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Building Our Base

At ONE DC, our vision of community organizing is cooking up! Its hearty base derives from Ella Baker’s approach to organizing. Ella Baker understood that for far too long, those who were directly affected by the issues (poverty, homelessness, racism, displacement) were rarely integrated into their own liberation struggle.

In her praxis as an organizer, Ella Baker practiced participatory democracy. This concept meant that people within movements for social change, those directly affected by the issues, make the decisions related to the campaign or movement; minimize hierarchy within their organization to maximize shared power and equity of voice; and utilize direct action as an effective means to compel decision-makers to implement demands made by the community. ONE DC infuses this concept of organizing and leadership development within our community organizing model as we build our base of long-time DC residents.

Building a base can be chaotic and takes many turns and dips. Organizing and educating the base is exciting, but a slow cooking type of work. Gumbo comes to mind when we realize all the gifts and skills members bring to the organizing dinner table. ONE DC's role is to blend all this talent into a delicious menu of social and political change organizing in DC. Here are some of our ingredients:

1. Leadership Education Action & Power (LEAP)

A people’s vision at ONE DC consists of a membership education program called Leadership Education Action and Power (LEAP). LEAP facilitators use popular education methods to deconstruct the US economy and social issues. Members teach members. With the global understanding of the problems faced by members, members effectively organize their communities and offer comprehensive solutions to decision-makers.

A foundational tenet of ONE DC's vision is that we are organizing for a new system. Because ONE DC is a learning organization, we seek to identify the root causes of injustice and not to simply reform the system. We examine the interconnection of issues like capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, as well as the need for personal and community healing and wellness.

Throwback! Created at a LEAP workshop in 2009

To build power, we must also consistently work to develop our skills as organizers. Over the past several years, our members and staff have participated in the Center for Third World Organizing's (CTWO) Community Action Trainings. Through these trainings, ONE DC members, as well as other local organizers, activists, and tenants studied different types of organizational structures; the power of symbols and framing a narrative to convey a message; campaign frameworks and strategy; and methods of nonviolent action.

GET INVOLVED: The first LEAP session will take place on Saturday, April 27 starting at 11AM. To learn more, contact Claire at ccook@onedconline.org or call 202-232-2915.

2. Grassroots Fundraising

In 2014, the Resource Development Committee of ONE DC began focusing on our grassroots fundraising strategy after attending a session of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT). We developed a long-term grassroots fundraising strategy with the goal of having a greater percentage of our funding come from our strong base of long-time supporters, so as to be less dependent on foundational support.

Resource Development Committee retreat in 2017

The base of our funding is a combination of small and major donations from individual community members, and grants won through the efforts of our committed grant-writing team made up of members, interns, and staff.  We believe that how an organization approaches fundraising is political, and we strive to create a fundraising structure in line with our principles of shared leadership. Click here to view our 5-year Grassroots Fundraising Strategy Report.

GET INVOLVED: The next workshop in our 2019 Resource Development training series is scheduled to take place Wednesday, April 17 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Black Workers and Wellness Center. To learn more, contact Nawal at nrajeh@onedconline.org or call 202-232-2915.

3. Coalition Building

ONE DC is a homegrown, locally focused organization, but we embody a far-reaching perspective. We continually develop relationships with individuals and organizations who share our mission, vision, and values not only in Washington, D.C., but around the U.S. and the world. Our Black Workers & Wellness Center is D.C. is affiliated with the National Black Worker Center Project, which supports and incubates Black worker centers that build power with Black workers to advance their rights and improve the quality of jobs in key employment sectors. For the last five years, ONE DC members and staff have attended the National Black Workers Center Convening to expand our vision in coordination with other BWCs.

GET INVOLVED: Join the ONE DC Learning Circle on Sunday, April 14 at 3:00 PM for a special discussion with SLT member Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of "Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice" Click here to RSVP

From left: Maurice, Nawal, Kelly, Luci (kneeling) and ba at the 2018 National Black Workers Center Convening

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