Formerly worked at bassac for over 10 years A network of community centres now part of Locality Awarded an MA in Community Organising at Queen Mary, Mile End in Nov 2011 As part of the MA, took up placement with London Citizens in LB Southwark Working as a trainee community organiser with Locality in LB Southwark since Oct 2011
Introduction to community organising Outline of main features of organising Q&A Origins in USA Locality’s training programme
Many people involved in developing organising in USA eg Si Kahn, Harry Boyte Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) seen as the principal originator Taken forward by Ed Chambers and the Industrial Areas Foundation Transposed to UK by Neil Jameson and Citizens UK Locality takes a different tack but more on that later
Citizens UK has delivered significant organising successes over twenty years Living Wage Campaign ◦ Calling employers to pay their staff enough to avoid poverty Strangers into Citizens ◦ Calling for undocumented residents to be granted permanent status after decades in limbo City Safe ◦ Creating safe havens for young people under threat of street violence
Summary always butchers the truth but... Organising has four main pillars in my book ◦ Relationships ◦ Independent Agenda ◦ Power ◦ Organising People
Central plank to organising is building trust and respect between citizens Face-to-face exchange between two people focused on creating a meaningful relationship Sharing values and motivations, visions and concerns Hearing the person’s willingness to act with others for shared goals Face into difference, keep it personal and human, create trust and empathy
Organising seeks to find those issues that most energise community members Open questions, supportive enquiry and looking for root causes People will come together around the common good, the felt priorities Anger moves people to action; organising keep them together and focused Autonomous debate leads to shared goals and agreement on strategy
Power = the capacity to get things done Acknowledge that power is central to all human affairs Develop power analyses of community life Focus on the way power is used for and against citizens – issues Target those who can make the decision and change life for many people Call to account power-holders through taking action
Two forms of power – money and people Bring out lots of organised people at strategic moments -> acknowledgement -> respect Numbers matter as does discipline and leadership People find confidence and new abilities as they grow powerful One voice for the people calling power- holders to account -> new democracy
Here’s an opportunity to ask any questions about things so far I will go on to talk about the origins of organising and about Locality’s training programme in a minute Later we’ll have some debate, so at the moment ... Do you have any questions about what you’ve heard?
First emerged in Chicago 1940s in ‘The Back of the Yards’ – industrial slum Came to prominence in Chicago’s black ghetto of Woodlawns and New York’s Rochester vs Kodak in 1960s Moved into rural organising especially in California and the South in 1970-2000 Many traditions today, many church-based, some working with individuals E.g. PICO,Gamaliel, DART
Draws on some key sources of inspiration ◦ Aristotle – humanity as political ◦ Machiavelli – working with power ◦ Chicago School of Urban Sociology - ethnography ◦ Catholic social teaching – solidarity, corporatism and subsidiarity ◦ Paulo Freire – Brazilian educator in 1970-90s Clearly also influenced by civil rights movement and the Vietnam War opposition Also roots in the Highlander Institute and other training for ex-slaves
Founding chapter was The East London Community Organisation (TELCO) in 1996 Take institutions into membership such as churches, unions, universities and schools Now have over 250 member organisations London Citizens held public Assembly with all mayoral candidates in 2008 Citizens UK had 2,000 people attend a meeting with three Party leaders in May 2010 Showed the power of organising
In 2007, Sen Barack Obama became a candidate for the Democratic nomination His campaign was spectacularly successful in engaging ‘ordinary’ Americans Used many organising techniques to mobilise volunteers, donors and staff Republican sniping led to greater visibility than before for community organising In 2009, he became the 1st black US President UK Parties wanted some of his magic too
Maurice Glasman launched ‘Blue Labour’ in April 2009 cf. Philip Blond’s ‘Red Tory’ Positive experience with Citizens UK Influential on Ed and David Miliband’s 2010 campaigns for the Labour Party leadership Recruited 1,000 organisers within the Labour movement Aims to renew the unions and local branches through community organising See ‘Tangled up in Blue’ by Rowenna Davis
Conservative manifesto 2010: 5K organisers trained to work in areas of ‘low social capital’ OCS tender proposed training 500 senior organisers over 4 years each with £20K attached (1 yr) 4,500 volunteer organisers also trained Inspired by Red Tories and Cons tradition of community action (e.g. Tocqueville) Promoting culture change in local government?
New organisation – bassac and DTA – since April 2011 – won the OCS contract Focused on organising using UK model developed by RE:generate Trust Listening to community and stimulating action for change through projects Seeking to identify leaders to form a Community Holding Team Identifying community assets and enterprise solutions
Organisers are hosted by existing community organisations for a training year Recruited locally to common JD; many employed nationally by Locality Find own operating resources after training Accountable to local community Senior organisers train and support volunteer organisers Independent professional association to establish and manage standards from 2016
Each cohort numbers about 40 individuals in teams of 2-5 – about three cohorts a year Residential – 3½ days – mixture of experiential learning and inputs Online tutor supervision – 3 hours each month in four groups Seven OCN modules –> Certificate in the Foundations of Community Organising Choice of ‘Go Deeper’ courses for final six months
Root Solution Listening Matters (RSLM) has been developed over 20 years by RE:generate Provides a framework for animating the community and creating autonomous action Organisers are listening to citizens at the door, in cafes, on the street and wherever Recording their responses and provoking action Encouraging residents to invite their neighbours to listen to each other
Bringing citizens together around their passion for change creates project groups Organisers support and encourage projects but ‘never do for others what they can do for themselves’ Linking citizens up through listening to each other creates new networks Friends and neighbours become customers for projects, volunteers, leaders and voters
Organising is essentially the development of independent citizen action and power People’s organisations act autonomously and engage with other agencies in their time Local agencies do seek partnership and to share intelligence and plans People’s organisations often find it best to remain without formal allies Consequently, they can become an authentic and distinct voice for their community
In the context of savage cuts, is this strategy credible or feasible? Are Locality organisers making any difference to grassroots democracy? Does the organising have some of the answers to our uninspiring local politics? How might organising give voice to those most excluded? What part can you play in this developing picture?
Neighbor Power by Jim Diers ◦ Bringing together organising and civic structures Going Public by Michael Gecan ◦ Modern practical intro to IAF organising Blessed are the Organized by Jeffrey Stout ◦ New story / theory account of organising Roots for Radicals by Ed Chambers ◦ Values and vision of today’s organising Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky ◦ Original challenge from Alinsky himself
www.southwarkorganising.wordpress.com email@example.com 07956 370 676 @kmarkparker Hope to hear from you! Comments and feedback welcome.