#GrowthKills Action Toolkit

This action toolkit document is intended to be a practical information tool, highlighting the elements necessary for the proper shaping of future actions, carried out independently, during the #GrowthKills campaign.

1. Action consensus

This action consensus defines the essential guidelines for each action, in order to make the organization transparent and easy to evaluate for all participants. If you agree with these principles, we wholeheartedly invite you to join #GrowthKills campaign with your organization.

By doing civil disobedience actions and thus deliberately breaking the law, we are part of a long history of social struggle, where legitimate resistance is opposed to “business as usual”, a system that puts profit before life.

The ideology of endless economic growth is at the root of the environmental crisis. We cannot continue to fight the symptoms of the crisis without adressing the cause. This action campaign aims to fight against the pervasive assumption that economic growth must continue at all cost. Small groups are starting to talk about a post-growth world, but we need the people on the street talking about it.

1.1 Our principles and values​

1.  We are a non-violent network
Using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

2. We have a shared vision of change
Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

3. We need a regenerative culture
Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

4. We openly challenge ourselves and our toxic system
Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

5. We value reflecting and learning
Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

6. We welcome everyone and every part of everyone
Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

7. We actively mitigate power
Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation. 

1.2 Type of actions​

The actions that will be carried out in this exploration will have as their primary goal to raise awareness of the danger of aiming for infinite growth.

In order to highlight this reflection, we encourage visible, symbolic actions to maximize the media impact. Please find an example of action type in appendix 4.2 with actions done in Brussels

We recommend that certain physical elements (banner related to GrowthKills’ slogan, tee shirts with Growthkills logo, …) appear during your action so that it’s clear for the media/public that this is one campaign. 

We do not support physical or psychological violence. Nor any action endangering the physical integrity of others. 

Example of possible actions:

  • Disrupting economic conferences with a speaker shouting to debunk economic growth ideology (example of Brussels’ action in section 4.2)
  • Disrupt general assemblies of large companies
  • Singing along during a conference 
  • Sticking ourselves with superglue during a conference
  • Throwing pies in the face of speaker during pro-growth conferences, or a policymaker during a political event 
  • Large projection on a building
  • Die-in in public space or in front of symbolic buildings
  • Throwing paint or making graffiti on the wall of a building
  • Blocking the access to a building
  • Using stencils to make graffiti on the sidewalks and putting posters in the streets (example of Brussels street art in section 4.5)
  • Banners in high visibility places over a road during times of heavy traffic

1.3 Possible targets​

The Growth Kills campaign makes it a point of honour to choose the right targets so that they respect the logic of the desired message.

We want real policy changes, so the focus is on places of high political or economic power. Our narrative is mainly addressed towards policymakers rather than private companies (as companies will only changes once obligated by policy), but private companies with a symbolic link to growth can of course still be used as targets as a way to get attention from policymakers. 

For those near centres of power: our strategic location is a real asset. We have a real opportunity to raise our voice against a system in slow motion regarding climate and social emergency.

But also for those outside of regional capitals, there are plenty of opportunities to target economic growth, because it’s being promoted everywhere: 

Examples of possible targets:

  • Economic and political conferences and events with narrative aligned with the infinite growth ideology;
  • Major political institutions; 
  • National and regional governmental/ ministerial institutions;
  • Universities: business schools;
  • Lobbie groups, think tanks;
  • Private companies and their general meetings, ideally with a symbolic link to growth;
  • Symbolic places with a large public attraction;

1.4 Action checklist​

Please find here a checklist of all things to take into account when organizing your action:

  • Action design 
    • Target
    • Action script
    • Scouting
    • Back-up scenarios
  • Media
    • Prepare a press release draft that would be finalise after the action (in order to include a transcription of the speakers arguments)
    • Plan to have activists to take photos & videos of the action (not necessarily professional) 
    • Ideally, plan someone in back-office during the action who can send the press release, incl. photos & videos to the media as fast as possible.
    • Prepare posts on social media. 
    • Potential: contact trusted journalists to have them on site if you plan a major disruption
  • Mobilization
    • Get enough trusted people confirmed to be there. 
    • The strict minimum is 3 activists (2 on stage with a banner incuding one speaker) and 1 mediactivist to take a video. 
    • 2 or 3 media activists would be better to have a video and different angles for pictures.
    • For larger disruptions, you can plan multiple speakers: going on stage but also speaking from the public area.
    • If you plan to disrupt the conference for a long time, you should consider having a police contact.
    • Organize briefing: do a meeting with all participants shortly before the action so everyone knows what to do 
    • Additional tips in section 4.4
  • Regenerative culture
    • Wellbeing is an essential element of the regenerative culture. Regenerative Culture is the radical process which affirms our connected roots to deep and abiding nourishment. Especially after an action it’s crucial to make sure everyone is okay. 
    • Foresee a place to meet up right after the action and de-stress
    • Organize a debrief where people can communicate about their feelings & feedback surrounding the action
  • Logistics
    • Gather and test all materials needed for disruption
    • Think about transport to the site for everyone
    • What should everyone bring?
  • Legal
    • What are the legal risks? 
    • Who will be arrestee support during the action? 

This was just a summary checklist, for a full action handbook please follow this link: https://trainings.extinctionrebellion.be/training-materials/action-handbook

2. Media and communication

2.1 Narrative​

Please find a link to our communications toolkit here: https://cryptpad.fr/pad/#/2/pad/view/SCiIksTQ4QWJMSEyrzQHsUWrxWScfR5cdfXQA5I6tZU

It explains the link between economic growth and ecoligical disaster as well as 5 demand propositions to start. Some general notes on the narrative:

  • We avoid the term degrowth to avoid bad connotations and misunderstandings. Degrowth is defined as the decline of consumption and production, not of GDP at any price. It does not matter whether the decreasing measures affect GDP positively or negatively.

  • We consciously do not propose an alternative economic indicator to GDP to get away from the idea that indicators must be used. It is up to citizens’ assemblies to decide.

  • The measures we propose are emergency measures for a first phase of the transition. It is up to the citizens’ assembly to decide what to do next, and in particular how to ensure radical transparency and accountability of the executive.

When writing your press release, please use the research that has been done by us and simply adapt it to make the link with your action target. If you have new information to add, please contact the GrowthKills team so we can include it and it can be seen by everyone using these kits.

2.2 Slogan / hand-made communication materials (banners etc.)​

The main slogan is #GrowthKills. Please use it is as often as possible and tag all social media posts with this hashtag. For more slogans and hashtags, see Depending on your action, you can use the slogan in different possible forms (possible accumulation): stencils, banners, flags, T-shirts. We have made some stencils to spray paint the on sidewalks, pedestrian crossings for example.

2.3 Visual identity​

Please see the separate visual toolkit about the visual identity and elements that you can re-use.

3. Contact & support

3.1 Legal & financial support​

In order to ensure a good organization and a follow-up of the actions, we invite you to contact us before the action.

Moreover, if you wish to benefit from a legal or financial support. It is important that you contact us at least 30 days before the beginning of your action. We will need more details about your action in order to provide you with a complete legal support.

Caution: for security reasons, in the “subject” of the email, please be careful not to mention explicitly any information seen as compromising, such as: the target/ the date and time/ the type of action… You can write these in the message body.

3.2 Contact e-mail​

Please contact us through the following mail: contact@growthkills.org

4. Appendix

4.1 Hashtags

– #GrowthKills

– #FuckGDP

– #NoInfiniteGrowthOnAFinitePlanet

4.2 Brussels example action series

  • In one year, we disrupted 6 main events in Brussels, mostly conferences related to economic growth: 

    • Action design: The goal was to disrupt the event and get our message across so it gets picked up by media. We went on stage with banners, shouted something like ‘this is bullshit’ and then explained the narrative a bit. We usually left the conference without resistance and it happened that we were invited to speak and debate with the panel.
    • Entry: Usually entry is free so we simply sign up online. In some cases we need to register with a company, so we either prentended to be part of a company/NGO (using a gmail adress), but we also created a fake company e-mail for some events (contact us for more info). In some events, they check IDs at the entrance, so we usually register using our real name.
    • Mobilization: For this action type we only need to get in with about 10 people, so mobilization should be quite easy. 
    • Material:
      • Banners: we have 4 GrowthKills banners (2x GrowthKills, 1x no infinite growth on a finite planet, 1x fuck GDP). 
    • Legal: Very low risk in Belgium as we leave the event without resistance. Legal risks for a similar action: https://cryptpad.fr/pad/#/2/pad/view/IkVqKOZddYssfy0S0TtzKZVdtgjdj2LXY7LlDbsvsTQ/

4.3 Street art

We also have done softer action to communication about degrowth and promote the campaign: Growthkills posters to replace eds at bus stops, sticking poster near the EU Commission and parliament, tags on sidewalks…

4.4 A few tips

– At conferences, one of us can get refused entry or get caught with the banner and other materials. It’s important to have backups

– It can be hard to evaluate whether you need to register in your own name or not. Many conferences check ID’s though. So we register in our own names but make up roles, like “asset manager at XXX” or “freelance communication specialist”.

– Once intercepted, however, the security usually encourage us to share our identities. It’s crucial to refuse sharing them – the security has no right to do so, only the police.

– On a few occasions event organisers have taken photos of us. It’s important to bear that in mind and avoid it if possible (even though obviously we publish images ourselves eventually)

– It’s important to have a back-up for video and photo, with two filmers placed in different places in the crowd, to guarantee good images, angles. 

– Phones tend to have a pretty wide angle, and rather bad microphones, so it’s usually best for the filmers/photographes to take place in the front rows

– Shouters should take a seat in a place they can access the stage easily from, i.e. the end of a row of seats, not too far from the stage.

– Sometimes, depending on capacity, it can be handy to have shouters in the middle of a row of seats, as that makes it hard for security to lead them out. They’ll be less visible, although the filmers could position themselves in front of them for better images.

– So, when we have capacity, we differentiate between shouters who’ll go to the podium and the shouters who’ll shout from their seat

– Security has no right to use violence. However, on a few occasions they have pushed us or used a gentle armlock. Most of the times they would rather stand between the audience and us and harrass us verbally, without physical contact

– It’s important for everyone to think of possible end scenarios. So far we have been confronted with the following different situations:

    – We are being pushed out forcefully

    – The PA was louder than the shouter, and the shouter couldn’t be heard by the audience

    – Once, we were invited to give a speech after having been led out

    – Twice we were offered a seat and took part in the panel. This can be the most effective to get messages across, but it’s very challenging to stand up, so be prepared for this, and else simply walk off.

– Communication – press releases: We used to write quotes in advance, but eventually setlled for writing the press releases after the actions. We make a transcript of the video, select the best bits, and add those to the PR so it reports as faithfully as possible. For large disruption, it would be possible to send a press notice to journalist to anounce that something will be happening.

– Think of a strategy to blend in. There’s usually a drink before the conference starts and you shouldn’t look suspicious. We recommend you dress adequately.

– Communication – social media post: ideally, it is better to prepare social media post in advance, but is needs to be adapted to the actual speech during the event. We usually try to post at 12:00 as it seems a better to have better visibility on social media, but 9am could also be good option.