Loving Movement Culture & Organizing to Scale

Post date: Apr 13, 2015 7:11:32 PM

Summary of Creating Democracy’s Conversation on Loving Movement Culture & Organizing to Scale 3/30/15

Loving Movement Culture isn’t just about doing things better; it’s one key for why we organize at all. Whether we call it beloved community or we don’t name it at all, we know it when we feel it - real relationships that transcend a single issue, campaign, or crisis, that help us to feel like we are welcome as a whole person, connected across our individual differences and limitations, growing and working together towards a better world that we actually want to be a part of. We also know it when it is absent, when we run up against the edges of corporate, professionalized culture in our movement that resists allowing us in as whole people or prioritizing what feels most central to our daily lives. And sadly we know it has not taken root firmly enough when we turn on one another in righteousness or judgement, without the skills to allow for struggle and differences, and accountability alongside forgiveness, support, and growth.

How do we intentionally create loving movement culture? What does organizing look like that fosters relationships and trust? How does loving movement culture support our ability to grow together, keep our values of anti-oppression and practice of intersectionality undiminished, and hold space for leadership from those most marginalized from power?

Organizing at scale challenges us to think about organizing in different ways. The Farmworkers’ Movement said, “Every farmworker is an organizer.” And the Civil Rights Movement called on “each one teach one.” It is not enough to have 1 organizer or 1 trainer as paid staff per 100-1000 members of an organization. We need to expand our thinking and plan, train and organize so that the many roles and tasks of an organizer can be shared and developed within all of us who want to make change. Our goal is that 900 out of 1000 members take on organizing tasks so that we are building our power, skills, and movement exponentially. This means identifying strengths to build on, challenges to work on, and communication to support all of the above through interpersonal skills, accountability, self-discipline and awareness, anti-oppression skills, and intentional and transparent leadership development.

What would it look like if every activist was an organizer, every member was an organizer?

Is it possible or impossible to organize meaningfully at that scale? Why or why not?

What challenges or barriers would you have to overcome? Why doesn’t it happen already?

Engaging our own personal community as an organizing base elevates the possibilities of our collective movement building work. Organizing could be so much more than it is today. Our movement could be broader, built on deeper relationships, and then could foster better collective decision making, stronger loving movement culture, transformative growth towards collective liberation, and the practices of skills and leadership sharing, alongside supportive accountability. We believe that, we want that to be true, but we are often stumped by how to get there. What if our first step as organizers is to identify our community and then circle up those 15 people as our organizing base? Could we call on the same circle of friends, family, neighbors that we ask to help out with childcare, moving or pet sitting to go downtown to demonstrate for police accountability, make calls to legislators about immigrant rights, or other organizing together? What if we expected to hear from one another when we needed support in our day to day, but also on social change that was important to us?

Do you have the organizing base you want? Your organizing home that frees you to be a great organizer?

If not, how would you identify your community? Who do you see, talk and share with throughout the week?

What would it look like to engage those people as your organizing base? What support would you need?

What new possibilities could this open up for the breadth and depth of our movement building?

While we open our movement and our hearts up to build a more radically inclusive democracy, we must simultaneously scale up the skills and practices of anti-oppression work, self-discipline, and accountability that we will need as our own checks and balances. Many of us want this mass movement rooted in democracy, but we have had our groups shut down or implode without these skills and practices, and we are honestly tired and sad at the prospect of failing again. But the urgency of violence and white supremacy, climate destruction, poverty and corporate control demand that people of conscious do something to stop this injustice. We may not know the path forward, but we know our best chance lies in walking it together, building it as we go.

What tools, skills, and practices could help our movement scale up, grow quickly, be accessible as well as grounded in loving movement culture and accountable to our values of collective liberation?

WHO AND WHAT: This was the 2nd movement building conversation Creating Democracy convened this year, following our conversation in February focused on movement decision making and self-governance. The thirteen people present were organizers invited to bring our experience, critical thinking, and desire for a stronger movement, specifically to inform and deepen our strategy and plans to advance the ability of our movement to self-organize and scale up in a radically democratic way that aligns with and reflects our values and practices of loving movement culture, collective liberation and anti-oppression. We covered a lot of ground, opening with our joys from the week (many of which included the children in our lives) and closing with appreciations of one another’s work and the chance to reflect on how we organize, but the most consistent themes and questions were along these lines.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Part of Creating Democracy’s vision is that we build an organizing model that communicates between and across many groups without all needing to be in the same room. In our planning towards our organizing launch this June, we want to ask you to share this summary with your group, solicit responses, even have your own conversation about the questions in this summary or the themes shared here. What’s missing? How does this show up for your community? This could be a stand alone conversation, or 15 minutes on an upcoming agenda, or simply forwarding this email to your best buddies and seeing how they would weigh in. Contact us to share your thoughts.