Thursday, April 5, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Organizing vs. Advocacy
"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will." - Frederick DouglassAt the National Bike Summit this week, I'm realizing the impact that the Midwest Academy has had on my view of the advocacy world — and my idea of the difference between advocacy and direct action. But why does "organizing" or "organizer" often carry a negative connotation?
Community organizing is a long-term approach where the people affected by a concern identify the problems and take action to achieve solutions. Every type of community organization — of any size and shape — has a spot on the spectrum from direct service to direct action. While all types of community organizing are essential to strengthen any community, some make change by directly improving lives while others demand change from people in power.
My work as an online organizer has mainly been somewhere on the spectrum between advocacy and direct action organizing, though there is always an educational component to the messaging.
I believe that we can create the change we need from the top down by demonstrating that we have power from the ground up.
Our elected officials are easy targets because they, most often, want to be re-elected. So if we can demonstrate to our elected officials that the community we're speaking out for (advocacy) is organized and powerful enough to shift the votes to the other candidates, they may give us what we want. In order to demonstrate the community's power, we need direct action from community members. We need the community to demand change.
National Bike Summit: Increasing Engagement Through Online Organizing
What is online organizing? It is using the tools we have available over the internet and cellular network to educate, engage, and empower people that support your cause with the goal of building and demonstrating power to create change. Engagement requires that the supporters feel they're getting something out of it. Often for personal reasons, supporters want to join your cause because it will improve their own situation. So providing a way for them to help create change allows them to participate in the process at the personal level, it empowers them to take direct action. Our goal is to move these supporters up a Ladder of Engagement.
The goals of the Ladder of Engagement are to build leaders that can organize and grow grassroots efforts (aka power) in their own communities and to increase the supporters' commitment to your organization's goals and campaigns.
When you build a campaign, you want to work in ways to engage your supporters along the way. You start simple and grow from there, increasing the difficulty and impact of each tactic. Some supporters may never move beyond the simplest of tactics — like clicking a button to sign a petition. But some may move on to be your most powerful coordinators in the field. All supporters are essential to every movement, but providing those willing with the tools they need to build more power in their community will benefit the cause to the nth power.
My presentation went over a few of the essentials and benchmarks for online organizing and provided ideas and examples for building campaign strategy and implementing tactics. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments!
I would have changed a few things if I had it to do over. But the important thing is that I learn and make those changes the next time. For example, I wish we would have used "organizing" instead of "advocacy." Why?
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Biking in DC: #1 Be Seen at Night
My suggestion is a rear red blinky light and a front white light too. It would be stupid to get struck from the back because you weren't wearing a red blinky.
That said, most crashes that occur at night happen when an automobile crashes into the side of a cyclist. My bet, though, is that it is probably a car pulling out of a driveway, not seeing the biker. This is the reason that I wear a white blinky light in the front when I'm in the city. A steady light is great for trails or dark roads
Most new bikes come with ugly reflectors in the spokes of the wheels. Those are dorky and should just be ripped off before they break off. If you feel like you need something for the sides, get creative! LEDs and such can be a lot of fun. Like spoke lights, pedal-powered wire lights, Orbit wheel lights from Cat Eye, or... you let me know!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Biking in DC: Intro
(Meanwhile I'm thinking to myself, "Geez, what am I getting myself into?")
As a disclaimer, I am in no means telling you that what works best for me, works best for everyone. You need to figure out what works best for you. I also do not condone any of flagrant violations of traffic laws. Unnecessary risks are stupid. Don't take 'em.
While this blog series — Biking in DC — will be primarily in regards to the DC metro region. Much of it transfers over to other metro areas in the U.S. so I'm sure others would find it as useful as the locals.
Biking in DC:
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
DC Officials Arrested on Capitol Hill
See what DC Vote is working on: http://dcvote.org/