At its heart, community organizing, like the kind Common Ground does, requires a great degree of, well… organizing. But where do groups like ours go for guidance? Where do we find out what we are doing right and what could be done better?
Luckily, generations before us have set a path we can follow and build upon: thought leaders whose beliefs begin with making the radical notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a reality. One such place, probably the penultimate resource, is the Industrial Areas Foundation. Common Ground is part of a national network affiliated with the IAF, the oldest and largest institution of professional organizing in the United States.
This month, we have nine Common Ground members travelling to receive IAF training. We spoke with a few to find our what their hopes and expectations were going in.
Michelle Puzin Mooney:
I am hoping to gain new perspectives and skills in how to recruit, train, and support new leadership for Common Ground. I also hope to gain new ways to frame, research, plan and run even more effective actions for the future. Finally I want more help in keeping my own mouth shut and to actively listen to others!
I hope that it will make me a more effective leader so that Common Ground can continue to build the power base it needs; to affect real change in how we govern ourselves in the Milwaukee community.
I want us to “kick butt” for the common guy, the guy who needs to know – by standing together – we can bring positive change.
I’m looking to learn from people that have a lot more experience than I do and a lot more knowledge about organizing. I’d like to gain insights into the way we organize, why we organize, what the challenges are and how to overcome them.
In addition to that, I hope to develop relationships with other people from around the country – if not, the world; people that I can learn from. I think it will be great to hear all of the stories that make up the Industrial Areas Foundation.
The more I learn, the more effective I will be for my colleagues and as a leader for the volunteers I work with.
Creating change can be a great experiment or it can be an informed plan. With so much at stake, we choose to plan – using strategies that have been successful for the organizations we aspire to.
Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll share post-training impressions and insights from the team.