|COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AND LEADERSHIP
(Urban and Environmental Policy 310/311)
Director, Urban and Environmental Policy Program
Los Angeles, California, USA
Classes: Tuesday/Thursday, 10-11:25 a.m.
The purpose of the course is to help prepare you to be effective leaders. Some of you may want to become professional organizers, but all of you are ) and will continue to be ) citizens in some community. If you want to be an effective, active citizen who can make a difference in your community, you will need to use the tools of leadership and organization-building.
The course examines the history of community organizing in the United States. It explores the different theories and approaches to effective grassroots organizing. It emphasizes the skills and techniques used to empower people so they can win victories and improve their communities.
Your grade will be based on three things:
Students should also regularly bring to class articles from newspapers or magazines that relate to the topics discussed in the course.
The following paperback books should be purchased from the Bookstore:
Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall and Steve Max, Organizing for Social Change: A Manual for Activists in the 1990s, third edition (Carson, Calif.: Seven Locks,  1991)
Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics (Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, 1990)
David Reynolds, Taking the High Road: Communities Organize for Economic Change (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2002)
The following required reports and handbooks will be distributed for free in class:
Neal R. Peirce and Carol F. Steinbach, Corrective Capitalism: The Rise of America's Community Development Corporations (New York: Ford Foundation, 1987)
This is the best overview of the history of community organizing. It describes various efforts and strategies to organize communities and neighborhoods in this century.
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: a pragmatic
primer for realistic radicals (New York: Vintage Books,
 1971) and Reveille for Radicals
(New York: Vintage Books, , 1946)
Gregory F. Pierce, Activism That Makes Sense: Congregations and Community Organization (Chicago, Ill.: ACTA Publications, , 1984)
Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism: media strategies for grassroots organizing (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1991)
Randy Shaw, The Activist's Handbook: a primer for the 1990s and beyond (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996) and
Mark R. Warren, Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001)
I hope that all of you will become familiar with the World Wide Web as a way to connect to the larger worlds of public policy, advocacy, and organizing. There are thousands of web sites that deal with social issues and thousands of advocacy organizations and political networks that have their own web sites. Here are several key sites with which you should be familiar. I encourage you to bookmark them so you can find them easily.
The Electronic Policy Network
Campaign for America's Future
|These sites link with dozens of organizations and publications that deal with public policy issues. They include organizations such as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Economic Policy Institute, Public/Private Ventures, The American Prospect magazine, Center for Law and Social Policy, and others. They include links to issues such as economics and politics, welfare and families, education, civic participation, and health policy.|
|Community Organizing and Development
|This site is a link with hundreds of groups involved in urban community development. If you want to find out what groups are working on different urban issues, this is the site. It also has many articles and reports on urban community development and community organizing.|
|The Center for Neighborhood Technology
The National Housing Institute
Civic Practices Network
|All focus on innovative research and programs that strengthen urban neighborhoods and metropolitan areas. Each site has links to many other resources about particular issues, programs, cities, and metropolitan areas.|
|HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
|The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has its own web site with information about its programs, policies, data bases, and many links. This site has a great deal of information about housing and urban problems, studies and publications, and available data. You reach can the HUD library, with many reports and publications about cities and housing problems, at this site.|
|United Students Against Sweatshops
National Labor Committee
|These are three of the leading organizations working to raise awareness about and eliminate sweatshops in the U.S. and overseas.|
|These are two of the most important magazines analyzing American politics from a progressive, grassroots perspective.
|Demos - A Network for Ideas and Action
Center for Responsive Politics
Good Jobs First
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
California Budget Project
Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty in Los Angeles
Tom Paine: Common Sense
|These think tanks all provide interesting policy ideas on such issues as tax policy, campaign finance, anti-poverty policy, economic development, citizen participation, housing and homelessness, voting rights, and others.|
Moveon.Org: Democracy in Action
|These websites from various activist organizations reflect much of the best organizing taking place around the U.S. and in L.A.
In addition to speakers I've invited to our seminar, several prominent activists and thinkers will be speaking on campus this semester. I will let you know about these events and encourage you to attend.
READINGS, FILMS, SPEAKERS, AND DISCUSSION TOPICS
The course will cover the following topics.
Students should have reading assignments completed before the class discussion on the topic.
Readings with an asterisk (*) will be included in a packet for students to purchase.
Economic, Political and Social Power:
What is the relationship between organizing and democracy? How do economic, social and political conditions shape what people care about and are willing to organize around? How do the relations of power influence people's options? What values are reflected in community organizing? What's the connection between community organizing and solving large-scale social problems?
Introduction Thursday, August 28
Why Do We Organize? Tuesday, September 2
What Is Economic Power? Thursday, September 4
What is Political Power? Tuesday, September 9
What is Social Power? Thursday, September 11
What Can Organizing Achieve? Tuesday, September 16
What King of Organizing is Going on in LA? Thursday, September 18
Getting People Involved: Mobilizing Motivation and Participation
Organizing requires participation. Participation depends on motivating people to take the responsibility to act -- the "iron law" of organizing. Since people have a lot of other things to do in their lives, How do effective organizers and leaders build organizations by getting people to actively participate? How do they avoid the "free rider" problem? (If I can benefit from what an organization does without having to participate, why should I participate?) How do they find out what motivates people? What's the difference between organizing and manipulation? What is the difference between direct action organizing, social work, advocacy, and community development as approaches to solving community problems?
Tuesday, September 23
Why Do People Participate? Thursday, September 25
Case Study: LA Food Security Campaign? Tuesday, September 30
What Keeps People Going When Things Look Bad? Thursday, October 2
Leaders, Followers, and Organizations
What are the skills and roles of a good organizer? What's the difference between an organizer and a leader? How do you find people to participate in community organizations and actions? How do you help people to become effective, self-confident leaders? How do you divide up responsibilities to maximize people's involvement and skills? How do you keep up morale and enthusiasm among members? How do you keep an organization together that becomes the vehicle for grassroots "empowerment"?
Organizers Organize Organizations Tuesday, October 7
Organizers Find and Develop Leaders Tuesday, October 14
Thursday, October 16
What Makes a Good Leader? Thursday, October 17
Taking Action: Campaigns, Strategies, Tactics, and Coalitions
How do you pick the most effective way to mobilize people around issues? How do you design winning issue-oriented campaigns around government policy and corporate conduct? When do you use "direct action", such as confrontation and civil disobedience? How do you lobby effectively? How do you organize an effective rally or demonstration? How do you organize a successful public hearing? How do you run a successful meeting? How do you negotiate with people in power? What's the difference between winning and losing? What is the difference between a "cop out" and a "compromise"?
Case Study: LA Housing Trust Fund Campaign Thursday, October 23
Thinking Strategically Tuesday, October 28
Thursday, October 30
Labor Unions, Labor-Community Coalitions, and Labor-Student Coalitions
What is the history of the labor movement in the U.S.? What is the current status of the labor movement? What are the differences and similarities between labor organizing and community organizing? How have labor unions sought to develop allies among religious, community, and student groups? What are some of the key issues that unions organize around?
The Living Wage Movement Tuesday, November 4
How do Unions Organize? Thursday, November 6
Student-Labor Alliances and the Anti-Sweatshop Movement Tuesday, November 11
Sweatshops Wednesday, November 12 (extra session)
Identifying Problems/Choosing Issues
How do you learn about your community and neighborhood? How do you identify what the "problems" are? What's the difference between a "problem" and an "issue"? How do you decide what issues to work on? What are "winnable" issues? Who are your friends and your enemies? How do you find allies?
Thursday, November 13
Tuesday, November 18
Action Research, Intelligence Gathering, and Communication
How do grassroots organizations use information to help them win victories? How and where do they get that information? What's the difference between "research" and "intelligence gathering"? How do you do research about an issue? How do you do research about the political, economic, and civic "power structure"? How do you interview people? How do grassroots organizations communicate their message? What are the different audiences for their message? How do they get the mass media to pay attention?
Thursday, November 20
Tueday, November 25
Tuesday, December 2
Wednesday, December 3 (extra session)
Thursday, December 4
As part of this course, you should keep a journal. Your journal should record your internship activities. You should take notes on your observations and impressions about the people, the organization, the community, and issues you are dealing with. You should record your own activities -- including the highlights and problems.
Each student in this course is required to write a short paper (15 pages) describing and analyzing your internship and the organization you worked with. The paper should draw on the class materials (readings, films, speakers, exercises) as well as your experiences and your journal. The paper should explain what you learned about community organizing ) especially, what are the key elements of effective community organizing and how well the organization met these criteria.
Your final paper should aim to be objective. That means you should view the organization from a variety of angles and perspectives -- not simply the perspective of your supervisor. You should look at the organization from the perspective of the staff, the board, constituents, allies, targets, and others. Then you can come to your own conclusion based on having an "outsider's" view of the organization. In order to write this paper, in other words, you will need to talk to people besides your intern supervisor. Your analysis of the organization's strengths and weaknesses should be based on the criteria we have discussed and read about in class. To help you think about these issues, I will put on the course website a chapter called “Getting to Know the Placement Site” from the book The Successful Internship: Transformation and Empowerment in Experiential Learning by H. Frederick Sweitzer and Mary A. King (second edition, Thompson-Brooks/Cole Publishers, 2004). Please read this chapter within the first two weeks of your internship.
The final paper should include an evaluation of the organization and of your internship. Topics should include (but aren't limited to) the following:
Syllabus prepared 13 November 2003 for H-Urban Teaching
Syllabus copyright 2003 Peter Dreier. All rights reserved.