Broad-Based Community Organizing

IPL hosted a community organizing training for OTOC and community leaders about building relational broad-based organizations. On Monday, July 8th Paul Turner, an Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) community organizer, kicked off the first training session from the series Reflecting on Democracy: Why People of Faith Matter. Turner first explained IAF’s unique history. IAF is a network of local faith and community-based organizations, and OTOC is one of those organizations. 

In the 1930’s, Saul Alinsky, a social entrepreneur and community organizer, formed the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, which gathered people together to discuss, organize, and accommodate to the rising needs for the Chicago area during the Great Depression. Together these people were able to attain a level of power to make changes. In 1972, Alinsky used this model to create the Industrial Areas Foundation and helped formally train people as community organizers. After Alinsky’s leadership, other organizers such as Ernesto Cortez emphasized relational power as a prominent strategy for community organizing. Here, relational power is defined as power among and between. This is different than the common idea that power is tyrannical and oppressive. Power with each other gives a voice to ordinary people to have a seat at the table on decisions that affect them.

Turner then connected the rich IAF history to the effectiveness of broad based organizing, by comparing it to the strategies of movements. Movements consist of individual members that all act for a specific cause or issue. Broad-based organizing, however, consists of institutions and focus on relational power to collectively organize people and money. Although broad-based organizations such as OTOC have action teams that focus on issues, the issues themselves are a means to an end, not specifically the end. Broad-based organizations are built on the relationships, not the issue, which makes the sustained impact more powerful, and the organization has a louder voice to use on important issues.

Overall, it was a great and formative event! We hope to see you at our next training session, August 12th to learn about the importance of public and private relationships. Our 3-day training will be October 17-19. Click here to register now: