What is Community Organizing
There are many good books and articles about community organizing, but the approach of the Midwest Academy in its manual, ORGANIZE: Organizing for Social Change, is what the Center uses to help local coalitions build power in their campaigns. (Limited quantities of the manual are available from the Center office.).
Community organizing is a strategy for bringing people together to advocate for their own self interest and through that advocacy to overcome the resistance, opposition and hostility of established interests in the community.
You need to focus on bringing people together because the community of tobacco control activists is small, and you must help the broader community see their self interest in stronger tobacco control laws. You need to build power because changing the behavior of public officials is not easy. As organizers, you need to demonstrate to elected officials that your campaign is rich in the currency of politics -- public support, opinion leader support, organizational support, youth support and media support.
At the foundation of this approach is an awareness that change cannot happen without struggle and that organizing is overwhelmingly about personal relationships. Early in the Midwest Academy's manual ORGANIZE, the authors stress the importance of relationships.
"The personal is political: Organizing is overwhelmingly about personal relationships. It is about changing the world and changing how individuals act together. The relationships organizers develop are their most important resource and forming relationships their most important talent."
Bringing people together and building a powerful campaign requires a strategy. That's why the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart is the most important organizing tool in your campaign.
Additional articles by the Center about tobacco control coalitions & organizing:
Chart for Success: Working with a Strategy Chart to Plan your Campaign Strategy
Organizing With Champion: Tips for Your Campaign
Recipe for Success: Reaching Decision Makers with the Right People
What is a Separate Campaign Team?
What Side Are You On? Passing Policy with Insider & Outsider Strategies