ECON
DESCRIPTION

While community organizing can take different forms (organization of individuals or an organization of organizations, such as NGOs, tenant associations, labour and women's groups, religious congregations, etc.) and involve different constituencies (a neighbourhood or village, migrants, persons with disabilities, homeless persons, etc.), community organizing always begins with listening - with identifying the interests, concerns, and visions of the citizens involved. During this first step of community organizing, another important goal is to build relationships of trust and respect among the citizens, often of diverse backgrounds. Persons are much more likely to get involved in the democratic process when their primary interests are being addressed and when they are engaged with others they trust and respect. Following a systematic listening process, citizens democratically select a manageable number of priority themes they can solve. Identifying potential solutions includes conducting research about how a problem can be solved (for example, seeking successful examples from other neighbourhoods or cities that can be transferred to our area) and which institution (city council, governmental administration, school system, police, local business, etc.) has the authority and resources to assist. While some themes can be solved by groups of volunteers acting alone, citizens often need the assistance of key institutions to address their concerns and visions.

When citizens have identified potential solutions, they take action by meeting with authorities in both negotiating meetings where the problems and solutions can be discussed and resolved, and in large meetings where the community organization demonstrates its "power in numbers" and where authorities are asked to publicly commit to solving the problem with specific actions. Citizens are often ignored when they individually present their problems to public authorities. When citizens join together in large numbers, however, their power and influence to make change is significantly increased.

In the midst of listening, research, and action, community organizing also involves citizens in the process of building a long-term, sustainable, and democratically-governed community organization capable of addressing numerous problems and visions. Such an organization develops the democratic participation skills of large numbers of citizens, including fundraising skills that allow the organization to hire a community organizer who assists in training, recruiting, and mobilizing members of the organization and its allies.

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