In the 2007 book Prevention is Primary: Strategies for Community Wellbeing, a compelling case is made that effective primary prevention practice uses the “engine” of community organizing. Community organizing initiatives are those which invite members of the general public to actively engage in work to end violence against women. This assertion is equally borne out by the experiences of the New York State DELTA Prevention Project.
Domestic violence programs and community activists have long utilized organizing strategies with the goals of enhancing safety and achieving social justice for battered women and children. Objectives of community organizing include:
- an expansion of the constituency of active participants in the work;
- an articulation of a clear, universal message that each citizen can take responsibility to end this violence; and
- transformation of the public discourse and consciousness about the causes of violence against women and the power of the community to end it.*
*Barbara J. Hart, Coordinated Community Approaches to Domestic Violence. This paper was presented at the Strategic Planning Workshop on Violence Against Women, National Institute of Justice, Washington, D. C., March 31, 1995.
THEORIES, TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES
Transforming Communities Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center, operated by the Center for Domestic Peace in San Rafael, California, works to strengthen the collective efforts of advocates, organizations, policy makers and funders to build strong social movements and sustainable, community-driven initiatives. NYSCADV recommends two of their community organizing tools:
- The Transforming Communities (TC) Organizing Kit is a great tool to use with domestic violence or sexual assault staff in their quest to plan and carry out community mobilization campaigns. Features of the Kit include the TC Case Statement, a sound framework for preventing violence against women, as well as five practical sections of tips and tools for organizing.
- Multicultural Alliance Building is a beneficial tool to use when forming and working in culturally diverse endeavors. This publication examines the benefits and the difficulties of creating multicultural partnerships. It also provides practical steps designed to assist in the creation of effective alliances.
Training for Change has been increasing capacity around the world for activist training since 1992. Their training helps groups stand up more effectively for justice, peace and the environment. They specialize in training trainers to create a ripple effect in quality activist training.
The Change Agency is an independent social movement education initiative that works with community organizers and activists in the Australia Pacific region to help people win social and environmental change. Many resources can be found on their page.
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond is a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation. The People’s Institute, through training, technical assistance and consultations helps individuals, communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism so as to create a more just and equitable society.
ASSESSING COMMUNITY READINESS
The Community Readiness Model was developed at the Tri-Ethnic Center to assess how ready a community is to address an issue. The basic premise is that matching an intervention to a community’s level of readiness is absolutely essential for success. Efforts that are too ambitious are likely to fail because community members will not be ready or able to respond.
To maximize chances for success, the Community Readiness Model offers tools to measure readiness and to develop stage-appropriate strategies that include:
Addressing community readiness for change;
Increasing community capacity; and
Creating a climate that makes change possible.
Follow this link to download a free copy of Community Readiness For Community Change: A Handbook for Social Change.
Principles of Community Engagement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - First published in 1997, Principles of Community Engagement filled an important vacuum, providing community members, health professionals, and researchers with clear principles to guide and assess their collaborative efforts. The need for such guidance has not lessened in the subsequent years. Our health challenges continue. Support for collaborative work has grown, but with this growing support has come an increasing volume and diversity of initiatives, terminology, approaches, and literature. This new edition adheres to the same key principles laid out in the original booklet. It distills critical messages from the growing body of information and commentary on this topic. At the same time, it provides more detailed practical information about the application of the principles, and it responds to changes in our larger social context, including the increasing use of “virtual communities” and the growing interest in community-engaged health research.
Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements by Bill Moyer - Doing Democracy provides both a theory and working model for understanding and analyzing social movements, ensuring that they are successful in the long term. Beginning with an overview of social movement theory and the MAP (Movement Action Plan) model, Doing Democracy outlines the eight stages of social movements, the four roles of activists, and case studies from the civil rights, anti-nuclear energy, Central America, gay/lesbian, women’s health, and globalization movements.
Capacity Building for Youth Led Social Change by the Ms. Foundation & Collaborative Fund for Youth-Led Social Change (CFYS) - Launched in 2000, CFYS grew out of an effort of funders and youth practitioners to support work at the intersection of youth development, youth organizing, and gender. The Ms. Foundation was known for understanding the importance of gender in the lives of young women and men. It was one of the first foundations to promote the merging of youth development and youth organizing strategies. And, it was ready to learn and share stories about how youth organizations were combining youth development, youth organizing, and gender-based programming in their work.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell - The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
Integrating Social Marketing, Community Readiness and Media Advocacy in Community–Based Prevention Efforts by M.D. Salter, K. Kelly, and R.W. Edwards - This study examines the role of key informant community readiness assessments in a randomized group trial testing the impact of a participatory community-media intervention. Social Marketing Quarterly, 6 (3), p 125- 137, (2000).
Paul Kivel - This social justice educator, activist and writer has been an innovative leader in violence prevention for more than 35 years. Paul Kivel has authored a variety of social justice, community organizing and anti-oppression resources, particularly for working with youth.