Friday, May 04, 2007

April 28: Community Organizing

The final workshop in the April PSC Skills Build series was on community organizing skills, and how individuals can utilise their own power. The workshop focused on introducing clearly what it means to organize a community, since the concept as it was discussed in the workshop can be somewhat different to those who are new to the world of activism. While the topic of community activism in particular is far too vast and complicated to be completely taught and learned in the short space of 3 hours, the workshop was an excellent way for those who have experience to enrich and practice their skills, and for those who are interested in new approaches to broaden their horizons. Participants discussed situations, solved potential problems and obstacles, and presented the results of their group work.

The content of the workshop itself began with a discussion of the definition of community organizing, and the approach’s various aims, most importantly being concrete changes in the way people involved live their lives. The types of power organizers and activists can use to in a campaign were also discussed, such as consumer and political power, and the various subtypes of those. The act of organizing a community was broken into 6 steps, each focusing on accomplishing a different part of the process of taking a disorganized community, and forming it into an instrument of persuasion, ready to bring about changes in laws and society. The steps began with reviewing the various problems and defining just what it is that needs to be changed, on to an analysis of internal and external strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities. The process includes assessing how to effectively approach and negotiate with opposition, deal with obstacles, and keep morale in groups high.

This workshop was an effective way for newcomers to the world of activism to learn valuable new methods for increasing their effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of achieving their goals, and a great way for more experienced participants to sharpen their skills as well. We look forward to your participation in the next series!