Insight on Value Based Community Organizing
Community organizing framework provides a perspective and a set of tools to organize leadership and resources into power to strategically make concrete changes in the world. Community organizing has proven successful for both social and political change. It works for electoral campaigns as well as environmental campaigns. As an approach it has succeeded in bringing community leadership to education reform and is being tested in the field of health. Realizing the power the community has and acting upon it strategically is the reason for most of the problems and the solution to many.
The value based organizing revolves around five main practices.
- Creating Shared Story: Organizers bring people together and challenge them to act on behalf of their shared values.
- Creating Shared Relational Commitment: Organizing is based on relationships and creating mutual commitments to work together. It is the process of association – not simply aggregation – that makes a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Through association we can learn to recast our individual interests as common interests- an objective we can use our combined resources to achieve.
- Creating Snowflake Structure: A team leadership structure leads to effective local organizing that integrates local action with national purpose. Volunteer efforts often flounder due to a failure to develop reliable, consistent, and creative individual local leaders. Structured leadership teams encourage stability, motivation, creativity, and accountability – and use volunteer time, skills, and effort effectively. It also presents snowflake model of leadership teams to scale out a campaign.
- Evolving a Strategy: Although based on broad values, effective organizing initiatives learn to focus on a clear strategic objective: a way to turn those values into action and to unleash creative deliberation. Responsibility for strategizing local objectives empowers, and motivates local teams.
- Creating Measurable Action: Organizing outcomes must be clear, measurable, and specific if progress is to be evaluated, accountability practiced, and strategy adapted based on experience. Such measures include volunteers recruited, money raised, people at a meeting, voters contacted, pledge cards signed, laws passed, etc. Regular reporting of progress to goal creates an ownership of success as well as opportunity for feedback, learning, and adaptation.
Since the methodology is very specific in its process and output. Ahel has specific criteria of selection of partner campaigns to work with. The criteria revolve around the values they present, their readiness to organize under this methodology, their openness to others. Readiness includes the formation of a committed and motivated core team who is from the constituency and believes in empowering the other and in learning. Readiness to adopt the value based methodology includes interest in expansion, setting measurable objective and investing in the other. One of the most important Ahel looks for in a partner is being open to learning and adopting new tools and skills to support and sustain their efforts and resources.