Tibet Will Be Free (the SFT Blog!)

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Day 3 Highlights

From Chris McKenna
Director, Tibet Justice Center

Celia on working with corporate and sometimes lazy journalists

Longtime SFT supporter and trainer Celia Alario took the tough questions from the track 2 advanced group at the conference today – those SFTer’s who now written their fair share of press releases, called journalists at 8am to cover their Tibet event, and who have generally begun to struggle with the mechanics of getting media professionals to pay attention to what they are doing for Tibet in their communities. Celia just nailed it…. Don’t like the way that camera man is filming the way our friend is suspended from the Chinese consulate? Go over and tell him and suggest a better shot! Journalists are human beings, not robots. You need to get comfortable interacting with them if you want to get your issue covered. Camera crew caught in traffic on the way to your event? Have your own freelancer shooting stills and video footage that you can offer up to media outlets later as incentive to get more in depth coverage. Besides these tricks gleamed from years of doing media work, Celia walked people through the internal life of a typical journalist – their deadlines, pressures, and the way they will likely cover your Tibet activities. Above and beyond anything, she encouraged the group to really speak up and engage the media. On a fundamental level it is their job to listen to you because you are the one making the news. So pick up the phone, speak frankly, and don’t be personally offended if they don’t cover it!

Alma and Han holding down direct action as always

Listening to Alma and Han sketch out goals, strategies, and tactics for Tibet direct actions is like watching master musicians tune instruments. It’s so second nature and kind of casual that you almost feel like they could be doing some totally unrelated task simultaneously without breaking a sweat. The main point? People need to up their level of critical analysis if they really want to make actions work. You need to have a nice, long, thorough group meditation on why you are doing something, what you want from it, who you are targeting, and who your partners are. Planning is not wimpy, and in fact most of the success for the best stuff SFT has done resides in the amount and quality of the planning. It’s great to see all the old school veterans empowering all these rising stars to have the same level of vigilance.

Thupten and Chris cook dhal, hella spicy chile, and dent van in Santa Barbara parking lot

People can’t eat Costco junk food if they’re going to sit through 8 hours of workshops, so Thupten and I set out to make an Indian veggie dinner with works in order to create a nice group food coma in preparation for an early bedtime (didn’t happen). What we didn’t bank on was the UCSB cooking class and subsequent ice cream social that absolutely filled the kitchen for the whole afternoon. Screaming UCSB freshman, oreo’s, lot’s of make-up, mountain dew, that kind of thing…. In the midst of all of this was Thupten the Warrior swearing a little but otherwise flawlessly executing a veggie meal for fifty. I myself stirred so much dhal and sabzi that my right forearm became sore in that tennis elbow kind of way. This loss of mobility also might have contributed to running the side of a van into a pole in what has to be the smallest and most poorly designed parking garage in history. Sorry van!

More later from Santa Barbara

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