An online course about organizing from the Changemakers Organizing School.
The ChangeMakers Organising School is a little unlike a traditional training program. We don’t have a curriculum that ends. Instead we produce continual content on the topics of organising, relationships, narrative, action, power and change – mixing in new case studies, new questions and new approaches.
We have produced an extensive library of content on these different topics – anything from traditional trainings on relational meetings to novel approaches to digital organising or coalition building. All of our sessions have been recorded and we provide the slides alongside a short overview of what was covered and by whom. You can click the tabs for the relevant weeks to scroll the 25+ weeks of content, that are broken up into seasons. These are also linked below.
We encourage others to use these videos as resources in your own training or for personal development. That is why we recorded them! But we just ask that you recognise where they came from – your friends at the ChangeMakers Organising School.
Season One of our ChangeMakers Organising School – initially called Organising in a Pandemic – began in a flurry in late March 2020 as the Australian lockdown began. For 14 weeks we explored a different concept, approach, skill or perspective on community organising or change making. Each session is described below with links to edited videos of the trainings.
We provide them for you to use and share. If you do use them, we just ask that you mention that you got the materials from the ChangeMakers Organising School (and do mention to people that we continue to run every Thursday during school terms as an evergreen broadcast – anyone and everyone is very welcome to join).
SESSION ONE: Public dimensions of our private lives
Our first session is providing some tools to help us interpret the political and public nature of the private pain that we are all feeling (differently) in this moment. The session is designed to not only provide a new narrative for our own experience, but to teach other people we work with. The slides from this session are here.
SESSION TWO: When everything changes, can everything change?
This online session will explore power and major shifts in the economy, climate, democracy as we negotiate a new world. We’ll hear about what’s changing, how it’s impacting upon different groups of people, discuss what opportunities and threats this moment presents and how we can respond. We will look at three approaches – listening, cutting the issue and multi-issue claim making. More resources are here.
SESSION THREE: Relational meetings
How can we have powerful conversations at a time of physical distancing. Relational meetings provide a method for helping us share and explore what makes us tick and are an essential tool for building powerful relationships, now more than ever. More resources and articles here, and the video of the session is here.
SESSION FOUR: Understanding Power to Build a Better world
Power. There is a lot of talk about power, but we often don’t have a clear conceptual understanding of how it works. This session explores the concept of power, who sets it and how power can be challenged. The first half of the session explored the concepts of power over and power with, the second half explored the three ‘arenas of power. The slides from the session are here, and an edited video is here.
SESSION FIVE: Building Powerful Coalitions
To win big things we need to work with others, but what does it take to do this powerfully? This book packages some of the lessons from the book Power in Coalition into an easy to digest form. The video from this session is here and the slides are here, and a useful chapter from that book is here.
SESSION SIX: Public Narrative
“Because stories allow us to express our values not as abstract principles, but as lived experience, they have the power to move others.” Our ability to communicate and to persuade others relates directly to how well we are able to express our experiences, challenges and goals.
This session will run through the method that is public narrative – which is how we project ourselves in speeches, one to one, in meetings, in public life.
A series of concepts will be laid out, which will be then explored through examples. People will have time to do some work on a story and then share and get feedback from others in break out groups. You are invited to come to the session with an idea of something you want to say to a particular audience. This session will be run by Marc Stears, former speech writer for Ed Miliband in the UK and now Director of the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney. The video of this session is here and the slides are here.
SESSION SEVEN: Understanding People Power
Why is it that some mass rallies work to make change and some do not? Are there different ways in which people can come together to make a powerful impact and achieve social change?
This session unpacks a variety of different ways that we gather together in the process of making change – identifying five different strategies. Based on new scholarship by Amanda Tattersall and Kurt Iveson, this new approach identifies that people can gather in these ways: Playing by the rules (petitions, lobbying, the courts); Mobilising (mass rallies); Organising (build leaders); Prefiguring (modelling the change we want to see, eg creating the thing you want changed – like building your own affordable housing) and Parties (political parties and electoral work).
This session defines each of these approaches using stories of change from around the world. In the second half we hear from three civil society leaders who engage in these different strategies. The argument at the heart of this is – how can we use these different approaches to build new forms of powerful change? When do these strategies work well together and when do they create conflict? This session will ask us all to examine how well we are at combining these different strategies. What strategies do you have a preference for? This session will invite you to discuss, and be challenged, by the possibilities of other strategies.
Democracy is constantly changing and contested. Our democracy is not just about voting but all spheres of public life. What challenges and opportunities does the COVID moment present. The slides from this training are here and the video of the zoom training is here.
SESSION NINE: Politics 101
How does the Australian political system work? How can we engage with it and what is the role for civil society and social movements? Amanda Tattersall runs through 8 rules for working with politicians and the political system, then John Robertson former NSW ALP Opposition Leaders explains some helpful approaches that change makers can take to influence and change the political process. The slides are here and the video of the zoom training is here.
SESSION TEN: Qualities of Leaders
To build mass movements we need lots of people – but who are the right people that we need to be leaders in our movements? And, what is a leader anyway? What qualities are we looking for when we recruit and nurture people to take on responsibility and roles when working for change.
You’ll hear from inspiring social change makers who will share their stories about leadership. Then, Amanda Tattersall will present on what we mean when we talk about leadership in organising, and the 8 qualities of leaders. And hint – it’s not the people who give speeches that are the most important but the ones we work amongst the crowd to sustain the movement. This session will discuss what makes this work powerful. The video of the session is here.
SESSION ELEVEN: Organising Cycle and Table Talks
How do we make sure we’re taking effective action together? How do we make sure we’re always working to build bigger, stronger, and more resilient movements? This session was led by Elise Ganley from Queensland Community Alliance. Together we explored how to lead with listening, relationships and build a plan of action that is then evaluated – to get us where we need to be, without leaving people behind. In the second half the training ran through the art of ‘table talks’ (also called kitchen table conversations or house meetings) as strategies for mass engagement of new people in movements. A useful article about the organising cycle is here . The slides from the session are here and the video of the training is here.
SESSION TWELVE: Building Relationships and Power for Transformation
This week we will be looking at building relationships and power as part of a winning campaign strategy.
We’re excited to welcome the following speakers who will share stories of how alliance campaigns can welcome a variety of types of people power:
Annie Kia from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers and the Bentley Blockade
Adam Knobel from the Australian Marriage Equality campaign
Matt and Ruby – reflections from the current blockade to free refugees at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane
Amanda Tattersall will host the discussion and reflections – looking at strategies for when relationships get hard and people get hard, unpacking some of the challenges that are very familiar in coalitions but not often talked about. The video of the training is here and the slides are here.
SESSION THIRTEEN: Digital Organising, Part 1 – How does it work?
Digital tools are integral to today’s Organising, but how did they develop? What’s the best way to use them?
This week, two Hong Kong democracy activists and OPEN’s Phil Ireland uncover the history of digital Organising and help us understand how it works today.
You’ll hear about the diversity of digital actions that you can take, with some golden global examples – including first hand stories from the groundbreaking digital work of the 2019 Hong Kong Protests. The video included here, does not include the HK activists due to the National Security Law, however the slides do include their presentation.
SESSION FOURTEEN: Digital Organising, Part 2 – What makes it work?
How do we move our supporters from online to offline action? This week, digital Organiser James Clark shared a framework for maximising your digital effort to have real-world impact – adapted from the Momentum approach to building movements..
We’ll explore how to make sure digital fits into the rest of your organising, and share examples of current Australian campaigns trying new things to do this crucial movement building work better! The slides are here and the video of the training is here.
Session Two of the ChangeMakers Organising School began on the 13 August, with seven weeks of change making content. We provide all the content overviews, slides, relevant articles and edited videos of the trainings here. You can register for season 2 here.
Norms, Purpose and Relationships – how we all work best together
In our first week we will take the time to set up the seven week season, focusing on the all-important organising skills required to work well together. In the first half, Isabella Morand explored how to build good group culture and reflections on the norms of this training (as outlined in our purpose and norms document).
In the second half Amanda Tattersall did an advanced training on relational meetings. Participants were supplied with the introductory relational meeting video from our first session. This session provided a brief recap, model a relational meeting and then debriefed the meeting teaching several key insights for powerful relational meetings (eg. probe not pry, political autobiography, public and private, questions and interruption).
The video of the session is here, and the slides are here.
Campaign planning in a pandemic
This week, Millie Anthony from Tipping Point will train in the basic tools of campaign planning, including goal setting, theory of change, critical path, power analysis, strategy and tactical approaches.
The second half involves reflections from campaigners on doing our work amidst the complexity of COVID, exploring how campaigns need to shift approaches to respond to pandemic times They’ll show how these elements covered by Millie work in practice, identifying insights for participants for their own campaign work.
The video of the session is here and the slides are here.
Learning from the Power of First Nations Resistance and Relationships
In week three, Original Power’s Edie Shepherd presented on the power and history of First Nations resistance. The first half of this session explored lessons from the history of Black Resistance in Australia – drawing from the Frontier Wars, Black Power, Land Rights and fighting Black Deaths in Custody. The session centred Black resistance in the story of struggle in this country, and identifies distinctive, often poorly known approaches that could help inform social change today.
The second half focused on working with First Nations, and through examples shared by Christine Dungay and Paddy Gibson explored lessons drawn from the justice fight for David Dungay Jr and the fight to end Black Deaths in Custody/ Their talks centred on strategies for building powerful Black and White relationships.
The video of the session is here and the slides are here.
What does it take to change political decision makers: Campaigning in an election
This session discussed how we can make change using elections. To frame the session, Amanda Tattersall shared some concepts about electoral politics. We reflected that there is a lot to learn in this space, identifying some of the struggles we have had.
We then dove into the August 2020 Northern Territory election, with local organiser Jamine Story reflecting on their (very recent!) campaign (looking back), drawing out not only what they did but the more universal elements that speak to how the campaign has been contested.
After a breakout, we featured two campaigners Emily Kain and Jason Young from the upcoming Queensland election (looking forward) who shared their plans and reflections on how to build an election campaign in real time.
The video of the session is here and the slides are here.
Building Scalable, Participatory Activism: How to make the most of your list
Most social movement organisations have contact lists of thousands of people who would be prepared to put in a couple of hours each week or each month. What is the most we can hope for from these supporters? Are donations, petition signing, and the occasional rally all such supporters are capable of?
Nick Harrigan, academic and delegate from the National Tertiary Education Union, explored strategies for organising large scale, participatory, volunteer run organising in Singapore and Australia. At the core of his talk are two questions:
How can we create meaningful, interesting, collective activism that supporters can do with minimal resources and training?
What skills do leaders need to set up such work?
The session offers concepts as well as very practical tools that you could use to test out some of these insights in your group.
The slides from the session are here and the video will be placed here when edited.
Taking People from Passive Interest to Active Involvement: Using the conversation tool Anger, Hope, Action
Drawing from the work of the union movement, in this session Alice Solomon teaches the conversational tool – ‘anger, hope, action.’ This is a different conversational practice than the relational meeting – and is designed to work with people in target communities (like a workplace, or an organisation) who are in a space where a campaign is building. The tool explores the specific challenges they face, what change could mean, and encourages them to take action. The tool is a persuasion tool designed to get people to take action.
The session teaches the purpose of the tool, models the tool, provides space for using and practicing the tool, and explores some case studies of when and how it has been applied.
The slides from the session are here and the recording is here.
Evaluation & Reflection
This week we’ll focus on the importance of evaluation and reflection in organising before then applying the skill practically by engaging in an evaluation of this season of the training.
We teach the art of evaluation and the (useful) difference between debrief and evaluation. We revisit the organising cycle and how good evaluation is crucial to good organising.
We also explore the power of reflection and bend the mirror back towards ourselves with an evaluation of our second season of training.
The slides from the session are here and the video will be placed here when edited.
Session Three of the ChangeMakers Organising School will begin on 15 October, with eight weeks of change making content. We provide all the content overviews, slides, relevant articles and edited videos of the trainings here. You can register for season 3 here.
Theory of Change
To kick off season three we discuss the concept of theory of change. Theory of change is a broadly used term to describe the process by which movements or organisations conceive how they will achieve the change they mean. In the first half, Isabella Morand will break this down by using the ‘Strategies of People Power’ that we have presented earlier (playing by the rules, mobilising, organising, prefigurative and parties).
In the second half we will have three presenters dig into the ‘organising’ theory of change (after all, we are an organising school!). We were pleased to welcome Rachel Cowcher from Amnesty International (who organise local groups around issues based change), David Barrow from the Sydney Alliance (who organise organisations around shared values) and Alex Morales from the United Workers Union (who organise constituencies around collective interest!). They’ll be unpacking their different approaches to Organising to help you reflect on your own theories of change.
You can see the recording of this session here and the slides here.
Organising in the US Election
The US Elections are happening under the most dire of circumstances and the stakes couldn’t be higher. What are organisers and change makers doing to make a difference?
In the first half we will hear from James Slezak – a long time US resident who works in communications and digital technology. As changemakers, we want to change hearts and minds – and what we say, and who we say it to, matters. James will share lessons on how communications are shaping the election, and what we can learn from tech and testing.
In the second half we will dive into the peer-to-peer organising practices being used in the elections, in particular Deep Canvassing and Relational Organising. We have a brilliant video message from Hahrie Han explaining how relational organising works, and then Amanda Tattersall will take us through Deep Canvassing showing a conversation on the door.
You can catch up on the recording of the session here. The main slide show is here, and James’ slides are here.
Further resources on the two organising tactics we explored:
How do you organise around economics and the budget?
In the midst of economic collapse the capacity to organise economic need and economic principles is higher that ever. But the language of economics often leaves people feeling like they don’t know what is going on or how to contribute. This session features two of Australia’s leading progressive economic thinkers, who will talk about how to organise around economics – followed by case studies of people who have done that well. They are:
Emma Dawson, Executive Director Per Capita
Gareth Bryant, Political Economy, University of Sydney and Real Deal Coalition.
The presentations are still being finalised, but the presentation on the Real Deal will include an outline about how that project came about, what it is arguing for and what a long term economic transformation might involve.
You can catch up on the recording here and slides here.
Creative Action Planning
Creative tactics that grab people’s attention and tell your story clearly are an important element of a winning campaign. This week we’ll share a model for planning a great action – a tactic to further your campaign strategy. We’ll unpack some key concepts of action design and make time for you to reflect on how to plan an effective action.
During the second half of the training, we’ll lean more into the ‘creativity’ aspect of this week – hearing from artists and troublemakers about how they’ve pulled off creative actions.
Lauren Mellor will share her story of DIY drilling a fracking well outside NT parliament
Charles Firth from The Chaser will reflect on how he’s used creative stunts to get the public’s attention
Nadia Montague from Victorian Trades Hall Council will present on their incredible virtual pickett earlier this year which, with nearly 40,000 attendees, showing you can still mobilise in a pandemic!
You can catch up on the recording here and slides here.
Anti-racism in Organising
This session will explore how race and anti-racism campaigning are an essential feature of every justice movement. The session will aim to challenge us all on how we think about race, and to identify strategies for how we can build more inclusive movements.
Coaching: An Organising & change making practice
This training, led by Carly Willoughby-Rolls, will make explicit the role of coaching as a fundamental practice in organising and as an important practice within social changemaker organisations. The session aims to simplify and clarify the basics of coaching as a practice and explore and allow participants to practice how to establish coaching relationships and begin coaching.
Participants will leave better understanding what coaching is; how it fits as a practice within the organising framework, why it’s important to build coaching cultures within their organisations and; how they can begin to introduce coaching into their work to better develop agency, power and leadership in their organising and organisations.
Sustainable Activism – using hope to maintain your movement
There are lots of ways to think about how we can practice sustainable activism and avoid burnout. This week we’ll be unpacking some strategies for helping groups of volunteers practice sustainability together. We’ll teach and then apply ways you can identify the structural impediments that can show up in our movements and lead to burnout.
This session will feature a case study and practical, tangible things you can apply in your work as a change maker to support groups that are strong and resilient.
Relating, Reflecting and Changing
This final session will connect the skills of relational meetings and public narrative with the art of reflection. It begins by returning to the question of public narrative (season 1, week 6). This time, the work is practical. After a quick recap of our earlier session – the focus is on providing opportunity for people to work on their political autobiography, identifying the experiences (particularly the social change experiences) that have shaped why you do what you do.
In the second half, we take that question of political narrative and apply it to relational conversations. Amanda explores how we learn through conversation (building off the previous session on mentoring and coaching) then conducts a fishbowl with a participant about learning from social change. Participants then all have a 1-1 discussion exploring what they have learnt through this session, before we finish up for 2020.
From 2021 seasons are based around a theme:
The theme of our first season of 2021 was ‘How Small Groups Make Big Change’. You can find the content for that season HERE.
How small groups make big change
This season of training presented by ChangeMakers Organising School is designed to supercharge your skills, relationships, and the impact of your group to make change on the issues that matter to you.
The training ran weekly on a Thursday evening at 6pm AEST, from April 29 – June 24. We provide all the content overviews, and post training share slides, relevant articles and edited videos of the trainings here.
Session 1: Why work in groups?
Looking at a history of social movements, we locate and celebrate the role of small groups in winning big change. This session will help situate attendees as part of an ecosystem with a long tradition of organising.
Changemakers team Will Potter, Isabella Morand, and Amanda Tattersall presented this session. We were joined by Mary Crooks from the Victorian Women’s Trust and Paul Doughty from Your Rights at Work who shared stories of how local groups helped their campaigns with big, transformational wins.
You can catch up with a recording of this session here.
Session 2: How do I build powerful relationships?
This week we look at putting the social back in social movements. Group work is most effective when built on a culture of strong relationships, and groups grow their power when relational meetings are used to draw in new leaders and build coalitions. We’ll cover how to cultivate intentional relationships using the skill of relational meetings, and how you can create a group space that people have fun together in.
Changemakers Organising School co-founder Amanda Tattersall led this training. Graduated School Striker Varsha Yajman was our chair.
Have you ever been in a group where one person does all the work?
In this session we’re focussed on how to make sure your group is structured with roles and a plan to make your work effective. We provide tips on how you can maximise volunteers’ limited time to make the biggest difference on the issue you care about.
This training was delivered by Maddy Butler (of The Parenthood and Neighbours United for Climate Action). We welcomed guests Dom Rowe (National Tertiary Education Unit) and Ken Matahari (Australian Conservation Foundation) to share examples of how structure and roles make their small group organising work more effective. Our chair was Changemakers’ Isabella Morand.
Let’s face it – social change work involves a lot of meetings. To be effective change makers, we need to run fun and productive meetings. This week, we’ll look at some of the ways meetings can go wrong, work on your facilitation skills, and provide guidance on building an excellent agenda that generates momentum and accountability.
This weeks training was run by Changemakers’ Amanda Tattersall and climate campaigner Ray Yoshida. Our chair was Climate 4 Change’s Carly Robertson.
Leadership is a core tenet of Community Organising. This week we’ll unpack an Organisers definition of leadership and the qualities of leaders. We also talk about using relational meetings to identify and step up other leaders in your small group.
This weeks training was delivered by Isabella Morand and Amanda Tattersall of Changemakers and chaired by Grace Vegesana, Climate & Racial Justice Organiser at AYCC & Organising Support at Democracy in Colour.
A huge challenge for activist groups can be creating a healthy and sustainable culture between the members of the group.
This week, we discussed how to create a group space that is safe and welcoming for new people and look at how to avoid experiencing burnout in your work. We introduced some skills for handling difficult people and hard conversations. These frameworks will help your group grow and succeed in the long term.
The training was led by The Wilderness Society’s Tria Manley and chaired by ACF’s Mel Abel. Our guests were Paul Sinclair (ACF & Youlden Parkville Cricket Club) and Anita Nair (Amnesty International Australia’s Youth Advisory Group).
How does your group decide what kind of action to take, and when? Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again? This week, we look at the basics of campaign strategy and how to deliver a powerful and creative tactic.
Changemakers’ Isabella ran this training with case studies from Margie Pestorius from Disrupt Landforces and Kelly Albion from 350.org Australia. our chair was Manjot Kaur, graduated school striker and member of South Asians for Climate Justice.
Groups working with other groups can be a powerful model for change making. This week we look at how to identify allies and the strengths and challenges of working in a coalition. We’ll consider some successful coalitions and what it takes to develop a winning one.
This session was chaired by Victor Komarovsky from Environment Victoria. Changemakers’ Amanda Tattersall ran the training with case studies from the Stop Adani Alliance (Nina Atkinson & Malcolm Paterson) and the Real Deal (Elise Ganley).
Sometimes in a local group you can fall into the habit of doing one thing after another without much clarity about how well it’s working. This week we share a model to assist with planning and evaluation to supercharge your campaign work and grow your group.
Amanda and Will from the Changemakers team ran this session which was chaired by Elise Chidiac from the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance. The recording is here.