Despite all this good work by ourselves and many others, the shocking challenges of the last few years reveal that there is so much more to do, that now is the time to do it, and that it must be rooted in building the civic capacity required to make democracy work. The need to act is clear. The desire to act is evident. The challenge is to arm that desire with the leadership, skills, and capacity to act effectively. It is to this need that we can contribute.
The unique contribution of LNC – rooted in the ongoing development of leadership who learn to build organizational capacity on the ground – is a pedagogy that can enable people to learn organizing quickly, transfer their learning to others, and build organization in the process. This approach, which grew out of decades of organizing experience, the insights and social science, and the teaching of practice is neither a “model” nor a “blueprint” but more of a “roadmap” – a way to locate the cultural, political, and social resources within one’s own experience, community and domain of practice.
This approach is based on mastery of five core practices on which any organizing effort will be based: relationship building, storytelling, strategizing, structuring, and action.
Relationship building grounds the learning, solidarity, and commitment that distinguishes the collective capacity at the heart of organizing from the transactional aggregation of individual resources for a moment that is typical of mobilizing. Story telling – public narrative – is a means thru which shared values can be accessed for the emotional resources to act with agency: hope rather than fear, empathy instead of alienation, and self-worth instead of self-doubt. Strategizing, a verb, not a noun, is the how we turn resources we have into the power we need to get what we want. Structuring is how we develop a shared purpose; create norms of self-governance, and roles. Based on distributed leadership based on leadership teams it is a way to cascade leadership deeply within a constituency and, at the same time, avoid Jo Freeman’s “tyranny of structurelessness.” Action is how to create strategic “facts on the ground” (votes, people) based on motivation and commitment and in ways that can be counted to insure ongoing learning. All this plays out in the form of a campaign. Finally, the training itself is based on the ongoing development of small group coaches from among former participants, the constituency with whom we work, or others who want to learn. They, in turn, became trainers, coordinators, and organizers. In addition to having experience with this approach within the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, we have capacity in Arabic, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, French, Urdu, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese. More specifically we have in our network the capacity of 170 trainers, from 36 countries who are implementing trainings in 30 different languages. All this is rooted in a culture of dedication to craft, ongoing evaluation, and continual learning.