DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL ENGAGEMENT
As a citizen’s power organization, Common Ground doesn’t just measure success in policy victories. We also measure it in terms of the strength of the organization itself: what relationships we’ve built, what new leaders we’ve developed, and what we ourselves have learned, all of which position us for future, larger victories. In addition to the accomplishments listed below, hundreds of leaders throughout the Solano and Napa counties have participated in training, hundreds of new relationships have been developed, and new leaders have been emerging every step of the way. Our work continues to train ordinary people to participate fully in our shared civic life.
Relational organizing is the foundation of all of our work. Relational organizing requires developing relationships of trust and obligation among a diverse array of institutions and their leaders. This is done through institution-based leadership development; the building of relationships within and between institutions; the identification of and research on issues of mutual self-interest; and disciplined, organized action. This model of broad-based organizing has been developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) over the last 75 years and engages leaders in a cycle of organizing that incorporates:
- identifying and developing leaders within and across member institutions;
- building relationships between leaders of diverse backgrounds, both one-on-one (individual meetings) and in small groups (house meetings);
- discerning the issues that motivate broad participation and can lead to successful action from within each member organization;
- engaging congregations and communities from diverse backgrounds around stories of shared vision and concern;
- researching potential issues that have emerged from the individual meetings and house meetings;
- engaging in strategic action around issues that have been identified, researched and negotiated within and between member institutions; and
- reflecting and evaluating at every step an evaluation process during every step of the cycle to ensure that leaders deepen their understanding of their experience and continue to improve their organizing skills.
Broad-based relational organizing is a calculated response to a pervasive culture of isolation, de-facto racial and socio-economic segregation and individualism that has transformed our society. It helps to strengthen institutions and create public relationships that can lead to effective action.