Sample Agenda: Organizing for Social Change

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

9:30 – 10:00  

Registration

9:00 – 10:45

Analyzing Social Change MovementshelpThis session places progressive organizing for social change in a broader movement perspective. It is included in two sections, with the first covering historical background. This session looks at the history of progressive social change in the United States, looking at examples from the new deal and labor rights struggles of the 1930’s through the reaction of the McCarthy era to the current economic climate.

9:00 – 11:15  

Recruitment ExercisehelpRole play exercise the gives participants the opportunity to prepare for and practice on upcoming recruitment ask for a leader, ally, or volunteer and get feedback from their peers.

9:00 – 11:15

Thinking Strategically about Our Current ContextIn the second section on broader social change movements, we look at the current progressive movement and discusses the challenges and opportunities of the current political landscape in the ongoing work of community organizing. This includes a discussion of the role that each organization plays in the broader progressive movement.

9:00 – 12:00  

Accountability Session ExerciseGuidelines for large scale accountability sessions are presented and discussed. Session covers how to plan a larger meeting where the decision-maker comes to a community meeting and is presented with certain “demands” (in the form of questions). These community meetings are intended to be for upwards of 75-100 people. This tactic is useful in moving beyond policy expertise to show a target that there is a large base of people who care what he/she does on this issue. The presentation is followed by hands-on role-plays in which participants practice meeting with decision-makers.

10:00 – 12:30  

Fundamentals of Direct Action OrganizinghelpThe introductory session explains what we mean by direct action organizing. It is the process by which people who have a problem (along with their friends and allies) take action to solve it, by passing policies that make real improvements in people’s lives and alter the long-term relations of power. We explain how this differs from other forms of addressing problems, such as providing a social service, self-help, education or advocacy on behalf of others. Many organizations do a combination of these types of work and each type follows its own principles and logic, which must be clear to the organizers.

10:45 – 11:00  Break

11:15 – 11:30  Break

11:15 – 11:30  Break

12:00 – 12:30  Graduation

11:00 – 12:30  

Guidelines for Developing Effective StrategyhelpStrategy is the core of our program. Using the Midwest Academy strategy chart, participants learn how to identify and analyze the relationships between goals, organizational resources and objectives, constituencies, targets and tactics. The presentation is followed by a small group exercise with reports back to the whole class. Participants can later use this method when holding strategy sessions in their own organization. It demystifies what is often seen as a very complex process, reducing it to a series of logical steps.

11:30  12:30 

Action GuidelineshelpGuidelines for face-to-face meetings with decision makers are presented and discussed. This is followed by hands-on role-plays in which participants practice meeting with decision-makers. Topics include planning a clear agenda and ask, presenting power, and dealing with the target’s reaction; positive, negative or noncommittal.

11:30 – 12:30

Online OrganizingThis session takes lessons of power and strategy and applies them to online organizing by looking at what it takes to make online actions a power component of an issue campaign and how online organizing can be used to build strong organizations.

12:30 –  1:30  Lunch 12:30 –  1:30  Lunch 12:30 –  1:30  Lunch 12:30 –  1:30  Lunch Goodbyes!

1:30 – 4:00

Understanding Relations of PowerhelpWe incorporate this discussion into the training to demonstrate that it is not enough to be right, have good arguments, understand the legislative process or know important people. When confronting organized power on the other side (for example, the tobacco lobby or big banking), it is necessary to develop measurable power of our own. Participants then analyze the forms of power available to most citizen organizations and how to build that power.

1:30 – 4:30

Strategy Example + Exercise

1:30 – 3:30 

Action Exercise

1:30 – 2:15

Media GuidelinesThe goal of this session is to demystify the process of getting media coverage for actions. Based on a simulated scenario participants develop a message and short “media demonstration” to convey the message. Several small groups each act out their “media demonstration” in front of the whole group. A trainer, acting as a reporter, tries to get the spokespeople off message. Each presentation is critiqued by a trainer with group participation.

 

4:00 – 4:15  Break 4:30 – 4:45  Break 3:30 – 3:45  Break  4:15 – 4:30  Break

4:15 – 6:00 

Choosing an IssuehelpStarting with the distinction between a problem (the thing that is wrong) and an issue (the solution to the problem), this session presents a list of the criteria that an issue should meet if a successful campaign is to be waged to win it. The process learned here helps groups to select future issues. If an issue has already been chosen for a campaign, passing a specific piece of legislation for example, the session will examine the issue in terms of the criteria and discuss ways in which to message it to draw in the broadest constituencies and use it to build the organization.

4:45 – 6:00

Recruitment and One-on-One GuidelineshelpPresentation, discussion, and one-on-one role-plays with the goal of getting participants to identify the self-interest of a potential member or leader and then matching it to the needs of the organization, in order to effectively attract and retain volunteers/members. We then move into ways of thinking about developing the skills and commitment of members to turn them into leaders for the organization.

3:45 – 6:00

Coalitions: Building and/or JoiningAfter identifying and understanding organizational self-interest, we go through the advantages and disadvantages of building and joining coalitions. This is followed by guidelines for building and joining effective, high-functioning coalitions, and an exercise to help participants determine whom to invite into their coalition and how to get them to join.

4:30 – 6:00 

Accountability GuidelinesGuidelines for large scale accountability sessions are presented and discussed. Session covers how to plan a larger meeting where the decision-maker comes to a community meeting and is presented with certain “demands” (in the form of questions). These community meetings are intended to be for upwards of 75-100 people. This tactic is useful in moving beyond policy expertise to show a target that there is a large base of people who care what he/she does on this issue. The presentation is followed by hands-on role-plays in which participants practice meeting with decision-makers.

6:00 – 7:00  Dinner 6:00 – 7:00  Dinner Dinner on your Own! 6:00 – 7:00  Dinner
7:00 – 8:30 

Small Groups + Storytelling & Organizing

7:00 – 8:30  

One-on-Ones

FREE TIME 7:00 – 8:30

Taking It Home

 

Sample

Agenda