Long-term strategy: how we realize our vision

The theme for part four of CJTO’s Strategy Committee Reading List was Contemporary Organizing Theory: How We Realize Our Vision. Building on what we learned in prior themes on organizing histories, critical political economy, and utopian world building, we thought about how to move from analysis to action through the use of strategic organizing practices. 

Key takeaways that were relevant from previous weeks included: an emphasis on tangible and local organizing, grounding our work around clear ideological direction, maintaining a meaningful analysis of the root causes of the climate crisis, and providing an alternative vision of the world that we want to achieve. 

Week One – Integrating World-Building Into Organizing

  • Bergman, Carla and Nick Montgomery, Joyful Militancy: Building Resistance in Toxic Times (2017)
    • Chapter Five: “Undoing Rigid Radicalism, Activating Joy”
  • Ross, Kristin, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune (2015)
    • Chapter Two: “Communal Luxury”

Big Ideas

Some key takeaways from these readings included the importance of building joy and relationship-building into our organizational strategy as well as revisiting the question of ideology. We asked ourselves: how specific does an ideology have to be in order to maintain a clear political vision without becoming too dogmatic and alienating to new organizers?

Week Two – Movement Building

  • brown, adrienne maree, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (2017)
    • Chapter 1 pages 29-46, Chapter 5 pages 131-138, 145, 151-153, and Chapter 6 pages 159-162
  • Smucker, Jonathan Matthew, Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (2017)
    • Chapter Pg 20-24, 37, 52-57, 191-196

Big Ideas

We started thinking about social groups and structures that organizers can work with to forge alliances and build power. This also spurred discussion around scale and the possibilities afforded from mass mobilization and smaller, “nimbler” organizing practices that require less outreach while aiming for targeted change.

Week Three – Strategic Planning

Big Ideas

Week three on strategic planning pushed us to think more concretely about how we will proceed in the “design phase” of strategy development. For instance: What specific outcomes do we want? What partner organizations will we collaborate with? We also reflected on current public perception on climate change and how that might shape a strategic approach to climate justice organizing.

As one CJTO member put it:

 “We are in a very different place than we were even just three years ago… We were trying to convince people that climate change is real, but now we’re in another position where we can actually push a vision for the right response to what is now accepted reality.”

Main Takeaways & How to Get Involved

Building joy and relationship-building into our strategy is important to achieve a sustainable movementUnderstanding the scale of a movement is required to determine what goals are possible to achieve

This last theme brought us to the end of the “preparation stage” of strategy development. For more details on what we read during this stage, you can check out our syllabus and the readings. We are now entering a CJTO-wide “design stage” and will be sharing more on the process in an upcoming blog post. 
To get involved, join us on Slack or email us at climatejusticeto.on@gmail.com. We’ll be having a long-awaited CJTO new-member orientation in July – stay tuned for details!