Planning Events

Event Guidelines
Demonstrations

Marches
Candlelight Vigils
“Field of Flags” Memorial Display
Information Tabling
Presentations
Civil Disobedience


Event Guidelines  

There are a multiplicity of events that are suitable for World Week for Animals in Laboratories. All will accomplish the goal of reaching people with the message that vivisection is not the answer to our health needs; rather, it is often dangerous for human health. These events, however, will work in different ways: Some will offer in-depth information to a limited audience, for instance, while others may reach many thousands with a general message. Some will focus on issues of national relevance, others on local issues. You should plan the event most appropriate to your resources, goals, and community. Events may also be combined for instance, a protest march and sit-in, followed by a debate. You should always check with the local police office to learn whether permits are required for the event you have in mind. Requirements for permits vary widely so it is essential to always confirm well in advance of your event.

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eventplanning

Demonstrations

 
Demonstrations have the advantage of attracting media attention, informing the public about your issue, and involving community members in grassroots activism. They have the potential disadvantage (if poorly planned or conducted) of lending themselves to the common portrayal of the vivisection debate as one between the rational and detached scientist and the irrational and emotional activist. At the worst, isolated acts of destruction are sometimes depicted as the sole activity of animal advocates. However, well-planned protests are an effective means to publicize the atrocities that occur behind closed laboratory doors. Make it a priority to have good literature and background information available to the media. The Demonstration Checklist will help you organize and coordinate your event.

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event planning 2
Marches  

A march through your community is a highly visible event enabling you to deliver your message to a wider audience. The march may also begin or conclude with a protest action. Work out a highly visible route and inform the city or county of your itinerary. While walking, use the opportunity to distribute leaflets about your issue.

If you are creative, you can make your march a colorful and even invigorating way to provoke community interest in your cause. Lead the procession with a bold costume, banner, or signs. Don ’t forget to arrange for any necessary permits far in advance.

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Candlelight Vigils  

Conducting a candlelight vigil is a compelling way to highlight the tragic solemnity of our cause, and serve as a forum for activists to communicate their personal feelings and renew their fervent commitment to stop vivisection. For added impact, activists can form a slow procession and join hands around the animal laboratory, while taking turns to share thoughts and feelings dedicated to the animals.

Evening events have the disadvantage of taking place when news reporting crews are mostly off-duty and, thus, difficult to attract. If you let the press know your plans in advance, and offer them an interesting story angle, this obstacle may be overcome.

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“Field of Flags” Memorial Display  

To commemorate the tens of millions of animals who die each year in laboratories, and to convey to the public the staggering number of animals who suffer in labs, you can set up a powerful “Field of Flags” display for WWAIL.

The details for setting up this amazing display are best described by long-time activist and IDA Northwest Director Matt Rossell, who has first-hand experience in developing and executing it:

The flag display for WWAIL is a stirring statement and conversation starter about the suffering endured by animals in experiments. The assemblage is not difficult, but it can be quite time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a lot of help, so any extra time spent in rounding up more volunteers will be well worth it in the end; the more the merrier!

To begin, get permission to put the display on campus. If you don’t know where to go, start with the student government, or student activities office. Pick a wide grassy spot that has high foot traffic and is big enough to accommodate the flags. Assure the ‘powers that be’ that you will be responsible for removing all the flags afterward, and then make sure you follow through. Describe the project as a political art installation and an expression of free speech if you are having difficulty getting permission.

Roughly measure out your area and plan how the display is going to look. You will be using 1000 white flags, which we spaced every two feet. This will take up an area of 4000 square feet, or an area 40 feet by 100 feet for a rectangular display or roughly 66 feet by 60 feet for a more square display.  Adjust as needed to fit your space. The flags could be placed closer together, but we decided that the two-foot distance worked quite well. We also had our display cross over a sidewalk to another lawn so that students were actually walking through the display. Consider orienting the rows of flags at a slight diagonal from the grid of the sidewalk surrounding the lawn to make the display more visually interesting. Your display could be more organically shaped on the edges to follow contours in the landscaping or borders. Be creative!

Now it’s time to start placing flags. We used a string pulled tight between two small wooden garden stakes to keep our lines straight. Using a marker and tape measure, we put a mark every two feet along the string. The string was measured at the same length as one side of the display. After stretching out the string and staking in the stakes with a hammer, you just move along the string putting a flag in at every mark. This also helps keep the flags at a uniform height, using the string as a visual cue to mark how far down to push the flags. After the first row is done, pull up the stakes, measure two feet down from the first row, pound in the stakes again, and do the next row. Repeat this process until you are done. Don ’t worry about perfect flag placement. Using this string as a guide, you will find that even if you are not exactly on each mark, when you stand back and look, everything looks very uniform. We highly recommend wearing gloves when installing flags. The rubber-coated garden gloves work well. Besides the wires sometimes poking you, we had one volunteer break out in a rash from the metal wire.


The last step (or first!) is to install the tombstone-like signs. We printed the posters on paper and affixed them to plastic corrugated sign material that we had attached to 1 by 2 inch cheap pine lumber. We cut them to allow 18 inches or so to be pounded into the ground, leaving the sign roughly at eye level. Use your own judgment on how you want the display to look, considering you want it to be easily read by passersby.  Plan on having at least one sign on every side of the display, so that no matter what direction people are going, they can’t miss the message.

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Don’t worry if setting up the flags takes longer than you expected. When we set up the display pictured here in Portland , Oregon , at the Portland Community College , Cascade Campus, we started with just a couple volunteers the day before World Week was to begin. We didn’t have it completed on the first day, and continued to assemble the flags for the next couple days as the week progressed. We found that being out there putting the flags in created great opportunities to talk to students passing by about the plight of animals and, each day, students could observe the numbers growing! The process was community building and made an impressive statement when completed.

Take lots of pictures and let us know when you are working on it so we can send a news release to create more attention to the plight of animals in research.

Information Tabling  

Setting up an information table in a public place is a simple and relatively easy outreach activity, enabling you to inform hundreds of people in your community. Locate a place for your table with heavy pedestrian traffic, such as a busy shopping area or the vicinity near a university. You might also investigate local festivals or fairs, which allow people to set up information tables. Earth Day events, which coincide with WWAIL, offer excellent opportunities for information tabling.

Always check whether you need a permit or some other permission; for example, you should speak with store managers of a shop you may be near, to make sure they are comfortable having your table there.

Literature and other materials for tabling are available from IDA and numerous other organizations. You may also set up a video monitor and show films, or make another kind of attractive display. (See Tabling Checklist). One advantage to tabling is that it takes only a few people to run a table all day. If you have a larger group, you may want to consider tabling throughout the entire period of WWAIL.

Always be friendly and patient while running a table. If someone comes up to the table and persists in creating a debate, DO NOT ARGUE. State your position again briefly and firmly, express regret at your disagreement, and then immediately turn to someone else – you are out there to reach people, not debate. When you argue at the table you miss the opportunity to educate someone else who may be more receptive.

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Your table should always include something for people to do. Have a petition for them to sign or a number to call or write against abuse. Let people know that their actions can make a significant difference for animals.


Get your Tabling Checklist.


Presentations  

Conducting an educational presentation is a good way to provide an in-depth view of the many problems pervading animal research. It is most successful if your group has a confident public speaker who is thoroughly prepared on the issues, or if you invite a physician or scientist to give an informative presentation.

The potential disadvantage to this event is that it is not likely to attract members of the general public who are not already actively concerned, and will probably receive no media attention unless you have a well-known speaker. However, it is essential that interested people who are new to this issue be richly enlightened. This will encourage them to become more involved. Furthermore, activists (and their friends and families) can always benefit from an educational presentation. Learning is an ongoing, lifelong process. You may also ensure good attendance by inviting student groups and classes.

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Civil Disobedience  

IDA believes that nonviolent civil disobedience actions can be a meaningful and effective way to protest cruelty and injustice. We stress that these actions should never involve violence of any kind, threats of violence or retaliation, or endangerment of any people or animals.  It is best to conduct civil disobedience calmly and with dignity, making the urgency of your concerns understood through means that will not be misconstrued as aggressive.  Each of us must decide independently where to draw the line on illegal activities, but be aware that the proponents of vivisection are always on the alert to depict animal advocates as unreasonable and violent. Don ’t play into their hands! Show people that nonviolence is the heart of the animal-rights philosophy.

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Contact: wwail@idausa.org or 415-448-0048 © 2003 - 2014 In Defense of Animals