Learning in the Streets

Building strength in numbers. Developing grassroots leaders. Raising independent money. Mapping power relationships.

These are some of the key ingredients that go into building powerful community organizations that can win transformative change – which is why they’re core elements of the Alliance’s flagship Four-Day Organizer Training.

Our training team has been leading the Four-Day program annually for over a decade to build the organizing, strategic planning, and media skills of Alliance affiliate organizers and grassroots leaders.

This summer, there was so much demand that we had to multiply our Four-Day training schedule. We trained a cohort of 21 organizers at our West Coast Four-Day in Seattle in June (hosted by Washington Community Action Network). We ran an East Coast Four-Day for 25 organizers in Albany at the end of July (hosted by Citizen Action of New York – see photos).

And we just wrapped up a special Four-Day intensive for staff from our newest affiliate, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers-United, in New York City.

The Native Organizers Alliance (a project of AJS) also led a tailored Four-Day Native Organizing Training for 28 Native organizers working in Indian Country in June, along with a Native youth training in Montana in July and a condensed organizing workshop for the American Indian Center of Chicago in August.

What makes the Alliance’s training program stand out?

  • We learn by doing. While we hit the books (learning about the history and theory of community organizing), we also hit the streets. That’s how organizers from Washington to Maine and New Orleans to Vermont ended up shoulder to shoulder on a field canvass in Albany a few weeks ago, mobilizing residents of a working class neighborhood to urge their state senator to support a $15 minimum wage for all workers in New York. That’s what we call learning in the streets.
  • We lead with race. Where concerns about “divisiveness” sometimes lead groups to avoid talking openly about race, we teach organizers how to put race up front and centralize a racial justice analysis in their work – including internal training on the levels of racism, integrating racial justice analysis into picking issues and developing campaign strategies, investing in leadership development in communities of color, and leading with race in the media.
  • We’re serious about numbers. From the 80/20 rule for home visits to the 50/50 rule for counting turnout to the rule of 3 contacts for increasing engagement, we know building strength in numbers requires learning the science of effective organizing, setting measurable goals, and then holding ourselves and our teams accountable for outcomes.
  • We build strong ties.Our intense trainings build new relationships among staff and leaders across organizations to strengthen our team going forward. When you find participants staying up until two in the morning sharing organizing stories (like they did in Albany), you know you’re building strong ties.

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With summer winding down, it’s back to school time and that may mean time to hit the books for many… but here at the Alliance, our training team is busy planning the next round of learning in the streets.

2014 Advanced Native Organizers Training

The Alliance for a Just Society’s Native Organizing Alliance is pleased to announce our annual Native Organizers Training this spring! Sponsored by the Communities Creating Healthy Environments Initiative, this is a four day intensive workshop on community organizing that covers building and leveraging people-power,76848_10202867522349938_1685908019_n campaign planning, community led policy change; and how to use our stories to win battles.

This workshop focuses on skill building while recognizing the considerations of organizing in Indian Country. Because of historic underfunding in Indian Country, organizing infrastructure is lacking. This training is an opportunity to bolster that infrastructure through relationship building, peer support and coordination with other Natives who are doing community organizing. This workshop prepares organizers for leading a community driven campaign on the issues and concerns that are relevant to Indian Country. Read more

Alliance Cross Training is Vital to Growing the Grassroots

(Post written by Alain Nahimana, posted online by David Fleishman)

Sharing resources between organizations includes putting people on the ground, side-by-side.

It gave me a sense that whether the work we do is statewide or on a federal level, the challenges we face are the same. My name is Alain Nahimana and I am an organizer with Maine People’s Alliance.  A community organizer can work in all environments, not only in his/her comIMG_0283.JPGmunity.

I was joined by a MPA member Sonia Irambona and Grady Burns, canvasser. The three of us were set down in some of Virginia’s toughest turf to canvass for immigration reform. Harold Folley of Virginia Organizing even made sure we had the number for the police handy. These were towns considered hostile, right in the middle of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s district. (Virginia’s 7th District) Read more

The Alliance Hosts Our First National Conference in Baltimore and DC

A week ago, to the day, the Alliance for A Just Society hosted our 2013 Summer Conference with all our national affiliates (#Justice2013). There was no better way to kick it off than taking close to 200 participants into Washington DC and hosting three separate actions on the Hill.

As of this year, we are proud to note the following states affiliated with the Alliance for a Just Society and Main Street Alliance: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Maine, Florida, Colorado and Connecticut.

 

State affiliate.Alliance and MainStreet

The morning of July 18 began with The Main Street Alliance hosting a forum on “Too Big To Fail”—addressing the policy conundrum where favors are given to Big Banks at the expense of the common good. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig, economist Simon Johnson, and a panel of small business owners and policy experts each spoke of the need for renewed attention to megabank limits in order to stabilize the financial system and support the Main Street economy. Read more

Social Justice in Motion: Video Training Offers Organizers an Engaging Way to Tell a Story

From sharing the perspectives of the children of immigrants to calling out the Speaker of the House for his opposition to a proposed increase of the federal minimum wage, a group of a dozen emerging leaders and organizers from across the country gathered in Seattle last week to learn new ways to tell a story.
Read more

Organizers Gathered for Annual Alliance CORE Training

Dedicated to the struggle for justice, organizers from across the country came together for the Alliance’s annual 4-day training from May 16-19, with aims to grow, invigorate and innovate. This core training is offered to new organizers from state affiliates’ staff and volunteers, with trainings on basic organizing skills.

“I’ve seen what community organizing can do and the incredible strength that intelligent, progressive people have when united. Hearing about the changes and victories that occurred has only confirmed for me that this is the work that I want to do: I’ve found my calling!”

Read more

Native Organizers: Trained in Seattle for a Week and Built Nationwide Solidarity for the Future

group photo native orgz training 4.11.13 (1)Last week, a group of 22 Natives from all over the country came together with a willingness to learn from each other, stand in solidarity with one another, and challenge the systems of inequity that threatens the health and welfare of our elders and youth.

In mid-February, Alliance for a Just Society began to recruit participants for their four day Native Organizer’s training hosted in partnership with the Praxis Project and Communities Creating Healthy Environments initiative. The response was unprecedented! Read more