CD Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change is informed by movements throughout history and the world, decades of experience in organizing, and the urgency of this moment and our crises in democracy, economy, climate, and white supremacy in the United States .

We believe any truly democratic movement must be grounded in collective liberation, values and actions that challenge oppression and bridge divisions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and identity, ableness, and culture. This belief comes from an understanding and respect for the ways we are all connected in this world, a belief in inherent human dignity, and an historical appreciation of the successes of movements who have practiced this solidarity. Collective liberation is the process of realizing each person’s own inherent human dignity and the organizing work of challenging and replacing all systems of oppression with democracy and justice. It is the understanding that we are all harmed, whether targeted or privileged through systems of oppression, and that we are liberated and made more whole when we end oppression against any of us.

The ability to make decisions as a movement is key to exercising our collective power. Democracy matters because it is not enough to build power. Power already the hands of the 1%, the unaccountable elected and unelected. We must yearn to learn to share power, radically, even though we haven't seen it at scale. The alternative to unaccountable concentrated power must be deep movement wide participatory decision making paired with a commitment to just and compassionate accountability. Us the people are the ones who ensure Black lives matter, who force the 99% to be counted, and who can realize the promise of true democracy for all the people. Essentially, we need to be able to self-govern - know who we are and what we want, resolve conflicts in respectful, just, and transparent ways, deliberate with our values of collective liberation at the forefront, and make decisions together.

We are all organizers! We need all of us in it together to have the numbers and thus the power that we need to make the changes we want. People who want this change must be active in growing our movement as organizers, specifically bringing people together to learn, connect, and put our values into action for our shared liberation. In part this means shifting our practice and orientation to organizing, broadening who we think of as skilled and in charge and responsible for our movement inwards to ourselves and our friends, family or whomever is part of our crew of like minded folk. We need easy access points and simple steps forward that encourage decentralized, self-organizing. We want everyone who is thinking we need to do something to make our world a better place to move from their heads and hearts into action out in the world. When we say we are all organizers this is an affirmation of our shared capacity and skills, but it is also a call for what we believe is necessary to make a powerful mass movement - and that is people, and a whole heck of a lot of them!

Small groups are the building blocks of a large and powerful democratic movement. Once groups reach 25 people a natural capacity for deep participation is reached. More than that and people stop coming to meetings or responding to emails, there's no time for them to speak or be heard, and the basics are taken care of by the smaller core group. Fewer than that and a group is not growing, not building beyond themselves. But in order to have impact as a movement, hundreds of these small groups must connect to one another in an ongoing way, building towards the whole, and making decisions together. An organization with a base of 500 or 5000 is NOT bad or ineffective - we want to have a reach that is huge! But these large groups need smaller configurations that support engagement and leadership beyond a single core group, if their goal is also for members to be engaged at the level of participation, organizing, and decision making that Creating Democracy envisions.

Our strategy is guided by our response to the question, What do organizers need to build a self-organizing, sustainable, scalable movement for collective liberation? And what is Creating Democracy’s role in advancing this vision? Our thoughts fall into these three primary areas:

1. Sharing Organizing and Movement Building Skills - If everyone is an organizer, we need to make an organizer’s skill set available to everyone. Making decisions together, running our own groups, building accountable relationships across race, class, and gender that promote learning over shaming, and advancing our ability to self-govern all require ongoing learning, practice, and support.

2. Building Loving Movement Culture - In order to grow and sustain our movement for the long haul, we need to support healthy, positive, inclusive, loving movement culture rooted in collective liberation that is both aspirational and relevant to people’s everyday lives and needs. We need to welcome people from wherever they are on their journey while also clearly and lovingly holding ourselves accountable to our vision of collective liberation and ending oppression.

3. Creating Democratic Structure - Our work to strengthen skills, consciousness, and culture all come together through a structure that ties many small groups into a movement whole that can make democratic decisions and take collective, strategic action. The power that we build through our numbers, our shared values and desire for change is only as strong as our ability to make good decisions together. In order to advance our own means of self-governance, or even effectively participate in civic life such as it is today, we first have to learn to share power and exercise real democratic decision making together.