Activist speed dating

If you’ve not taken part in anything like this before, part of the fun is the process of joining an ‘affinity group’. While the name may sound a bit weird and cliquey, it’s actually really straightforward.

It basically involves finding and getting to know some like-minded people to take action together, in whatever way suits your abilities and preferences.

You want to do something artistic and creative? Or would you rather be involved in an office occupation, or some blockading involving a significant arrest risk? We have a tried-and-tested “activist speed-dating” process to help you find people with similar preferences. You will be offered options for actions you might want to take together. Your group can then decide on a plan to suit you.

“Activist speed-dating and affinity groups: that sounds pretty weird…?”

Lindsay, a ‘newbie’ at last year’s camp, describes her experience of “activist speed-dating” and finding an “affinity group” to take action with who she’d only met 2 days previously!

“On arrival at camp on the Friday I was given a piece of paper and asked to identify where I sat on the ‘action spectrum’, i.e. what kinds of actions I’d be up for, what kind of stuff I felt comfortable with, and what skills I might be able to bring.

“Then on the Saturday I was grouped together with others who were on the same page, and given our mission, which we accepted!

“We immediately set to work on the practicalities and logistics of our plan matching our individual skills to key roles and needs. Sunday was spent refining the plan, running through it several times to minimise risks or mishaps. We also had to make or buy other things we needed, like banners and a leaflet to hand out to people working in the office we planned to blockade.

“In the process, we naturally started to form strong affinities and connections, taking some time to acknowledge how we were feeling about what we were about to do, sharing some of our fears and our deeper motivations. There wasn’t an awful lot of time for this though. By early Monday morning we were off doing the action – and by Monday evening we were in the pub, debriefing and celebrating!

“All in all I thought the ‘speed-dating’ method worked really well, with minimum faff and maximum impact. Having only taken part in a few actions previously, it was a truly fantastic experience – really empowering as well as being wicked good fun. It was amazing to know that we were a part of a series of actions taking place across the UK which challenged power, made the headlines, and fed into a long culture of resistance in the UK which has never been more necessary.

“Best of all – the friendships we formed have continued to grow and strengthen, working together to bring fresh ideas and actions into fruition, whilst forming a network of support for whatever the future brings”.

Or there will be ready-made affinity groups of people from the same part of the country (including groups who formed at previous years’ camps), who arrive with their plans already made – but who need a few extra people. You could be linked up with them too.

You’ll be asked to fill in a form with some basic information about your preferences. Our action support team will then help put you in touch with people who are on your wavelength. People have done it in past years consistently say it works amazingly, forming really powerful and long-lasting friendships for the future.

Depending on what you’re doing, the people you’re linked up with might also be from the same part of the country as you. That’s because some of the arrestable actions will take part away from Didcot. If you’re going to need to attend police stations and possible court appearances afterwards, it’s easier if you’re nearer home rather than having to keep traipsing back to Oxfordshire!

However the obvious benefit is that this also helps form bonds of trust and friendship that will last, giving you a group of like-minded people to carry on taking action for climate justice well beyond the period of the camp itself.

DEFRA blockade

Lindsay and others from her affinity group take action outside the Department of the Environment during last summer’s Reclaim the Power camp.