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Organizing Strategy and Practice

Recent Articles

Inside the Organizers Corner | What is Power?

Ben Chin talks with Nelini Stamp, James Haslam, Arleen Vargas, and Kendall Mackey about how their understanding of power has changed since they started organizing and what shifted their perspective.

Inside the Organizers Corner | Keeping Bottom-Up Democracy Strong

Ben Chin talks with Nelini Stamp, James Haslam, Arleen Vargas, and Kendall Mackey about how they're keeping bottom-up democracy strong as their organizations grow in size and power. 

Inside the Organizers Corner | The Ups and Downs of New Voices in the Movement

Ben Chin talks with Nelini Stamp, James Haslam, Arleen Vargas, and Kendall Mackey about the influx of white, upwardly-mobile activists in the movement during the Trump years.

Photo by Gabriel Benois

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | In the Time of COVID, Digital Organizing is a Must

Digital and social media are not new to campaigns, but in the time of COVID, they are more important than ever.

Winning Primaries: Coalition, Confrontation, or Both?

A recent essay lays out a framework for assessing two leftist strategies: coalition and confrontation. The liberal-left Winning Primaries alliance shows that this is an unnecessary choice — confrontation is necessary to win and coalition is necessary to effectively govern.

Photo courtesy of the author

Building Electoral Power in the Rhode Island Primaries

Even a young organization can quickly become a meaningful political player if it chooses its fights wisely.

Photo by Max Bender

For Those of Us With Privilege: It's Time to Use It

Dismantling the old and building the new requires courage and determination.  But if we all put it on the line, we can break through to the world in which we want to live.

Photo by Patrick Amoy

Ask A Digital Organizer | How do I make sure my emails get read?

Trying to up your digital game during COVID? Our columnists are here to help with all your digital dilemmas. 

We are going to lose if we don’t start canvassing

Listen to the scientists. Wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and get out into the field.

The Fight for a Caring Economy | Childcare Providers and the Fight for a Caring Economy

Childcare providers and early childhood educators in California made history when they voted to form Child Care Providers United, a new union that will represent roughly 45,000 workers across the state. In this series, we look at how they did it. 


The Fight for a Caring Economy | The Early History of Childcare Organizing in Chicago

The recent victory by 43,000 childcare providers in California is the latest in a long movement started by Black women in Chicago.


The Fight for a Caring Economy | "It’s the movement that makes a difference"

An organizer on the Child Care Providers United campaign talks about what it took to win. 

The Fight for a Caring Economy | "One provider at a time"

An organizer on the Child Care Providers United campaign talks about what it took to win. 


The Fight for a Caring Economy | "The biggest challenge is escalation"

An organizer on the Child Care Providers United campaign talks about what it took to win. 


The Fight for a Caring Economy | "There was just no accountability"

Pam Franks talks with Keith Kelleher about organizing the first childcare providers union in Illinois

Hot Off the Press | Christian Soldiers

An excerpt from Reaganland. 

"Cori is the right candidate for exactly the right time"

The lead organizer on the Cori Bush campaign talks about how the campaign coped with COVID, what they did to challenge voter suppression, and what Bush’s victory means for progressive politics in Missouri and beyond.

The Research of Organizing | Unions and Race: “I don't think we have time to be tame anymore.”

Jake Grumbach on the effects of unions on white racial politics

Image courtesy of Barbara Helmick

From Fringe to Winnable: The Campaign for DC Statehood

Long considered a long-shot local issue, DC statehood is now a winnable campaign.  Barbara Helmick tells the story of how changing the narrative allowed organizers to build the coalition they need to win. 

The Origins of Fight for 15 in Chicago

This is the story of the workers and organizers in Chicago — most of them women — whose efforts to build an organization of downtown workers helped to spark the national and global Fight for 15 movement. 

Clay Banks

Reclaiming Rhode Island in a Movement Moment

Bernie volunteers in Rhode Island are turning their presidential campaign operation into a statewide leftist organization. In the process, they’re learning to connect their socialist principles to the demand to Defund the Police.

Bringing Bernie 2020 Organizing Tools to the Workplace

The Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee, a project born out of a partnership between the United Electrical Workers (UE) and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is taking the lessons learned from the Bernie 2020 campaign into workplace organizing.


We Don't Know What We're Doing

Two new books on how to strengthen the labor movement end up showing something very different — that we don’t know why or how unions succeed or fail, and we don’t have any clear sense of how to do better.

Library of Congress

How Phyllis Schlafly Found The Right Balance of Racism and Misogyny and Charted the Future of the Radical Right

An excerpt from The Lie That Binds, a new political history of how the radical right used abortion to gain power and hijak the Republican Party. 

Organizer Voices | Lessons from the Ferguson Uprisings

Two veterans of the Ferguson uprisings talk about the promises and challenges of Ferguson, what it takes to sustain momentum in the streets, and what organizers today can learn from Ferguson.

Lessons from NYC’s Pipeline Battle

How a multi-racial coalition defeated big oil and gas companies to block the Williams Pipeline.

Hot Off the Press | Our Social Innovation Moment

Ray Brescia on what organizers can learn from past social movements about how to effectively harness new technologies to grow the movement and make lasting change.

Homeless Communities’ Land Takeovers Poke Holes in Chile’s Neoliberal “Miracle”

Sometimes a curse can be a blessing, until it becomes a curse again.

Mapping Our Movement to Go on Offense: An Interactive Tool for Common Good Organizing

The Bargaining for the Common Good (BCG) network is undertaking a new project to support activists nationwide. We are collecting and mapping as many union contract expirations as we can across the U.S. to create a powerful tool for our collective work.

A Brief History of the UNITE HERE Local 11 Remote Unemployment Insurance Mutual Aid Network

UCLA Law students partnered with UNITE HERE Local 11 to establish and run a mutual aid network with over 200 volunteers providing unemployment insurance assistance to thousands of union members. Here’s how they did it and what lessons they learned. 

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Building Neighborhood Power

 L.A. City Council candidate Nithya Raman and her co-campaign manager, Meghan Choi, talk about using community organizing tactics not just to win an election but to build “resilient neighborhoods” and a people-powered government.


Black Workers Matter: How defunding police could create thousands of good jobs for Black communities

Divesting from police departments and investing in public goods like transit would improve the air quality in Black neighborhoods while creating thousands of new jobs for Black workers. 


How to Combat White Power

Kathleen Belew talks about the surge in white terrorism during the Trump years and what antiracist organizers need to know to combat it.  


Anything feels possible in this moment

Jae Hyun Shim on the conversations we need to have about safety, justice, and community if we want to live in a world free from the police. 


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Campaigning for Progressive Changes

“I will be damned if they don't happen in my lifetime”


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | “We have to tax the rich”

Assembly candidate and tenants' rights attorney Adam Bojak on his fight against austerity politics, how COVID is reshaping his campaign, what he’s doing to prepare for an “avalanche of evictions.”

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | “It’s rare to find somebody who’s really dug in”

Emily Gallagher and her campaign manager, Andrew Epstein, talk about their NYS Assembly race and how they’ve pivoted during COVID.


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | "We need people that are listening"

Fatima Iqbal-Zubair and her campaign managers talk about their California State Assembly race, the campaign’s turn to mutual aid work during COVID, and how they’re building a sustainable grassroots movement

Organizer Voices | “Cops don’t keep us safe”

Cat Brooks from the Anti Police-Terror Project talks about organizing during the uprisings, what needs to be done to defund the police, and her vision for a national defund movement. 


"Be as big as the moment"

James Burch of the Anti Police-Terror Project talks about organizing during the uprisings and the “need to be bold and principled” in this moment

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | “Electing socialist politicians expands what is possible by leaps and bounds”

Jabari Brisport and Fainan Lakha talk about their campaign, the DSA’s electoral strategy, and why we need socialists in office.


Organizer Voices | Planting the Seeds of Abolition

Organizers from the Minneapolis abolitionist collective MPD150 talk about changing the narrative to create the world we want to see.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | How to Campaign in a Crisis

Tascha Van Auken talks about how she’s building a people-powered campaign during COVID-19

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | "This is all about bringing about justice"

Phara Soufrrant Forrest talks about how her campaign strategies have shifted during a tumultuous spring — and how she’s using her campaign to build a more just New York.


New Media and Political Power: An Interview with Brian Rosenwald

Brian Rosenwald talked with us about the Right’s success at monopolizing talk radio — and the possibilities for the Left to use new media to expand our reach 


Neoliberalism Is Over. What Comes Next? An Interview with Ganesh Sitaraman

Ganesh Sitaraman talks about the demise of neoliberalism and the urgency of fighting for — and winning — a more democratic political and economic order.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Framework: Strategy Questions for Paradigm Shifts in an Age of Crises

Moving through a long-term crisis calls us to vision the future, process tough emotions, and address immediate emergencies in the present moment, often all in the same day or hour. This tool is intended to help community-based organizations map questions for their teams to navigate these difficult and complex times.


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Building Civic Power in the Covid-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a public health and economic crisis. America’s worst-in-the-world outbreak reflects a crisis of democracy.

Heather Mcghee

Racism Has a Cost for Everyone

In my TED talk, I tell stories that challenge the zero-sum paradigm of racial competition. I share for the first time how it felt to watch Lehman Brothers collapse from a crisis my colleagues and I had spent nearly a decade trying to prevent. What began with discriminatory loans to Black homeowners (three times as likely to be charged inflated mortgage rates despite good credit) eventually...

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Organizing in the Time of Physical Distancing

This piece was written for community organizations partnering with Community Change and aimed at helping groups manage the organizing challenges of the current moment.


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Strategic Thinking in a Long Term Crisis: One Approach for Community Based Orgs

Moving through a long-term crisis calls us to vision the future, process tough emotions, and address immediate emergencies in the present moment, often all in the same day or hour. This tool was co-created to help community-based organizations map the questions that help them navigate these difficult and complex times.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Coronavirus and its Political Offspring

Veteran political strategist Mike Podhorzer brings his analytical rigor to COVID-19 and raises important questions about the political implications.


Race, Class and Coalitions

Sudip Bhattacharya digs into real-world organizing and left political theory to examine the politics of race, class and coalition building.


Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Moving Through Contagion Fear, Preparing for Recovery

Note:  This essay builds on a March 7, 2020 essay by Larry Kleinman entitled Organizing in a Time of Approaching Pandemic:  Campaigns and Contingency Planning Amid the Effects and Fears of Coronavirus” [1]  

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Messaging Guidance on COVID-19

This guide is adapted from messaging developed with the Million Voters Project, a coalition of organizing networks in California. It draws upon previous messaging guidance from Nicole Carty and Anthony Torres.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Keeping Business Alive: The Government as Buyer of Last Resort

The coronavirus threatens the world’s economic life. Social distancing measures, essential to fight the epidemic, are sharply reducing demand in sectors such as transportation, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Organizando en Medio de una pandemia inminente: Campañas y planes de contingencia en medio de Una Pandemia Inminente: los efectos y temores del Coronaviru.

Un organizador veterano nos ayuda a considerar las preguntas que surgen con respecto a organizar mientras la crisis del coronavirus sigue creciendo cada dia.

Organizing in the Age of Coronavirus | Organizing in a Time of Approaching Pandemic: Campaigns and Contingency Planning Amid the Effects and Fear of Coronavirus

A veteran organizer helps us to think through organizing questions as the coronavirus crisis grows by the day.

Organizer Voices | Building the Movement for Tax Justice

The new book by Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay has just come out, and it makes a few things really clear.

Cesar Chavez

From the Archives | An Organizer’s Tale

We inaugurate the From the Archives series with a classic from Cesar Chavez.

Organizer Voices | Energy Democracy Campaigns: Building the Green New Deal from the Ground Up

The climate crisis and the fight for a Green New Deal has opened up a new conversation about energy democracy.  Three DSA organizers from different states examine the growing movement for public power in comparison and context.

Merge Left

Review in Brief | Merge Left

There’s no excuse for recycling tired phrases about “the middle class,” or simply pointing out how Trump is bad, without injecting our own values and vision into the conversation. We know that ignoring race should qualify as political malpractice. Let’s at least make new mistakes. López and his fellow researchers have given us everything we need to get started.

Medicare for all march

Organizer Voices | The Sick and the Well: Ableism is the Problem — Medicare For All is the Solution

Examining different experiences (organizing, mobilization, and otherwise), Vinay Krishnan writes about ableism and the fight for Medicare for All.


Organizer Voices | From Textathons to Black Joy: How Color of Change is Re-imagining Organizing

The idea, says Color of Change's chief of campaigns Arisha Hatch, is to center Black joy and to build face-to-face teams, which now number in the thousands, of people meeting and acting locally (and having fun together).

Politically Effective or Just Good at Campaigns?

A research report on capacity building in 501(c)(4) organizations and the role of leadership.

Hot Off the Press | The Triumph of Injustice: From Boston to Richmond

The history of taxation in the United States is anything but linear. It’s a story of dramatic reversals, of sudden ideological and political changes, of groundbreaking innovations and radical U-​turns. 

Organizer Voices | What ACORN Taught Us

It has been ten years since the community group ACORN was destroyed.  At its height, The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was the largest community organization in the United States with chapters in over 100 cities.

Hot Off the Press | Civic Power: Reclaiming Democracy’s Radicalism

In this excerpt from the book Civic Power: Rebuilding American Democracy in an Era of Crisis, authors K. Sabeel Rahman and Hollie Russon Gilman discuss restoring American democracy and rescuing it from crisis. 

Tips for Organizing Member-Led In-District Meetings At Scale

How many times have you just about gotten to the beginning of a Congressional recess, realized you want to run an in-district legislative campaign to influence them when they’re home from Washington, but didn’t do it because you weren’t sure where to begin?

Review in Brief | Shadow Network

Anne Nelson's Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right tells a holistic story of the toxic cocktail of extremist political operatives and a right-wing evangelical base. This is the coalition that is winning our day. It is perhaps the greatest threat to our freedoms and to a progressive future and deserves our full attention.

Unite Here Protest

Organizer Voices | Ten Lessons from Twenty Five Years in Organizing

My years as a labor organizer have been challenging, joyous, and sometimes devastating, like all organizing. Here are my "top 10" lessons.

Angela Lang

Organizer Voices | An Interview with Angela Lang

I felt like, if you’re organizing from a place of anger, that is not sustainable at all. I’m trying to figure out different ways to go back to organizing from a place of love.

Kavanaugh Protest

How We Fought, Lost, and Learned

What I bore witness to was not merely an announcement about a congressional process. It was seeing people’s faith in our democracy and our world shift.

Eyes to the Wind

Review | Seeing Through the Struggle

A review of Ady Barkan’s Eyes to the Wind.

Womens March DC

Welcome to The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice

I'd like to welcome you to The Forge. Let us tell you about our vision, our plan, and how to get involved.

Woman speaking at rally

Organizer Voices | "I Fight For My Family"

"I fight for my family and my neighborhood." Tyla Pond, mother of four, answered her door in Franklin, Indiana to an organizer from Hoosier Action.

Puja Datta

Organizer Voices | Puja Datta

We need to base build. We’re going to have to have mass obstruction of the economic system. We’re going to have to have mass obstruction of the information system.

ILWGU Protest

From the Archives | Organizing: A Secret History

Given the obstacles to organizing and the inability of contemporary unions to increase or even maintain their membership, understanding the history of organizing seems more important than ever.

Video | Welcome to The FORGE!

We are organizers making change in the world.  This is our story.

Cancel Kavanaugh Campaign

I’ve said that the reason that we lost is that we didn’t have the votes and that we ran out of power, but we also lost because we have electeds who are cowards. It’s not their fault, it’s ours, but our the Democrats could not even hold their entire caucus.

How to be an AntiRacist Book Cover

Review | Why Changing Minds Isn’t Activism

A book review of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist.

Interview with Hahrie Han

The Forge spoke to Hahrie Han, co-founder of the new Center on Democracy and Organizing and professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Woman with megaphone

The Kavanaugh Reckoning Is Only Just Beginning

One year ago this week, after a shameful process, the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh.

Montage of author photos

Kavanaugh One Year Later

What we didn’t know when we started was that this fight would become a sort of reckoning about sexual violence and how power flows along gender lines in our society.

Water Protectors

Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots

Community organizing is not merely a process that is good for its own sake. Unless the organization wins concrete, measurable benefits for those who participate, it will not last long.

First We March, Then We Run

How A Devastating Loss Sparked An Even Greater Movement

It’s been a year since the Senate confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court.

On Fire Book Cover

Review | The Burning Case for Fan(non)Fiction for the Climate Movement

Review of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, by Naomi Klein