Good Guys IRL

Organizers for Non-Organizers in the Face of Trump

A few days ago, we were all still holding out a little blip of hope that this could be not as bad as it seemed. Maybe, some of us keep thinking, all the Trump electors will switch their votes, using a failsafe our founders invented for a moment like this. Maybe, as I keep imagining, there’s some unwritten rule that if the gap between the loser and the winner in the popular vote reaches some number, it overrides the electoral college.

Or maybe, for the slightly more realist among us, Donald Trump would, in the midst of a marked uptick in racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, etc. violence, stand up and deliver some speech condemning in the strongest possible terms the actions of some of his followers. Or at the very least distance himself from it?

Yeah. Then he decided to appoint Steve Bannon as probably the most powerful person in the White House. And that was just, you know, yesterday.

Here’s what I know, in the midst of not knowing very much:

  1. We do not know exactly what is coming down the pike. It is impossible to tell because we are dealing with a situation so totally outside of the norm of our politics. But, given the above, we have every reason to believe that it will be Very Bad. I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. I am not interested in “waiting and seeing.”
  2. Therefore, we need to be prepared for anything and everything. So much of the work right now is to build infrastructure and power everywhere and anywhere — in our communities, in our towns, in our companies, in our institutions — to be able to turn on a dime. We need everyone. Every. Single. Person.
  3. Therefore, now more than ever we need folks A. knowing how to organize people, and B. thinking very hard about how to organize the communities and groups they have access to and are a part of. To be clear, we needed this before. But we need it even more now.
We need everyone. Every. Single. Person.

I’m an organizer. And have been, primarily, an organizer of mostly upper middle class white Jewish college students. And so, until this moment, I’ve often joked that when the end of the world comes, I will be extraordinarily un-useful. I know how to run a training, but I’m really scared of lighting matches.

As it turns out, I may actually have skills for the apocalypse. Which is: comforting? horrifying? who can tell. So here’s my unique contribution in this moment:

On Sunday night, I hosted a training in San Francisco of organizing for non-organizers. 50 (?!) people ended up coming, quickly outgrowing my tiny apartment. And then I made an event for New York, when I’m home for Thanksgiving. So far there are 900+ (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!) people coming or interested on Facebook. Which is just not possible, so I gotta figure out what to do?

Good Guys IRL in SF

I want to make this a resource for as many folks as possible, for them to think about their own unique contribution in this moment, run a discussion or a training on their own, get their butts in gear.

It can be found here. It has two options — a fully fleshed-out training, or a worksheet that can be used in the training or to guide a smaller discussion (or your own thinking)

A few notes:

  • I have a particular political analysis in this moment. This training comes from that analysis. You may not share that analysis, and that is a-ok!
  • I wanted this training to be as accessible to folks as possible. Many of the people I wrote this for are worried, mostly white, non-movement-affiliated, Democratic voters. This training reflects that in language and narrative. That may be challenging to other folks.
  • Along those lines, there is not much of an explicit discussion in this document of allyship or identity politics or privelege. I recognize that that is a major gap — it is something I am still learning about and committed to moving people around, and hope to write something much longer about that in the coming days.
  • Please use this to your heart’s desire! If you want to talk through: A. running this, or B. ideas that you came up with through it, I would love to discuss that with you. Feel free to reach out!
  • If you do run a discussion or training, I would love to hear about it. And, I very much want your feedback, as well!
  • Many thanks to the many people who have already given me feedback and been in thought-partnership with me about this.

OK. Onwards. More to come.