Normally on Organizing Change my focus is on what’s going on in the world of social change and what we should be taking the time to learn about. However, this week I thought I’d share a little bit about what I’ve been up to and what’s in store for Organizing Change.
Though my posts on Organizing Change have been pretty sparse over the past month or two, I’m still adding new ideas to my “Future Posts List.” Whenever I find a new skill-building resource or strategy to dismantle injustice, I think of how best to share the information with others here on this blog.
So here’s a life update and what I’ve been learning about.
Education Organizing Landscape
I recently moved to Delaware and have been taking a bit of time to get oriented in this new place and explore the area. I’m slowly starting to get in a great rhythm here and now I’m seeing how I can get more involved in organizing here.
One of the key parts of organizing is relationships, so it often takes a bit of time to get a “lay of the land” and know what efforts are already going on and how you can contribute at a local level.
For example, there’s a big commitment to increasing the ability of Delaware’s education system to support all students. Concurrently, there’s also a specific interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.
As is generally the case, government and nonprofits are taking a leading role and there’s little true engagement from the grassroots. These institutional entities have important roles, but we still must find ways to include those outside of the established organizations.
Already I’ve talked to so many people who want to participate in making a better education for kids…they just don’t know exactly how to get involved. The main reason for that is there isn’t a ton of opportunities to get involved.
Even if a nonprofit advocacy group conducts “community organizing,” it’s generally just on the scale of getting people to speak at hearings or sign petitions. Very few closely involve those most impacted in planning and implementing projects/campaigns.
So what this means for me is that I’ve been thinking of ways to create truly grassroots campaigns that involve all constituents here. Interestingly, the one that has the most promise is a chess-in-the-schools initiative.
Whether people have read the studies or not, that show how helpful chess is for increasing academic abilities, many families and schools all seem to enthusiastically support chess.
Now I am wondering how we can use this interest in chess to create a campaign that builds a base of people that can also work on other issues of addressing institutional injustices. This work is still in the formation stage, but I see how many want to get involved so it’s time we find a way to get them a chance.
Leading Change Network
I joined the Leading Change Network (LCN) last July at their Global Event, because I was immediately interested in their efforts around learning, resource sharing, and identifying best organizing practices.
Since then I’ve started working with an incredible team on researching how to “restrategize” (i.e. what do you do once you create an initial strategy, but then have to modify it) during a campaign.
We’re also getting the chance to investigate strategy from a variety of fields (e.g. business, military, and education) to see what else our social change work should consider or at least be prepared for. We’re even comparing strategy from across the social change world (e.g. Marshall Ganz’s frameworks and the work of the Midwest Academy).
Basically we’ve set ourselves up with the ambitious goal of identifying the key elements of “restrategizing” and laying out the core baseline of “strategy” from numerous disciplines. Though, it’s pretty cool to have the chance to compile best practices for an important aspect of our campaigns.
This “restrategizing working group” is also the highest functioning digitally-based group I’ve ever got the opportunity to be a part of! We have tall aspirations, but I feel that this team is going to keep on surprising folks with how much we get done.
Similarly, I’m also working on LCN’s Network Resource Center to highlight valuable organizing articles, videos, workshops, and guides. Eventually we’ll have an easy-to-use online repository to showcase some of the most important documents on social change.
Both of these projects I currently have the opportunity to work with are especially enlightening for me because I hoped to do similar things with Organizing Change, but now I don’t have to wait!
Organizing Change Next Steps
Organizing Change has been publishing for about 7 months now and its actually about where I was hoping it would be!
I wanted the first year of Organizing Change to be about clearly identifying important organizations and their work, along with improving my own writing skills. Both of these I feel like I’ve definitely accomplished (though with some further goals to work on!).
Now over the next year I really want to finalize my “cornerstone content” (i.e. the core information I think all changemakers should be aware of). While I hope to make most of my posts here informative, I aim to compile the key essentials that would be useful for organizers in any field.
One of my first forays into this endeavor was my post on The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism. I used this post as a way to bolster my capacity to delve into the details, but also summarize information in an easily accessible format.
Here’s my 5 main pieces of “cornerstone content” I’m going to be working on over this next year:
- Changing the Narrative of Dominant Culture
- Strategy Development for the Long-Term
- Organize for the 21st Century (i.e. organizer skills – the “toolbox”)
- Injustice We Must Fight – Solutions We Must Create
- Movement Building
This is going to be a gradual process, but I’m already looking forward to writing each of these!
You might see a post or two contribute to these 5 main pieces of content, but I’m still going to try to have a mix of what I discuss here at Organizing Change.
I hope that gives you a little better picture of what I’ve been working on in my life recently. I think being out here in Delaware, though a little unexpected, has a lot of positive possibilities!
Thank you for all the support over these past few months, you keep giving me energy to keep on writing!