Community organizing i the United States of America
Building a Political
Community Organizing (Saul Alinsky, Rules for
• “a process where people who live in proximity to each other come
together into an organization that acts in shared self-interest”
• Faith based
• Broad-based (society of professional journalists)
• when you’re up against money and political power and what you have
is people, use community organizing to turn scattered, voiceless
discontent into a united protest
Organizational goals – strategic goals – campaigns and actions
Strategic goal criteria checklist:
• This issue relates directly to our goal of a 2 state solution
• This campaign will result in a concrete and quantifiable step
• towards that goal
• Is measurable (ideally as a number of units)
• The issue has saliency, clarity, and resonance (a broad range of
• people will understand and care about it)
• The issue is widely and deeply felt in community
• Can be replicated or emulated (you’re growing a movement)
• Uses a point of leverage
• The issue will bring people together – not internally divisive. It will not alienate outside organizations and/or
partners needed down the road. ***
• We have the resources (money, people, and connections) to WIN this campaign
• FINALLY, what does a win look like? What is a clear target, a realistic time frame, and an achievable goal?
Theory of Change
• Know the lay of the land
• Strengths weaknesses, partners (who else has a stake in the outcome?),
• MOVEABLE MIDDLE. Demographics
Turning what we have into what we need to get what we want.
Primary: which individual (never “congress” or ”the URJ” – specific people) has
the power to deliver your goal? Who will make the decision? Which specific
individuals will you target to ensure victory?
• Secondary: who in your community can help you influence primaries?
• Public awareness
• A tactic is most successful when it meets 3 criteria
• Strategic goals
• Strengthens org.
• Develops individuals
• Identity of task (start to finish, sense of place in org.)
• Direct contact
• Phone banking/visit
• dormant Congressional action mobilization
• Anything from a formal script to a framework to
• engage on a specific issue/bill/vote
• Specific political director
• i.e. protest, letter writing campaign with photos, installation
• Specific lessons in recruitment:
• Appeal to people’s self-interest
• Recruit to an activity, not a business meeting
• Have an ongoing entry-level program for new people
• Offer childcare
• Keep the public visibility of the organization high
• “I want to be counted as a member”
• Clear: simple, easy to understand
• Concise (10 words or less)
• Connected (to community)
• Compelling (emotions/gut level)
• Contrasting: only we can claim this
• Credible “rings true”
• Avoid “message creep”
• Elevator pitch (which brings us too…)
Marshall Ganz (UFW organizer) Obama
2004 Democratic National Convention speech
• Story of self :
• why you were called to what you have been called to
• Story of us
• a collective story that Ganz says illustrates the “shared purposes, goals, vision” of a
community or organization. As with the story of self, the story of us focuses on a
challenge, a choice, and an outcome.
• Story of now
• about the challenge this community now faces, the choices it must make, and the
hope to which ‘we’ can aspire
• “A ‘story of now’ is urgent, it is rooted in the values you celebrated in your story of
self and us, and a contradiction to those values that requires action.” There is always
some discrete and urgent challenge you can present to listeners.
• The story of now invites people to join you in taking hopeful action
• Links self, us, and now: here’s who I am,
• here’s what we have in common, here’s
what we’re going to do about it
• Structure: challenge, choice, outcome
• It’s your best recruitment tool
• Also, it’s a great training to lead with new members. Involves
interrogating own beliefs and solidifies place within the group.
In developing your Story of Self, reflect on these questions
1. Why am I called to leadership?
2. Why did I decide to tackle this specific injustice or problem and
work on this organizing effort?
3. What values move me to act?
1. What values do you share with this community? (note: community
here is the ‘us’ in your story)
2. What experiences have had the greatest impact on this
community? What challenges has it faced?
3. What change does this community hope for and why?
1. What is the urgent challenge your ‘us’ faces?
2. What change does this community hope for and why? What would
the future look like if this change is made? What would the future
look like if the change isn’t made? (note: here, you’re trying to paint
a picture of the ‘dream’ of the future if the change is made, and the
‘nightmare’ of the future if it isn’t.)
3. What choice are you asking people to make and why now?
4. What action are you asking them to take and what impact will this
have on the bigger picture? What’s the risk, or again, what would
the future look like if we fail to act?
This is a presentation from Rebecca E Caspar-Johnson on Building a Political Movement