“Organisez-vous!” is a French nonprofit group dedicated to the support and training of organizers all around France. Their team sees community organizing as one of the most promising methodologies that could help activists to tackle the root causes of systemic injustices in the years to come. Indeed, they are driven by the belief that sustainable power-building from the grassroots is one of the elements that can shift the political balance of contemporary societies, and put real pressure on the institutions and the big companies that defend the anti-egalitarian status quo. This is why their vision is to develop and support a national network of organizers all over France, who will contribute to structure and strengthen social movements for years to come.
They wish to develop this network through 4 main missions :
- Research (in order to produce and share knowledge about organizing)
- Training (in order to develop the skills of the French organizers)
- Coaching (in order to support organizers who are boots on the ground – like our other grantee Lallab).
- Community-building (in order to provide organizers with a safe space where they can meet and share about their difficulties and ideas).
In order to have a real impact, they need to make sure that their programs are coherent within the ecosystem in which the organization is growing. This involves:
1) Listening to activists and organizers. Organisez-vous! have recently led a 9-month listening campaign that has given them the opportunity to meet more than 100 organizations engaged in the field of social justice.
2) Building fruitful collaborations. In order to develop “la veillée militante”, they have contacted NGOs and grassroots movements all around France. Some of them will join as co-funders of the project by paying yearly dues while others have offered to facilitate training sessions where they could share their experience in organizing. Some of their partners are currently la Fédération des Centres Sociaux (a national network of 1300 social centers), la CGT (the biggest union in France), la Féministerie (a popular education cooperative dedicated to feminist struggles), Terres de Luttes (a national network of 300 grassroots social movements dedicated to ecology).
3) Joining international and European networks. Organisez-vous! are members of the European Community Organizers Network and the Leading Change Network (with whom they are currently building a partnership about organizing research in French language).
The Guerrilla Grant
“La veillée militante“, an itinerant 6-month training and coaching program for organizers all around France.
At the beginning of 2023, Organisez-vous! will be delivering an experimental 6-months training and coaching program for activists in a specific area in France (that will be chosen in October 2022), where people have expressed an interest in organizing and need support to develop a local ecosystem of organizers.
The need for such a program was expressed during the listening campaign that they conducted last year. Activists expressed a real interest in organizing, but that there are currently no local training resources available. They were offered free online training sessions but activists expressed that their real need is to be trained locally, on the long-term, with all their ecosystem, in order to provide systemic change in the way campaigns are prepared and led.
This led Organisez-vous! to completely change the way they think about training (especially during COVID-time), and they have chosen to go back to basics: local training and coaching. This is much more time and resource-consuming, but they believe this is how real change happens.
The first outcome of this program will be the skills and knowledge that local activists will have developed in order to become organizers.
The second outcome will be the relationships that will be created and strengthened between those organizers (and between them and Organisez-Vous), enabling them to plan common actions and campaigns.
The third outcome will be the culture of peer-to-peer learning that will grow between those organizers (based on the principles of popular education).
These outcomes will support Organisez-vous! long-term goals in three ways :
1) They will learn whether such a program is really effective and needed : should they plan new sessions in new areas ? Should they reshape some of the teaching and coaching ? Should the program be lighter or more intensive ? Is 6 months enough to create a real change in the way activists organize?
2) The participants of the program will join the national community of organizers that Organisez-vous! supports, and will participate in the regular events that they plan (for instance, in May they have invited Andrea Garreffa to give an online conference where he will share his experience in the Sardines movement with organizers from all around France).
3) They will learn new ideas, tools and stories of struggle from the participants of the program and will make sure that this valuable knowledge is collected and shared by their volunteers as a part of the research work.
How do diversity & intersectionality factor into Organisez-vous! team culture and approach to radical change?
1) Group culture and team dynamics:
Diversity and intersectionality are key-elements of Organisez-vous! culture. All of the members (volunteers and staff) are aware of the reinforcement of systemic discriminations and understand why they cannot and should not be fought separately. This has a direct impact on the way they recruit, welcome, and support members. They also try to be a “brave space”, where they state:
– We recognize the difference between people who directly suffer from discrimination and the people who are their allies;
– We make sure that allies get more conscious about their own privileges and understand they have blind spots;
– We make sure that everyone has a voice, and that allies are aware of the extra-space they tend to occupy;
– We welcome the discomfort of difficult conversations that challenge our way of doing things.
2) Approach to radical change:
– In their research efforts, Organisez-vous! always try and challenge the old frameworks of organizing, that were mainly created by white middle-class men during the 20th century. For instance, here is where they address Alinsky to Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work.
– In the Organisez-vous! training and coaching activities, they always recognize their position as “allies”, and therefore they never make decisions or impose ideas. On the contrary, Organisez-vous! offer support, bring ideas and tools to the table, and then they create spaces where participants can test those tools, criticize them, and build their own.