Members of Unity & Struggle have been working to develop new methods of community organizing, reflecting on the big picture of what a (pre-)revolutionary moment asks of us. Part one in our series on organizing, “New Tools Needed: Community Organizing,” argues that existing organizing models, such as Alinksyite-style community organizing, are hegemonic and invasive. Carving up the class into distinct interest groups, community organizing fights for winnable demands and immediate interests, abandoning the goal of larger social transformation. While we may be critical of these models and their theoretical underpinnings, these are often the only models available to us.
If a primary goal of organizing is to help the class realize its power through collective action, then we need a model that foregrounds building power through confrontation. Drawing on existing workshops and wisdom, such as the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Organizer Training 101 (OT101), the IWW General Defense Committee’s picket training, Stan Weir’s method of talking politics, as well as our own experiences in organizing, we sought to create a workshop that could accomplish two things. First, it seeks to put forward a clear theory and vision for organizing: a model that emphasizes building community power, using networks and infrastructure independent of and seeking to confront outside influences such as the police, the state, the bosses, the landlords, and sometimes non-profit organizations. Second, the training provides practical tools for developing this model of organizing.
We hope this training can be a valuable tool for organizers, and that people feel empowered to use it as needed. The training is designed to last around 6 hours, work for small and large groups, and help both experienced and brand new organizers improve their organizing.
If you’d like to organize, attend, or facilitate a training, please get in touch. We can offer online trainings and potentially send trainers to your city.
Autonomous Organizer Training Outline
- What to expect in training
II. Defining “organizing”
- Existing definitions
- Our definition
- Traits of an organizer
III. Organizing Scenarios
- Group activity to determine an organizing scenario
- Terrain of a struggle
V. Key organizing skill: Talking Politics
- Get in the door
- Get their story
- Propose a vision
- Address obstacles
- Advocate & asses
- Fostering relationships
- New member integration
- Skill development
The slides (above) and notes (below) are available for your use. Contact us if you would like to get editable slides and notes for your own training.
New Tools Needed: Community Organizing By Chino of Unity & Struggle, Regeneration, 2019
Secrets of a Successful Organizer by Bradbury, Brenner and Slaughter, Labor Notes, 2016
Roots to Power by Lee Staples, Praeger Press, 2016
Playbook for Progressives by Eric Mann, Beacon Press, 2011
Singlejack Solidarity by Stan Weir, University of Minnesota Press, 2004
The Worldview of C.L.R. James by Noel Ignatiev
Reflections on Organizing by Don Hamerquist of Sojourner Truth Organization, 1970, and Review of Reflections on Organizing by Paul Thompson of Big Flame, UK, 1970
Crisis and Class Consciousness by Advance the Struggle, 2010
Class Consciousness or Class Composition? by Salar Mohandesi, Science and Society, Vol 77, No 1, 2013.