Brushy Fork Annual Institute

How to Change the World in Five Easy Steps

Track: Randy Stoecker

Well, not really.  Maybe more like how to change your corner of the world in five not-quite-so-easy steps.  But it can be done.  For the past thirty years I have worked with local voluntary and nonprofit groups, learning how to create changes in communities that improve the lives of everyone.  There are methods of organizing groups to change their communities that anyone can learn.  In this workshop we will concentrate on the most important of those methods:

  1. How to get and keep new members: This is the core of a successful community group.
  2. How to choose an issue: There are often so many things a group can work on — stopping bad things and/or starting good things.
  3. How to develop goals and strategies around an issue: When a group chooses an issue it also needs to develop goals and strategies around that issue.
  4. Getting the knowledge you need to succeed: The group needs to know what resources, opportunities, and risks are around them.  It needs to know who the decision-makers are and how they think about the group’s issue. It needs to know what strategic options exist.
  5. Keeping the group going through thick and thin:  One of the hardest tasks facing groups is sustaining themselves.  Groups can fall apart as easily after grand successes as after traumatic failures.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone who is asking themselves, “What can I do to strengthen my community?” Anyone who is involved in any kind of community group and wants to help it become stronger.

What Can I Expect to Learn?

  • Various methods for recruiting new members. We will also learn about different “incentives” that can get people involved, the role of crisis in recruitment, and concentric circles of participation.
  • Ways of finding the range of issues in the community and then methods for choosing an issue to work on that has the best chances for success and for sustaining the group.
  • How to distinguish “outputs” from “outcomes” and how to develop goals that are easy for a group to track. We will also learn how to develop winning strategies that fit the goals.
  • Various methods of gaining knowledge, such as power mapping, asset mapping, needs assessment, and community-college partnerships.
  • How to develop leadership, resolve internal conflicts, and manage meetings.

Track Limit: 40 

Dr. Randy Stoecker has been working with grassroots groups for more than 30 years, providing technical assistance, training, research support,and even doing some direct organizing.  He’s been involved with groups across North America and Australia, though most of his experience has been in Minneapolis MN, Toledo OH, Chicago IL, Appalachia, and Wisconsin.   Along with his direct practice, he has  written extensively about grassroots groups, including the books Defending Community, and Research Methods for Community Change, along with many articles in trade publications and academic journals.  He currently has a  faculty position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development.

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