Paid organizers often begin by gathering information on the neighborhood, then proceed by introducing themselves to residents, bringing people together in discussion groups, building self-help skills, and, finally, training new leaders to take over the organizing task.
Many organizers will door-knock in order to ask a carefully constructed set of questions aimed at motivating people to get involved. Questions may help people see that something is very wrong. Or they may help people realize they have been mistreated. In the end the organizer has to give people the confidence that they can solve whatever problem they face.
The presence of a professional organizer may lead some volunteers to wonder why they are working for free while someone else is being paid. A few groups have addressed this problem by turning funds for an organizer into honoraria for volunteers.
Finding an organizer might be difficult. In the United States there are many training programs in community organizing. The Industrial Areas Foundation, The Midwest Academy, Antioch, ACORN, and The Highlander Center are some of the better known. In Canada, there are almost none. Canadians' faith in government has placed decisions about their communities in the hands of politicians and professionals.
Adapt to available resources
Most of the organizing methods described in this chapter will be easy if you have resources, particularly money for a coordinator. But some of them will not be possible if you have no resources. Most of the literature on community development is far too optimistic about what can be achieved by all-volunteer groups that are not propelled by a hot issue.
With no resources you usually need to,
The Troublemaker's Teaparty is an updated and expanded print version of The Citizen's Handbook. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.