By Patrick Gregoire
On October 5 through 7, 2018 over 15 ONE DC members, as well as other local organizers, activists, and tenants participated in the Center for Third Organizing's (CTWO) Community Action Training.
Over the course of two and a half days, we went over the five different types of community change organizations (service-based, advocacy, community economic development, electoral, and direct action/organizing) and their relationships to altering the power structure.
We learned about messaging and the importance of framing a narrative. We learned about the power of symbols and messaging. Popular brands are instantly recognizable, elicit specific emotions, and transmit specific messages. This is due to the deliberate efforts that go into crafting the stories about them. We learned how choice of words, perspective, and framing and crafting narratives can impact voiceless and disenfranchised communities.
To that matter, we learned what questions to ask ourselves when crafting our messaging as community organizers. What forms of communication work best? What is the current landscape surrounding an issue that we hold important? What audience are we trying to reach? What is our audience’s relationship to this issue? How do they engage with it? How do we get the message out? What are markers of success? These questions are important because they allow us to not only tailor our messages to our audience, but also better ensures that they receive our messages and that those messages stir folks to action.
We learned how to make a power map and from there, formulate a campaign. We learned which entities to consider (Decision Makers, Organized Opposition, Allies and Potential Allies, Unorganized Constituencies,etc) and what factors to look out for. This framework is vitally important for organizers to get a better sense of the influencers of a given target. Ultimately, it helps us leverage our relationships and networks to determine who needs to be influenced, whom we can actually influence, and exactly who can influence these targets.
Lastly, we were given a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action; tactics that are crucial for the groundwork of any direct action campaign. These are the tools necessary in order to drive, elevate, grow, and ultimately realize our campaigns and get our demands met legitimately.