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Community Organizing Remix

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  • 1. Community  Organizing  Remix   21st  Century  Tools  for  Building  Relationships  and  Meaning   Lianna  Levine  Reisner,  Partner  for  Change     November  19,  2013  
  • 2. What’s  on  the  Agenda?   •  •  •  •  •  Understanding  different  types  of  organizing   Theories  of  power   What’s  in  an  organizer’s  toolkit?   Take-­‐home  action  steps  throughout     Q&A  
  • 3. What  is  Community  Organizing?   Community  organizing  conjures  different  images     • Through  chat,  share  the  first  image  or  phrase  you   think  of  when  you  hear  “community  organizing”  
  • 4. What  is  Organizing?   •  Gathering  people  into  an  organization  (formal  or  informal)  to  seek   tangible  outcomes  together   •  Different  kinds  of  organizing  for  different  outcomes:   Community  organizing:     Enhancing  welfare  of  disadvantaged   communities  through  collective  influence   Labor  organizing:     Building  trade  unions     for  industry  influence   Network  organizing:     Activating  relationships     to  foster  mutual  benefit   Political  organizing:     Developing  campaign  loyalty,     educating  on  issues   •  Not  community  building:  developing  relationships  as  social  capital   •  Not  activism:  getting  people  to  vote,  lobby,  promote  a  new  idea  
  • 5. Common  Denominators   Our  focus  today:  basic  organizing  principles  for  communities   •  A  “remix”  across  organizing  disciplines,  with  a  focus  on  network  organizing   Common  across  all  forms  of  organizing:   •  Participation  and  connection  at  the  “grassroots”   •  A  set  of  shared  values   •  Working  toward  some  specific  goal  (“how”  varies  widely)   •  Creating  different  organizational  structures   Organizing  is  about  attention  to  process:  doing  business  differently   •  How  we  run  our  meetings,  how  we  lead  or  delegate   Organizing  also  reveals  what  different  business  should  be  done   •  Listening  and  conversation  as  a  starting  point  
  • 6. Introduction  to  Networks   •  Intricate  web  of   relationships,  with   stronger  and   weaker  links   •  Networks  facilitate   spreading  ideas,   giving  and  getting   information  and   resources   •  Latent  potential  for   “activation”   •  Often,  unexpected   or  spontaneous   benefits   Source:  Krebs  and  Holley,  2006   World Network Figure 3 – Multi-Hub Small
  • 7. What  is  Network  Organizing?   Network  organizing  is  about  network  activation   •  Creating  strong  and  weak  links  among  diverse  people  who  are  bound  by   shared  values    Mixture  of  connective  and  intensive  strategies   •  Information  and  ideas  travel  freely  in  the  web  to  create  a  marketplace  of   exchange;  organizers  give  that  marketplace  inputs  to  keep  it  vibrant   •  Supports  the  emergence  of  collaborative  self-­‐organizing  on  issues  of   shared  concern  or  passion   Different  underlying  assumptions  than  in  traditional  organizing   •  Starts  from  a  place  of  abundance  and  opportunity,  rather  than  fear:   everyone  has  something  to  give,  and  everyone  can  take  as  needed   (reciprocity)   •  Positional  boundaries  are  diminished:  reframes  roles  of  the  “volunteer”   and  “expert”  
  • 8. What  is  Network  Organizing?   Well-­‐developed  networks  foster:   •  The  feeling  that  we  matter   •  Positive,  collaborative  action   •  “Third  options”   •  Community  resilience  in  times  of  crisis  
  • 9. Differences  in  Organizing  Philosophy   Traditional  Organizing   Hierarchy   Change   Power  is  finite  and  can  be   taken  away.   Power  is  infinite  and  can  be  shared   and  expanded.   “How  can  I  help  people  with   less  power  work  together  to   have  more  power  as  a   collective?”   Power   Network  Organizing   “How  can  I  cultivate  power  in   individuals  so  that  their  power  is   magnified  and  activated  through  a   network  of  relationships?”   Goal  is  to  reduce  the  negative   impact  of  hierarchy  through   collective  influence   Goal  is  to  flatten  hierarchy  through   networked  relationships   Confrontation  and  struggle  are   Creativity  and  collaboration  drive   necessary  for  change.   change.  
  • 10. Personal  vs.  Positional  Power   Power  and  authority  are  not  the  same.   •  Everyone  has  some  sort  of  personal  power.  Some  people  exercise  their   power  more  than  others.  Others  don’t  and  need  to  be  “empowered.”     Personal  power  is  strengths,  talents,  intuitive  abilities,  the  types  of  work  or  subjects  that   energize  you     If  we  use  our  personal  power  too  strongly,  we  can  crowd  out  others’  sources  of  power!   •  Authority  is  given  to  people  who  have  specific  credentials  or  positions:   this  is  positional  power  that  can  be  taken  away,  as  it  is  artificial.  The   things  that  make  us  truly  powerful  cannot  be  taken  away.  
  • 11. Personal  vs.  Positional  Power     Action  step:  Map  or  make  an  inventory  of  the  personal  power/talents  of   your  community  members.  If  this  is  hard  to  do,  develop  a  creative  process   for  learning  who  your  people  are.  
  • 12. Reckoning  with  Positional  Power   Talk  frankly  about  power  in  your  congregational  teams.     Action  step:  Answer  the  following  questions  as  a  team:   •  Where  does  positional  power  have  its  strongest  hold  in  your   congregation?  Is  it  held  by  clergy,  staff,  or  long-­‐time  members?  Is  it  built   into  your  governance  processes?   •  In  what  aspects  of  congregational  life  do  your  congregants  and  staff   exercise  their  personal  power?  Where  are  people  showing  up  at  their   best?  Why?  
  • 13. Putting  Boundaries  on  Empowerment   You  can  and  should  say  “no,”  but  not  too  quickly.     Action  step:  Develop  a  set  of  “operating  principles”  that  reference  your   boundaries:  “This  is  how  we  work  together,”  “Working  in  this  way   contributes  to  our  mission  and  values”     Action  step:  Make  a  prioritized  wish-­‐list  based  on  what  you  hear  from   your  congregants  but  cannot  achieve  with  staff  resources:  “We  can’t  do   this,  but  we’d  love  for  others  to  step  up  and  make  it  happen  –  and  here’s   what  we  can  offer  to  support  you…”  
  • 14. Questions?  
  • 15. Organizer’s  Toolbox   1.  One-­‐on-­‐ones/“door-­‐knocks”:     listen  and  get  to  know  people   3.  Participatory  meetings:     voices  are  heard   2.  Small  group  gatherings:     house  meetings,  socials,  forums   for  exchange   4.  Story-­‐telling:   genuine  sharing  of  experiences  
  • 16. Organizer’s  Toolbox  (continued)   6.  People  working  to   facilitate   collaboration:   “technical  assistance   provider,”   “resource  partner,”   5.  People  working  as  relationship  builders:   “network  facilitator”   “network  weaver,”  “union  organizer”   8.  Seeking   partnerships   with  other   organizations   7.  Constant  eye  to  developing   leaders/personal  power  
  • 17. Using  the  Toolkit     Action  step:  Analyze  whether  and  how  your  congregation   dedicates  attention  to  each  of  these  eight  practices.  Pick  one  area   you’d  like  to  improve  in  and  develop  a  project  around  it.  Examples   could  be:   •  One-­‐on-­‐ones:  Deploy  your  team  to  conduct  one-­‐on-­‐ones  with  congregants:  ask  2   personal  questions  and  2  synagogue  questions,  but  mostly  just  listen   •  Small  gatherings:  Host  small  “parties  with  a  purpose”  at  5  of  your  members’   homes,  using  the  same  open  format  for  conversation  and  connection.  Aim  for  an   action  step  from  each.   •  Participatory  meetings:  Develop  3-­‐5  things  each  member  of  your  team  will  do   when  leading  meetings  to  make  them  more  participatory.  Experiment  first,  and   then  train  others  in  them.  
  • 18. Re-­‐envision  “Programs”  as  a  Network  Organizer   As  Jews,  we  need  to  do  more  to  move  from  cerebral  to  experiential,   from  talking  to  doing,  from  objective  to  subjective.     (Sometimes)  let  go  of  “curriculum”  with  adults  to  give  them  the  space   to  hash  out  topics  as  human  beings   •  Bring  in  Jewish  wisdom  for  reference  or  guidance,  but  not   necessarily  as  the  leading  frame       Action  step:  Instead  of  having  staff  or  a  lay  committee  design  all   your  “programs”  on  predetermined  content,  experiment  with   facilitating  open  formats  for  meetings  that  encourage  things  like:     •  Lightly-­‐facilitated  conversation  on  a  topic   •  Airing  and  acting  on  ideas  for  enhancing  the  congregation  and  the  community   •  Exploration  of  health  or  family  needs  
  • 19. New  Skills  and  Roles  for  Organizing   •  Brokering  connections  –  and  developing  new  awareness  to  see   connections  at  all  times   •  Turning  complaints  into  opportunities  for  positive  change   •  Facilitating  vs.  teaching/speaking   •  Taking  more  time  to  promote  others’  participation:  do  less,  better   •  Creating  interpersonal  atmospheres  and  physical  set-­‐ups  in  your   events/meetings  that  mirror  your  values     •  Moving  a  group  back  and  forth  between  thinking  and  doing   •  Putting  together  diverse  teams   •  Leveraging  personal  power  for  the  community   •  Downplaying  positional  power  as  the  source  of  authority  and   action  
  • 20. New  Skills  and  Roles  for  Organizing     Action  step:  Rework  your  congregation’s  structure,  governance,   or  staff  roles  through  the  prism  of  these  organizing  skills.  Start   small  with  one  person’s  job  description,  or  with  one  committee’s   set  of  responsibilities.     How  does  this  change  each  person’s  role  in  the  congregation?       What  are  better  titles  for  staff  and  board  positions  and  committees  that   incorporate  organizing  philosophies?    
  • 21. Concluding  Thoughts   •  This  is  culture  change:  Good  organizers  model  new  cultures  to   get  others  on  board.   •  The  practice  of  organizing  doesn’t  need  to  feel  “Jewish,”  but   organizing  in  a  Jewish  context  can  be  rich  and  meaningful.   •  We  can  often  learn  more  by  going  out  and  doing  something   we’ve  never  done  before.  Think  it  out,  then  take  a  risk.  
  • 22. Questions?  
  • 23. Further  Reading   On  Power:   •  The  Nibble  Theory  and  the  Kernel  of  Power  by  Kaleel  Jamison  (Paulist  Press,  rev.  2004)     On  Networks:   •  Intro  to  building  networks  by  Valdis  Krebs  and  June  Holley:   http://www.networkweaver.com/wp-­‐content/uploads/2011/12/BuildingNetworks.pdf     On  Network  Organizing:   •  Seminal  article  by  Bill  Traynor,  “Building  Community  in  Place”:   http://www.mainenetworkpartners.org/documents/building-­‐community-­‐in-­‐place.pdf   •  Trusted  Space  Partners’  overview  to  Community  Network  Building  (especially  the   embedded  videos):  http://trustedspacepartners.com/community-­‐network-­‐building/     On  Community:   •  The  Abundant  Community:  Awakening  the  Power  of  Families  and  Neighborhoods  by   John  McKnight  and  Peter  Block  (Berrett-­‐Koehler,  2010)  
  • 24. With  gratitude  to  IMPACT  Silver  Spring…   …whose  diverse  network  and  staff  –  especially  Frankie  Blackburn   and  Winta  Teferi  –  taught  me  tremendous  lessons  in  organizing  and   in  life,  including  some  of  the  concepts  and  examples  shared  today.  
  • 25. Let’s  Keep  up  the  Conversation   1.  Look  for  responses  to  your  additional  questions  on  BaseCamp,   and  join  in  a  follow-­‐up  discussion.   2.  Contact  Lianna  separately:  lianna@partnerforchange.net  or   804-­‐380-­‐5963  

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