Grassroots Change

Objectives

  • To learn about historic success stories of grassroots organizing
  • To draw out lessons that can be applied to your work
  • To craft a mission, vision, and name for your group

Materials

  • Video of a successful grassroots organizing campaign/group

Prepare Before

Choose examples of successful grassroots organizing the present to the participants. If possible, invite a local grassroots organizer to participate in the discussion and share their experiences.


Warm Up

Is it ever right to break the law? If so, under what circumstances do you think breaking the law is the right thing to do?

Experience

Present one or more examples of successful grassroots organizing. These may include Cesar Chavez’s “Sí Se Puede” effort to organize farm workers or civil rights groups’ effort to establish racial equity (e.g., the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NAACP), groups’ efforts in the 1970 Earth Day movement, the National Organization for Women’s efforts for feminism, or groups’ efforts to oppose U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

If possible, have a local grassroots organizer present about their experiences. Facilitate a discussion between the organizer and the participants. If you do not have someone to speak, show a video of successful grassroots organizing.

Reflect

Discuss as a class how these groups organized themselves and made change. What was successful? What was unsuccessful? What can we take away from their efforts to use in our project?

Summarize

Following this introduction, have participants split into small groups. Each group should craft a mission statement, a vision, and a name for the group. The larger group can then come together and vote on the options as a class.

Demonstrate

Why did your group pick this mission and name to represent? What do the mission, vision, and name represent?