Building progressive governing power requires organizing. At its most basic, organizing is talking to people about important issues, plus moving them to take collective action. Labor unions and groups like the N.A.A.C.P. are among the oldest examples of institutional organizing models. Grassroots organizing pulls in individuals who see their interests being served. The most effective organizing for political revolution answers the question, How do we make change?
First, you need a resonant issue to organize around. Then you need a concrete goal to organize toward. Good community organizers are crucial for connecting needs and dreams to resources and policy changes. While organizations are optimal, individuals can and do work independently to great effect. In our efforts in Georgia, we have always embraced the philosophy that we operate as part of an ecosystem of state and local organizers who focus on a range of sometimes conflicting narratives. A push for environmental legislation to restrict the use of fossil fuels must engage the thousands of union workers employed by industries reliant on those energy sources.
Effective collaboration cannot demand that participants surrender their core goals; it welcomes those who can help, even if only for the moment. Like many potential battleground states, Georgia has walked this tightrope; and depending on the issue, we have to face the ire of one side or the other. During Stacey’s tenure as minority leader in the State House, she had to sit with labor leaders to explain why the Democratic caucus would be taking a position in support of a bill they opposed. But she also had similar conversations with environmental groups that objected to proposals that they felt didn’t go far enough.