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Committing to the craft of organizing with the Online Organizing Academy

January 25, 2013

By Trina Olson, Task Force Senior Training Manager

A decade of organizing under my belt and I’m sure of two things:
1. Mastering the fundamentals takes a lot of trust and a lot of practice
2. “Yes, Dad. Organizing is a real job!”

When I first started organizing, I didn’t know what I was really getting into. I don’t know that anyone does when they dive in. Every eighteen months or so I would move and change jobs, thus eliciting the logical question from my loving and supportive family: “What happened? Is everything ok?” “Absolutely!” I would say. “We met our goal,” I would try to explain. Or, “We lost. It’s over.” I would work to describe the situation I was traversing and would explain that I wasn’t getting fired. Nothing bad happened. I was simply moving on to the next piece of the project. Sometimes that meant moving from a legislative battle to a fierce ballot measure fight. Sometimes it meant moving across the country to work for a new organization on a completely new issue. Whatever it meant – it always meant moving forward. That’s organizing.
Ten years in, I’m comfortable with change. I know that stringing together campaigns, projects and battles is what has and will make up my career. I came out as gay at 19, but I’m not a single issue person. I’ve worked on healthcare, hunger, living wage, voter suppression, adoption and marriage. I learned that when you’re an organizer your biggest job is to make sure that your head and heart are working together. When you’re an organizer you need to learn what to say, but more importantly you need to know how to deeply listen. When you’re an organizer you fight to win, but you do not get thrown off (for too long) by defeat.

For anyone who has ever worked near me you’ve heard me say: “I love what I do because I’m good at it. I’m good at it because someone taught me.”
That’s why we at the Task Force have just put together and launched the Online Organizing Academy. Organizers need a school they can go to in order to learn what they need. People organizing in the LGBT movement need an organizing school that can speak to the particularities of what it’s like to fight transphobia and homophobia up close. It’s not easy. We try to get to you in person whenever we can, for all the times in between, we’ve built this school online.

Enrolling in the Online Organizing Academy will give you access to free tools, amazing personal stories and connection to other people who have a sense of what you’re going through. You’ll master key skills. We’ll share our best practices. We’ll also share our mistakes because we know that being a great organizer means being both courageous and vulnerable in equal measure. Instead of starting from scratch, we want you to be able to build on other LGBT justice lessons learned. Why? Because our side has to be sharp. I work on LGBT stuff – so I lose a lot. I win sometimes. And the losing doesn’t scare me – but it does piss me off and catalyze me to learn more…learn a lot more!

Activists in the LGBT movement are not organizing in a vacuum. There is an honest to God opposition – people who get up in the morning and put their pants on to go to work to try to prevent us from living our lives, loving each other, having jobs and having children. Here’s the truth: organizing is a craft. The opposition is excellent at it – they are strategic lobbyists, fundraisers and community leaders. We need to match them, and then exceed them. We have a responsibility to keep getting better.

Come learn alongside us. Come listen to the voices of folks who may have gone before you. Come because we need you to learn. If I’m telling the truth – we need you to get very, very good at this craft. We have votes to win, people to protect and friends and neighbors to lift up. We take our work seriously, and serious work requires study.

Login today and join the community of organizers who are investing in their community by investing in themselves. Welcome to activists of all ages committed to lifelong learning. You are hereby accepted into the Task Force Online Organizing Academy! I bet you’ll do great!

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