For the last few weeks I’ve blogged here about the role of grassroots organising in mounting successful campaigns and in prioritising building activism within a campaign in the run up to our Grassroots conference at the end of May. As we often say on this site, there is no silver bullet in the work that we do, but conversations such as the ones we had during the event are a key part in us understanding what we do and how we can be effective in that. The challenge for us is finding space and time to continue to have these conversations.
This has become ever more important given the result of the battle that trade unionists faced in Wisconsin. The win for Scott Walker and the Republicans was not just a battle on collective bargaining rights, but on removing unions from Wisconsin. Remove unions and we see a fundamental pillar which protects working people and raises living standards fall. Remove unions and see funding for candidates that support a right to bargain gone. Rachel Maddow’s article on this hit the nail on the head, as too did Carl’s recent posting on strategic initiatives.
At Grassroots, I was reminded in Neil Kingsnorth’s (Friends of the Earth) contribution of the need for movements to have campaigns and for campaigns to be a part of movements. In being part of those movements we recognise that we will take different approaches but all for the common movements. Greg Thomson highlighted for me the need to think to the future and from starting where people are, not where we want them to be and when Fiona Ranford’s asserted the need for action to be recognised as empowering, I though of how this resonated with my own experiences of organising and campaigning. Lastly, Fr. Paul Butler stressed the importance of love and hope and in remembering we do this because of love for others.
I learnt a lot from all the speakers (for a full list go to grassrootsuk.org) but for me, the above were key lessons, not only in terms of the Wisconsin battle but also our own campaigns when asserting our rights to collective bargain and organise.