“What, exactly, is an organizing training?” I asked myself after being invited to spend a weekend learning from our coalition allies from Jobs with Justice on June 24-26. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but after a weekend of trainings about power analysis, building campaigns, fundraising, running effective meetings, and the difference between issues and problems, YAYA has added some new tools to our collective toolbox and reinforced a lot of the ideas we learned on our immersion trip in Seville.
For instance, take the difference between issues and problems: you can have 99 problems but an issue ain’t one. A problem is intimidating and overwhelming, whereas an issue is a clearly defined demand that people can act on; it’s winnable, you can track your progress, it engages peoples’ values, it impacts lives when you win it, and it has clear targets. In the words of a JwJ trainer:
“Organizers take big, nebulous, unsolvable problems and shape them into achievable actions and goals.”
Our goal as organizers is to “cut the fat” of the problem and get to the core of what drives people and how much they’re willing to act on their values. While YAYA’s role is to support farm worker campaigns rather than to create our own, we definitely came away with tactics to make our work more effective.
The trainings took place at a beautiful retreat center in Oviedo, where Nicole, Cole, Lariza and I spent hours sitting on the chair swing looking out over a lake, and talking about issues in organizing that are not easy. I appreciate the space for that, and, at the risk of sounding like a complete hippie, I would like to affirm the time spent in that space to have those conversations that we too often don’t get to have. I also affirm: watching Zoe and Zion eating ice cream soup, getting to see Maria from Deland YAYA, Zoe singing songs on the piano, and a fun night of dancing.
I am grateful to Jobs with Justice for the opportunity to meet some very cool people in Central Florida and from across the country, to grow both as an individual and as an organizer, for YAYA to grow as an organization through new skills and strategic ways to think, and for our greater coalition to grow and find new ways to support each other. Special thanks to Denise at JwJ for putting so much work into organizing the weekend!