After the action …
We are all getting ready to travel to the Rhineland and most minds are on the action days 34. to 29. August 2017. But we should not forget that after any action, no matter what role might be, is the time to reflect; and the same goes for Ende Gelaende, emotions run high, adrenalin is pumping, while we want to rest and catch up sleep and get on with our regular routines, write articles and stories for blogs, debate on the political impact of the action, we should also ask how we are.
Debriefing properly after the action is an important part of the process, to make sure we take care of each other and ourselves. We need to show solidarity beyond the pit! No matter if you are an old timer or if this was your first action of civil disobedience, and whether you went into the pit or were a support role, everyone should debrief. When this can happen will be different for every group. For example this could mean you meet with your affinity group back at home and speak about the action in a safe and secure environment. Or the process may already begin on your bus journey home – but work this date for a debrief out before the action begins!
Debriefing is not about boasting, but about working through everything that might have happened. Firstly, this is the space where you can speak about your emotions. How did you feel and how was your experience? Did you and do you feel empowered, overwhelmed or just really down? When exactly did you feel like this way – prior to the action, in the pit, in the police kettle, at the height of the activity? And why was this the case – your affinity group, the preparations for the action or simply a mix of coincidences? How was the communication during the action in your your affinity group and with your buddy? What can you and your affinity group learn from that?
It’s also about building a more collective story of what happened. So many people will have experienced different things and different parts of the action. It’s good to gain a bigger picture and put bits and pieces together. Different people may have arrived back at the camp or the base at different times and different moments so they might have had different updates – collect and share what you know (maybe even media coverage) so you can all see the bigger picture.
And taking an even bigger step back, it is also good to reflect on the political impact and the preparation for the action. This can sometimes help in accepting bruises or being pepper-sprayed. This is also the space where you may learn from and revise tactics, preparations, trainings and all that went into the making Ende Gelaende happen. You may not need to cover everything during that debrief. But here are some useful apects to consider:
- preparations for the action, trainings back at home and at the camp
- communication in the run up to and at the camp with the larger group/your affinity group/your buddy
- movement building, political messaging and political impact
- press and media coverage
It is really useful to agree on a date and time BEFORE coming to the Rhineland and share that info with as many people possible – those you have mobilised or those who travel collectively on an organised bus. You may want to organise a debrief for everyone on your bus, or at the very minimum spread the word about the usefulness of such debriefs and encourage everyone to have one.