COMMUNITY ORGANIZING is a process where people who live in proximity
to each other come together into an organization that acts in their
Unlike those who promote more-consensual community building ,
community organizers generally assume that social change necessarily
involves conflict and social struggle in order to generate collective
power for the powerless.
Community organizing has as a core goal the
generation of durable power for an organization representing the
community , allowing it to influence key decision-makers on a range of
issues over time. In the ideal, for example, this can get
community-organizing groups a place at the table before important
decisions are made.
Community organizers work with and develop new
local leaders , facilitating coalitions and assisting in the
development of campaigns.
* 1 Characteristics
* 1.2 Faith-based
* 1.3 Broad-based
* 1.4 Power versus protest
* 1.5 Political orientations
* 1.6 Fundraising
* 2 What community organizing is not
* 3 History in the United States
* 3.1 1880 to 1900
* 3.2 1900 to 1940
* 3.3 1940 to 1960
* 3.4 1960 to present
* 3.4.1 Loss of urban communities
* 3.4.2 Emergence of national organizing support organizations
* 3.4.3 Examples of community organizers
* 3.4.4 Youth organizing
* 3.4.5 2008 presidential election
* 4 History in the United Kingdom
Citizens UK Campaigns
Citizens UK General Election Assembly
* 4.4.1 Living wage
* 4.4.2 People\'s Olympic Legacy
* 4.4.3 Independent Asylum Commission
* 4.5 The
Community Organisers (CO) programme 2011–2015
* 4.6 The Company of
Community Organisers (COLtd)
* 4.7 ACORN UK
* 4.8 Living Rent
* 4.9 The
Community Organisers Expansion Programme (COEP) 2017 -
* 4.10 Political analysis
* 4.10.1 Intermediate institutions
* 4.11 Institute for
* 5 History in Australia
* 6 For international development
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 10 External links
Organized community groups attempt to influence government,
corporations and institutions, seek to increase direct representation
within decision-making bodies, and foster social reform more
generally. Where negotiations fail, these organizations quickly seek
to inform others outside of the organization of the issues being
addressed and expose or pressure the decision-makers through a variety
of means, including picketing, boycotting , sit-ins , petitioning, and
electoral politics. Organizing groups often seek out issues they know
will generate controversy and conflict, this allows them to draw in
and educate participants, build commitment, and establish a reputation
for winning. Thus, community organizing is PREDOMINANTLY focused on
more than just resolving specific issues. In fact, specific issues are
often vehicles for other organizational agendas as much as they are
ends in themselves.
Community organizers generally seek to build groups that are
democratic in governance, open and accessible to community members,
and concerned with the general health of a specific interest group,
rather than the community as a whole. Organizing seeks to broadly
empower community members, with the end goal of "distributing" power
more equally throughout the community.
The four basic types of community organizing are grassroots or
"door-knocking" organizing, faith-based community organizing (FBCO),
broad-based and coalition building. Political campaigns often claim
that their door-to-door operations are in fact an effort to organize
the community, though often these operations are focused exclusively
on voter identification and turnout.
FBCOs and many grassroots organizing models are built on the work of
Saul Alinsky , discussed below, from the 1930s into the 1970s.
Protest against fracking in Balcombe, UK
Grassroots organizing builds community groups from scratch,
developing new leadership where none existed and organizing the
unorganized. It is a values based process where people are brought
together to act in the interest of their communities and the common
good. Networks of community organizations that employ this method and
support local organizing groups include National People\'s Action and
"Door knocking" grassroots organizations like ACORN organize poor and
working-class members recruiting members one by one in the community.
Because they go door-to-door , they are able to reach beyond
established organizations and the "churched" to bring together a wide
range of less privileged people. ACORN tends to stress the importance
of constant action in order to maintain the commitment of a less
rooted group of participants.
ACORN has a reputation of being more forceful than faith-based (FBCO)
groups, and there are indications that their local groups were more
staff (organizer) directed than leader (local volunteer) directed.
(However, the same can be said for many forms of organizing, including
FBCOs.) The "door-knocking" approach is more time-intensive than the
"organization of organizations" approach of FBCOs and requires more
organizers who, partly as a result, can be lower paid with more
Unlike existing FBCO national "umbrella" and other grassroots
organizations, ACORN maints a centralized national agenda, and exerts
some centralized control over local organizations. Because ACORN USA
was a 501(c)4 organization under the tax code, it was able to
participate directly in election activities, but contributions to it
were not tax exempt.
Cecil Williams at the I Hotel protest, January 1977
Faith-based community organizing (FBCO), also known as
Community Organizing , is a methodology for
developing power and relationships throughout a community of
institutions: today mostly congregations, but these can also include
unions, neighborhood associations, and other groups. Progressive and
centrist FBCO organizations join together around basic values derived
from common aspects of their faith instead of around strict dogmas.
There are now at least 180 FBCOs in the US as well as in South Africa,
England, Germany, and other nations. Local FBCO organizations are
often linked through organizing networks such as the Industrial Areas
Gamaliel Foundation ,
PICO National Network , and Direct
Action and Research Training Center (DART). In the United States
starting in 2001, the Bush Administration launched a department to
promote community organizing that included faith-based organizing as
well other community groups.
FBCOs tend to have mostly middle-class participants because the
congregations involved are generally mainline Protestant and Catholic
(although "middle-class" can mean different things in white
communities and communities of color, which can lead to class tensions
within these organizations). Holiness, Pentecostal, and other related
denominations (often "storefront") churches with mostly poor and
working-class members tend not to join FBCOs because of their focus on
"faith" over "works," among other issues. FBCOs have increasingly
expanded outside impoverished areas into churches where middle-class
professionals predominate in an effort to expand their power to
Because of their "organization of organizations" approach, FBCOs can
organize large numbers of members with a relatively small number of
organizers that generally are better paid and more professionalized
than those in "door-knocking" groups like ACORN.
FBCOs focus on the long-term development of a culture and common
language of organizing and on the development of relational ties
between members. They are more stable during fallow periods than
grassroots groups because of the continuing existence of member
FBCOs are 501(c)3 organizations. Contributions to them are tax
exempt. As a result, while they can conduct campaigns over "issues"
they cannot promote the election of specific individuals.
Broad-based organizations intentionally recruit member institutions
that are both secular and religious. Congregations, synagogues,
temples and mosques are joined by public schools, non-profits, and
labor and professional associations. Organizations of the Industrial
Areas Foundation are explicitly broad-based and dues-based. Dues-based
membership allows IAF organizations to maintain their independence;
organizations are politically non-partisan and do not pursue or accept
government funding. Broad-based organizations aim to teach
institutional leaders how to build relationships of trust across
racial, faith, economic and geographic lines through individual,
face-to-face meetings. Other goals include internally strengthening
the member institutions by developing the skills and capacities of
their leaders and creating a vehicle for ordinary families to
participate in the political process. The Industrial Areas Foundation
sees itself as a "university of public life" teaching citizens the
democratic process in the fullest sense.
POWER VERSUS PROTEST
While community organizing groups often engage in protest actions
designed to force powerful groups to respond to their demands, protest
is only one aspect of the activity of organizing groups. To the extent
that groups' actions generate a sense in the larger community that
they have "power," they are often able to engage with and influence
powerful groups through dialogue, backed up by a history of successful
protest-based campaigns. Similar to the way unions gain recognition as
the representatives of workers for a particular business, community
organizing groups can gain recognition as key representatives of
particular communities. In this way, representatives of community
organizing groups are often able to bring key government officials or
corporate leaders to the table without engaging in "actions" because
of their reputation. As Alinsky said, "the first rule of power
tactics" is that "power is not only what you have but what the enemy
thinks you have." The development of durable "power" and influence is
a key aim of community organizing.
"Rights-based" community organizing, in which municipal governments
are used to exercise community power, was first experimented with by
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org) in
Pennsylvania, beginning in 2002.
Community groups are organized to
influence municipal governments to enact local ordinances. These
ordinances challenge preemptive state and federal laws that forbid
local governments from prohibiting corporate activities deemed harmful
by community residents. The ordinances are drafted specifically to
assert the rights of "human and natural communities," and include
provisions that deny the legal concepts of "corporate personhood," and
"corporate rights." Since 2006 they have been drafted to include the
recognition of legally enforceable rights for "natural communities and
Although this type of community organizing focuses on the adoption of
local laws, the intent is to demonstrate the use of governing
authority to protect community rights and expose the misuse of
governing authority to benefit corporations. As such, the adoption of
rights-based municipal ordinances is not a legal strategy, but an
organizing strategy. Courts predictably deny the legal authority of
municipalities to legislate in defiance of state and federal law.
Corporations and government agencies that initiate legal actions to
overturn these ordinances have been forced to argue in opposition to
the community's right to make governing decisions on issues with
harmful and direct local impact.
The first rights-based municipal laws prohibited corporations from
monopolizing horticulture (factory farming), and banned corporate
waste dumping within municipal jurisdictions. More recent rights-based
organizing, in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia and
California has prohibited corporate mining, large-scale water
withdrawals and chemical trespass. A similar attempt was made by
Denton, Texas to restrict fracking was initially successful, but then
overturned and further legislation passed to prevent Texas communities
from enacting similar bans.
Community organizing is not solely the domain of progressive
politics, as dozens of fundamentalist organizations are in operation,
such as the Christian
Coalition . However, the term "community
organizing" generally refers to more progressive organizations, as
evidenced, for example, by the reaction against community organizing
in the 2008 US presidential election by Republicans and conservatives
on the web and elsewhere.
Organizing groups often struggle to find resources. They rarely
receive funding from government since their activities often seek to
contest government policies. Foundations and others who usually fund
service activities generally don't understand what organizing groups
do or how they do it, or shy away from their contentious approaches.
The constituency of progressive and centrist organizing groups is
largely low- or middle- income, so they are generally unable to
support themselves through dues. In search of resources, some
organizing groups have accepted funding for direct service activities
in the past. As noted below, this has frequently led these groups to
drop their conflictual organizing activities, in part because these
threatened funding for their "service" arms.
Recent studies have shown, however, that funding for community
organizing can produce large returns on investment ($512 in community
benefits to $1 of Needmor funding, according to the Needmor Fund
Study, $157 to 1 in New Mexico and $89 to 1 in North Carolina
according to National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy studies)
through legislation and agreements with corporations, among other
sources, not including non-fiscal accomplishments.
WHAT COMMUNITY ORGANIZING IS NOT
Janadesh 2007 protesters seeking land rights
Understanding what community organizing is can be aided by
understanding what it is not from the perspective of community
* ACTIVISM: According to Edward Chambers, community organizing is
distinguishable from activism if activists engage in social protest
without a coherent strategy for building power or for making specific
* MOBILIZING: When people "mobilize," they get together to effect a
specific social change but have no long term plan. When the particular
campaign that mobilized them is over, these groups dissolve and
durable power is not built.
* ADVOCACY: Advocates generally speak for others who are unable to
represent their own interest due to disability, inherent complexity of
the venue such as courts and hospitals, or other factors. Community
organizing emphasizes the virtue of trying to get those affected to
speak for themselves.
* SOCIAL MOVEMENT BUILDING: A broad social movement often
encompasses diverse collections of individual activists, local and
national organizations, advocacy groups, multiple and often
conflicting spokespersons, and more, held together by relatively
common aims but not a common organizational structure. A community
organizing group might be part of a "movement." Movements generally
dissolve when the motivating issue(s) are addressed, although
organizations created during movements can continue and shift their
* LEGAL ACTION: Lawyers are often quite important to those engaged
in social action. The problem comes when a social action strategy is
designed primarily around a lawsuit. When lawyers take the center
stage, it can push grassroots struggle into the background, short
circuiting the development of collective power and capacity. There are
examples where community organizing groups and legal strategies have
worked together well, however, including the Williams v. California
lawsuit over inequality in k-12 education.
* DIRECT SERVICE: Americans today often equate civic engagement with
direct service. Organizing groups usually avoid actually providing
services, today, however, because history indicates that when they do,
organizing for collective power is often left behind. Powerful groups
often threaten the "service" wings of organizing groups in an effort
to prevent collective action. In the nonprofit sector, there are many
organizations that used to do community organizing but lost this focus
in the shift to service.
* COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT : Consensual community development efforts
to improve communities through a range of strategies, usually directed
by educated professionals working in government, policy, non-profit,
or business organizations, is not community organizing. Community
development projects increasingly include a community participation
component, and often seek to empower residents of impoverished areas
with skills for collaboration and job training, among others. However,
community development generally assumes that groups and individuals
can work together collaboratively without significant conflict or
struggles over power to solve community challenges. One currently
popular form is asset-based community development that seeks out
existing community strengths. The relationship between community
organising and community development is however more one of nuance
than total difference. There is much community development literature
and practice which is very similar to community organising, see for
example the international
Community Development Journal. And certainly
since the 1970s community development practitioners have been
influenced by structural analyses of inequity and power distribution.
* NONPARTISAN DIALOGUES ABOUT COMMUNITY PROBLEMS: A range of efforts
create opportunities for people to meet together and engage in
dialogue about community problems. Like community organizing, the
effort in contexts like these is generally to be open to a diverse
range of opinions, out of which some consensus may be reached. A study
circle is an example. However, beyond the dialogue that also happens
inside organizing groups, the focus is on generating a collective and
singular "voice" in order to gain power and resources for the
organization's members as well as constituents in the broader
* Power gained and exerted in community organizing is also not the
coercion applied by legal, illegal, physical, or economic means, such
as those be applied by banks, syndicates, corporations, governments,
or other institutions. Rather, organizing makes use of the voluntary
efforts of a community's members acting jointly to achieve an economic
or other benefit. As opposed to commercial ventures, gains that result
from community organizing automatically accrue to persons in similar
circumstances who are not necessarily members, e.g. residents in a
geographic area or in a similar socioeconomic status, or persons
having conditions or circumstances in common who benefit from gains
won by the organizing effort. This may include workers who benefit
from a campaign affecting their industry, for example, or persons with
disabilities who benefit from gains made in their legal or economic
eligibility or status.
HISTORY IN THE UNITED STATES
Robert Fisher and Peter Romanofsky have grouped the history of
"community organizing" (also known as "social agitation") in the
United States into four rough periods:
1880 TO 1900
February 23rd 1908 Boys Selling Newspapers on Brooklyn Bridge
People sought to meet the pressures of rapid immigration and
industrialization by organizing immigrant neighborhoods in urban
centers. Since the emphasis of the reformers was mostly on building
community through settlement houses and other service mechanisms, the
dominant approach was what Fisher calls social work . During this
Newsboys Strike of 1899
Newsboys Strike of 1899 provided an early model of
youth-led organizing .
1900 TO 1940
During this period, much of community organizing methodology was
generated in Schools of Social Work, with a particular methodological
focus grounded in the philosophy of
John Dewey , which focused on
experience, education, and other sociological concepts. This period
saw much energy coming from those critical of capitalist doctrines as
Studs Terkel documented community organizing in the depression
era, such as that of
Dorothy Day . Most organizations had a national
orientation because the economic problems the nation faced did not
seem possible to change at the neighborhood levels.
1940 TO 1960
Saul Alinsky , based in
Chicago , is credited with originating the
term community organizer during this time period. Alinsky wrote
Reveille for Radicals, published in 1946, and Rules for Radicals,
published in 1971. With these books, Alinsky was the first person in
America to codify key strategies and aims of community organizing. He
also founded the first national community organizing training network,
the Industrial Areas Foundation, subsequently led by one of his former
lieutenants, Edward Chambers.
The following quotations from Reveille for Radicals give a good
sense of Alinsky's perspective on organizing and of his public style
* A People's
Organization is a conflict group, this must be openly
and fully recognized. Its sole reason in coming into being is to wage
war against all evils which cause suffering and unhappiness. A
Organization is the banding together of large numbers of men
and women to fight for those rights which insure a decent way of
* A People's
Organization is dedicated to an eternal war. It is a
war against poverty, misery, delinquency, disease, injustice,
hopelessness, despair, and unhappiness. They are basically the same
issues for which nations have gone to war in almost every
generation.... War is not an intellectual debate, and in the war
against social evils there are no rules of fair play....
* A People's
Organization lives in a world of hard reality. It lives
in the midst of smashing forces, dashing struggles, sweeping
cross-currents, ripping passions, conflict, confusion, seeming chaos,
the hot and the cold, the squalor and the drama, which people
prosaically refer to as life and students describe as "society."
1960 TO PRESENT
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963)
Civil Rights Movement , anti-war movements, Chicano movement,
feminist movement , and gay rights movement all influenced and were
influenced by ideas of neighborhood organizing. Experience with
federal anti-poverty programs and the upheavals in the cities produced
a thoughtful response among activists and theorists in the early 1970s
that has informed activities, organizations, strategies and movements
through the end of the century. Less dramatically, civic associations
and neighborhood block clubs were formed all across the country to
foster community spirit and civic duty, as well as provide a social
Loss Of Urban Communities
During these decades, the emergence of an ongoing process of white
flight , the ability of middle-class white Americans to move out of
majority Black areas, and the professionalization of community
organizations into 501(c)3 nonprofits, among other issues,
increasingly dissolved the tight ethnic and racial communities that
had been so prevalent in urban areas during the first part of the
century. As a result, community organizers began to move away from
efforts to mobilize existing communities and towards efforts to create
community, fostering relationships between community members. While
community organizers like Alinsky had long worked with churches, these
trends led to an increasing focus on congregational organizing during
the 1980s, as organizing groups rooted themselves in one of the few
remaining broad-based community institutions. This shift also led to
an increased focus on relationships among religion, faith, and social
Emergence Of National Organizing Support Organizations
A collection of training and support organizations for national
coalitions of mostly locally governed and mostly FBCO community
organizing groups were founded in the Alinsky tradition. The
Industrial Areas Foundation was the first, created by Alinsky himself
in 1940. The other key organizations include ACORN , PICO National
Direct Action and Research Training Center , and the
Gamaliel Foundation . The role of the organizer in these organizations
was "professionalized" to some extent and resources were sought so
that being an organizer could be more of a long term career than a
relatively brief, mostly unfunded interlude. The training provided by
these national "umbrella" organizations helps local volunteer leaders
learn a common "language" about organizing while seeking to expand the
skills of organizers. The Midwest Academy , based in Chicago,
provides week-long training in organizing nationally to organizers and
leaders who are not part of these established national organizations.
The Center for Third World Organizing provides training focused on
"change efforts in communities of color." CTWO advocates a process in
which those that are most impacted are leading the fight for social
change. CTWO offers multiple trainings that provide the tools needed
to become an effective organizer.
The distinction between an "organizer" who staffs a community
organization and "leaders" who make decisions and provide the public
face of their groups was increasingly standardized over these years,
even in many organizations not linked to "umbrella" training groups as
the Alinsky tradition became increasingly influential.
Ella Baker , a famous community organizer in the Civil Rights
Many of the most notable leaders in community organizing today
emerged from the National Welfare Rights
Organization . John Calkins
of DART ,
Wade Rathke of ACORN , John Dodds of Philadelphia
Unemployment Project and Mark Splain of the
AFL-CIO , among others.
There are many other notable community organizers:
Mark Andersen ,
Heather Booth ,
César Chávez ,
Lois Gibbs ,
Ella Baker , Huey P.
Newton , Mary Harris "Mother" Jones ,
Martin Luther King, Jr. , Ralph
Barack Obama , and
Paul Wellstone .
More recently has come the emergence of youth organizing groups
around the country. These groups use neo-Alinsky strategies while also
usually providing social and sometimes material support to
less-privileged youth. Most of these groups are created by and
directed by youth or former youth organizers.
2008 Presidential Election
Prior to his entry into politics, President
Barack Obama worked as an
organizer for a
Gamaliel Foundation FBCO organization in Chicago.
Marshall Ganz , former lieutenant of
César Chávez , adapted
techniques from community organizing for Obama's 2008 presidential
election. At the
2008 Republican National Convention , former New
York City mayor
Rudolph Giuliani questioned Obama's role as a
community organizer, asking the crowd "What does a community organizer
actually do?", and was answered with resounding applause. This was
seconded by the Vice Presidential nominee,
Alaska governor Sarah Palin
, who stated that her experience as the mayor of Wasilla,
"sort of like being a community organizer, except that you have actual
responsibilities." In response, some progressives, such as Congressman
Steve Cohen (D -TN ) and liberal pundit
Donna Brazile , started saying
Jesus was a community organizer,
Pontius Pilate was a governor",
a phrase produced on bumper stickers and elsewhere.
Pontius Pilate was
the Roman Prefect who ordered the execution of Jesus.
After Obama's election in 2008, the campaign organization "Obama for
America ," became "
Organizing for America ," and has been placed under
the auspices of the
Democratic National Committee (DNC). Organizing
for America sought to advance the president's legislative agenda and
played an important role in building grassroots support for The
Affordable Health Care Act.
After the 2012 election OFA went through another transition and is
Organizing for Action . This 501c4 organization focuses on
training people to be community organizers and working on local and
national progressive issues such as climate change, immigration reform
and marriage equality.
HISTORY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
London Citizens began life in East
London in 1996 as TELCO (the East
London Communities Organisation) subsequently expanding to South
London and by 2011 into North London.
London Citizens has
a dues paying institutional membership of over 160 schools, churches,
mosques, trade unions, synagogues and voluntary organisations. In the
beginning small actions were undertaken to prevent a factory from
contaminating the area with noxious smells and prevent drug dealing in
school neighbourhoods. Over time larger campaigns were undertaken.
Before Mayoral elections for the
Greater London Authority in 2000,
2004 and 2008 major Accountability Assemblies were held with the main
mayoral candidates. They were asked to support
London Citizens and
work with them on issues such as
London Living wage; an amnesty for
undocumented migrants; safer cities initiatives and development of
community land trust housing. South
London Citizens held a citizens
enquiry into the working of the
Home Office department at Lunar House
and its impact on the lives of refugees and migrants. This resulted in
the building of a visitor centre.
Citizens UK has been promoting community organising in the UK since
1989 and has established the profession of
Community Organiser through
the Guild of
Community Organisers teaching the disciplines of strategy
and politics. Neil Jameson, the Executive Director of Citizens UK,
founded the organisation after training with the Industrial Areas
Foundation in the USA.
Citizens UK (formerly the Citizens Organising
Foundation) established citizens groups in
North Wales ,
Black Country ,
Milton Keynes and
TCC (Together Creating Communities) in
North Wales is longest
established beginning in 1995. It has been independent of COF since
London Citizens ' forerunner TELCO was formed in 1996. Milton
Keynes Citizens began in 2010. The others had a brief and glorious
start lasting roughly 3 years when COF was unable to finance them any
Together Creating Communities in North East Wales is remarkable in
community organising in that its area of operation includes
substantial rural areas. Its current membership of 40 groups includes
churches, schools and the Wrexham Muslim Association as well as
community groups. Amongst its actions,it has successfully prevented a
waste incinerator being built in Wrexham, and in 2010 secured the
appointment of a specialist nurse for Parkinson's Disease sufferers.
It has held accountability meetings for Westminster and Welsh Assembly
Elections in 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011.
Manchester Changemakers was formed in 2007 and is independent of
CITIZENS UK CAMPAIGNS
CITIZENS UK GENERAL ELECTION ASSEMBLY
In May 2010
Citizens UK held a General Election Assembly at the
Methodist Central Hall Westminster with 2,500 people from member
institutions and the world media present. This event was three days
before the election and proved to be one of the most dynamic and
electric events of the election campaign.
Citizens UK had negotiated
to have David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown as the leaders of
the three main political parties attend. Each candidate for Prime
Minister was questioned on stage concerning their willingness to work
Citizens UK if elected. Each undertook to work with Citizens UK
and come to future assemblies to give account of work achieved. In
particular they agreed to work to introduce the Living Wage and to end
the practice of holding children of refugee families in detention.
In 1994, the city of Baltimore passed the first living-wage law in
the USA. This changed the working and living conditions of Baltimore's
low-wage service workers and established an example for other cities
in the USA. In
London it was a campaign launched in 2001 by London
Citizens, the largest civil alliance in the
Citizens UK network. The
Living Wage Campaign calls for every worker in the country to earn
enough to provide their family with the essentials of life. Launched
London Citizens in 2001, the campaign had by 2010 persuaded more
than 100 employers to pay the Living wage and won over £40 million of
Living Wages, lifting 6,500 families out of working poverty. The
Living Wage is a number. An hourly rate, set independently, every year
Greater London Authority in London). It is calculated
according to cost of living and gives the minimum pay rate required
for a worker to provide their family with the essentials of life. In
London the 2010-11 rate was £7.85 per hour.
London is now being
copied by other cities around the UK. As a result,
Citizens UK set up
Living Wage Foundation in 2011 to provide companies with
intelligence and accreditation. It also moderates the hourly rate
applicable for the Living Wage outside London.
People\'s Olympic Legacy
London announced it would bid to be the host city for the
Olympic Games in 2012 ,
London citizens used their power to gain a
lasting legacy for Londoners from the billions that was to be spent.
Following on from hundreds of one-to-one meetings and a listening
campaign across member institutions, in 2004
London Citizens signed an
historic agreement with the
London 2012 bid team, which set in stone
precisely what the people of east
London could expect in return for
their support in hosting the Olympic Games. The People's Promises, as
they are known, demanded:
* 2012 permanently affordable homes for local people through a
Community land trust and mutual home ownership;
* Money from the Olympic development to be set aside to improve
local schools and the health service;
* University of East
London to be main higher education beneficiary
of the sports legacy and to consider becoming a Sports Centre of
* At least £2m set aside immediately for a Construction Academy to
train up local people;
* That at least 30% of jobs are set aside for local people;
* That the
Lower Lea Valley is designated a 'Living Wage Zone' and
all jobs guaranteed a living wage
Olympic Delivery Authority , the
London Organising Committee for
the Olympic Games and the Olympic Legacy Company work with London
Citizens to ensure that these promises are delivered.
Independent Asylum Commission
Citizens UK set up the Independent Asylum Commission in order to
investigate widespread concern about the way refugees and asylum
seekers were being treated by the
UK Border Agency (now, UK Visas and
Immigration ). The report made a series of over 200 recommendations
for change which are still being negotiated. This resulted in the
ending of the practice of holding children of refugee families in
detention by the
Coalition government elected in 2010.
THE COMMUNITY ORGANISERS (CO) PROGRAMME 2011–2015
In 2010 the Conservative/Liberal Democrat
pledged as part of its commitment to the
Big Society to train a new
Community Organisers (CO) programme. This policy aim sat
alongside a number of other policy objectives including The Localism
Act all of which were designed to give new powers to communities to
take great control over their neighbourhoods, services and assets. In
2011 Locality were awarded the
Cabinet Office Contract to train this
new generation of
Cabinet Office commissioned
Ipsos MORI and NEF Consulting to
conduct the evaluation of the CO programme. Evaluation work began in
October 2012 and the main report, published in December 2015,
summarises the final assessment of the programme.
This evaluation considers how effective the CO programme has been and
the social impact it has achieved. It includes both primary and
secondary data collection and analysis, including online surveys of
programme participants, longitudinal community-based case studies, and
analysis of management information. As personal summary of the report
was published in the Civil Service Quarterly entitled "Social change
through local action".
THE COMPANY OF COMMUNITY ORGANISERS (COLTD)
A key commitment of the
Community Organisers (CO) programme, was to
build an independent legacy body that would sustain and develop
Community Organising in England. Established in 2015, The Company of
Community Organisers is the National Training and Membership body for
Community Organisers in England, delivering accredited training.
In December 2015,
Rob Wilson MP in his capacity as Minister for Civil
Society pledged to train a further 3500 community organisers between
2016 and 2020.
ACORN UK was formed by 100 tenants supported by 3 staff organisers in
Bristol in May 2014 who voted to organise for more security,
better quality and more affordable housing. ACORN has since hired more
staff and organised branches in Newcastle and recently
the organisation involves 15,000 members. ACORN UK has combined online
organising via social media with ACORNs traditional door-knocking
approach, to organise transient private sector tenants. The group has
also combined local direct-action "member defense" actions (including
eviction resistances and picketing of rogue landlords/letting agents)
with larger regional and national campaigns for housing rights (for
example winning regional local authority support for including the
standards of their "ethical lettings charter" in the regional West of
England Rental Standard and persuading Santander bank to drop a buy to
let mortgage clause requiring landlords to raise rents). They also
worked alongside Generation Rent to register and mobilise the "renters
vote" in the 2016 general election.
Living Rent is Scotlands tenant union, also affiliated to ACORN
International. The group formed out of the Living Rent campaign in
2015 and today has branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh and two
THE COMMUNITY ORGANISERS EXPANSION PROGRAMME (COEP) 2017 - 2020
In March 2017, The Company of
Community Organisers (COLtd) secured a
major £4.2m contract from the
Office for Civil Society , part of the
Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), to expand its movement
Community Organisers from 6,500 to 10,000 by 2020.
The programme plans to embed community organising as part of the
fabric of neighbourhoods across England and equip local people with
the skills to transform their communities for good. It will expand the
community organising movement to include young people from the
National Citizen Service (NCS) and ambassadors for the #iwill social
action campaign for 10 to 20-year-olds. The programme will also
establish the National Academy for
Community Organising to sustain the
ongoing training of
Community organising in the UK is distinctive because it deliberately
sets out to build permanent alliances of citizens to exercise power in
society. The UK analysis is that to understand Society it is necessary
Civil Society from the State and the Market. In a
totalitarian Society all three may virtually coincide. In a fully
democratic society the three will be distinct. Where the state and the
market become predominant, even in a democracy, civil society is
reduced on the one hand to voting and volunteering and on the other to
consuming. This is very dangerous for democracy because the sense of
citizenship and agency becomes feeble and ineffective. In other words,
Civil Society becomes powerless.
Community organising and the role of
Community Organiser is working out how to take back
power from the State and the Market by holding them accountable. The
state and the market cannot operate without moral values and
direction. It is not the role of the state or the market to determine
those values. In a democratic society there has to be a genuine public
discourse concerning justice and the common good. Problems with the
global banking system in 2008 in large part arose because "light touch
regulation" meant that there was no underlying moral system. The
market was left to its own devices with disastrous consequences for
the global economy.
Community organising works because it organises people and money
through the institutions which have the potential to engage in the
public discourse about what is the common good. These are the
institutions which can mediate between the family and the State –
such as faith organisations, cooperatives, schools, trades unions,
universities and voluntary agencies.
Community organising builds these
institutions into permanent citizens membership alliances which work
together to identify issues and agree ways of introducing solutions.
Community organising teaches the art of non partisan, democratic
politics. Because community organising brings together diverse
institutions which do not normally work together it is sometimes
referred to as Broad Based community organising.
Community organising starts with the recognition that change can only
come about when communities come together to compel public authorities
and businesses to respond to the needs of ordinary people. It
identifies and trains leaders in diverse communities, bringing them
together to voice their needs and it organises campaigns to ensure
that these needs are met. "Our answer is to organise people through
the places where they have regular contact with their neighbours –
faith institutions and workplaces and educational establishments. Our
experience of practising broad based community organising across the
UK has confirmed for us that the threads that once connected the
individual to the family, the family to their community and the
community to the wider society are fraying and in danger of breaking
altogether. We believe these strands, connections and alliances are
vital for a healthy democracy and should be the building blocks of any
vibrant civil society.
"We believe in building for power which is fundamentally reciprocal,
where both parties are influenced by each other and mutual respect
develops. The power and influence that we seek is tempered by our
religious teachings and moral values and is exercised in the fluid and
ever-changing relationship with our fellow leaders, allies and
adversaries. We value and seek to operate in the public sphere. We
believe that UK public life should be occupied not just by a few
celebrities and politicians – but also by the people themselves
seeking a part of the action."
INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISING
Citizens UK set up the Institute for
Community Organising (ICO) as
part of its Centre for
Civil Society established in 2010 in response
to growing demands for its training. The ICO is the first operating
division of the Centre and was established to offer a series of
training opportunities for those who wish to make community organising
a full or part-time career and also for
Community Leaders who wish to
learn the broad philosophy and skills of community organising and who
are in a position to put them into practice in their institutions and
neighbourhoods. The Institute provides training and consultancy on a
commercial basis to other agencies which wish to employ the skills and
techniques of community organising in their institutions. The ICO has
an Academic Advisory Board and an International Professional Advisory
Body drawn from the global network of
Community Organising Institutes
in the UK (CITIZENS UK), USA (Industrial Areas Foundation) and Germany
HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA
CHOGM 2011 protest gnangarra-96
Since 2000, active discussion about community organizing had begun in
Sydney . A community organizing school was held in 2005 in Currawong,
involving unions, community organizations and religious organizations.
In 2007, Amanda Tattersall, a union and community organizer,
Unions NSW to sponsor the initial stages of a new community
organizing coalition called the
Sydney Alliance. She had learned about
community organizing from interest in coalitions between unions and
community organizations, reading
Saul Alinsky and spending time with a
variety of community organizations in the US and UK.
By November 2007, thirteen organizations had agreed to sponsor the
building of an Alliance in Sydney, including the Uniting Church Synod
, the Jewish Board of Deputies and six unions. By November 2008,
twenty two organizations had joined, including the Archdiocese of the
Catholic Church. By mid-2010 it was 28 organizations. The Sydney
Alliance launched on 15 September 2011 with 43 organisations and is
supporting the establishment of other community organizing coalitions
across the country.
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
One of Alinsky's associates, Presbyterian minister Herbert White,
became a missionary in South Korea and the Philippines and brought
Alinsky's ideas, books and materials with him. He helped start a
community organization in the Manila slum of Tondo in the 1970s. The
concepts of community organizing spread through the many local
activists groups in the Philippines.
Filipino community organizers melded Alinsky's ideas with concepts
from liberation theology , a pro-poor theological movement in the
developing world, and the philosophy of Brazilian educationalist Paulo
Freire . They found this community organizing a well-suited method to
work among the poor during the martial law era of the dictator
Ferdinand Marcos . Unlike the communist guerrillas, community
organizers quietly worked to encourage critical thinking about the
status quo, facilitate organization and the support the solving of
concrete collective problems.
Community organizing was thus able to
lay the groundwork for the
People Power Revolution of 1986, which
nonviolently pushed Marcos out of power.
A 1974 manual summarizing some of the Filipino experience of
community organizing Organizing People for Power actually became quite
popular in the South Africa, among activist groups organizing
The concepts of community organizing have now filtered into many
international organizations as a way of promoting participation of
communities in social, economic and political change in developing
countries. This is often referred to as participatory development ,
participatory rural appraisal , participatory action research or local
capacity building . Robert Chambers has been a particularly notable
advocate of such techniques.
In 2004, members and staff of ACORN created
ACORN International which
has since developed organization and campaigns in Peru, India, Canada,
Kenya, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, the Czech
Republic, and elsewhere.
Critical consciousness (conscientization)
* ^ Compare: Shragge, Eric (2013). "1: Theoretical Perspectives and
Community Work". Activism and Social Change: Lessons for
Community Organizing (2 ed.). North York, Ontario: University of
Toronto Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781442606272 . Retrieved 2017-01-15.
Community organizing, to be a force for social change, has to be able
to mobilize locally but in conjunction with wider alliances that share
a politics of opposition.
* ^ Bobo, Kim; et al. (2001). Organizing for social change: Midwest
Academy: Manual for activists. Seven Locks. ISBN 0-929765-94-X .
* ^ Chambers, Edward (2003). Roots for Radicals: Organizing for
Power, Action, and Justice. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-1499-0 .
* ^ See Warren, Mark (2001). Dry Bones Rattling: : Community
Building to Revitalize American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton
University Press. ISBN 0-691-07432-1 . This is one of the best
studies of FBCOs in the United States. Also see Reitzes, Donald;
Reitzes (1987). The Alinsky Legacy: Alive and Kicking. Dietrich. New
York: JAI Press. ISBN 0-89232-722-7 .
* ^ The statements in this and the last four paragraphs are
attested to in Swarts, Heidi (2008). Organizing Urban America: Secular
and Faith Based Progressive Movements. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-4839-5 . This book studied the
strategies and cultures of two local ACORN and two local FBCO
organizations linked to major "umbrella" organizations in two
* ^ See Warren cited above.
* ^ Mark Warren and Richard Wood, Faith Based
State of the Field (Interfaith Funders, 2001).
* ^ "President Bush Attends Office of Faith-Based and Community
Initiatives\' National Conference".
Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
* ^ educationaction. "Core Dilemmas of
Fracturing Across Lines of Race and Class". Open Left. Retrieved
* ^ For a discussion of social class differences between churches
and their relationship to neighborhood action, see: Roberts, Omar
(2005). Streets of Glory: Church and
Community in a Black Urban
Neighborhood. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-56217-4
* ^ Again, see Swarts book cited above for general information on
FBCOs and their differences from grassroots groups like ACORN,
* ^ Ernesto Cortes (1993). "Reweaving the Fabric: The Iron Rule and
the IAF Strategy for Power and Politics" in Interwoven Destinies,
* ^ Paul Osterman (2002), Gathering Power, page 25.
* ^ Robert Putnam (2003), Better Together: Restoring American
Community, Chapter 1; William Julius Wilson (2001), Bridge Over the
Racial Divide, pages 85-93.
* ^ Harry Boyte (1984),
Community Is Possible, Chapter 5.
* ^ William Greider (1992), Who Will Tell the People?, page 231.
* ^ Alinsky, Saul (1987) . Reveille for Radicals. New York:
Vintage. ISBN 0-679-72112-6 . p. 126
* ^ Barry Yeoman, Rebel Towns, The Nation, Feb. 4, 2013.
* ^ Aleem Maqbool, BBC News, Jun. 16, 2015.
* ^ Smith, Ben. "Defending community organizing". Politico.
Retrieved 18 February 2014.
* ^ An edited volume discussing the funding issue from a fairly
leftist perspective is: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
(2008). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit
Industrial Complex. South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-766-2 . On
foundations limited understanding of and support for organizing, see:
"Foundation Frustration". Retrieved 2009-02-07. Funders might benefit
by looking at this: "Funding Organizing: Social Change Through Civic
Participation" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-02-07.
* ^ "Needmor Fund Study (PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-01-23. "ACORN
study". Retrieved 2009-01-23. "National Committee for Responsible
Philanthropy New Mexico study (pdf)" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-01-23.
"National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy North Carolina study
(pdf)". Retrieved 2009-05-19. Note that the Needmor study examined a
select collection of organizing groups specifically selected for their
effectiveness for Needmor funding. Thus, the National Committee for
Responsive Philanthropy studies are probably a more accurate
estimation of the return to less targeted investments.
* ^ This is adapted from: Schutz, Aaron. "Core Dilemmas of
Organizing: What is
Community Organizing? What isn\'t Community
Organizing?". Open Left. Retrieved 2009-01-21. A similar list can be
found in: Brown, Michael Jacoby (2003). Building Powerful Community
Organizations. ISBN 0-9771518-0-8 . See also the Bobo, Chambers, and
Reitzes & Reitzes books cited earlier.
* ^ See discussion in Chambers, Edward (2003). Roots for Radicals:
Organizing for Power, Action, and Justice. Continuum. ISBN
* ^ See Chambers book, above.
* ^ One of the best discussions of social movements can be found in
Anderson, Terry (1996). The Movement and the Sixties. Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-507409-2 .
* ^ See: http://www.urbanhabitat.org/node/1171, or,
* ^ Fisher, Robert (1994). Let the People Decide: Neighborhood
Organizing in America, Updated Edition. Twayne. This is a good
history of organizing that shows how government funding was cut from
organizing groups because they threatened the status quo.
* ^ Holt, Stan (2015). "What Every
Community Development". In Schutz, Aaron; Miller, Mike.
People Power: The
Saul Alinsky Tradition of
Vanderbilt University Press. ISBN 978-0-8265-2041-8 .
* ^ Weil, Marie. (1996).
Community Practice: Conceptual Models. The
Hayworth Press, Inc. ISBN 0-7890-0024-5
* ^ Horwitt, Sanford (1992). Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky:
His Life and Legacy. New York: Vintage. ISBN 0-679-73418-X . This is
the standard biography of Alinsky.
* ^ Alinsky, Reveille, pp. 133-35
* ^ See the Chambers and Warren books, above, for a discussion of
the efforts of community organizers during this time. Fisher gives a
good overview of the changes in the nature of community in urban
areas, as does Robert Putnam more broadly in
* ^ See Swarts, cited above.
* ^ "Midwest Academy". Retrieved 2009-01-21.
* ^ "Center for Third World Organizing". Retrieved 2009-01-21.
* ^ AFL-CIO.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney Names Stewart Acuff New
Organizing Director. N.p., 31 Oct. 2002. Web.
* ^ See Reitzes and Reitzes book above. Good overview of the
relationship between Alinsky and a number of these organizers.
* ^ "Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing Working Paper
Series". Archived from the original on 27 October 2008. Retrieved
* ^ Exley, Zack (2008-03-28). "Obama Field Organizers Plot a
Miracle". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
* ^ Collective Action for Social Change: An Introduction to
Community Organizing (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Ch. 5; c.f.
Marshall Ganz and Peter Drier, "We Have the Hope, Now Where's the
Audacity, Washington Post, August 30 (2009).
* ^ Jameson, Neil (May 3, 2012). "Elected mayors should be held to
account by citizens\' alliances". The Guardian. Retrieved October 23,
* ^ "Executive Order Builds on IAF’s Living Wage Tradition - -
West / SouthWest IAF".
* ^ "History". Citizens UK. Archived from the original on 23
September 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
* ^ Petr Matous: The making and unmaking of community-based water
supplies in Manila, Development in Practice, Volume 23, Issue 2, 2013,
* Robert Fisher and Peter Romanofsky,
Community Organizing for Urban
Social Change: A Historical Perspective (Greenwood Press, 1981). ISBN
* Robert Fisher, Let the People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in
America (1984; Twayne Publishers, 1997). ISBN 978-0-8057-3859-9 OCLC
* Neil Betten and Michael J. Austin, The Roots of Community
Organizing, 1917-1939 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990).
* Harry C. Boyte, Commonwealth: A Return to Citizen Politics (New
York: The Free Press, 1989). ISBN 0-02-904475-8
* Mark Warren, Dry Bones Rattling:
Community Building to Revitalize
America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). ISBN
* Heidi Swarts, Organizing Urban America: Secular and Faith Based
Progressive Movements (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2008). ISBN 0-8166-4839-5
* Aaron Schutz and Mike Miller, eds., People Power: The Saul Alinsky
Community Organizing (Nashville: Vanderbilt University
Press, 2015). ISBN 978-0-8265-2041-8
* Aaron Schutz and Marie G. Sandy, Collective Action for Social
Change: An Introduction to