Dominican Sisters at MOC ConventionThe Bay Area IAF brings together ordinary people and their institutions to be agents of systemic change through full participation in public life. Our mission is to build broad-based relational power so that member institutions can act together for the common good. This requires strengthening local institutions, developing their leaders, building relationships of power and respect within and between institutions, and creating the capacity to act together.

The IAF believes that a truly democratic society begins in local institutions as members develop the vision and skills necessary for active engagement in civic life. We organize by building trusting relationships between people of diverse backgrounds and by training leaders to organize within their institutions and to forge relationships with local decision-makers that can lead to systemic change.             
When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, community relationships disintegrate.In addition to securing tangible improvements, relational organizing builds real community. It generates social capital through a web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith and geography.

True politics is not about polls, focus groups or television ads. It is about engaging in public conversation and initiating collective action guided by that discourse. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.

In the Bay Area, IAF is building a regional network of relational power organizations. The economic and political reality of the Bay Area has become increasingly regional in scope. Many working and middle class families can no longer afford to live in many Bay Area communities. While these families are choosing to live farther away in search of affordability they continue to commute to the immediate Bay Area for work, worship and school. These long commutes are undermining civic participation and weakening institutions such as congregations, unions, schools and non-profits on both ends of the commute. The purpose of IAF’s regional strategy is to develop creative ways to connect people to civic life in this increasingly fragmented and isolated environment.

photo by Mindy Pines