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Organizing

The process of change has two fundamental strategies. One is dismantling structures of oppression while the second is creating structures of liberation. If we don’t have something to replace what we take down, we will lose the confidence of those we are trying to wake up. This process of waking up and engaging in consciously liberating action is when we feel most alive and inspired and connected. Whatever issue is a person’s point of entry, anyone who takes on a struggle and organizes goes through a transformative process in which the world is never the same again.

It is the experience of accessing one’s own power and the power of our collective actions. It is the understanding and experience that you don’t have to just obey or believe in that external authority – be it parent, teacher, priest, cop, coach etc; – that you can trust yourself and your community to do what is needed to live full and healthy lives if not exploited or oppressed. When we have liberated our minds from the paradigm of the external authority, we begin to look to and trust ourselves and each other to create what we need, what feels good, what builds community. In this process we are creating culture.

As long as racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, ableism and other forms of oppression exist, we must work to dismantle them at every level. It is a struggle and it is life work. But ultimately, it is how we choose to engage in this struggle and how we live our lives that will pre-figure the world we want.

People organize because of solutions, not because of problems.

They bitch, moan and complain about problems, but ORGANIZE because they believe or know or see or FEEL that there is a better way…

To organize we must be able to tell a story that:
The primary role of an organizer is to create a container in which people can:

These are different sides of the same coin and the process for each is integral to the other.

Organizers help move people through a process from indifference or powerlessness or rage or victimization into a clear identification of the problem and then a generation of ideas for the solutions.  Getting people to identify their vision for the future and then developing a realistic plan to get there using simple achievable steps can make all the difference.

There are several models of organizing – depending on if you are working with labor, the community, nonprofits or grassroots groups.  I have learned that none are right or wrong but all have advantages and disadvantages.  You need to work within the community you find yourself and then build the culture you desire.   It also helps to be really clear on your goals, however some models may be more effective than others.

An Organizers Role:

Thoughts about an organizers role:

Unorganized
Workplace/Group

Organizers/Leaders

Organized
Workplace/Group

Confused Interpret Understanding
Apathetic Motivate Active
Scared Challenge Confident
Divided Unify Working Together
Going Nowhere Plan Purpose

Organizing Principles

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Organizing is about building relationships. People need to feel like they are a part of something. It takes people time to develop trust, learn, move to take risks. Your approach must be positive and affirming. It’s about power, participation and community.

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