blurb, and ask for people to join us. This outreach will include opportunities to speak as deputants at City Hall.

It was decided that we would create a #communitymeetings Discussion Channel in Slack. We will use this Channel to come up with a list of speaking opportunities at Community Group Meetings, etc and agree on who will attend which of these meetings to spread the work about the Think Tank.

We spent a bit of time discussing Think Tank structure and this will be discussed again at our next meeting. As background, I did post my thoughts about structure on both the website and in Slack. We’re thinking that it makes sense to refine the Cell list and then look for specific skill sets to plug into each Cell and, in turn,  the Think Tank.

We brainstormed for a hook to hang a campaign on with the City. I had been suggesting we follow Bill McKibben’s lead, declare War on Climate Change and then pressure the City to do the same in a campaign to turn Hamilton into a City that dedicates itself to fighting climate change. The idea of taking on “War” language is objectionable to many. What we came up with, as an alternative is, “It’s Now or Never for Climate Change” The idea is that we build a Now or Never campaign and pressure the City to declare it’s support, that’s the first step. The second step is if the City believes it’s Now or Never it must come out in total opposition to the expansion of Line 10.

I am not announcing our next meeting yet. We were thinking Sun 26 Feb but I later realized that I’m going to be in another two-day organizers training at Ryerson’s Institute for Change Leaders. Therefore I can’t be present on 26 Feb. Please let me know your thoughts on this, if people are good to meet on 25 Feb, the meeting will go ahead.

I could make any day in the following week except Fri 3 Mar.

These are my comments on the meeting, Dave or Chewie may also post theirs.


Structure of the Think Tank

Consensual Decision Making 

All decisions at each meeting of the organization will be made consensually. If no consensus is reached at a meeting the discussion will be reported but with no decision.

Shared Common Belief

We are already in a climate emergency and we are losing the battle to save humanity on the planet, therefore we need to join together to change the outcome that we foresee.


The membership of the group is loosely defined as anyone who shows up for a meeting

Organizational Structure

It is proposed that our organizational structure is flat and cellular


A cellular organizational structure gives three primary advantages: it allows highly independent pieces that can fast track while also providing a high degree of interdependence within the organization; finally cellular organizations are highly resilient. Volunteer driven movements are subject to constant change in make-up, people are regularly coming and going. A resilient organization more easily accommodates this level of change.

Cells have a high degree of autonomy and only with a cellular structure can we be a group with many effective leaders and have leaders always in training in a way that is completely natural. This is also the kind of structure that allows us to easily scale our movement because each Cell is able to move quickly and independently and can divide when necessary.

A representative of each cell will be a member of the Think Tank.

“Creating cellular organizations fundamentally involves mimicking processes that occur in natural processes. This entails fostering both strong senses of independence and interdependence, with improvement being seen at a central level as a continuous, gradual phenomenon. Each individual cell experiences either negative or positive reinforcements for its specific behaviors. Advocates for these organizational structures state that their key asset is adaptability” –

Cellular structure gives us the kind of organization we need,

  • Ideally EVERYONE is a leader or is training to become one;
  • There are always many leaders in place;
  • It gets the work into many hands and fast tracks our development far beyond what we could achieve in a more hierarchical structure.
  • It’s highly resilient, elastic and dynamic so it can roll with the punches;
  • It’s highly mutable; can very quickly adapt and respond in developing situations

Structure of the Cell

Each Cell has a Coordinator and a Reporter.


  • -is the cell’s contributor to the web site regarding what the cell is doing, providing links, readings etc. from the cell’s members


  • reports on the meetings, main topics discussed, who was present, consensual decisions made if any etc.
  • records meetings if possible and posts links to them on web site.

Proposed Think Tank Cells:

  1. Logistics and Strategic Planning
  2. Command and Control
  3. Legal Offensive
  4. Legal Defensive
  5. Popular Education
  6. Fund Raising
  7. Black Lives Matter
  8. Christian Outreach
  9. Indigenous Outreach
  10. Women’s March Coordination
  11. Physical Support and logistics
  12. Choir
  13. Song Book
  14. Pop/Folk Band
  15. Marching Band
  16. Orchestra
  17. Campaign Narratives
  18. Narrative Writing and usage
  19. Comedy, parody and satire
  20. Street Theatre
  21. Masks & Puppets
  22. Silk Screening and Sign Making
  23. Social Media
  24. Website
  25. Software tools

A member of each cell will sit on the Think Tank and each action’s Producer will sit on the Think Tank as an ad hoc member for the duration of the Action. These members can step forward and backward as appropriate in terms of their attendance at the Think Tank.

All members of the Think Tank can contribute to the website and will be set up as ‘Editors’ within WordPress as soon as they are ready.

Wed 1 Mar/17

Trying to show the kind of structure I’m talking about a little more organized: