As with any planning tool, this isn’t an all-inclusive list, and the steps won’t always happen in chronological order. We’re here to help, and you can also find more tips in the For Our Kids Organizing Guide.
Step one: Build a Team and a Vision
- If you don't have a team or group already, look for individuals and groups in your area who may be interested in partnering with you.
- Identify goals and guiding principles for the event that can be communicated clearly. These can include what a green and just recovery campaign is about as well as the democratic principles behind a town hall format. For example:
Discussions about green and just recovery are forward-facing and at the same time sensitive to the different places people are at in terms of the COVID-19 crisis and recovery
These are non-partisan events, intended to build relationships between communities and their elected officials, not to embarrass or call out any one individual
Town halls are an important tool for democratic participation and are open to the entire community
- If you think this is something your community needs to do and you want to put a team together, contact us! We may be able to find others in your area to work with.
- Get consensus among your team and partners on expected outcomes from the event
- Connect with For Our Kids if you have any questions or would like coaching. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Step two: Recruit Key Participants and Plan Logistics
- Decide who you will invite to participate as speakers at the town hall. Aim for representation from at least two levels of government, including your federal representative. This enables questions to be answered more fully and accountability to be taken at the appropriate level.
- Email your list of speakers, and follow up with a phone call to connect with someone in person.
- Leave the timing of the town hall open for now and work on getting a commitment from your invited speakers to participate.
- Once you have a commitment, find a date and time that works for your speakers. Consider timing that will also work for community members and not conflict with any other major events. Confirm the date and time by email and with a phone call. Ask each speaker for a photo and brief profile to use for promotion.
- For speakers who can’t commit to being there in person, ask if they would be willing to provide comments on specific questions beforehand that can be shared at the town hall.
Step three: Decide on Format and Roles for the Event
- Before working out a detailed schedule for the event, think about the basic format: How can you involve students and youth wherever possible in planning and hosting the event? Will questions be prepared ahead of time or asked live at the town hall, or both? Will you include additional elements like music in the agenda?
- Determine which online platform you will use. It's important to have a few people in your group who are familiar with the platform and comfortable running an online event. For Our Kids has a Zoom account that allows up to 500 registrants and is available for you to use - contact us for more about this option.
- Identify key roles for planning and running the town hall, including a moderator, host, technical support, and note-taker. Here are some suggestions - and keep in mind that For Our Kids is available for coaching and support!
- Determining the basic format of the event will help you work out a detailed schedule. Here’s a sample.
- Once you’ve decided on the format, send a basic overview to the presenters so they are aware of how the event will go
Step four: Promote the Event
- Town halls are intended to be open to the public and involve communities in all their diversity, so it’s important to look for ways to share the invitation to participate as broadly as possible. Reach out to individuals and community groups who need to be represented.
- Share the FB event link with the invited speakers so they can share in on their sites and with their networks. For Our Kids can help with targeted FB ads to reach your geographical area.
- Look for free online communication networks in your community that are willing to share a link to the event
- Make a list of local media including radio, TV, newspapers, community magazines and local websites, and decide how you will communicate with them. Media releases, letters to the editor, and op-eds are all good ways to connect with media to enhance awareness of the event itself and of the broader campaign. Here's a bit more about each of these communication tools.
- Remember to post regular reminders leading up to the event, featuring different aspects that may appeal to different audiences.
Step five: Follow up
- Send an individual thank you to each speaker and any special guests, and ask for feedback.
- Follow up on any specific actions from the town hall like requests for more information or links.
- Post a link to the recorded session (you may need to edit the beginning or ending, depending on when the recording began).
- Contact participants to thank them for attending, ask for their feedback, and most importantly, invite and encourage them to join your group to carry out local climate action.
- Circulate notes from the meeting to your group and set up a debriefing session to plan next steps.