Organizing and planning intergroup initiatives is a task that should not be taken lightly.  It requires thoughtful, deliberate preparations to put efforts in the best possible position for success.  Organizers and planners need to be well-acquainted with community dynamics and ideally have a sense of these dynamics over time.  Folks involved in this preparation process also need to be in-tune with the needs of the community and aware of pressing issues that may hinder or serve as a catalyst for bridge building.  Some groups that participated in this work performed extensive research as part of their planning process to ensure that their efforts would align with the community’s interests.  For example, prior to the January 2011 launch of the Network of Immigrants and African Americans in Solidarity (NIAAS), the organizers convened focus groups a planning/advisory committee and researched the status of relations between immigrants of color and African Americans in the Boston area using focus groups, surveys, and interviews.  This information allowed them to organize a few initial community events that then provided them ideas with how to shape a longer-term initiative.  For others, their intergroup political education initiatives emerged in response to needs identified over months, or even years, of extensive community organizing.

Because this section is lengthy, it is divided into the following subsections:

Planning Logistics

Deciding on the Structure: Affinity Group or Intergroup Work?

Setting Goals and Expectations from the Outset

Allowing Time for Intergroup Work

Helpful materials

Organizing Community-wide Dialogue for Action and Change (.pdf) – This document from Everyday Democracy is a thorough step-by-step guide for anyone seeking to organize a large-scale community-wide study circles program or similar community dialogue gatherings.

Civic Education and Community Mobilization (.pdf) – This train-the-trainer manual is a workshop planning document that provides guidance for conducting participatory training workshops at the grassroots level.

A Few Tips for Network or Coalition Organizing: Some of the “Glue” Elements  – This one page document authored by Leah Wise from the Southeast Regional Economic Justice Network (REJN) covers key ideas for creating a unified, cohesive coalition.

Image: Zuhairali, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en