Freedom Writer - September 1995 [ref001] Activist's guide:Coalition building A coalition,

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Freedom Writer - September 1995 [ref001] Activist's guide:Coalition building A coalition, or alliance, consists of individuals or organizations working together in a common effort for a common purpose to make more effective and efficient use of resources. (From "Building Coalitions," the Ohio Center for Action on Coalition Development, Ohio State University) How to determine if a coalition is needed _ Is the Radical Religious Right organized in your community? If not, is there a foreseeable threat in the near future? What exactly is the Religious Right doing in your community? Evangelizing? Writing letters to the editor? Registering voters? Running school board candidates? Strictly religious activities, such as evangelizing, should not be seen as a threat to church/state separation. Survey your county or city. What other community-based or activist groups exist and what do they do? Do they work in tandem with other groups, or independently? Contact group leaders and discuss the possibility of forming a coalition. Then decide if there is enough interest. Try to build bridges. _ _A_coalition_should_be_structured_to:_ _ Involve all key players. Choose a realistic strategy. Establish a shared vision. Agree to disagree in the process. Make promises that can be kept. Build ownership on all levels. Institutionalize change. Publicize successes. _ What a coalition can do Activity depends upon need, local assets and talent. The purpose should be to inform and mobilize voters. Education and activism are the two key words. Some groups emphasize education over activism, or the other way around. It depends upon how the group is set up. Many groups don't incorporate, although incorporation should definitely be considered. Try to get a lawyer pro bono. _ Opposition research local and national activity (equipment required: 386 or 486 computer, database program, printer, fax, phone, copier, file cabinet). Start a "letters to the editor" file from local paper. Visit Christian book stores to check bulletin boards and pick up free literature. Visit politically active churches. Monitor local Christian radio. Monitor school board meetings. Establish a county-wide watchdog system. Monitor the state legislature. Action alert phone tree. Action alert fax network. E-mail network Keep the press informed with facts, not fanaticism. Voter ID Register voters Interview school board candidates Voter guides Publish a newsletter _ How to start a coalition Form a core group of three to seven people. Remember, as few as two or three dedicated people can keep a coalition going. Fundraising: approach concerned individuals and business owners for contributions to get started. You can raise quick cash this way. More serious fund-raising can follow later. Form a fundraising committee. Approach leaders and directors of other groups who indicate an interest in the coalition. Discuss possible dates for first meeting. Set a date. Send out letters announcing meeting date, time and place. Letter should briefly inform about the purpose of the meeting. Groups MUST RSVP, indicating whom they will send to represent their group. A registration list is prepared from the RSVPs. No one should be admitted who is not on the list. First meeting is informational. An hour and a half at the most. Show "America at a Crossroads," available from IFAS. Give a brief report of local Radical Religious Right activity. Propose a name for the coalition. Have a representative from each group sign up as a group liaison volunteer. This will be your contact person with an given group. Second meeting determines officers, job assignments, projects and time line for completing projects. Meeting schedules and frequencies will depend upon proposed projects and local Religious Right activity. Note: Coalitions can be formed for short-term projects or for the long term, depending on your local situation. _Sample_names_of_existing_coalitions:_ _ Mainstream Voter's Coalition People for a Pluralistic Democracy Mainstream Voter's Project Citizen's Project Community Coalition Network Committee for Responsible Education Moderate Voter's Project Coalition for the Preservation of American Values The Clearinghouse _ How to manage a coalition The core group will keep everything going. The core group meets as often as necessary once a week, three times a week whatever is required. Group liaisons are the links to all the groups in the coalition. The coalition itself usually meets monthly, but it really depends on the types activity in which the coalition engages. For instance, if the core group assembles information on the radical right, and the coalition simply operates a phone tree or fax alert, monthly meetings may be unnecessary. Communication is the key word.. Use every means available. both within your coalition and to the general public. [ref002][ref003] Return to table of contents Copyright 1995 IFAS The Freedom Writer / ifas@crocker.com [ref001] ../banner.gif [ref002] index.html [ref003] ../../uparrow.gif This file is copywritten by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Subscribe to The Freedom Writer and Walk Away news letters by writing to or telephoneing the Institute for First Amendment Studies: Post Office Box 589 Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230 Telephone: (413) 528-3800 E-Mail: ifas@crocker.com Web page: http://www.crocker.com/~ifas

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