Grassroots organizing is on the rise. Dedicated individuals are uniting and participating in causes and initiatives around the world. Their coming together generates a focus and group energy, that when developed properly, holds great power and potential.
Grassroots groups come together to participate in a broad range of initiatives. They can resolve growing needs in the community or support community self-sufficiency. They can bolster co-operative businesses or protest injustices by big corporations and government. Grassroots groups can center on social activities, religious matters, or personal support systems. Providing a community network can heal and develop local areas so they prosper, despite stress from a faltering economy. Developing grassroots groups is a way to empower people locally to take action and achieve common goals.
Community empowerment does not necessarily require a big commitment of time or energy. Holding meetings and following up on tasks for even a few hours a week can rid a neighborhood of crime, change repressive laws, create a food bank, community garden, a ride share or community wellness clinic. Small contributions result in big change.
All grassroots groups share fundamental commonalities that can impact their success or failure. The laws of group dynamics, organizational development, physical, social and spiritual sciences pertain to all. Application of these sciences increases the synergistic forces at play in all community groups and amplifies effectiveness, generating an environment in which people want to participate simply because they get much more than they give.
Successful grassroots community development requires a range of personal, interpersonal and organizational skills that go far beyond recruiting a few members, planning a protest, or taking a creative action. To have an effect on its community a grassroots organization needs to retain talented people, and must also have a strategy and process for engaging the community at large.
A wide variety of skills and activities are required: conducting factual research, defining and instilling your groups’ goals and core values, developing collaboration and teamwork, raising consciousness in the community, inspiring and mentoring others, building a brand image, and generating financial support and media attention. These activities become much easier with established core values that uplift the group energy such as being interconnected, aligned, balanced, and positive. These values become the foundation for a caring loving community which greatly increases a group’s potential.
Owing to the increasing demands of social needs in a declining economy, individual community groups do well to reach out to similar or complimentary groups for coalition building. Collaboration is often more appealing to a funding source as an investment because they realize their contributions will fulfill many community needs simultaneously.
If the resources for developing this collective energy and the key pieces affecting your group’s potential are not readily available within your group, seek out an insightful mentor, or a reliable reference source of "best practices” for grassroots community development.
Community groups are valuable not only for what they can achieve but also for how people feel when working with others on community initiatives. A "High Energy” emerges when people pull together and tap the power of community. In these moments, we feel buoyed and uplifted by our colleagues and companions; we’re more creative, more responsive, more engaged and more at ease. In these moments of empowerment, communication and collaboration flow freely and easily, and celebration springs forth naturally and authentically. The energy of every individual member of a group contributes to and merges into a collective energy, a synergistic force around which anything seems possible, and often is.
Paul Deslauriers put 25 years as a community organizer and consultant into his most recent book "The GRASSROUTE GUIDE", a how-to manual for grassroots community groups. Covering organizational development, team building, leadership and communication skills, setting goals and operational values, managing volunteers, meetings, events, brand imaging, local media...all from a perspective of building a "high vibrational group energy".www.grassroute.org