Building an Action Team in 6 Easy Steps
- Keep the Group Small (10 – 20): make sure that people know that they don’t have to do everything or even act daily. Some will feel inspired each day just to read an e-mail update. A weekly group e-mail update is a way to seed ideas and ask people to do small, manageable actions. Always be encouraging.
- Build Relationships: it is much easier to ask someone to do something if you have a relationship with them. Get to know each other (if you don’t already) and meet face to face once a month.
- Identify Interests and Styles: learn about what the people in your group are interested in. Do people need to work together? Does the group coalesce around one or two specific interests for deeper, longer sustaining actions? Do some like to research, do others like to phone, or march, or make art, or. . .? We all have core working styles and ways we like to approach politics. Get to know interests either in the group setting or having intentional one on one meetings or phone conversations.
- Break Down the Word Political: the word politics means different things to all kinds of people. But in a small group setting, you don’t have to be a professional, or even follow politics that much. Politics is a very core way that we have power in our society. And, power comes in all forms. It could be simply the daily act of saying “I prefer my country to represent X than Y.” The best politics come from living your values each day.
- Build Relationships on Common Ground: organizing is more than “getting people to do what you want them to do.” People act out of their values, more than around issues or interests. Values are the core principles that motivate us to act. But the actions can be many and varied.
- Respect-Empower-Include: over the years, I searched for “my people” but didn’t truly feel included until Organizing for Action (OFA) came along where the underlying basis of all organizing included this mantra. You didn’t have to be an expert. You didn’t have to know anyone, or be in a certain “club.” OFA took all comers and found ways to plug everyone in. It truly built a fusion coalition of all shapes and stripes. People don’t have to believe exactly what you believe, and people don’t have to adopt your exact method. We don’t know what will ultimately work or who will ultimately be inspired and transformed. So, we take all comers and work with people where they are. Everyone has a contribution to make. Politics is about all of us acting on our values each day.
Resources for Learning to Organize:
Highlander Research and Education Center