Small Group Organizing and Coalition Building

Posted February 14, 2012 in Blog, Redwood City, Story

By Thomas Atwood, Resilience Circle Facilitator

Our resilience circle at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City has supported the American Dream campaign since we first learned that the RC National Network was a sponsor in August of last year. We hosted house parties that joined with roughly 22,000 other Americans to develop the priorities that eventually became the Contract for the American Dream (

When we attend local meetings of the Mid-Peninsula American Dream Council, we make it a point to call attention to the work of small group organizing. We point to the number of our resilience circle participants in attendance, and emphasize how building local relationships feeds into broader synergies. At yesterday’s showing of Inside Job in San Carlos, we provided our copy of the DVD and the projection equipment for an audience of about 60 people, many of whom had never attended a council meeting before. In our view, we are sharing our consciousness-raising work with great organizers in our community who share our values, and making friends for the broader social change movement.

A number of participants in our resilience circle have demonstrated this turnout capacity by attending council meetings and rallies in support of the Rebuild the Dream campaign:

  • Thomas Atwood
  • Kitty Bownass
  • Steven Bradley
  • Carol Cross
  • Dick Edminster
  • Veronica Palmer
  • Jonelle Preisser
  • George Sliter
  • Carolyn Strange

To us, coalition building is key to our transition to a new economy. We need friends to get to the other side of transition—how many friends would you have if complete agreement on every issue were the criteria? If we want to move beyond complaining and “do something about it,” coalition building based on common ground is a great way to go. If we maintain good boundaries, we don’t have to become our partners, take direction from our partners, or allow our partners to speak for us. What we can do is create change that matters.