Mujtamai is a group initiative created by Nisreen Haj Ahmad early 2010 after studying and working with professor Marshall Ganz of the Harvard Kennedy School. Mujtama3i Initiative is a non-registered and a non-for-profit social enterprise led by twelve community-organizing specialists: Nisreen Haj Ahmad, Samar Dudin, Eman Nimri, Nizar Farsakh, Achraf Hamzah, Mais Iraqsusi, Rawan AlZein, Kifah Adnan, Sawsan Zaatari, Reem Manna, Basil Jebril, and Noora Awad.
Mujtamai’s mission is to build people power to lead change for justice, rights and freedom through community organizing. It shares knowledge about value-based community organizing, interdependent leadership, and running community campaigns. It also draws on case studies and experience to constantly develop the organizing framework and practices.
– A web platform with open source resources on interdependent leadership, value based community organizing, launching and managing community campaigns for change.
– On going learning opportunities for its community including bimonthly learning circle meetings, speaking events – primarily in Amman Jordan
– Community social media forums for learning and discussion.
What is Community Organizing?
From the perspective of community organizing, leadership is taking responsibility for engaging others to create purpose in the face of uncertainty based on shared values. Community organizing requires identifying those kinds of leaders, coordinating them in leadership teams that build power from their resources and use that power strategically to make concrete changes in the world.
Organizers bring people together and challenge them to act on behalf of their shared values. They develop the relationships, motivate the participation and strategize the pathways. They also take the action that enables people to gain new appreciation of their values, the resources they have access to, and a new capacity to use their resources on behalf of their interests. Organizers work through “dialogues” in relationships, motivation, strategy and action carried out as campaigns.
Community organizing has proven successful for both social and political change. It works for electoral campaigns as well as environmental campaigns. As an approach it has succeeded in bringing community leadership to education reform and is being tested in the field of health. Realizing the power the community has and acting upon it strategically is the reason for most of the problems and the solution to many. The value based organizing framework – adopted by the Middle East Community Organizing Initiative and developed by Professor Marshall – revolves around five main practices. Our support to the campaigns and our trainings aim to create understanding and build skills in those five practices:
First: Creating Shared Story: Organizing is rooted in shared values expressed as public narrative. Stories help bring alive the values behind the motivation, highlighting each person’s own calling, our calling as a people, and the urgent challenges to that calling we must face. Value-based organizing invites people to escape their “issue silos” and come together so that their diversity becomes an asset not an obstacle.
Second: Creating Shared Relational Commitment: Organizing is based on relationships and creating mutual commitments to work together. It is the process of association – not simply aggregation – that makes a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Through association we can learn to recast our individual interests as common interests- an objective we can use our combined resources to achieve.
Third: Creating Shared Structure: A team leadership structure leads to effective local organizing that integrates local action with national purpose. Volunteer efforts often flounder due to a failure to develop reliable, consistent, and creative individual local leaders. Structured leadership teams encourage stability, motivation, creativity, and accountability – and use volunteer time, skills, and effort effectively. It also presents snowflake model of leadership teams to scale out a campaign.
Fourth: Creating Shared Strategy: Although based on broad values, effective organizing initiatives learn to focus on a clear strategic objective: a way to turn those values into action and to unleash creative deliberation. Responsibility for strategizing local objectives empowers, and motivates local teams.
Fifth: Creating Shared Measurable Action: Organizing outcomes must be clear, measurable, and specific if progress is to be evaluated, accountability practiced, and strategy adapted based on experience. Such measures include volunteers recruited, money raised, people at a meeting, voters contacted, pledge cards signed, laws passed, etc. Regular reporting of progress to goal creates opportunity for feedback, learning, and adaptation.