Community Organising LAB – coLAB is a framework for cooperation between 4 (+1) organizations each from one country from the V4 region. This „colLABoration“ is happening on several layers with several outcomes. 

The aim of coLAB is to create a Tool-Box for trainers and community organisers based on the community organising methodology combined with community development and the principles of Teal Management (described by Frederic Laloux).

This project is financially supported by Visegrad Fund.

Four main topics of coLAB:

Community Organising & Development

Teal Management

Soft Skills

Leadership Development

The project coLAB is composed from two big parts: 

1) First part of the of the project is focused on an online training course combined with personal mentoring and dozens of hours of practice for new community organisers from each involved organisation.

2) Second part of the project is about implementing community organising (CO) methodology and Teal Management principles within involved organisations.

By recording, reflecting and evaluating this two parts we create an online Tool-Box for the future trainings of organisers and other organisations to learn about CO and Teal Management.

coLAB Tool-Box

Basic Facts on Community Organising

Community organizing is a revolutionary political activity geared towards social change. This involves building structures of power around material struggles, which can endure and grow over time to yield tangible change for the base.

Four Types of Community Interventions

There are four fundamental strategies available to address community problems: community organizing, advocacy, service delivery and community development. There is no right or wrong strategy – every community needs all four strategies, to some degree. Each group should specialize – the skills needed to do a good job in one are seldom those needed for another. Sometimes, groups use a combination of strategies. What is important here is that you know what you’re doing – that the method matches the strategy you’ve chosen and they both match the mission the group has adopted.

Community organizing is characterized by the mobilizing of volunteers. Staff roles are limited to helping volunteers become effective, to guiding the learning of leaders through the process, and helping to create the mechanism for the group to advocate on their own behalf. Community organizing almost always includes confrontation of some sort. When the people who want something get themselves together to ask for it, often the people who could give them what they want get jumpy. Community organizing strategies include meeting with corporate or government decision makers to hold them accountable for their actions, designing programs that meet the needs of the community for others (not the group) to implement, and aggressive group action to block negative developments or behaviors (for example, highway construction that leads to neighborhood destruction).

Advocacy and Service Delivery are both characterized by doing FOR people. Often professionals like lawyers or social workers will attack a problem on behalf of those perceived as unable to speak for themselves. Job referral services, social work, training for job readiness, homeownership counseling, business plan preparation training – these are methods which fit into the Advocacy or Service Delivery strategy. The advantage of these approaches is that they alleviate the problem relatively fast. The downside is that they don’t always tackle the root of the problem, so the community is not prepared when the same or other problems surface.

Community development is a strategy that gets the group directly into the business of delivering a physical product. Generally, groups select a development strategy because the normal course of events is not meeting the area’s needs. The profit motive either does not bring private developers into the area – they can’t make enough money – or it brings them in to do the wrong thing – they are converting moderate cost rental units into yuppie condos. Development could mean housing or commercial or even industrial development. Development methods require, like the other two strategies, particular skills. Many groups have struggled to achieve good results in housing development with staff whose training, experience and interests are in community organizing, causing pain and suffering for the group and the staff. This is unfair. If we understand the distinction between the strategies, we can see the different resources needed for the methods that fit within them. 

Power & „Stairs“ into the Community

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Asset Based Community Development & Community Mapping

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Base Building & One-on-Ones

Base Building

After the community mapping – including door knocking/snowball approach – the organiser ends up with a list of contacts of the people whom they want to involve into building a base:

Core Leaders are aligned with the organisation’s values, vision and mission. They are a strong part of the organisation – ready to take action. They have the capacity – time, skills, knowledge, attitude, values & motivation – to act as an organiser and a bridge between the organisation and the community (organisations target group).

Leaders & Active Members of the organisation are actively involved in campaigns and actions of the organisation. They are go-to members for events and specific actions. Typically they can connect on an issue level.

Members usually attend the meetings/actions. They have a limited role in planning, because they are in a development stage – they are gaining their capacity and aligning w/ organisation. (typical example are organisation’s volunteers) 

Potential Members are people interested in organisation and its activities. They share their contact w/ the organiser and express their interest to learn more.

Community Members may know about the organisation, but have not been reached through one-on-one outreach. They are affected by the issues.

(based on the description from Rusia Mohiuddin, Universal Partnership)

One-on-Ones

In order to build a core of leaders, there is a need to understand leaders personal “cores” – their motivation, passion, psychological criteria and sometimes even trauma. 

When it comes to community organizing, there is no substitute for direct person-to-person interaction. Personal interaction and shared experience establish the strongest bonds, and provide the most compelling incentive for engagement. This is why one-on-ones are a bedrock technique for bringing new people into chapters and teams, for developing leaders, and for maintaining relationships with active members. 

One-on-One Meetings (1:1s) are intentional, pre-scheduled meetings with a member, potential member or community member to build a public relationship and to exchange information that ultimately reveals their “core” and possibly connects them to the organisation. A successful 1:1 meeting ends with a commitment to take action that includes a specific date, time, and goal. 

Preparing for a one-on-one meeting 

1. Identify people who might be interested in your organization. Think about your community networks. They could be neighbors, classmates, colleagues, community members, or family members. You can also go to community events to talk about your issue with folks and invite anyone who is interested to have a one-on-one with you. 

2. Do some preparation.

 • What do you already know about the person you’re meeting with? 

• What questions do you want to ask them? 

• What do you want to share about your experience? 

• What commitment do you want to get, and how do you want to make your ask? 

3. Set a time and location for the meeting, and be intentional about the setting. 

• Are you going to be able to talk about some potentially personal things? If so, is the environment suited for that? 

• Is the person going to have to spend money at that location? 

• If there’s food involved, check-in with the person to see if they have any dietary restrictions or preferences to keep in mind. 

4. Follow up with the person two days ahead of time and the day of the one-on-one to confirm that they’re planning to meet with you. 

Learn more about One-on-Ones on

Women’s March Network & Resident Action Project

Building a Core & Facilitating a Meeting

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Organiser’s Roles – Guiding Leadership

3 stavy ega

Transactional Analysis as a Leader Tool

Manager – organiser – leader. How does a manager take up the role of a leader? What exactly does a leader do? To what extent should a leader care about their colleagues? Let’s take a view from one possible perspective.

Disclaimer: when we talk about managers, we also mean organisers, teachers, trainers or coaches. 

In the 1960s Eric Berne came up with several revolutionary concepts that influenced today’s psychology and the general way we work with people. One of his most famous books is “Games People Play”.

What is it all about?

According to Berne, the basic unit of people’s interaction (social contact) is a so-called transaction. If there are two or more people in the same room, sooner or later one of them will give a signal by which he/she acknowledges the existence of the others. If others react to that impulse, we can call it a TRANSACTION. Should this transaction bring us any benefit (or pleasure), we call it a GAME. Every game has its players who are playing their ROLES. These roles are chosen consciously, or – in most cases – unconsciously, based on their EGO STATE. And this is where things get interesting and complicated at the same time.

The 3 Ego States

We perceive the states of our Ego as a complex phenomenon of thinking, feeling and behaving. The first state evolved within us already in early childhood, this is what Berne calls “the Child”. When we get into this state as adults, we act as our childhood self would. This ego state has two polarities: the playful/submissive child and the stubborn/defiant child.

If our actions (thinking, feeling and behaving) are in line with the people who raised us, we are reaching the ego state of “the Parent”. As a Parent we are shifting between the critical/lecturing and the caretaking parent.

When we are able to rationally evaluate the situation in the given moment, and observe the emotions of the Child and the Parent, we are getting into the state of “the Adult”. As we are shifting between the ego states according to our current needs, we can take up several different roles in a conversation in a matter of seconds.

How does this game look like?

I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as a child. They lived in a big (that time even modern) flat with a lot of doors which had crystal glass filling. Behind one of those doors an old sewing machine was hidden. I was extremely fascinated by its mechanism – especially by the foot pedal and the wheel. Even today it makes me smile when I see an old Singer used as a coffee table in a bar.

One day, as I was exploring this machine behind the door at grandma’s, I accidentally smashed the door and the glass in it got broken. This was followed by the sound of breaking and falling glass. This signal made my grandma check what happened. After a quick visual revision of my health status – I didn’t have a scratch – she asked:

Grandma: “Who did this?”

I – still a little shocked: “A dwarf.”

Grandma put her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows: “You know that you shouldn’t lie.”

My grandma’s question might look like a question of an “Adult” looking for factual information. On a psychological level, however, it prompted a challenge to lie – and I accepted it. It was then followed by a lesson on good behaviour from my grandma’s “Parent”. Of course, my grandma didn’t plan to catch me “on the crime scene”. It was her ego state giving me a lesson – just as she used to get it from her parents. (This memory came back to me after reading a similar example in the book Games People Play.)

The question that emerges from the story is whether I needed to be taught a lesson or it was grandma’s “Parent” that needed to take care of me (quick visual control of any injuries) and reprimand me afterwards? In both cases, we both played our roles in the game.

Drama Triangle in Games

In connection with Berne’s work we should also take a look at the Drama Triangle theory by Karpman. According to this, every drama needs a “Victim” and every Victim has their “Perpetrator” and/or “Saviour”. Combining the two approaches, we can conclude that every Child has/looks for their Parent and vice versa.

Surrounded by the broken glass from the door, I was a Victim who had his Saviour (grandma), who shifted into the role of the Perpetrator. Together we played all three roles of the Drama Triangle and we both gained something from it. Additionally, I learned how to become a skilled player in the role of the Victim. After all, we learn how to behave in these games as early as in childhood.

Now let’s see how all this looks like at our workplace.

Employee A: “That new colleague C doesn’t follow our deadlines and doesn’t answer my emails.”

Manager B: “Yeah, that sucks. Colleague C is very irresponsible.”

On the visible social level this is a communication between two Adults – an exchange of factual information and an agreement with the status quo. But let’s look deeper into the psychological level: 

Employee A is having a hard time working together with the new Colleague C. He comes to Manager B and complains – communicates from as a Child / Victim. Manager B shows regret and identifies the Persecutor in the Drama Triangle. Thus, he communicates as the Parent / Rescuer. The gain (or pleasure) for Employee A is the feeling of reassurement that he is a good, efficient employee, whereas Manager B can maintain his position as a manager who takes care of his employees or reprimands them. The problem is that Manager B did not help Employee A in the long run. He simply supported the game in this triangle, so they can go play it tomorrow as well.

How can a manager help?

Me: „Colleague P isn’t replying to my emails again and the project partners are already asking me when they will receive the reports.“

Colleague M: “Call him. You need to set up the appropriate communication channels / collaboration together.”

Yes, this situation was „played“ in our Open Game office 🙂 Although my colleague Martin is not my manager, he is a „senior“. I came to him playing the Child / Victim – the role that I learned when the glass broke at my grandma’s. Martin gave me the tools – factual information – needed to satisfy my needs. He reacted as an Adult and consciously avoided jumping into the role of the Savior. And by that, he changed something else as well: he disrupted the dynamics between the Child and the Parent and made me enter the Adult ego state.

This is a very significant change: by taking up the role of the Adult, Martin transformed the originally destructive Saviour-Persecutor-Victim triangle into a constructive one, thus changing the roles to Guide-Challenge-Leader. In this triangle, the Persecutor is replaced by a Challenge which can be solved with the help of a Guide (and not a Saviour), so there is no Victim any more – you become your own (Personal) Leader.

This transformation didn’t lead to a miraculous change in the relationship between my colleague and I for a while. The situation with P repeated several times afterwards. The difference was that we both learned from our previous experience and gradually set the appropriate communication channels, defined work priorities and talked openly about my frustration and his exhaustion.

Interrupting my game helped me solve not only this conflict, but a lot more. By repeating similar situations, I can now recognize that this is a game and thanks to this, I can actively shift to the Adult ego state in communication – and to the role of the Guide in my work as a trainer.

Being a leader can take many forms. It does not necessarily mean being a manager or a senior colleague. Definitions of leadership vary from one theory to another. In our office, Martin was a leader for me and I became my own Personal Leader – the Hero of my situation and my story.

Reflexion for Community Organisers

How can we „raise“ new leaders in our communities without taking the role of the „Parent“?

What can we do when organising a community around problems – needs – trauma?

Wheat roles are we taking in our community organising?

Campaigning & Direct Actions

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Fundraising & Public Speaking

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Group Dynamics

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