Name your group and assign duties

Give your group a name. This will help the media, elected officials, and the public identify you. Many groups use acronyms to identify themselves; for example, CAPER (Citizens Advocating Public Health and Environment Responsibility), or FARM (Families Against Rural Messes). Create a positive name for your group. The name you choose is important, so spend some time deciding.

Assign Duties

Divide up the responsibilities so the work is shared. Overwork and burnout have been a problem with other groups, so be sensitive to members’ family and work commitments. Be flexible and understanding if a member cannot fulfill their duties, and have some type of backup plan so the necessary work gets done.


This person communicates well and will represent the entire group. S/he must be willing to delegate work and encourage others, not dominate. S/he can be elected as the President or Chairperson of the group. This person must be comfortable with the media, and work well in public and in front of cameras. Make sure your spokesperson reads the Media section of this handbook too!

Press and media organizers

One or more people are needed to develop relationships with the press, send out press releases, organize media events, and get as much exposure as possible for the issues. This may also be your Spokesperson. (More in the Media section.)


Appoint people to other positions, such as secretary and treasurer and make sure they understand their responsibilities. Take notes at meetings and circulate to all, including people who could not attend.


Select one or two people to be coordinators so group members can stay in touch and act as a team. A successful organization keeps people informed and encourages participation. Make a workable phone tree and use it to convey new information to your group. (See the Organizing Tools section.)


Assign people to work on gathering information and contacting local officials. Develop a list of concerns regarding the facility, including environmental, economic, health and social impacts. Issues to be considered include: water and soil contamination, air pollution from odors, gases and dusts, loss of family farmers, property devaluation, tax credits, exemptions, enterprise zones, road degradation and increased traffic. Write them down in order of importance to your group. Have members research the different objections. (Details on who to contact and what information to gather can be found in the “Gather Information” sections under "Dissect the ILO Proposal" below.)

Facility liaisons

Select a couple representatives to talk with the facility operator/owner. Consider having the owner/operator attend a group meeting to hear community concerns.