Community organising is the work of building relationships and networks in communities to activate people and create social and political change through collective action.
Organiser Mark Parker recently visited Moscow at the invitation of the new School of Community Organising.
The community organising process involves identifying what people care strongly about in a community through 1-2-1 conversations, building relationships and networks that are strong enough to support a long struggle for change, developing community leaders and mobilising people to take collective action to achieve a shift of power and significant social change.
“We believe that community organising has the potential to establish a new and much healthier social contract between people and power. Community organising, grounded at local level, provides the means for people – above all those who are most excluded from the inner circles of power and privilege – to combine and be counted, to discover their ability to identify those changes which will mean most to them and, on their own terms, take action to tackle vested interests. Through community organising the realisation of individual potential and the creation of self-determining communities go hand in hand.”, Locality bid to run the CO Programme
The roots of community organising go back to the 19th century in Europe, the United States, South Africa and South America. The ideas and techniques were developed over 100 years in the tenants empowerment and trades union movements, the Settlement movement, the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the community enterprise and cooperative movement and other movements for social justice, critical education and community ownership.
Many thinkers and activists have helped to shape the community organising movement around the globe, for example Tom Paine, Paulo Freire, Henrietta Barnett, Augusto Boal, Mary Parker Follett, Mahatma Ghandi, Robert Owen, Kurt Lewin, Saul Alinsky, Steve Biko, Robert Putman, Ann Hope and Sally Timmel.
To find out more about community organising and its history explore Infed.