Can you recall a time when, in our public discourse, we have lamented the manipulation of truth? For many, truth has become synonymous with opinion when supporting a point of view. Unfortunately, post-truth politics, alternative facts, and fake news cannot point us toward rational decision making. The good news is, a Pro-Truth movement is gaining attention with thoughtful citizens, regardless of their political point of view. Truth is a value that has the power to include diverse populations and provide an opportunity for collaboration. That is the future we imagine.
We welcome your help in bringing about this future by being an organizer for the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP). Doing so involves recruiting and coordinating others to ensure the outcomes of the Pro-Truth Pledge are met, namely that:
- The PTP is effectively promoted to the public, getting more and more people to sign
- There is effective lobbying of public figures, especially politicians, to get them to sign
- There is effective evaluation of local-level public figures who signed the pledge
- There are effective behind-the-scenes activities needed to support activities on the local level, such as management of communication processes and collaboration venues, and community support for PTP activities
- There are sufficient donations to support the needs of the local group for things like printing, travel, tabling, and marketing, and also additional donations to the global Pro-Truth movement
- There is effective coordination of all the areas of PTP activity listed above
Details are in the Pro-Truth Pledge FAQ, which are on the homepage of ProTruthPledge.org, and should give you the fundamentals of what you need to be an advocate – talking points about reasons why people should promote and sign it, why it would be effective, and so on. The expectation is a minimum of two hours of volunteering activities a week, which can be distributed throughout a month, and of course more if you can reasonably do so while maintaining life balance. Here is a link to a Google Drive folder with various flyers, sign-up sheets, instructions for a sign-up binder, and other marketing materials for the Pro-Truth Pledge, and here is a link to a video with a speech about the Pro-Truth Pledge that you can adapt into a presentation. Please be a model for the Pro-Truth Pledge on social media, and follow all the guidelines in this blog.
The role of an area organizer is to empower and support PTP Advocates in effective collaboration to advance all aspects of the PTP project. You are accountable for the outcomes of the 6 areas of PTP activities listed above. To do so, we find that seeing yourself as a leader enacting the following behaviors is really helpful:
- Inspiring people to volunteer and donate by communicating first about the problems that the PTP is solving, sharing successes, and then letting them know about the needs of the group
- Finding a good fit for the ones who start to get involved in the various activities available
- Helping those who get involved work together well by setting up clear communication processes and collaborative venues
- Encouraging shared expectations and sticking to commitments, and renegotiation of commitments and expectations when life stuff comes up
- Modeling direct and transparent communication, erring on the side of an overabundance of communication rather than insufficient communication
- Exhibiting emotional and social intelligence to read people and channel their enthusiasm and other emotions into healthy channels
- Addressing conflicts that will arise in an effective and healthy manner
- Providing an engaging community setting: doing fun things together, in-person and online; getting to know each other socially; building a truth-oriented community where people can find a home
- Being a cheerleader for accomplishments, and giving due praise
Remember that you will be organizing people who have very different values than you do.
- Whether you are religious or secular, left-leaning or right-leaning, or any other ideological perspective, you will be bringing together people to work on a shared project of advocating for truth-oriented behaviors in addressing value differences. That means that you yourself need to model an inclusive and welcoming attitude for people with different values, and be especially welcoming and inclusive toward people with values different from your own and also those whose values are in the minority in your group. Doing so will be key to helping these people both be engaged in the Pro-Truth movement and as a result reach out to their social networks and communicate the Pro-Truth message to people who hold similar values and change the culture in our society.
Let’s talk about giving you money!
- If you or any of the people you are coordinating have financial difficulties for any PTP-related needs, we can reimburse the large majority of them. See this link. For area organizers like yourself, we will consider additional requests for funding for your needs above and beyond the ones listed above, just email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org with your needs and depending on our financial capacity, we will see what can be done.
Here’s the plan of action for starting up your area group.
- As an area organizer, you’d want to do activities that are most impactful, which means moving as quickly as possible in coordinating other people and doing strategic planning, rather than doing ground-level activities (however much fun those might be for you).
- You’ll start off by first getting signatures: in our experience, at least 20 percent of the people who sign up indicate they want to help, and about 20 percent of those turn out to be reliable and consistent volunteers. Here is a blog with thorough directions for gathering signatures at events through canvassing or tabling. Another way to gather signatures is to do public speaking, and gather signatures from audience members: this blog gives extensive directions on doing so.
- A super-easy way to promote the pledge in daily life is to purchase and wear PTP-themed merchandise, especially when you do PTP-themed activities, but also just out and about – it’s a great conversation starter. Alternatively, you can focus on local-level social media, and go to various local Facebook groups and other relevant social media to promote the PTP there. You can write blogs in local venues or letters-to-the-editor in local newspapers about the pledge.
- Once you gather enough signatures, you would want to focus on coordinating people in their volunteer activities, decreasing your own time doing ground-level activities. Once you have about 5 people in the area interested in the PTP, start organizing meetings: here’s one typical videotaped meeting with an agenda attached in the video description that comes from the early stage of setting up an area group.
- We suggest you focus these volunteers first on gathering more signatures, enough to form a solid core team in your area of about 10 consistent volunteers. At the same time, you’ll want to form a coordinating committee, of about 3-6 people, who can each take charge of different areas of PTP activities and work together to coordinate other volunteers. As you start having increased numbers of people participating, check out these guidelines to help you lead effectively.
- Once you gather at least 250 signatures, and get a person who is able to take charge of lobbying, you will be ready to start lobbying local-level elected or appointed officials and other public figures in your locale to take the pledge. Of course, you can do virtual lobbying earlier, through sending them emails and tweeting them and sending Facebook messages and calling them (templates here), but do not take the time to meet them until you have gathered 250 signatures as they will be unlikely to listen to you. Here is a blog on pitching public figures and organizations with the PTP.
- In lobbying public officials, we advise you to start with candidates for office rather than office-holders, as the candidates will be more likely to take the pledge, since they have less to lose by doing so. Once a candidate for office takes the pledge, you can then go to incumbents and tell them that the candidate for office took it, and you also have a lot of signatures from their constituents asking them to take it, and see if they take it. As you get public figures signed up, you will want to establish a monitoring system, following the directions at this link.
- Try to set up collaborations with local groups interested in the PTP, which would usually be various kinds of grassroots political or civic education or science-themed activism groups. Ask leaders in those groups to take the PTP, and get the whole group committed to the PTP, and they will then help you advance the PTP message. Also coordinate with local branches of national organizations. We have some connections with these organizations: once you get 10 active participants, connect with the PTP core organizers as described below and we can help you out connecting with local branches of national organizations.
- Please make sure that, within any ordinary situation, you will respond to emails or Facebook messages about the PTP within 48 hours, and to texts or voicemails within 24 hours. It’s fine to respond saying “I got your message and will respond by ____,” so that the other person knows that you are accountable to get back to them in that time. As we are trying to promote truth and accountability, it is really important to be accountable as area organizers. Of course, emergencies come up, and that’s totally understandable. Still, if it is not an emergency and you are traveling or on vacation, please indicate that through email vacation auto-responders or something of that style. Be as professional and accountable in your activism as you can be, both to internal stakeholders such as members of the pro-truth movement, and external stakeholders who want to learn more about the movement.
Let’s talk a bit about communication.
- For questions, your best option is Daryl Spitzer (daryl.spitzer [at] gmail [dot] com), who is an area organizer himself and is the Area Organizers Coordinator on the Pro-Truth Pledge Central Coordinating Committee (PTP CCC), the central steering committee of the PTP. Send him longer messages on email, or for short and quick ones, send him a Facebook message on his Facebook profile. Next, try Bentley Davis, one of the lead authors of the pledge who chairs the PTP CCC. Email him for longer questions (bentley [at] protruthpledge [dot] org), or for short and quick ones, especially relating to Facebook engagement, send him a Facebook message to his Facebook profile, and he will either answer your questions or point you in the right direction. Another person is Gleb Tsipursky, the other lead author of the pledge: email him at gleb [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org, and his Facebook profile is at this link. If you need a super-quick response, email and FB-message all of them at the same time, asking all to get to your question. If you haven’t heard from them for a while, get in touch with Agnes Vishnevkin, who manages operations at Intentional Insights: agnes [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org, and Facebook profile here. Please extend all of them a FB friend request.
- Please join the PTP Area Organizers Google Group, our email list for area organizers like yourself. Just click on the link in the previous sentence and request to join the group if you haven’t been added to it already by one of the core organizers.
- You will be added to the secret Facebook group for PTP Area Organizers. Since it is secret, you can’t join yourself, but let the person who recruited you know if they forget to add you in a timely manner.
- Also please join the Pro-Truth Pledge Slack, for core PTP participants like yourself. You should use it for things that you only want core participants to comment on and know. For example, if you’re planning out things that might be perceived as controversial, such as how to put pressure on public figures to take the PTP, Slack is a good venue to do so; so are things that require more privacy, such as discussing how to push someone to retract a statement, or how to address problems with other PTP Advocates in your group, and so on. Another good use of Slack is to run ideas by a small core group rather than the bigger and less in-the-know people in the PTP Advocates FB group. For asking questions on PTP strategy and tactics that are of a more general nature, as well to share accomplishments, the PTP Advocates FB group is your best bet. If you want to share relevant articles that are not about the pledge but about politics in general, use the InIn Insiders group. In general, anything that has to do with the pledge is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge advocates FB group, so make sure that anything you post there is explicitly related to the pledge. The other group is for broader content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas.
- Each month at the end of the month, please fill out this brief update form (5-10 minutes) about your awesome activities for the past month fighting lies and promoting truth via advancing the PTP to ensure shared expectations and clear communication. It will be sent to you in the Google Group for PTP area organizers (firstname.lastname@example.org), so add it to your safe senders/contact list. That from allows you to share what you are doing, what challenges you might be facing, and how the PTP CCC can help, whether providing you with existing resources you might not know about or develop new resources to address your needs. Please fill it out within 3 days of receipt (might want to just put a calendar reminder for yourself with a link to that form if that works well for you). After you fill it out, someone from the PTP CCC will send you names of people who signed up to help with the PTP in your area over the past month, for you to reach out to them using the template and guidelines on this page, and provide you with helpful resources, both based on your self-description of your activities and plans, and on your specific request for resources (sometimes, area organizers may be unfamiliar with all the resources available, which is why your description of your past activities and future plans is relevant for the resources section). If you due to some life events have not had an opportunity to work much on the PTP in the last month, or anticipate not being able to work on it much in the upcoming month, simply state so in the form.
- Note that the Area Organizers Coordinator is in charge of managing the monthly update process.
So, let’s get started!
- Your first task would be to recruit other people to get involved whom you would coordinate using the instructions on signature-gathering above.
- Each month, after you fill out the update form, you would get emails of people who signed up to help with the PTP in your area from the PTP CCC Area Organizers Coordinator. You would then send them an email following this draft template, adapting it to your own needs. Make a reminder to yourself to follow up with them in a week after you sent the original email, using FollowUpThen (simply add email@example.com in your BCC field).
- Send this email even if you know the person and are connected with them on Facebook or elsewhere, just using their first name instead of first name and last name: the point of this email is to welcome them and give them the background knowledge about the movement. If they don’t respond in a week, check in with a message like, “Dear [first name, last name], wanted to confirm you received my previous email about the Pro-Truth Pledge, and that it did not fall into your spam filter. Thanks!” For folks who you connected with by FB, check with them additionally by FB messenger whether they received your email. If they don’t respond in a week after that, try contacting them from another email address, in case the spam filter blocked your original one. After that, contact them by phone if you have it, texting “Hi [first name, last name], checking whether you got my email about the Pro-Truth Pledge,” and if they don’t respond, then calling and leaving a voicemail. At that stage, if you don’t get a response, let it go.
- To help coordinate your group, we recommend that you use these directions to set up a Google Group, which is essentially an email list, for your area dedicated to PTP-oriented activities. This is for when you have a few people actively involved, so that you don’t just keep emailing each other. Name it [area] Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates, which will help people standardize things well across the country. For the group description and welcome message, we advise something like “Thanks for helping fight lies and promote the truth through joining this email list, which is focused on the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) and other Pro-Truth movement activities in [area]. You are welcome to send any emails relevant to PTP organizing in this list, but please avoid overwhelming folks with an overabundance of emails, so send no more than one every three days unless there’s an emergency or great opportunity. Thanks!” When adding people, use “direct add” rather than invitations, as sometimes invitations go to spam. For settings, allow everyone to send emails to the list at first, until you have too many people sending emails, and at that time, put in moderation so that people don’t become overwhelmed: a good benchmark is a maximum of 1 email every 2 days, but check with your email list members by having them fill out a poll occasionally on their experience with the list. Also, make it so users choose where to send replies, to the list as a whole or to the individual who sent the original email. Please also join the Ohio PTP Advocates Google Group – click on the link and request to join the group – to see how an established group works.
- Also create a local PTP Facebook group (directions on creating one here), naming it [area] Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates, again for standardization. We know that some people don’t like Facebook, but we strongly recommend you use Facebook as an organizing tool, so if you currently do not have a Facebook account, please set one up for this explicit purpose, as it’s very effective for that purpose, and encourage PTP Advocates in your locale to do so as well. After you create the group, next please add Bentley and Gleb and Agnes to any groups you create as well as admins (you’d be doing the day-to-day moderating, the point of adding them as admins is so that they can do little tweaks behind the scenes without needing to put extra burdens on you as group admin, especially at the start of the local PTP group when you have a whole bunch of things to do). Please make your group closed, and only invite people who took the PTP and want to help. The reason we recommend making it “closed” instead of “secret” is that otherwise people couldn’t click on links sent to them with this group and request to join. This “closed” status means that people can click on links to join or find the group on FB, and request to join. To filter trolls and spammers, make sure to add questions to manage people who request to join, namely the following three questions: “1) Did you take the Pro-Truth Pledge? If not, why do you want to join this group? 2) Do you want to help with the Pro-Truth Pledge? If not, why do you want to join this group? 3) Do you currently live in this area, have recently lived in this area, or plan to move to this area? If not, why do you want to join this group?” Also, make the initial settings such that anyone can add people or post, but admins or moderators have to approve them (some people don’t know how to use Facebook groups well, so might post inappropriate content). Click the box that says “All group posts must be approved by an admin or a moderator.” Add the tag “politics” and add the location that describes the whole area the group is focusing on (not simply a city in that area where you live). For the FB group sidebar description, use the same description and cover image as the main PTP Advocates FB group, with additional wording to adapt it to the local area. For example of such wording, see this link for the California PTP Advocates FB group as a template to use. Once you adapt the wording, post the group sidebar description in the group, and pin it at the top, as in the Global PTP Advocates group at this link. To see how a more established FB group works, join the Ohio PTP Advocates FB group – click on the link and request to join the group, and in the answer to question 3, say that you are an area organizer, and want to see how a more established group works. Use that to make sure your group is set up in a standardized manner. After the group is set up, then add all participants in your locale to it by locating them on FB and sending them a message on FB introducing yourself and asking them if they took the Pro-Truth Pledge, and if so to send you a FB friend request, and also send the same message by email. If you are sure it’s the right person, also send them a FB friend request. Sometimes you will not be sure if you located the right person, which is why it’s so useful to ask if they took the PTP. For finding people, some will list their Facebook profile, making it easy to extend them a FB friend request. If they do not, locate them on FB through using the Facebook search bar, searching for their names and the state where you are located in, for example putting in Bentley Davis Texas for Bentley. Avoid using quote marks in your search. If you can’t find them that way, then try putting in their email address. If you still can’t find them, email them asking them to extend you a FB friend request if they have an account (most people do).
- Once you create the Facebook group, please act as the group moderator (role described here). One of the things you’ll want to do eventually is delegate some moderator activities to others: you’ll still be accountable for making sure they’re done, so check up to make sure the person is doing them well. We find people tend to have an unfortunate tendency of forgetting to do the tasks described there. Make sure to add the people as moderators rather than admins, because admins can change all group settings. The suggested call for volunteers for the moderator role is in the document description.
- Also, we recommend that you create a Google Docs folder with various documents relevant to your group, such as lists of volunteers, various events where you want to gather signatures, various public figures in your local area you want to target, and so on – here is an example of one such Google Docs folder for the Central Ohio PTP group. This allows group members to collaborate together effectively.
- One of the early tasks to do for your group is to get people to find local events to get PTP signatures. An easy way to do so is to create a Google Form like this one, provide it to your group members, and have them find events. Then, you can coordinate people in attending these events. Remember, try to do everything you can to lower barriers for them and make organizing as easy as possible
- Once your group gets large enough to have around 5 organizers, consider creating a FB message thread or separate Google Group specifically for the organizers in your locale.
- Once your Facebook Group and Google Group is going, it’s time to create an Area Facebook Page (guidelines here) and Area Twitter Account (guidelines here). Doing so is important for providing you with credibility and public visibility. Do not feel obliged to take on doing this task yourself if you have more important priorities or lack time, instead find volunteers who are excited about doing these. Focus first on large areas, to encompass states or countries, and only later moving down to cities as support builds up.
- For guidance on creating a Facebook Group, Google Group, Google Folder, Google Form, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, or anything like that, talk to Bentley or Gleb.
We strongly recommend that you offer to meet with people individually to help get them oriented, either in-person or online, and once you have more than a couple of people actively involved, set up a regular meeting once a month dedicated to advancing the PTP in your locale. While not all will become actively involved in meetings and signature-gathering, those who do will spread the PTP through their social networks, do research, lobby politicians, donate, and so on, and it’s really important to try to do at least one face-to-face meeting – virtual or videoconference – to get them involved with this project. Also, don’t worry about being overwhelmed with meetings as a result of sending out emails. Our experience is that only about a third of the people you email will end up meeting with you, and it will take many weeks for some to do so, so you have plenty of time to space it out.
Thank you so much for helping fight lies and promote truth!