There are three aspects to any successful grassroots venture: alignment, collaboration, and culture. These three components give power, resources, stability, and strength to group endeavors.
Regardless of the form or cause, grassroots groups are the principal mechanism for changing societal systems that no longer work for its citizens History is filled with inspiring recounts about grassroots efforts around the world that have won freedom and justice from oppressive governments and corporations. They all shared three key organizing aspects.
Developing grassroots groups is a way to empower people locally to take action for change and achieve common goals. Systems that support the Common Good are brought about through the participation of people like you. There are many ways to get involved. As you participate, you will witness the tremendous power that exists when you use alignment, collaboration and culture as a resource to accomplish great things.
Alignment for grassroots development refers to the relation between a community’s need, with your personal or group’s beliefs and intention. Take healthy, affordable, organic food as a community focus. I personally have a belief that healthy food is our right and that we should all have fresh produce available and not consume foods that are genetically modified, irradiated, laden with man made chemicals and low nutrition. Personally, I have a passion to unplug from the corporate food system and plug into local healthy food systems. Several of my friends were similarly aligned and we began the Food Net. The initiative has resulted in delivering up to 21,000 pounds of produce per year to local pantries and meal sites, all free. Just about every city has similar ventures.
An initiative can be on any topic serving the Common Good. Some communities may need clean water or clean air, affordable housing, the end of gang violence, or job development. Needs vary from one location to the next. It is through the grassroots venture that the alignment of our hearts connects with what the community needs most and provides an avenue for effective action.
The alignment to change the exploitive social systems, like our dysfunctional health care system, must penetrate our hearts. The change starts from within, such as a belief in a cause, aligned with others. When there is alignment of a person’s passion, words and deeds, it opens the doorway to potential that is beyond the material realm. The true asset that will bring about lasting reform lies within our hearts.
Collaboration ideally is integral to any grassroots venture. From the inception of any initiative, it is important to network. You want to form a community of support and respect before you launch an initiative. Avoid the mistake of not including those who have been proactively working on the same issue. The intention is cohesion and inclusion.
Development of a network of support allows access to another form of energy to fuel an initiative that is not dependent upon the private Federal Reserve Notes. This collaboration is crucial as it ends dependency on the key control mechanism of the elite system, private currency backed by no precious medals. Through collaboration a new possibility and resource becomes available. Instead of fueling it with money, fuel it with community power.
Homeless of our community was sheltered under bridges, abandoned cars, the police station lobby, condemned buildings. Addressing a 25 year old unmet need was not an easy challenge. The mayor and his buddies from the housing department and a huge social service agency declared there was no problem. That Pittsfield had two homeless people and they chose to live outside.
So I next put together a forum of the housing inspector, park ranger, some homeless people, social service agency directors serving this population, and the local paper. Eighteen of us pooled our knowledge, we estimated between 20 and 25 people would be out in the cold this coming winter. We got the media involved and searched for a temporary winter shelter space. I did not gain favor with the mayor and his good old boy network.
The Salvation Army collaborated with us in getting Berkshire COTS under way by offering their unused heated gym for the overnight shelter. Nine local churches supported a drive that enabled the purchase of forty-five high quality, foldable cots, insurance and a stipend for the nightly social service crew. The $6,800 raised also afforded some food and hot drinks. The Salvation Army provided breakfast.
The hospital and two resorts donated blankets, pillows and sheets. The County Jail provided weekly laundry service. Over twenty-five volunteers offered to take night shifts to staff the shelter and other operational needs. Several social service agencies volunteered case workers for morning coverage, as needed.
That winter in 4 months we housed 131 individuals at a cost of $1.87 per person including an social worker support, evening snack and breakfast
Culture is integral in the formation of an effective community or initiative. It is formed by integrating core values. Aligning to values replaces rules. It has the potential to develop and sustain the initiative, and nourishes those who participate. Culture creates a unique cohesion among the group. The more this cohesive element is uplifting and supportive the more attracting the group endeavor becomes.
A big need in our community was clean, sober supportive housing for those recovering from addiction. Community ReStart was donated five buildings that we converted into a 28 bed program for permanent sobriety. Included are weekly workshops with topics focused on building social, interpersonal and professional skills. For our residents it was a basic building bloc for community living. The residents co-create a common focus and agreements on core values. There are some great programs like Delancy Street based out of San Francisco where there process, structure, and values has sustained success in overcoming addiction for 46 years. Our program is based on building intentional community through a culture that embraces six core values. These six aspects of culture is described in a free e-book Six Group Energy Amplifiers: available at www.LiberateGuide.com.
All programs develop their own culture whether conscious or unconscious. Religious institutions with their beliefs and values, the motor cycle club have their code. Even football teams have a culture that can develop greatness. Utilizing culture, cultivates growth in any organized group effort.
Grassroots organizing is on the rise. It takes on many forms like co-operatives, grassroots political campaigns, non-profits, or just getting together with neighbors to resolve a local need. The recent political chaos is serving as a catalyst for civic action. We must organize that action toward a clear purpose.
Developing grassroots groups is a way to empower people locally to take action for change and achieve common goals. Systems that support the common good are brought about through the participation of people like you. When you participate in a group that has these three components, you will witness the tremendous power that exists through community. It is a resource to accomplish great things.
There are many tools and insights gained from past and present grassroots organizing. Dedicated individuals are uniting and participating in causes and initiatives around the world. Their coming together generates a focus and group energy, that when developed properly, holds the power to Liberate us all.
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