Organising a Regular Meeting
One of the reasons for Germany’s Pirate success is the use of a type of local meeting called a Stammtisch (a table in a bar for regulars). If there are enough Pirates in your local geographical area, who would enjoy meeting up on a regular basis, then you can think about setting up a Stammtisch. How you define your local area is up to you but your electorate would be a good template as you can go on to establish a local chapter later on – something that we will look at in another article.
You can get to know fellow Pirates and discuss politics and plan group events. This is without having the problems involved with setting up a formal organisation. No leaders or other officials need to be elected.
The disadvantages include not being able to hold property or funds in common and to organise beyond the most basic of events. You will not have as much influence with local authorities, the press and your national party which may not be able to support as with an officially constituted chapter. However it is best not forming an official chapter too early. Wait until there is a solid core of members for that. This gives people a chance to drop out or take a back seat if they so wish and for talent and dedication to come to the fore.
Check with your national party to make sure there is not already a meeting that you are not aware of and if there are any Pirates nearby who might be interested. Ask the Party headquarters to put them in touch with you.
If there are like-minded Pirates around then you are all set. If not then do not be discouraged. If you have enough perseverance and the right temperament then you can start one anyway with family, friends or just yourself and begin by recruiting new members to the Party. It might take a while but being a part of building democracy from the grassroots up is a special experience.
It can be in a private home or in a public place but if you want to recruit members then people, especially women, feel safer in a public place. A bar, café or restaurant that is not too noisy, that will allow you to reserve enough places and is not expensive. Try and stick to the same place. If you build a relationship with the owner or manager they can help you recruit new members. Always use some way to identify yourselves so new people can find you and other guests know who your are.
Regularity is a must so people can orient their lives to suit. At the start it would be best to not make them too frequent to avoid a burn out. Monthly or fortnightly is recommended and regular dates rather than days e.g. the 20th of each month instead of the third Tuesday in each month as that allows for a greater breadth of people to attend despite shift work etc.
As previously mentioned, ask you national or regional party to put Pirates, who are in your area, in touch with you. Ask members of neighbouring groups to come along and give some support. Also set up a website where people can get details of the meeting. Other ideas to attract people include: putting an advertisement in the local paper and informing their reporters – with luck they might send one along to do an article, leafleting and holding information stands.(LINK), using social networks, guerilla marketing.
What can be achieved:
This depends very much on who joins you but you can do many of the things a formal party chapter can. Spread the Pirate message, get involved in local politics – start citizen’s initiatives and petitions. Just make sure that you work as a group and make consensus decisions as much as possible. No one should feel compelled to do more than he can or want to do.
Not everyone who joins will stay. Your numbers will rise and fall with the physical as well as the political weather. Also arguments and personality differences can disturb things from time to time. But slowly you will form a band of people who will bring and develop talents that you can build on to form a more concrete organisation. Take your time – and above all have fun.
Keep in mind we are Pirates and Pirates share.
Featured Image CC-BY Pirate Times
About Andrew Reitemeyer
I joined the Pirate Party of Lower Saxony in Germany in April 2012, once I found out that non citizens were welcome to join and become active members of the Party. I joined the Pirate Times soon after it was started as a proof reader and am now an editor and author. Since then I have returned to my native New Zealand and joined the Pirate Party of New Zealand. Politically I come from the libertarian left and have, up to now, not regarded any political party as having a solution for the democratic deficit that envelops the world. With the advent of the Pirate Party, which truly embraces grass roots democracy, I have found a political home. The Pirate Times is a way I can contribute to furthering the Pirate Movement around the world. Skype: frithogar