A useful model for understanding activist burnout and how to avoid it from the Transitions Towns movement. Includes a downloadable worksheet with prompts for reflection.
Reclaim the City are desegregating the inner city suburbs of Cape Town by fighting for housing for the poor. They do this by occupying sites to create emergency accommodation while also campaigning for the building of affordable housing.
The massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is similar to many that have happened at schools across the USA. But there is a hope here in Florida that feels different to previous tragedies, because of the powerful political analysis and leadership coming from students.
#FeesMustFall movement was very diverse and rich with dialogue and conflict. This letter by a student leader, Anzio Cameron, gives a live account of some of the tensions that divided the movement.
Keith Kelleher tells the history of fastfood worker organising – complete with employer dirty tricks, ambitious organisers, and efforts to rapidly scale up. Low wage workers are now organising nationwide for a new minimum wage – The Fight for $15.
Sally McManus came under a fair bit of flak when she declared on her first day in the job that she didn’t have a problem breaking bad laws. Her comments reflect an understanding of how democracies negotiate social change.
In 2014 the Hong Kong Umbrella Occupation shook the world. The 79-day occupation of the Admiralty political and commercial district ended on 11 December 2014, with the police arresting hundreds of protesters.
The story of how GetUp successfully organised in the seat of Bass to remove sitting MP Andrew Nikolic at the 2016 federal election. Lessons include the power of mixing online and offline; the power of mixing local with national; and have the local lead the national.
The midterm elections in the US have delivered the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Why did this happen? The nation got organised into opposing Trump. And one of the major forces behind that organisation is Indivisible.
When we leave politics to the politicians, we get The Canberra Show. But when people organised in their communities, acting on their deep concerns, have the skills and knowledge to act powerfully a new political life might finally be possible.
Who knew that TV could teach you how to change the world! Embedded in Brooklyn Nine Nine’s approach to sitcom writing are a few lessons about how we can successfully communicate important, difficult issues to a wider audience.
Joel Dignam reviews Marshall Ganz’ approach to story as fundamental to organising. Through story we understand happenings, communicate our values, and make sense of our choices.
Joel Dignam reviews Ground Wars, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen’s hands-on ethnographic study of two competitive congressional campaigns in the 2008 US election. The book is a richly-detailed portrait of contemporary field campaigning.
Overwork has heavy costs. Working longer hours is dangerous and ineffective. But poor management, the subconscious, workplace culture, and work volume, can each be a barrier to better workplace practices. Thankfully though, these barriers can be overcome.
Joel Dignam reviews Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” which explores some of the key structural problems facing groups. Recognising that power dynamics are present in all groups Freeman proposes formal structures, transparency and accountability.
Civic associations depend upon volunteers to get their work done. Joel Dignam distils insights from Ruth Wageman and Richard Hackman’s “Designing work for individuals and for groups” from Perspectives on Behavior in Organizations.
This article outlines a model for thinking about the different levels of engagement of people involved in a campaign; what kinds of things people at each level can do, and what support they need to do those things; and how people can move from one level to another, aka a ‘ladder of engagement’. It also has implications for how we think about events and capacity, and for how well a campaign can scale.
Joel Dignam reviews Marshall Ganz’ treatment of structure as a craft of organising. As Ganz notes “Developing leadership requires structuring the work of the organization so it affords as many people as possible the opportunity to learn to lead.”
Insights from The Organizational Roots of Political Activism: Field Experiments on Creating a Relational Context. In her paper, Han demonstrates that a relational context affects civic engagement, arguing that decisions like voting or other forms of activism aren’t based upon a simple cost-benefit analysis.
Joel Dignam reviews Paul and Mark Engler’s 2016 book This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century. TIAU is an analysis of social change, how it has occurred, and how contemporary campaigners may make it occur again.