National School for Strategic Organizing

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Apply to the National School for Strategic Organizing!

What is the National School like?

(1) Classes and readings on political and organizing theory

  • political education seminars on analysis of the mainproblems we face in the world today as well as approaches to strategy and tactics
  • organizers' exchanges with campaign veterans where you learn our theory of transformative organizing and examine the specificity of tactics needed for building organizations
  • case study workshops on historic campaigns, making history in the present
  • briefings on campaign development

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(2) Direct participation in ongoing mass campaigns

  • on-the-bus organizing
  • area work teams that integrate theory and practice within tactical plans
  • learning the Center's approach to 'counter-hegemonic' demand development and methods of building a leadership core and community allies
  • learning to assess different phases of a campaign: when to escalate, when to retreat, how to consolidate gains and victories
  • on-going self evaluation aided by a close working relationship with an assigned mentor and supervisor

Through theory-driven social practice, organizers in the School learn flexibility to move with the twists and turns of organizing and discipline to structure time for work, study, reading, writing, and reflection.

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In what campaigns is the work situated?

Concretely, organizers at the National School will participate in one of our mass campaigns, such as the Bus Riders Union (BRU), which challenges corporate-driven transit policy while engaged in direct on-the-bus organizing to build a vibrant multiracial, multilingual, intergenerational organization on wheels. Through the BRU and other projects participants in the School will help build economic, political, and cultural alternatives through concrete victories that build new communities. Participants will be involved in the following current campaigns:

 

  • Bus Riders Union's Fight Transit Racism/Billions for Buses Campaign
  • Clean Air, Clean Lungs, Clean Buses Campaign—making a link between toxic pollution in communities of color and participating in an international movement to reverse global warming
  • Community Rights Campaign—challenging the criminalization of Black and Latina/o communities, working with Black and Latino high school youth to challenge the 'pre-prison' tracking system
  • Take the Initiative Campaign—educating and mobilizing voters with hard-hitting materials that challenge right-wing ideology and help defeat reactionary California ballot initatives

Other work in which organizers-in-training may be involved includes:

  • Community graphics and Make History media project
  • Organizing through teatro, improvization and dramatization
  • Web and electronic organizing
  • Agit-props development, writing and designing materials
  • Legal work for the on-going federal oversight of the MTA
  • Political education programs
  • Frontlines Press and AhoraNow commentaries
  • Documentation and archiving
  • Voices from the Frontlines radio

The work is extremely intensive and very rewarding. Complete focus on this submersion experience at the School is expected.

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Who are we looking for?

We are looking for organizers who want to create a fusion between left politics and transformative organizing. Our daily work challenges the dominant values and culture of the society, and transforms the people with whom we organize while transforming organizers in the process. We want people who already have experience as organizers and understand the flexibility and patience needed in this work. We value the quality of humility, a willingness to learn from experienced organizers, veteran bus riders and leaders of oppressed-nationality working class communities. At the same time, we need people with the experience, initiative, and confidence to contribute constructive, innovative ideas to the organization.

The National School accepts classes of up to six students. The next term will begin in July 2011 and run for six months. Organizers-in-training who do an excellent job are encouraged to stay another six months. Our work takes place within the Black, Latino, and Korean communities of Los Angeles. The class of 2011 will be selected to strengthen our work in these communities; therefore, applicants with Spanish and/or Korean language proficiency and/or prior organizing experience in the Black community are strongly encouraged to apply. People of color, especially women, are given priority. We also encourage those with publications distribution, website development, and outreach, administration and fundraising skills to apply.

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Are you looking for affiliation with a political organization?

Our primary goal is to recruit organizers to the politics and work of the Strategy Center. The School of course also functions as a training center for organizers in a broader movement, and many of our graduates are doing great work with other movement organizations and projects throughout the United States. But the majority of our graduates have chosen to live and work with us in Los Angeles, and our first objective is to attract people who could envision a long-term future in L.A., one six month increment at a time, working to build the work of the Center and its key projects.

What is the National School's approach to pedagogy?

The National School for Strategic Organizing is rooted in the Strategy Center's long-term organizing campaigns that demand comprehensive, structural and increasingly international solutions to the problems of urban poverty, racism, national oppression, environmental degradation, and the escalating attacks on workers, women, peoples of color and immigrants.

Based on the premise that 'social being creates social consciousness,' the School is designed to create opportunities for people in the course of struggle in a mass campaign to share experiences about how the political system works. The School is structured to teach a model of conscious organizing situated within an overall strategy and tactics. It teaches the tools of organizing technique and of inquiry into working class life. It seeks to instill simultaneously a capacity for critical thinking and a readiness to imagine future possibilities for common struggle and social change. In this context, we are all learning all the time. Therefore, the School is always evolving in response to what we learn, and those accepted to the class of 2011 will now be contributors to that process.

We call this site of learning inside a social movement a 'school of social life'. Learning is generated by daily organizing practice. Knowledge is created through action and reflection. Every component of time here can be a period for self-reflection, in addition to the structured format for political education and organizer training.

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What assistance is available?

Assistance is provided in the form of:

 

  • A weekly stipend
  • Housing scholarships
  • Passes for public transportation
  • Healthcare for the duration of the program

The NSSO is an experiment, a Movement Graduate School. While students at the establishment's academy pay enormous stipends and come out with little knowledge and onerous financial debt, our graduates live modestly, learn a lot, and have all their major expenses covered. It is a honor to be accepted, and our participants understand the responsibility and demonstrate a great work ethic and sense of appreciation of the opportunity.

For further information on applications, deadlines and all aspects of the school please contact Tammy Bang Luu.

National School for Strategic Organizing

Labor/Community Strategy Center .  3780 Wilshire Blvd. STE 1200  .  Los Angeles, CA 90010  .  213.387.2800

Email us here--make sure to select "National School" as the category.