Train for Action

Why do training? 

Community mobilization builds on skills we use in everyday life--planning, communicating, convincing, celebrating--and applies these skills to community action. Trainings provide a place to learn, adapt, and practice skills for new purposes and as a newly-formed group. Training sessions help a group coalesce and develop a clearer sense of purpose. For this reason, we've included in this module a number of planning exercises, which can be done not only in an initial training but also at CAT meetings, when a campaign is being developed or revised. Remember, the tone you set in the CAT training will carry over to all your CAT work--so make sure the training is participatory, relevant, respectful, effective and fun! 

What kind of training?

In addition to community mobilization tactics and strategies, you are likely to need to educate CAT members about the dynamics of domestic violence, its causes and local resources for assistance. If you work at a domestic violence organization, that part of your regular volunteer training would be appropriate for this purpose. If you don't work at such an agency, then you may be able to partner with one in the local community to help bring your CAT members up to speed. 

What is an activism campaign?

An activism campaign is designed to increase community members' awareness of a specific problem, as well as their willingness to take action to address the problem. An activism campaign goes beyond other kinds of outreach education by linking a series of activities together as part of a sustained effort to achieve a specified set of short, medium and long-term goals. Ideally, an action campaign helps a community take ownership of an issue by giving them repeated opportunities to express their thinking on the issue and to translate those concerns into action. The brainstorming and analysis that goes into planning a campaign also helps insure that activities will be focused strategically to generate the greatest amount of change possible. 

How does a CAT choose a campaign focus? 

Guiding team members through the process of translating their awareness of and concern about a social problem (such as domestic violence) into a focused team action plan is one of the most important functions of the CAT facilitator or organizer. There are many different ways of choosing a campaign focus. The method used most frequently and effectively by the community action teams at Transforming Communities is a democratic, consensus-based process involving three steps: 

  • Step One: Team members are asked to brainstorm the potential fields of action they might take by looking at the role different institutions (e.g., educational system, legal system, health care system, etc.) might play in either perpetuating or ending the problem.
  • Step Two: Team members discuss potential options for action within their locale or community and select one field of action through consensus--that is, all team members agree to the choice. (An action field for ending violence against women, for example, might include working with local high schools to better educate students about early signs of relationship abuse versus educating faith communities about their role in ending domestic violence.)
  • Step Three: Team members plot out a specific plan for bringing about the changes they envision within their chosen field of action. 

This module includes Tips & Tools an organizer or facilitator can use in guiding the CAT through the process of brainstorming potential action fields, selecting a campaign focus, identifying goals and generating a strategic action plan. This module also contains exercises to help CAT members survey the skills each member brings to the group, practice public speaking in a safe environment and develop planning skills. An informational handout for team organizers outlines tips to help facilitators sustain CAT members' energy and enthusiasm for the work.