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Tools of the trade

Being an effective activist takes more than just a lot of rage and some free time. It makes the job a heck of a lot easier if you have the right tools. Here's a peek into my 'tool box'. (Unsurprisingly, a lot of my tools are yellow!) 

A notepad is an activist essential. Everything from writing down meeting minutes to jotting down the license plate of the asshole who just tried to ram through your march. I'm a big fan of the Rite in the Rain notepads because they're waterproof! Rain or shine, you can get down everything you need. They're also small enough to easily stash in your bag.

A megaphone is an obvious activist essential. This is Maggie, my trusted megaphone that my folks bought me a few years ago. She's perfect for a lot of reasons. She has a shoulder strap for easy carrying; a removable mouth piece so that you can speak directly into the megaphone or use the extended arm; and your voice carries for 1KM! She does take a ton of batteries (8 DD batteries!) but I wouldn't replace her for anything. 

I've been told that the difference between an effective military troupe and a shitty one is foot care. Nobody wants trench foot! Maybe it's having grown up with a military dad, but I've always been super obsessed with keeping my feet toasty and dry. It all depends on where you live of course, but for Ottawa, at least one solid pair of rain boots is essential. I have 3 pairs: a quasi fancy pair (My Hunters), my on the downlow pair (Converse-looking rain boots) and my trusted yellow LL Bean Wellies. Ain't nobody gonna rain on this parade!

Where would I be without a yellow manteau? In all seriousness though, invest in a trusted raincoat. The patriarchy/capitalism/insert-whatever-evil-you-are-fighting fights, rain or shine, so you gotta be prepared for those shitty days when you're stuck outside even when it's miserable. Unsurprisingly, my go-to rain coat is yellow but I love it because it's lightweight so you're not sweating your ass off and it has a full hood that actually keeps my head dry. You also won't lose me in a crowd!

The day this thing fell into my life was a glorious day. Ever spend hours and hours cutting out handbills for protests or to promote an event? It's a goddamn nightmare. It's so worth investing in a paper cutter. Not cheap by any means, but time is money. Look for one that does a lot of sheets at once; cuts down even more on time. 

The latest addition to my tool kit is a button maker. This is a picture of mine which is from People Power Press out of Toronto. I highly recommend them. Button makers are an amazing tool but they are definitely the most expensive thing in my kit. They are not cheap. However, they are study as hell and if you make sure to take care of it (and not lend it to people who don't return it!), then you'll have yourself a lifelong investment. Think hard about what size you're looking for. Mine makes the biggest buttons that they make, but that's not everyone's preference. Smaller buttons are typically more popular, but they obviously mean you can stick less on it. It's totally a personal preference. But I can't emphasize enough how happy I am with mine. Firing off a button for a specific event is way easier than scrounging up money to have some made, especially since so many companies require a minimum order that's way above what you need. Your very own button maker is worth the splurge! 

Other tools I highly recommend: A sturdy clipboard, Bristol board for protest signs, a tri-fold for info fairs, acrylic paint for banners and signs, cheap meters of fabric (preferably something sturdy and stretchy) for banners, packing tape for postering and all the Sharpies. Never know when you'll need to DIY a protest sign or deface someone else's (not that I'm encouraging you to deface people's signs or something....)