The Organizing for America (OFA) model of building grass roots support used the principle of community organizing to build its neighborhood teams. It was essentially change from the bottom up. (More)
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The new OFA, Organizing for Action, is attempting to build on that same principle to address the issues on President Obama’s agenda. Teams are working on issues such as climate change, immigration reform and preventing gun violence. OFA’s website has the information on progress to date and how to get involved. I add the link in case by some strange quirk of the internet you have missed your email invite asking, “Are you in?”
A member of the BPI Campus was lamenting his representative’s response to climate change. My rather flip remark was, “Change from the bottom up requires a bigger bottom.”
He took my remark in stride, as activists understand this very well when it comes to voter registration and turnout. The same level of volunteer involvement is needed to make any kind of bottoms up change. Minnesotans United for All Families pursued the same organizing strategy to defeat a State Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as one man-one woman and to then make marriage equality the law in Minnesota. They are still an active organization now with a PAC to support those legislators whose vote was politically risky. The first link is worth reading but this was a non-partisan effort. Prominent Republicans, Democrats, faith leaders and even the Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe were part of the campaign. Some issues cut across party lines. Some issues are defined in part by religious beliefs. The Minnesotans United campaign brilliantly planned for that and more. It was about conversations, one person to another.
I am thinking that growing a bigger bottom for climate change and other issues we face as a country will require more of those conversations. Maybe the partisan divide in Washington is hopelessly stuck but our friends, families and neighbors are not necessarily so divided. Telephone calls and emails from constituents still count. Letters to the editor still get read. Maybe the conversations will help move our elected leaders to action. We need a bigger bottom.
One last example. I volunteered to get the mining of frack-sand stronger environmental review in Minnesota. Imagine my surprise when the man who called to review my script with me was from Trout Unlimited. He and his organization saw saving the trout from polluted water as part of their mission. Actually saving the Trout was included in an amendment to the natural resources bill and we got the stronger environmental reviews. Whatever works!
To win with bottoms up change we need a bigger bottom. Issue by issue people who care can work together. If the bottom is big enough, the top may eventually get the message and act. Bottoms up!