Organize!

In our Organize! columns we explore various lessons in organizing strategies and tactics, going beyond the outside story of a campaign to look at how it worked or what lessons it might have to teach us.

A man, who is surrounded by people holding signs, speaks at a podium in in New York.

Moving Beyond Place-Based Community Organizing

How to train organizers to work across various communities, not just neighborhoods.

Learning to Love Sticky Cities

Dispelling stereotypes, the Great Lakes Urban Exchange has set out to unite the Rust Belt, starting with restoration of the Great Lakes region and ending with equitable, sustainable transformation.

From Brooklyn to Berlin: Organizing Schoeneweide

The scene looks familiar enough. In a foyer outside an elegant legislative chamber, a group of citizens is pigeonholing their local politicians. A vote on the annual budget is expected in the next several...

Gaining Ground by Holding Back

Late last year, St. Louis ACORN members learned that Regional Hospital – the city's only "safety net" hospital that guaranteed care regardless of ability to pay – was going to close. ACORN's local leaders...

Beating Bank-Owned Blight

When Oakland residents raised hell about trashed foreclosed houses harming their neighborhoods, the city got on board and changed the way it handles code violations on bank-owned properties.

Patience and Politics

State education departments are always looking for ways to improve low-performing schools, and not always finding them. In 1992, the Texas Education Agency agreed to try something unusual – a proposal by the Industrial...
Three members of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California give a thumbs up as they hold "Register and Vote" signs in different languages.

How the Bay Area Got $2 Billion for Affordable Homes

San Francisco Bay Area voters approved bold new investments in 2016 after housing advocates--part of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California--ignited a successful electoral strategy for the general election. Here's how it worked.

New CDC Trade Association Lays Infrastructure

As sequestration takes hold and Congress wrestles with FY 2014 budget negotiations, the affordable housing and community development field is in a fragile state. With HOME funds recently cut by more than a...

Demanding a Better Deal

Save Middle East Action Committee (SMEAC) was created in 2001 by community stakeholders and representatives in Baltimore after the local newspaper announced that they would be forcibly dislocated from their homes for construction of...

Grassroots Advocacy Strengthens Housing Trust Fund

Washington state housing activists came together in 1997 to launch the  Housing Our Community Campaign to increase the state Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to $100 million per biennium.  The HTF, which had been funded...

A Radically Different Planning Process in Brownsville

In a year-long program that included bike rides, serenades, and Dragtivist performances, an art collective guided Brownsville, Texas, residents in reimagining how they could influence equity and justice in their city.

Thirty-Five Years of Building Citizen Power

The 2008 presidential contest vaulted community organizing into the national limelight, as the McCain campaign sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s background in the field. Spurred by their newfound visibility,...

New Jersey’s Campaign Against Lead

The effects of lead poisoning on a child’s physical and emotional development and cognitive ability are well known. An investigation that ran two years ago in the Star-Ledger of New Jersey estimated that 7,000...

Finding Common Ground

Everyone knows the real story of Las Vegas – enormous power concentrated in the hands of casinos, unchecked by government and oblivious to community responsibility. Las Vegas is also a city of staggering growth...

Living in the Buffer

Preventing the development of new affordable housing in close proximity to freeways isn't a just solution to the health effects of LA's air pollution.

Don’t Start Small

It’s often said that organizers should begin with easily attainable goals to bolster their group’s confidence. But Caroline Murray, executive director of the Anti-Displacement Project (ADP) in Massachusetts, calls that kind of organizing a...
A sign for payday loans is seen on a window, with a illustration of a man in a suit holder cash in his arms. The sign also reads "Fast friendly service. $50 to $500."

Getting New Jersey to Divest from Payday Lending

NJ Citizen Action says having a state pension fund invested, even indirectly, in a form of lending illegal in the state cannot stand.

The Fight to Save Section 8

In April 2004, when the Bush Administration launched a major assault on the program that helps Marion Brady pay her rent, she sprang into action. Though she suffers from a debilitating illness, it did...

Strategy Shift Yields Jobs from Marriott

A local organization affiliated with National People's Action, a 27-year-old coalition of grassroots neighborhood groups, won a public meeting with Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard in February. One of the assumptions behind the meeting...

Tenant Organizing When Rising Rent Isn’t the (Main) Issue

Tenant organizing has been re-energized in coastal cities where housing costs are soaring. But tenants need a voice in the rest of the country too—and they are organizing to get one.

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