People’s assemblies are a structured way for a group of people to discuss issues or make decisions collectively, so that all voices are heard and valued equally, and no one person or group dominates the discussion.
Extinction Rebellion uses participatory democracy processes, such as people’s assemblies, in order to model participatory democracy within the movement, generate ideas, gather feedback and make decisions.
People’s assemblies have a very different purpose, structure and process to citizens’ assembly, which is the central idea in our third demand in the UK.
Introduction to People’s Assemblies and the Three Pillars
People’s assemblies create a space in which each participant is respected and listened to without judgement. The three pillars are a way to provide a safe space and support empathetic interaction allowing all to share and to be listened to.
1. Radical Inclusivity
Creating a safe space where everyone can be heard, participate safely and openly without fear of judgement or ridicule and be valued equally also means being aware of potential barriers to engagement. We try to consider potential barriers to engagement (e.g. disabled access, sign language, interpretation and, crèches).
2. Active Listening
Active listening is focusing on hearing people before developing a response in your mind whilst someone is still talking. Active listening is vital as it enhances our capacity to empathise; when we fully listen to others, we gain more of an understanding of people, their views and their concerns.
Once the process for a people’s assembly has been agreed, it is essential that participants trust the process and trust the facilitators. The facilitators enable this trust by sticking to the agreed process and ensuring that everyone follows too.
People’s Assemblies Resources
How to organise and run a People’s Assembly
We’ve put together a People’s Assemblies Manual, which explains what they are and how to run them yourself!Download the Extinction Rebellion Guide to People’s Assemblies Download the Extinction Rebellion Guide to People’s Assemblies (text only version)
There are also two scripts available for running a People’s Assembly either online or in person.Download the general script for running an Online People’s Assembly Download the general script for running an In-Person People’s Assembly
How to organise and run Assemblies in your Community
XR’s Future Democracy Hub has created a manual to outline the various steps that you can take to run a people’s assembly in your local community. The manual collates best practice from people throughout history and from all over the globe, who have used People’s Assemblies to come together and achieve great things.Download the Community Assembly Manual
People’s Assemblies Facilitator Training (PAFT)
The UK PA team organise regular PA Facilitation Training (PAFT) courses. The course aims to help people develop their facilitation skills, from facilitating small groups to facilitating the People’s Assembly itself.
It is a safe place to learn about and practice facilitation and deliberation in a democratic and inclusive way. We aim to help you feel more confident about holding and facilitating People’s Assemblies, we provide opportunities to connect with other facilitators, and it is useful training for facilitating Community Assemblies. The course also covers PA planning, holding online PAs and we share a number of PA resources. Everyone is welcome. To request this training or any PA training support email: email@example.comUpcoming People’s Assembly Facilitator Training courses Watch the XR People’s Assembly film online
People’s Assembly Webinars and TalksWatch the talk on Facilitation (29:00) Watch the People’s Assemblies Facilitation Training (29 April 2019) (49:53) Watch the skill share in how to run participatory democracy People’s Assemblies (1hr 46:35) Watch the People’s Assemblies Facilitation Training (11 April 2019) (1hr 07:07)
- How many people do I need to hold a PA?
Ideally deliberation groups of 6 to 12 people and a minimum of 3 groups. However, they sometimes run with fewer people and the PA process can be used with several hundred and possibly over a thousand people.
- Where do I begin if I want to run a People’s Assembly?
Read the manual, take the training and look at the PA script.
- Can I hold a PA without attending the training?
Yes but read the manual and the script and if you are finding it difficult be honest with people present. People appreciate openness and will support you. You will usually find that there are people there with some experience and they are delighted to help.
- What is the structure of the PA Facilitation Training (PAFT) course?
The course aims to help you feel more confident about facilitating subgroups or organising and facilitating People’s Assemblies and we give you the opportunity to connect with other facilitators to help organise and facilitate People’s Assemblies in pairs or teams. We also talk about active listening, inclusion and allowing all voices to be heard and how to deal with difficult situations.
Duration: 2 hrs 15 minutes
- How is the UK PA Team Organised
There is a UK PA Circle and most of the Regions / Nations have a PA Point who acts as the main point of contact. In most Regions / Nations there is a communication channel (usually Telegram) dedicated to PA Facilitation. There is also a UK wide Telegram channel for PA Facilitators and anyone interested in PA Facilitation.
- How do People’s Assemblies differ from Citizens’ Assemblies?
Both Citizens’ Assemblies and People’s Assemblies are based on the ‘assembly’ process which enables people to share equally and openly within an environment that is non-judgemental and respectful – and facilitated to that effect. They both use small facilitated groups to deliberate.
Members of a People’s Assembly are self selecting – anyone who turns up can participate. Participants may be given a small amount of information in the input section (e.g. a 10 minute talk or a short video). They typically lasts for 2 hours, possibly more when it’s out on the street during a rebellion; and the decisions or output are usually used to inform activists.
In contrast, Citizens’ Assemblies are ordinary people, randomly selected from a population by the process called sortition to make sure they are representative of key characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. The members of a Citizens’ Assembly learn about critical thinking and then they hear balanced information from experts and stakeholders. A Citizens’ Assembly may run for 10 to 30 days. Finally, the decisions or output of a Citizens’ Assembly are used to inform policy (e.g. government policy on a difficult and contentious subject).
Get in touch
To request information or assistance from the UK PA team email us: firstname.lastname@example.org