Direct Action Organizing

Taught by Kent Smith

10 tuitions waivers are available to members of marginalized communities who would like to teach the course material to their community. Contact coordinator<at> for info + instructions.

Make a significant contribution to Social Justice by winning concrete change at both the local and systemic levels. Learn the principles of Direct-Action Organizing: how to mobilize the grassroots to carry out effective campaigns that win.

  • Organizing is the act of mobilizing a community for action around its concerns, and for the long term.

  • Direct Action is grounded in non-violent Civil Disobedience--in using the Power the people have to interrupt injustice--from boycotts and protest marches to building takeovers, sit-ins and the calculated breaking of unjust laws.

  • Direct Action Organizing itself is the best way to show others how to Organize for Direct Action: teach through doing.

Using a mix of readings, videos, discussion and experiential learning exercises, this course will cover the history of Organizing in America (and in Portland) while de-centering the Whiteness that has historically accompanied it. Participants will sketch and plan out their own idea for a Direct-Action Organizing campaign.

You will finish this course with skills and strategies to plan, organize and implement effective protest campaigns, and to teach others to do the same.

Week 1: Why We Fight
What are our personal interests in Direct-Action Organizing? (If you're not sure about yours, this class is a safe place to figure it out.) We'll share our expectations, needs and goals for the course and discuss how our group will define “Organizing for Direct-Action”. We'll also take a brief trip through the history of Organizing.

Week 2: Principles of Direct-Action Organizing
What is the different between a Leader and an Organizer? Is it true that Organizing a community is the best way to teach its members how to Organize? We'll reflect of some of the giants of Organizing history and share ideas for de-centering Whiteness in Organizing.

Week 3: Envisioning Protest Campaigns
What are the typical elements of an Organizing Drive? Break-out groups will discuss the social justice concerns nearest and dearest to them and individuals begin to explore a critical approach to crafting a campaign around their social justice priorities.

Week 4: What We Want to Do
How might we go about Organizing a community for change?  Look ahead while hearing about further resources and education for the aspiring Organizer. We'll reflect on the course and share some of the actions (if any) we are committed to taking, moving forward.

Kent Smith is a former Organizer with ACORN and with the Oregon Student Association.