I’d like to welcome you to The Forge, a journal by and for organizers. In a time of crisis, we know that no one is coming to save us; we must forge a new society, together. While the litany of challenges are for the most part self-evident - white supremacy, racial capitalism/neoliberalism, climate change, patriarchy, xenophobia, the assault on democracy, and more - our analysis isn’t always aligned, nor are our strategies and methods for making change. This is okay, because in a complex society such as ours, heterogeneity is a good thing. At the same time, we’ve come together because we know that we aren’t building and exercising the power to make durable, transformational change.

The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice, is intended as one intervention to help us - organizers - strengthen our work through collective learning and analysis. At least at the beginning, the primary audience for The Forge is community, labor, movement, electoral, and digital organizers in the United States. An important additional audience includes important allied sectors like activists, grassroots leaders in social movement organizations, intellectuals and academics, policymakers, journalists, etc. And certainly we in the US have lots to learn from and to share with social movements and organizing abroad; we hope over time to integrate more international dimensions.

This project is being built as a passion project by a handful of mainly community and labor organizers, so we haven’t yet built out the connections and capacity to respond to the needs of all types organizers in the US from jump. That’s one place, of course, where you and your networks may enter the picture. I’m sure that as The Forge gets going and builds engagement - and community - with organizers, the field will help drive its future directions.

I say community, because in first considering this this project, I will confess to thinking about it primarily as a journal, a piece of writing. But the process of building any publication - and especially one for organizers in the digital age - begs questions of engagement and collaboration. How could we possibly build a publication by and for organizers and not attempt to experiment with models of participation and broader ownership? Therefore, please consider this an invitation to engage - as a contributor or as a member of one of our emerging committees (the Smiths!) that are building The Forge.

Our Goals

The Forge has multiple objectives, but the throughline is the attempt to build a space for rigorous analysis and collegial sharing that helps us as organizers improve our practice. One ambition we have is to help organizers become better strategists, and to democratize within our field (for example by race, gender, and generation) who is a strategist and between fields who “does strategy.” Many of us have seen the movie where non-organizers (DC elites, funders, etc.) generate ideas and call on organizers to move people in service of their strategies, often undemocratically developed or simply wrongheaded. In reflecting on my own development as an organizer, I was trained effectively in the methodology of organizing, but less well on strategy development. In dozens of interviews with a diverse array of organizers leading to the founding of The Forge, this was a common refrain.

A second goal of The Forge is to build a space where organizers and our comrades can share ideas about not only strategy, but also vision, methodology, history, culture, and more. A side benefit, too, is that we can help increase the quantity and quality of writing and other cultural production - we’re going to try our hand at video content first, perhaps podcasting soon to come, you get the point - about organizing. We don’t aspire to be another general interest progressive publication - our friends at The Nation, Jacobin, Colorlines, American Prospect, Boston Review, and several others have that well in hand - but rather to bring an organizing lens to everything we do. These are, of course, difficult distinctions to make, because the best organizing is rooted in a strong vision, and we don’t want to fetishize the methodology of organizing. But as is often said, organizing is a “craft” that demands practice and learning. We want to nurture that craft in a democratic and self-critical context.

A third goal of The Forge is to strengthen dialogue between the organizing sector and other fields, like intellectuals and policymakers. We as organizers have a lot to share with academics, to use one example, and the study of our work is growing in the academy. This is a good thing, and we want to further this development to the best of our ability. Also, we have a lot to learn from those who deeply study particular social questions, so our hope is to bring those voices to the table, while not crowding out the practitioner voice.

We are so excited for this launch “edition” of The Forge. We lead with a series of five pieces by some of the badass women organizers and leaders who made the Kavanaugh fight happen a year ago, and who changed the battle over the courts in the United States forever. Today, September 27, 2019, is the one year anniversary of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before Congress.

All told, we have seventeen pieces of writing and video to share with you as we launch today. This is just the beginning. We won’t be publishing “issues” per se, but we will be publishing on a rolling basis. We have more planned for October, and in November we are planning a big series on the “future of organizing.”

Into 2020, our plan is to publish between a number of themed series, on a range of topics: e.g. leverage in organizing, racial capitalism and neoliberalism, organizer training,, etc. In addition, we will be publishing additional pieces on an ongoing, basis. We’ll even build out sub-sections and interactive spaces to meet various needs of the field(s). For example, watch for the “From the Archives” section for great past writing on organizing, and for the “Readers Are Leaders,” section where those interested in books and ideas can geek out a bit.

This all, of course, raises a few final questions.

First, we are going to work to pay extra attention to the needs of new and younger organizers, for you are the future - and the present - of organizing and social movements in the United States.

Second, in addition to being rooted in the needs and experience of organizers, we are going to attend to equity across this project - race, gender, class, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation, and more. Hopefully those commitments are fully evident in this launch issue, and will be going forward.

Third, we are going to look to create modes of engagement that meet the needs of organizers. We want to be humble about how much one journal can fulfill the endless demands of our field, and at the same time ambitious about trying to meet those needs with modest resources. To do this, we’ll need to build it together.

Fourth, we will consider additional formats over time: podcasts, in-person events, toolkits, print editions, etc. Our view is that we need to get the plane flying, and then tinker with it based on experience and engagement.

Fifth, there are certain topics that we can’t afford to let our enemies access - we are in a war for the future of our communities and our planet - at least for our part (not necessarily theirs) a non-violent one, but a war nonetheless - so we will honor these boundaries.

Help Build The Forge

Allow me to end with an invitation. The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice will live or die on the organizers who make it. We invite you to contribute as a writer or interviewer or videographer or a volunteer. Please get in touch to do so. We’d like to hear from you about what topics you want to discuss and what modes of communication work best for you. Hopefully you will contribute on a recurring basis to enable us to hire a small editorial team over time. Finally, please help us to spread the word. In addition to sustainer contributors, we’ll be building email, Twitter, Facebook, text, and other lists as a means of regularly communicating in the format that works for you.

Thank you for checking us out. Let’s organize!

yours,

Brian Kettenring

Editor

Share

Created with Sketch.

Comments

You must create an account to join the discussion.

Registration

davidsondavid40_200Hello. Just getting plugged in to the network here. Wow! You guys have a lot of really good things going on here. Kudos! Activism is tantamount to a democratic society. I'm in! Keep me posted.
October 9, 2019 - 20:06