Say What You Mean: Creative Chant Development

Lots of times, organizations will put weeks or months of effort into mobilizations and actions, preparing for different scenarios and developing leadership, but on the day of the action we use the first chants that come into our heads and try to force a fit. This makes the go-to chant at so many protests: “Hey […]

Working or Winning?

Four years ago today, an amazing organizer passed on from this physical existence to reside in the hearts and minds of the many people he touched in his lifetime. Shel Trapp, co-founder of National People’s Action, was schooled in the old Alinsky organizing tradition, and while he kept the focus on concrete change, he cast […]

How to Get Big Results in Minutes*

*(every day, over years) Asthmatic as a child, small for my age and kind of clumsy, I learned early on the story that I was not built for physical activities. I was an easy target for bullies. Even before I knew what organizing was, I daydreamed of a large group of people coming together to […]

Stopping Violence With People Power

Over the past decade or so in the US, increasing attention has been turned to where our food comes from, and organic, non-GMO and farm-fresh food have been highlighted as the best options for our bodies and our communities. Similarly, students during the 1990s built a strong campaign to replace sweatshop-produced goods in their campus […]

How Bushwhacking is Like Organizing

I am very interested in how community organizers can build a life in which organizing and movement-building is a long-term sustainable and healthy pursuit that integrates well with other aspects of our lives—family, restoration and relaxation, and lifelong-learning, to name a few. I have long enjoyed getting out and hiking in nature as an escape, a […]

How to Develop Leadership in 2 Simple Steps (Part 2)

Step 2: Take action. Shel Trapp, my organizing mentor, used to say, “Talking doesn’t cook the rice.” Once you’ve had the conversation about hopes, dreams, and vision, it’s essential to put it into action. Otherwise, organizers are no different from politicians who make pretty promises of a better tomorrow which they never deliver. Action is […]

How to Develop Leadership in 2 Simple Steps (Part 1)

The previous post focused on how leadership is not innate, but rather developed, nurtured and practiced. So how do we do that? Welcome to “How to Develop Leadership In 2 Simple Steps.” I’ll devote a post to each step. Today, Step One: Talk. Community organizations’ staff need to devote significant time to frequently have one-to-one […]


“I want to be the kind of person who’s impossible to steal from.” –Utah Phillips The stories on this website are uncopyrighted. That means you should feel free to share them, copy them, print them and tell them without asking my permission. These are not my stories. They’re our stories. I’ve been lucky to have […]

A Society of Spontaneous Action

What would it look like if organizing was so internalized in a society that people spontaneously took direct action in the moment of the injustice? What if this was so widespread that unscrupulous power-holders felt compelled to do right because of the imminent accountability? I understand that there are places in the world where this […]