I recently completed a workshop at the Chicago Freedom School called “Community Organizing: Strategy and Campaign Development.” Since community organizing is so new to me, I’m learning so many things at every workshop but for now here are the 3 things I learned that are top of mind:
1. Bottom Up Organizing
A totally new concept for me. In my facilitator Xavier’s words, “It’s not about problem solving. It’s about returning power to the people to define and address issues for themselves.” What’s brilliant about this method of organizing is that it’s not about the activists/ organizers creating demands and issues. It’s about a process of discovery to identify the demands and the issues of the masses who are directly impacted by the conflict.
2. Points of Intervention
There are 5 major points of intervention in community organizing that can be used to disrupt the system/ raise awareness to your issue or cause: Production (strikes, picket lines), Destruction (road blockades, tree sits), Consumption (consumer boycotts, markets campaigns), Decision (pressure on an elected official and Assumption (challenging the underlying beliefs of society).
3. Power Mapping
Power maps help identify people, groups, allies, potential threats and more around a person or institution that you want to influence. In the workshop, we mapped for Trans/ Gender Non Conforming Bathroom Safety, and it definitely opened by mind to many of the potential parties that would affected by the issue from every angle. So for Trans and Gender Non Conforming Bathroom Safety, we created the following influences: designers of public spaces, cleaning people, schools, the media, religious groups, conservative politicians, gendered products, anyone who uses a public restroom. We ran out of time but we also started to think about who would profit from this and who would be opposed to this?
So excited to learn more and to get out there and make a difference!!!