How we organised a human sign to Stop Adani

The human sign at Newtown in Sydney's inner west. Photo: Stop Adani
Friday, October 13, 2017

Thousands of people converged on more than 40 sites around Australia on October 7 to make human signs spelling out “Stop Adani”.

The National Day of Action was called by the Stop Adani Alliance, a national grouping of large environmental NGOs. But what made it happen on the ground were the many grassroots groups that had been organising in their local communities to build the mass movement needed to combat climate change.

As a result, the National Day of Action events spelt out the message in diverse ways, reflecting the range of local communities involved. From public spaces and parks in major cities, to beaches along the east coast from far north Queensland to Tasmania, taking in the iconic Bondi on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s doorstep on the way.

Stop Adani Sydney was responsible for the action in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Newtown. The group held open meetings every week in the lead up to the action. Many who joined were members of the groups that made up the Stop Adani Alliance, or had attended one of the Stop Adani Summits months earlier. The group’s outreach nature in building the event meant new people joined every week, mainly local residents who had not previously been active in the campaign.

The weekly meetings were structured to allow for second half breakout sessions for the working groups to deal with the detailed organising — logistics of the day, the design of the signs and pictures, social media and online promotion, offline promotion, distribution of flyers and posters. Meetings were publicised on an open Facebook page. Report-backs were via a closed group Facebook page, which enhanced communication between members of the group between meetings.

The site for the human sign was chosen as a park that was close to the cafe strip of King Street and Newtown Station, as well as bordering the federal electorates of Sydney and Grayndler. Stop Adani Alliance personally presented invitations to local Labor members Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese to address the rally. Both MPs declined to attend but provided messages to be read out.

As neither had yet stated clear opposition to the Carmichael mine, the human sign had a banner saying “Tanya/Albo Yes or No”.

Sarah Ellyard, who acted as co-ordinator of Stop Adani Sydney, told Green Left Weekly: “I think Stop Adani Sydney worked well as a team and this showed on the day. Our weekly meetings and the fact that responsibilities were shared around kept us on top of things. We had all bases covered ... and it came together in the end.

“There were some things we could have done better, of course, but these are lessons we have learnt to take us through to the next stage of the campaign. Getting information out to the community is a priority. We will also continue to focus on our local MPs to convince them to take a more proactive stance.

“The action on October 7 where 1500 came, shows that the electors of Sydney and Grayndler are serious about this issue.”

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