Community Organizing

Objectives

  • To understand community organizing, the range of actions we can take, and what they can change

Materials

  • Raining Rocks story (1 per participant)
  • Group strategies (3 copies)
  • Ways to Make Change (1 per participant)
  • Ways to Make Change worksheet (1 per every 3-5 participants)

Prepare Before

N/A


Warm Up

What is organizing?  What might community organizing mean?  Have you ever been part of community organizing before?

Experience

Today we are exploring what it means to be a community organizer. As a group, read aloud from Raining Rocks. Once you have finished divide the class into three groups. One will be Villagers who want to go up the mountain, Villagers who want to keep up the rescue effort, and Filthy Richbanks and his friends. Give each group the Group Strategies prompt. In their groups, discuss the questions and pick a spokesperson who will answer for the group.

Reflect

What do you notice?

What motivates the Villagers who want to keep up the rescue effort?

What motivates the Villagers who want to go up the mountain?

What motivates Filthy Richbanks and friends?

Which group is most likely to change the conditions?

Which of these groups represents community organizing?

Does Filthy Richbanks want the rescue effort?   How does the rescue effort help Filthy Richbanks?

Summarize

The Villagers going up the mountain will change the conditions for everyone and for the future, although the Villagers in the rescue effort are responding to an urgent need. In planning a campaign, we have to balance how much time we spend rescuing and how much time we spend changing the conditions. In this situation, Filthy Richbanks does better if the Villagers are involved in the rescue effort. It keeps them busy and prevents them from seeing the true problem and focusing their anger on him. And, he can even donate resources to the cause so he seems like a good guy, even when he is causing the problem. We see this all the time — companies that contribute to creating poverty will donate to non-profits or volunteer at a soup kitchen rather than changing their behavior.

Demonstrate

Share and explain the “Ways the Make Change” chart.

In groups of 3-5, give each group a Ways to Make Change sheet and a common situation (one is currently listed, if needed). For this situation, they should come up with 2 examples of each of these 5 types of actions.

Once all groups are done, share back answers and make a list of the types of actions.

Look at the actions of your program so far this year.

Brainstorm a list of actions your program has taken this year.  Once you have the list, put them into these 5 categories.

For any actions that are not in Community Organizing, what would be the next step if we wanted this action to challenge the systems of power more than it is currently doing?

Note:  This does not mean that every action should be community organizing — your program will probably have a range of activities and actions throughout the year. However, we do not want to be like the Villagers continuing the rescue mission forever — some actions must move the system or nothing ever changes.

In these same groups, think of our current research topic. Give at least 2 examples of each type of action that might occur. Share these back with a focus on Education, Advocacy, and Community Organizing.