ORGANIZING

CLJ is engaged in broad-based community and multi-faith organizing with the goal of building enough relational power to bring about systemic justice in Greater Hartford.

HOW THE ORGANIZING PROCESS WORKS

The golden rule of organizing is to never do for others what they can do for themselves.

CLJ organizers support leaders in identifying, researching, and taking action on issues that impact them. This is concrete action. Below outlines the normal steps of an organizing campaign.

  1. Individual Meetings:  Individual meetings are the fundamental building blocks of organizing together.  It is an opportunity for two souls to connect face-to-face.
  2. House Meetings: 60-90 minute conversations with 7-9 people led by a leader.  This is an opportunity for people to deepen relationship, engage one another, and together imagine how to improve our neighborhood and city.  Effective house meetings are built around good storytelling: stories that illustrate people’s deepest concerns and stir us to action.
  3. Research & Cutting Issues:  Common issues that arise from the house meetings are then researched and cut into campaigns that are specific and resolvable.
  4. Action & Evaluation: We hold structured public actions where leaders and organizers confront decision makers capable of effecting desired change.

In August 2017 CAC launched its first organizing campaign at the request of residents. Since that time CAC and residents have won 8 campaigns.

  • Hartford residents forced out of apartments through no fault of their own changed the city’s relocation program and worked with Greater Hartford Legal Aid to a win a $2.75 Million settlement for displaced tenants.
  • Hartford Public Schools failed to provide bus transportation after games and practice for Weaver student athletes who were handed bus tokens and told to make their way home as late as 10pm at night. Parents WON bussing!
  • Parent leaders won a campaign to keep Martin Luther King Jr. School open in the North End. Today it is under renovation and slated to be a state of the art middle school!
  • The PTO at Thirman Milner School organized and won significant safety upgrades for the school and the surrounding streets including a gate that now prevents cars from driving through the playground during recess.
  • Milner School will be closing this year as part of the public school consolidation. Students were told they needed to walk to their new school. Parents organized and won bussing for ALL Milner students to their new schools.
  • No More Slumlords campaign was launched in 2017. To date resident leaders have won three relocation campaigns for 280 families in 40 buildings and brought national attention to the housing crisis.

The leaders from all of these campaigns have formed the North End Power Team. If a small group of leaders can accomplish all of this – in 3 years – imagine what we can do – 50 congregations AND the North End Power Team – working together.

  1.  Allen Chapel, AME, Hartford
  2.  Asylum Avenue Baptist Church, Hartford
  3.  Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, Hartford
  4.  Beth Shalom B’nai Israel, Manchester
  5.  Bolton Congregational Church, UCC
  6. Center Church, UCC Hartford
  7. Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford
  8. Christ Temple, COGIC, Hartford
  9. Collaborative Center for Justice
  10. Concordia Lutheran Church, Manchester
  11. Congregation Beth Israel, West Hartford
  12. Congregation B’nai Tikvah, Bloomfield
  13. Congregational Church in South Glastonbury, UCC
  14. Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hartford
  15. F.A.I.T.H. Ministries, Hartford
  16. Faith Lutheran Church of East Hartford
  17. Faith Seventh Day Adventist, Hartford
  18. Farmington Valley Jewish Congregational Emek Shalom
  19. First Church of Christ, Congregational, UCC, Suffield
  20. First Church of Christ, Congregational, UCC, Farmington
  21. First Church of Christ, UCC, Simsbury
  22. First Church of Christ, UCC, West Hartford
  23. First Congregational Church, UCC, East Hartford
  24. First Congregational Church, UCC, Rocky Hill
  25. First Lutheran, Ellington
  26. Flagg Road, UCC, West Hartford
  27. Grace Episcopal, Hartford
  28. Grace Lutheran Church, Hartford
  29. Hartford Friends Meeting, West Hartford
  30. Immanuel Congregational Church, UCC, Hartford
  31. Muslim Coalition of CT
  32. New Antioch Baptist, Hartford
  33. New Covenant, UMC, East Hartford
  34. North End Power Team, Hartford
  35. North United Methodist, Hartford
  36. Riverfront Family Church, Hartford
  37. Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Simsbury
  38. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Manchester
  39. St. Matthew, ELCA, Avon
  40. St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, Hartford
  41. Trinity Episcopal Church, Collinsville
  42. Trinity Episcopal Church, Hartford
  43. Trinity Lutheran, Hartford
  44. Unitarian Society of Hartford
  45. Unitarian Universalist Society, East Hartford
  46. United Methodist Church of Hartford
  47. United Methodist Church of Vernon
  48. United Methodist Church of West Hartford
  49. Urban Hope Refuge, Hartford
  50. Wesley Memorial, UMC, East Hartford
  51. Westminster Presbyterian Church, West Hartford

*Clergy and leaders from these institutions are involved in forming this initiative, official membership is pending.

Who pays our way? We will, largely through congregational dues. Otherwise the organization does not belong to us.

What kinds of issues will we work on? Together, we will create a vehicle to win on a variety of issues that arise from our everyday lives in our workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, healthcare, etc.

Is organizing political? Yes! Our faiths are inherently political. However, we will engage in the politics of issues and not office, meaning we will remain non-partisan.

Will organizing be confrontational? Yes, “confrontation” properly understood comes from its Latin roots meaning “face to face.” We seek to negotiate directly “face to face” with people and institutions of power.

Is organizing charity? No, organizing addresses the root causes of injustice that result in the need for charity.

How is mobilizing/activism different from organizing? Mobilizing is about bringing people together around set issues or causes. Organizing brings people together to discover what the issues and causes are.  Whereas mobilizing has a centralized hierarchy, organizing is focused on developing leaders who engage others.

TRAININGS

At the heart of CLJ’s leadership development through organizing initiative is on-going training for potential leaders. Training happens individually, in groups, and in classes.

CLJ, then the Christian Activities Council, launched its first four week leadership and organizing training program at the end of 2015. The training is designed to teach participants the basic skills of organizing for justice. Participants are identified by CLJ’s organizers who spend their days in individual meetings with residents listening to their stories and identifying those who have a spark of passion for their community.

Once a group of 10-12 potential leaders have been identified, they are invited into the leadership training. In this training series we teach:

  1. How to build relationships in the community through individual meetings
  2. How to build and analyze power
  3. How to identity issues that can be addressed and won
  4. How organizing is different from movements, mobilizing, and civic associations.
  5. The training culminates with participants learning how to hold house meetings where they gather small groups of people in their home to learn what issues are most impacting their life. What’s keeping their neighbors up at night? What is weighing them down? What are they angry about?

CLJorganizing staff then accompanies these leaders through the process of holding house meetings where issues are identified and this is the way our organizing priorities get established.

The training is four weeks, but it is just the beginning of a long term relationship with the leaders who emerge.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

Contact one of our organizers below at 860-527.9860

Cori MackeyExecutive Director/Organizer 

Pat Speer, Mentor Organizer 

Rev. A.J. Johnson, Lead Organizer 

Tieasha Gayle, Community Organizer 

Joshua Serrano, Community Organizer