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Values and Strategies for Successful Community Organising

Below are the elements of a successful community organizing strategy. These are the values and strategies that have historically ensured success and that we aim to uphold.

 

1. Broad diversity and all inclusiveness, bringing as many relevant perspectives into the thinking as possible. We want to reach everyone regardless of age, weight, appearance, opinions, idiosyncrasies etc. As neighbors and fellow community members and fellow human beings we can all learn from each other. We want to make sure we are able to cater to everyone's diverse needs and give them any due respect and avoid anything that may be offensive to them.

2. Vision, caring, and responsibility (and not on the basis of anger or fear). The virtues of respect, courage, righteousness, kindness, happiness, joy, openness, honesty and gentleness are uplifting and sustainable. Using fear tactics or anger to motivate people might work for short burst of energy however it is unsustainable in the long run and eventually people get tired of it.

3. To recruit ever more allies (and not to identify enemies or attack or embarrass any so called opposition). We believe there is always an infinite supply of potential new allies to the cause and that focussing on this is more than adequate and will make the work feel better. We never know who we might want to bring to the table later on down the track. A so called enemy might become your ally.

4.To propose solutions (and not to protest wrongs). When we come together and experience teamwork and cooperation we are empowered to find more ways to continue doing so. People get tired of protesting wrongs and find more joy in working on solutions. 5. For the common good. (and not for self interest). We believe that personal interests can be served by serving the common good. Everyone believes in the common good and will support causes that serve the common good.

6. For completion and to win. (and not just be ethically or morally correct). We believe in setting goals that participants can achieve and have cause for celebration and joy. Although we might like to see peace on earth, this is not a realistic goal that we can expect to achieve in order to feel a sense of success. Completing something successfully builds enthusiasm for other larger goals.

7. With a shared commitment to struggle together for positive change. This struggle is threefold: personal, interpersonal and global. We understand that the journey will not be completely easy and will not be without struggle which sets up realistic expectations. In committing to community organizing and making positive changes we understand that there will be obstacles that create tension, conflict and struggle. This struggle is not a masochistic need for pain; it is simply understanding that there will be effort required and a kind of pain resulting, as in from exercise or stretching.

 

Strategies for Successful Community Organizing

It is said that a good organizing strategy is one that matches at least several of the following criteria. Therefore when leading your team, and when organizing your event and your overall purpose as a group it is wise to take these criteria into consideration.

1. Result in Real Improvement in People's Lives. If you can see and feel the improvement, then you can be sure that your efforts have been successful.

2. Give people a sense of their own power. People should come away feeling the victory was won by them, not outside experts, or by the mercy of policy makers. This builds confidence to take on larger issues.

3. Alter the relations of power. Building a strong team creates a new center of power that changes the way others with more power look at you and make decisions that affect you. When communities have greater influences on the changes to be made to improve their lives it is very empowering.

4. Be worthwhile. Members should feel they are contributing to something that they feel good about, and which merits the effort.

5. Be winnable. The goal must not be so large or the solution so remote that the organization is overwhelmed. The members must be able to see from the start that there is a good chance of winning, or at least that there is a good strategy for winning. Ask who else has been successful at this, and then call on people with experience and ask for advice.

6. Be widely felt. Many people must feel that this is a real need and must agree with the solution. It is not enough that a few people feel strongly about it.

7. Be deeply felt. People must not only agree, but also feel strongly enough to do something about it. It is not enough that many people agree about the issue and don't feel strongly.

8. Be easy to understand. It is preferable that you don't have to convince people of the need for what you are doing, or the reasons for being involved. In general, a good cause should not require a lengthy and difficult explanation.

9. Have a clear time frame that works for you. A good campaign has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You should have an idea of the approximate dates on which those points will fall. Some time frame factors are internal, that is, set by your organization. Some are external, set by someone else or the calendar.

10. Be non-divisive. Avoid issues that divide and pit people against each other. Don't be content to push a problem from your community / group onto another. Look down the road a few years. Who will you eventually need to bring into your organization/group/team?

11. Build leadership. The campaign should have many roles that people can play to build leadership. Train and place people in leadership and decision making capacities to build the strength of your members.

12. Set your team up for the next project. In addition to thinking about future issue directions, consider the skills the group will develop in the projects and the contacts it will make for the next one.

13. Have a wallet/purse angle. Issues that get people money or save people money are usually widely or deeply felt.

14. Raise money. This means having some idea of how you will obtain funding sources for your campaign.

15. Be consistent with your values and vision. The issues we choose to work on must reflect our values and our vision for an improved society.

16. Be capacity-focused. The cause you work on must be able to focus on utilizing the existing skills and resources that your community members can bring to the table. This creates equal participants and decision makers in creating positive change.

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