How We Organize

Bay Area Industrial Areas Foundation: Building stronger institutions Creating community changeRelational organizing is the foundation of all of our work. Relational organizing requires developing relationships of trust and obligation among a diverse array of institutions and their leaders.

Relationships develop through face-to-face conversations in which we share stories about our experiences and concerns. We build on these relationships as we learn to see the world as it is and work together to build the world as we want it to be. This is done through institution-based leadership development; the building of relationships within and between institutions; the identification of and research on issues of mutual self-interest; and disciplined, organized action.This model of broad-based organizing has been developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) over the last sixty years and engages leaders in a cycle of organizing that incorporates:

  • identifying and developing leaders within and across member institutions;
  • building relationships between leaders of diverse backgrounds, both one-on-one (individual meetings) and in small groups (house meetings);
  • discerning the issues that motivate broad participation and can lead to successful action from within each member organization;
  • engaging congregations and communities from diverse backgrounds around stories of shared vision and concern;
  • researching potential issues that have emerged from the individual meetings and house meetings;
  • engaging in strategic action around issues that have been identified, researched and negotiated within and between member institutions; and
  • reflecting and evaluating at every step an evaluation process during every step of the cycle to ensure that leaders deepen their understanding of their experience and continue to improve their organizing skills.

Broad-based relational organizing is a calculated response to a pervasive culture of isolation, de-facto racial and socio-economic segregation and individualism that has transformed our society. It helps to strengthen institutions and create public relationships that can lead to effective action.

photo by Sonny Willis