The following is a simple “how to get a Unit off the ground” article highlighting some easy first steps, including how to conduct your first meeting. It is intended for new Unit Commanders who have just started a local Unit in their area.
If you’ve ever formed a rock collecting club, coached a Little League team (and hosted parent meetings), or even sold Avon, you’ve already got most of the basics down. This guide will show you just how simple the process can be.
First Things First
This article assumes that you’ve already gotten an official “blessing” from the National organization. This is a simple procedure that begins with making sure you are eligible to do so, and then filling out a New Unit Application Form. To begin that process if you haven’t already, visit this page.
Post-approval, it is critical that you take a few basic steps to get the ball rolling toward building your Unit. Primarily these are things like actually organizing your first meeting and recruiting your first members, but your ultimate goal starting right now is to build momentum personally and within your unit; personally, by making yourself take the steps to get things started, and in Unit terms, by providing a fun, inclusive, active environment that people want to be a part of. Soon enough you’ll have people anxious to be involved and volunteering to help you. Take advantage of these offers–it will make the Unit-building process much simpler and faster, and the result will be all the stronger for it. For now, though all of the planning, recruiting, organizing, and motivating roles are yours.
Bringing people into your new organization is much simpler than it may seem. Just like forming the rock collecting club, there are certain everyday steps you can take to make people aware of what you’re doing. You can tack posters on local bulletin boards; place classified ads in the local newspaper; submit an announcement to the local radio station; stick flyers under windshield wipers (be careful with this; it can violate local ordinances and create unwelcome litter); set up booths at local fairs and festivals; and mostly, talk to the people you meet every day. Of course you can also speak with and email your friends and family the same as you would if you were doing anything else. The key to creating an organization and bringing people into it is to get the conversation started.
Once you’ve generated some interest (and you’re sure you can count on a handful of people showing up), find and secure a meeting space. Ask local veterans’ organizations if they have an area you can conduct a meeting of Patriots; check with local volunteer fire departments and churches to see if their social halls or basements are available. If all else fails, arrange to meet at a local restaurant or coffee shop (but be sure to order at least coffee, since you’ll be taking up their table space; try to arrange a day/time that is not one of their busiest; and tip your server well). If you really want to be true to tradition, meet at a local tavern, or in one of your interested members’ barns. It was good enough for Sam Adams; it should work plenty well for you, too.
Your First Meeting
We’ve all been to meetings, so we know how this goes. With regard to your meetings, particularly your first one, you should establish a structural framework and then stick with that framework throughout the proceedings. This is important because it’s very easy for meetings to get out of hand, get off track, take too long, bore the audience, and create the opposite effect of that which you intend; you’ll drive people off rather than making them want to sign on.
To counter this phenomenon, stay focused and on track. Keep meetings to a reasonable length (less than half an hour is too short, while more than an hour and a half is too long; forty five minutes to an hour is just about right). Obviously there will be times when meetings must run longer (though they should never run shorter–don’t call people away from their homes and family for fifteen trivial minutes, especially since filling the extra time is always so easy). When those longer meeting times are anticipated, announce it ahead of time so that people can be prepared. Have some form of refreshments, and be sure restroom facilities are available.
There are a million bullet points I could provide that will make your meeting run smoothly and successfully, so this is not an all-inclusive list and it will be added to from time to time. But this is enough to get you started and make that first meeting one to be proud of.
- Be welcoming. When preparing invitations, flyers, etc., remember that you are appealing to any and all who are America-loving people of good character. This group includes pretty much every demographic, and even diverse political ideologies. Remember that many people joined the Democrat party (for instance) believing the lies about “working for the common man” and “representing the downtrodden and marginalized”. Those lies have now been exposed (the “elite” plutocrats have shown themselves and their socialist agenda for what it really is, and they’ve been trashing America in the process; a lot of previously-faithful Democrat voters are sick of it). Welcome all who seem to truly love America and value our history, laws, and ideals. Show Patriots of every stripe that they’ve found a home. Remember, too, that there’s been a lot of brainwashing done and it may take some time for those effects to be expunged. Be patient, be welcoming, and remember that awakening from the deep sleep of a Deep State may be painful for folks. As they see how they’ve been lied to and used, they’re likely to become some of your–and America’s–greatest allies.
- Be prepared. The worst possible thing for any get-together (especially meetings, practices/trainings, etc.) is for the leader to be unprepared. Everyone can tell when you’re “winging it”. Don’t. Have your agenda, in a logical and consistent order, written so you can follow it. Even better, have a handout that has the agenda clearly shown so everyone can follow it. Work through your list, allotting a reasonable but not inordinate time for each item. Do not allow the meeting to go too far astray from what is written on your agenda; it’s easy for this to happen, and can be devastating to the meeting if you allow it to go too far. Take control and maintain it from the start of the meeting to the end. It’s your meeting; run it.
- Have a sign-in procedure. This can be a simple sign-in log, but I don’t recommend that. Remember that we’re at a point in history where we’re being targeted by any number of forces arrayed against us, even though we’re doing nothing wrong or illegal. Those forces will do their best to gather the names of those who participate, and any other information they can get. Openly visible sign-in lists make it far too easy for the enemies of freedom to identify and then persecute your attendees. Moreover, your attendees know how the land lays and are themselves hesitant to share their information with anyone. They’ll be especially hesitant to write it down in the open. A better solution is to pre-print registration slips that can be filled out privately and then dropped in a slotted box that you will provide. That box should either be locked (taped shut, if it’s a shoebox or something similar), or guarded at all times. It should also be available at all times, because people may not sign in right away until they see what’s what, but they will later after they’re satisfied that yours is an organization they wish to be part of.
- Gather the critical information; nothing more, and nothing less. You need to know the name and basic contact information (especially email address) for everyone who attends. You should get a phone number if you can. You may also try to get the city/town/village/neighborhood/street (in that order) where people live, which can usually be done without asking for an actual home address. What you don’t need, at least not immediately, is things like age and occupation. At some point those things may very well become important, but not at your first meeting. Keep it simple and brief enough that people feel comfortable providing the information. If you ask for too much, your attendees may become suspicious that you’re just gathering names for “the list” (you know what “list” I’m talking about) and they won’t give you anything at all. Remember that under no circumstances must you make signing in or otherwise “sharing” information a requirement. These are guests, there to see what you’re all about. They may not want to expose themselves too much, and you should not pressure them to do so. There will be a time when they have no choice; this first meeting is not that time.
- Call the meeting to order. It is common for a meeting to start with something like a prayer or the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. This is fine, though it should not be mandatory. Not everyone prays, and right now not everyone may feel comfortable pledging allegiance to a flag that has been stolen or a nation that is currently under coup. I personally pledge my loyalty to the United States of America as it is intended to exist and has traditionally existed, but I don’t feel compelled to offer allegiance to the current “government” and our un-elected “President” since the coup occurred. Others may feel the same way, so do not look askance at them if they choose not to participate in the pledge. It could easily be that they’re showing true respect for the flag by not honoring it in it’s current desecrated state.
- Introduce yourself and our cause, and read our mission statement. This statement is the clearest way to define what the CDF stands for and what you as a Unit Commander hope to achieve within your area of operation.
- Move through your agenda items step-by-step, allowing time for people to ask questions or offer their thoughts. You will get questions you are not prepared to answer; this is okay. What is not okay is trying to “fake it”, as if you do know the answer. People will see right through you and you’ll lose much more credibility than you would if you simply say “I’m not sure, but that’s a great question and I’ll get an answer for it by the next meeting.” Then do that; write the question down and be sure to follow up with it before your next scheduled get-together.
- Allow discussion, but not distraction or over-the-top dissension. For a first meeting this isn’t especially likely, but it can happen and dealing with it can be tricky. Try your best not to get sidetracked. It is very possible that people will want to debate or even argue amongst themselves. To keep your meeting moving forward and on the right track, you have to limit the time allotted for discussion and you have to limit the discussion to the topic at hand. You are also very likely to get those who want to “open a can of whoop-ass” right away, and that will be all they want to talk about. They could simply be gung-ho and can be “tamed”, or they may be off-the-rails (and will soon go off the reservation). It’s also possible they could be provocateurs, inserting themselves (or being placed) in your midst purely to stir trouble or encourage you or others to say or do something stupid/illegal. You must not allow them to dominate the conversation, and you must swiftly quell any talk of anything of the stupid/illegal variety. To that end:
- Don’t even think about saying, doing, or allowing anything stupid/illegal, and immediately shut down conversation about such things. We aren’t kidnapping anyone, bombing anything, breaching anyone’s security, “teaching someone a lesson”, or any other stupid thing. We aren’t learning about or creating illegal weapons or modifications, or lining anyone “up against the wall”. None of this is what you or anyone else is there for; if it is, you’ve joined the wrong organization and we, the Civilian Defense Force, want no part of you. Don’t mention stuff like this, and don’t permit conversation about it if someone else mentions it. Shut that down swiftly and forcefully. Remember that the government (or others) may well plant someone there specifically to start a ball like that that rolling to entrap or otherwise manipulate people into saying stupid things. When you hear someone talking like this, immediately shut that stuff down. Most reasonable adults don’t say things like this and will distance themselves from those who do. Those who push the issue should automatically be suspect; either they’re planted provocateurs or they’re the kind of idiot who will get you and your members in trouble with their special brand of stupidity. Don’t entertain their nonsense, and get rid of them as soon as possible. The same goes for anyone pushing “white power” or any other kind of racist/prejudicial garbage. That stuff has no business anywhere near your organization (or anywhere else, for that matter). Failure to deal with these things when they come up is too often interpreted as condoning the behavior. You will be painted with that brush, and you won’t usually be able to wiggle out of it once you are, because:
- Cameras and microphones are everywhere. It seems every toaster has a microphone, and even light bulbs have cameras these days. Everything you say and do can quickly and easily be broadcast anywhere else in the world–even live-streamed to the masses. Keep this foremost in your mind at every moment. And remember that what you say and do can and will be edited, taken out of context, etc. This is the reason why it’s a good idea for you to have a camera conspicuously pointed at yourself at all times; make it clear that the entirety of your meeting is being recorded for posterity, so that nobody is tempted to lie about what was said or how it was said. Don’t point cameras at the crowd; your attendees may feel threatened by that and won’t open up (and may not come back). But do have a camera and microphone set up on you, where everyone can see it.
- When the meeting is nearing it’s end, remind folks again about signing in. Those who refused at first to give up their details may do so now that they’ve heard your presentation. Give them the opportunity once again.
- Have the time and place of your next meeting/activity already chosen, and announce it before you close this meeting. Don’t make the mistake of leaving this part open-ended; never say “I’ll let you know about the next meeting” or “I’ll be in touch”. This is how you lose people. It’s a path to failure. Have your next meeting pre-arranged in it’s entirety (date, time, place). It’s best to have this printed out for people, perhaps on the handout you pass out at the beginning. Make a production out of it when you’re closing your meeting–have people take out their phones and enter it in their calendar apps. This saves you time and hassle later, and keeps the urgency high. Urgency drives action.
- Ask everyone to bring someone with them next time. Everyone knows someone who would fit well within your group; ask them to invite them to the next meeting. This is how you’ll grow.
- Close with a convocation if you wish, but remember the rule above. In the very near future, we may introduce a “member pledge” or something similar that can reinforce the bond of belonging to our organization. It would dovetail with a pledge of allegiance to our nation, and could work nicely as a meeting closer. In the meantime, end your meeting as you see fit, but remember that nobody should be made to participate (or shamed for not participating) in whatever ritual you choose to offer.
- Hang out afterwards to answer questions, and for general camaraderie. This is where your real connections will be made, and also where you’ll begin to gather impressions for who you can put into positions of leadership later. It’s also where you may find yourself approached by reporters who’ve attended. Be prepared to answer questions, both formally and informally.
- Clean up after yourself and everyone else. As with everything, leave your meeting space cleaner and better maintained than you found it. This is how you get invited back, or keep managers looking the other way if you conduct “informal” meetings in their places of business.
- Transcribe any notes, and prepare “meeting minutes”, immediately. Do this while it’s all still fresh in your mind. Ideally, you’ve had someone keep the minutes of the meeting and that part is done already. If not, immediately write down everything you remember and talked about. If you’ve recorded the events (and you should), you can transcribe the recording later. If not, get it on paper now. Your notes should always, absolutely include detailed recollection of any “troublemakers” or other potential provocateurs you’ve encountered/engaged with, as well as any interaction you had with members of the media. Details, details, DETAILS! These kinds of notes may prove important if legal issues ever arise.
Your first meeting–prior to, and perhaps at the time–will seem hectic, stressful, even “hard”. It isn’t, and needn’t be. Follow these basic guidelines and you’ll find it moves along well and demands that you stay on track, stay out of “trouble”, and start growing your organization properly, organically, and effectively.
Once you’ve conducted a meeting, you’ll have people who want to be members of your Unit. Have a printed handout ready that shows our basic information (Mission Statement, Guiding Principles, and web addresses) so that prospective members can get a better idea of who we are and what we do, and include with this any Unit information you may find pertinent. This may include a hard-copy application, or at least a short note going over your application procedures and requirements. Hand these out to anyone who asks, and thank them for their interest.
Keep all member information, particularly if you’re using a printed application, private! This is not the sort of thing that should ever be out of your (or your recruiting officer’s) possession. It should especially never be left laying on an open table at a public event. Have a filing system (cabinet, safe, document holder), preferably a locking one, where you can keep these things. Nothing should ever leave that cabinet that does not get immediately returned when it’s current use is no longer required.
The basic vetting that we require is exactly that–extremely basic. It’s always a good idea to require additional vetting, either in the form of a background check or, for example, by requiring proof of a Concealed Carry Permit (which in many states requires a background check prior to issue). You can ask (or even require) potential members to pay for background checks (Little Leagues and schools do that all the time; it isn’t difficult or all that expensive. In fact it really isn’t that big of a deal at all, these days). Remember that we’re only interested in good people of good character. That certainly doesn’t mean that people who pass a background check are perfect, or that those who have made mistakes in the past aren’t good people…but every little thing that we can do to prove we’re serious about eliminating “bad apples” is a good thing.
Keep a Record of All Meeting Minutes/Materials
This is not (yet) a requirement, but it’s a good idea. Meeting minutes, well organized and detailed, go a long way toward disproving unflattering news articles or even disputing negative word-of-mouth. Like with all CDF-oriented materials, your meeting minutes should be well organized and secured from unauthorized eyes. You may occasionally be asked to submit to National the minutes of a particular meeting, or some confirmation that a meeting was held. If that is ever the case, it should be submitted via secure channels; encrypted files sent as attachments through end-to-end encrypted email (Protonmail) is preferred.
When this becomes a requirement–and it will–the exact procedure and channels will be laid out as part of the process. In the meantime, be smart and keep confidential information like this confidential.
This page is a work in progress, and will be added to throughout our existence as an organization, but this will be enough to get you started in the unit-forming process.
Here are various reference pieces to help guide your Unit Formation journey. Some of these pages have been deprecated, but still contain valuable information that may help you (especially with regard to Neighborhood Watch and similar strategies). Take some time to read each one and get ideas for how to put your unit together as a Force to be Reckoned With!