Principles of Organizing

Last updated: November 2, 2009 – 2:15 PM

The Metropolitan Tenants Organization is a grassroots organization working to improve the lives of tenants throughout Chicago.   We believe that the best way to accomplish our goal is to organize.   Organizing is not some mystical process that only a few people can do.   Everyone can do it and we encourage everyone to be a part of improving their conditions and the society in which we live.

When we say organizing, we mean creating collective power by working together in groups, unions, associations and coalitions.   We believe that any fundamental change in tenants’ current conditions, whether it is getting repairs done in a building or achieving controls on rent are the result of a shift in power.   We will succeed if our organizing efforts are rooted in democratic values that exhibit accountable base building, ally building, campaign organizing, leadership development, skill building, direct action and political education.   Effective organizing results in sustained efforts in which groups and individuals have a sense of their own power in history.

MTO’s fundamental principles of effective organizing for social change:

  1. The sharing and understanding of culture is fundamental to effective organizing.
  2. We must be strategic and intentional in all action. Change does not happen by accident.
  3. We are accountable to each other and MTO is accountable to its “grassroots” constituencies.
  4. While a committed individual can make change, collective efforts are far stronger than the actions of individuals.
  5. Do not do for people what they can do for themselves or if you give a person a fish she has food for a day, teach a person to fish and she has food for a lifetime. The goal of good organizers is to work themselves out of a job.
  6. Good organizing is building relationships to work for the common good and social change.
  7. When we first begin building a relationship, our initial approach should be one of respect, listening and acceptance.
  8. By intentionally seeking out everyone’s opinion we create inclusiveness and encourage everyone’s full participation.
  9. Evaluating, understanding, documenting, communicating and reflecting on our story is the way we learn and grow. Mistakes are mistakes only if we do them again. We succeed only when we build   on our successes.
  10. This work takes time and a timeline.

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