This guide is part of the community maintained wikis on this forum and is therefore independently developed and unofficial. In general it’s based on the 68 page long TZM chapters guide 2.0 made in 2012 and the experience gained by activists over time. This TL;DR version of the 2.0 guide is written to be short and concise, for more elaborate information the 2.0 version is still recommended.
Starting Activism for The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) can be overwhelming. Where do you start, what do you need and what are your goals? This chapters guide is here to provide you with the core infrastructure, routine and advice to build and expand your chapter activities.
It is critical to understand that there is truly no “us versus them” within TZM’s thinking. It is all “us”, globally, as we are all, in the end, one people sharing this single fragile planet. This needs to be your mindset as you apply yourself to activism with the movement. To learn more about TZM and our mission, please read our about page.
Starting TZM activism is not going to be easy with the wrong expectations and attitude. Start small and scale out when possible and needed. Find enjoyment in what you can do to spread the TZM Train of thought and set attainable goals based on the time, skills and budget you have at hand. Don’t bank on the resources of others when developing your own ideas, their participation is voluntary and not guaranteed. Also keep in mind that changes to our socioeconomic system do not happen overnight. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
The survivability of your chapter depends on establishing a non-exhausting routine that builds up a sustainable momentum for the long run. This guide provides some suggestions with this in mind.
TZM has an organized structure built, out of necessity, upon chapters (local groups) that facilitate collective activism as well as the flow of information in an organized manner, relating to a vast range of members worldwide.
These chapters operate in a “grassroots” culture. This means that one functions independently with the same collective TZM Train of thought, there is no central control. Each chapter is working to spread and improve this train of thought. This translates, for example, into raising awareness about our core social and economic problems. But also to investigate the practical solutions that we have at our disposal and to make them better known so that we can subsequently outgrow the current outdated socio-economic system.
The function of a chapter is to create and sustain a work-oriented environment from which activism can then be performed in accordance with the understandings supported by the movement. A chapter may therefore consist of teams. It is also part of a global chapter structure for information purposes and larger order activism.
TZM is not a club. It is a worldwide campaign of mass-awareness. The result of creating a chapter is that it brings the activity of the movement to community level – literally into the backyards of “the masses”.
|It’s encouraged for international chapters to communicate and collaborate when needed and possible. This occurs organically and in an unofficial capacity. Global chapters may e.g. share their progress through Reports and their skills and experience through community wikis and Projects. Meta-chapters may be formed based on a common language, such as Spanish. Or based on geographic accessibility such as international environmentally friendly high speed train connections.
|A national chapter should focus on setting up core tools and organization for development into regional chapters. This includes activities such as organizing, creating, developing and adapting content to their region in order to be used by sub-chapters in local activism.
|A regional chapter should focus on relieving the national chapter from the responsibility of expanding into the various regional cities by directly supporting, guiding and promoting these developments. At first, depending on the region’s size, a regional chapter may resemble the activity of a city chapter until it grows enough to be divided into a number of more localized chapters in the same region.
|A local chapter should focus on being constantly active in the local area, typically a town, city, or a college campus, by consistently organizing events and always trying to be visible and getting the word out there.
A chapter coordinator is not a leader, but tries to help people become their own leaders. A coordinator simply coordinates. This is a facilitating role. A coordinator does not tell other people what to do, but helps others to take charge of what is needed. They do not grab center-stage, but nudge others onto the stage. Coordinators recognize that only by creating “more leaders” can an organizing effort expand.
For the sake of simplicity, a leader can be defined as a proactive member instead of a reactive or passive one.
First of all, check if you can join or revive an existing chapter. Consult the global chapters map for this and also search on social-media platforms and search engines for existing chapters because the map may not be complete.
An easy way to quickly build up momentum is by starting a chat group on e.g. Signal. It is recommended to build the foundation of your chapter on open-source solutions to shape the cultural direction for the future of your chapter. In this group you may discuss the following:
- Why is everyone interested in doing activism for TZM?
- Discuss each other’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a general short-term strategy to exploit them. Check in particular for management, IT, multimedia and writing skills.
- How much time is everyone realistically able to spend on activism?
By collecting this information, you can start building the basic infrastructure for your chapter. Attracting people to your chapter is important, but try to manage your expectations. The people joining your chapter may be passive, this is okay, these are your supporters. Every chapter may organically develop into a small subgroup of active people, these are your core members. The core members often initiate the activism for more passive supporters. Don’t treat passive or active members any differently, all contributions are valued and these roles may be fluid based on someone’s available time. Also keep in mind that small chapters are more efficient, try not to aim for a two digit size of core members within your chapter. Promote self leadership and subdivide into smaller local chapters when possible.
It’s best to dedicate a website for your information base. Use a domain that’s easy to remember, short and descriptive, such as e.g. zeitgeistbeweging.nl, www.zeitgeistitalia.org or movimientozeitgeist.com, which translate to “Zeitgeist movement”. Experiment with different top-level domains such as e.g.
.earth and many others, these could have significant price differences. Also prioritize building your website with open-source software. Dedicating a website to chapter administration helps to create a stable anchor for people to learn more about TZM and get involved.
Include the following on your website:
Setting up your information base on social-media may also work. However, you are then depending on algorithms to remain in contact with your community. These algorithms may not work in your favor. Also, social-media platforms come and go and therefore also your followers. Having control over your own data, domain, contacts and thus audience helps you to stay relevant for the long run. In general it’s best to create your own website and then automate post creation to your social-media platforms. If possible of course, not all platforms may support this. automation allows you to do more with less, your time is too valuable for repetitive tasks such as copy and pasting links to social-media and chat groups.
Setting up a routine to meet each other is important. Schedule a meeting on e.g. every first Tuesday evening of the month. Face to face meetings are best to promote social interaction, but online meetings are great as well to keep it accessible in terms of logistics.
Act more, meet less. Don’t meet for the sake of meeting. Have goals for the meeting and keep track of what has been discussed in previous meetings. Keep the meetings short and manage the time efficiently. Have small talk after the agenda is complete, not in between. This provides the opportunity for people to attend the agenda and leave early without missing the important talking points.
Don’t aim for a two digit size attendance count. Large meetings tend to result in either just a few people broadcasting a long monologue or a chaotic long meeting. Consider writing a blog post if it is a long announcement or update. Don’t claim too much of the valuable time of others, manage it preciously. Sometimes a brief update through chat or voice message is sufficient as well. Meetings can be skipped if nothing needs to be discussed, or consider combining a meeting with a social activity.
Try to experiment with the strengths of synchronous (voice/video meetings) and asynchronous communication (texting/blogs/forums/email) to inform and stay informed.
Mind the human. This is especially true for online interaction. If a conflict develops during an online chat, switch to a video call. If a conflict develops during a face-to-face meeting, discuss it privately in another room. Use non-violent communication techniques and objective reasoning to arrive at a resolution. If this is not possible, find a mediator.
Projects are goals with a defined outcome in mind within a specified time-frame. Projects are not meant to last forever. Also aim to always open-source your projects so that other chapters may help develop it and benefit from the results.
Often when brainstorming ideas people tend to wind up in a competition about who can think of the most ambitious idea. This is a recipe for disaster. Develop your idea with your personal resources in mind, i.e. your time, skills and money. Scale out if multiple people are able and willing to participate. Keep in mind their busy lives and manage your expectations.
Appreciate all contributions, no matter how small.
Don’t try to run the whole show or do most of the work. Others will become less involved, and you will burn out.
If a project takes a long time to complete, then divide tasks or projects into bite-size chunks, then discuss each chunk and agree upon who will take it on. Make sure everyone has the ability to carry out their task, then let them carry it out in their own way. It is important to have someone check on progress; people do not feel good about doing a job if nobody seems to care about whether it gets done. If you’re stuck in a project, don’t focus on what you can’t do, but focus on what you can do. Also prioritize important tasks and use automation when tasks become repetitive.
Failure in this area (of dividing and clearly delegating) will most likely lead to disappointment or worse, mainly due to the “diffusion of responsibility” effect.
Working in pairs improves creativity and speeds up problem solving tasks.
|Target a specific area for improvement.
|Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
|Achievable or attainable
|Specify who will do it.
|Relevant or realistic
|State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
|Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
- Setup a TZM website to build up an information base.
- Design and print high quality TZM stickers or t-shirts/sweaters as promotion material and to be easily recognizable at Events.
- Create an inventory of local like-minded organizations for organizational networking.
Make sure you wear a TZM shirt/sweater at events with the TZM logo and your chapter’s website on it. This helps to start the conversation, but also to spread information about TZM. Compose yourself as objective, calm and friendly as possible, and the movement’s message should be conveyed with integrity and clarity. Your job is to network and poke people’s brains about the systemic problems caused by our infinite growth economy where a NL/RBE may be a possible solution.
Once your chapter is developed or mature and has sufficient motivated and experienced members you can start planning e.g. ZDay (Zeitgeist-Day) and town hall events. But keep your input and output productivity ratio in mind. Meaning that if you have to spend months to arrange a ZDay and cannot organize or work on anything else, then maybe reconsider if your chapter is mature enough for such an event. It wouldn’t be very productive to spend so much time on just one day of actual activism output.
The overview below may help you understand the goal and possible outcome of typical TZM events. Also note the colored categories, these are just suggestions and may help you manage expectations.
= Suitable for developing chapters.
= Requires a developed chapter.
= Requires a mature chapter.
|Orientation meetings: Attend interesting lectures to improve your knowledge or attend workshops to improve your skills in your local area with your chapter and organize a dinner before or after the meetings to improve your social bond as well.
|Organizational networking: Create an overview of like-minded organizations and attend their meetings to broaden your activist network. Respect their initiative and schedule, don’t attack them or interrupt their talks.
|Street activism: E.g. long-lasting stickers for popular places such as busy traffic lights and metro/bus/tram/train stations. Do check with local regulations regarding any restrictions. In general, always cooperate with the police.
|Organize interviews: Reach out to local media and talk about what TZM proposes or organize your own interviews and post them on your chapter website.
|ZDay (Zeitgeist-Day): zday is a yearly global symposium about exposing problems and possible solutions in the current “zeitgeist”, or current climate of society.
|Town hall meetings: Town hall meetings are basically a ZDay, but can be organized multiple times a year. Invite local government, business and press. Poke their brains about a post-scarcity economy.
|ZMF (Zeitgeist Media Festival): zmf recognizes the power of art and media to help change the world, the annual festival bridges the artistic and activist communities in the hope to inspire change.
TZM is a social/educational movement and it does not engage in any protest or demonstration as a means to convey the central message. Change comes from understanding and proposing a better solution which makes the old way obsolete. A protest or demonstration does not offer the bandwidth to communicate our Train of thought. In other words, protests or demonstrations can be noble and sometimes raise awareness but do not go far enough. Thus, as emotional and exciting such “high energy” actions may seem, they should not be carried out on behalf of TZM.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
– Buckminster Fuller