14 Tips for Builiding a Grassroots Coalition

Some time ago, I attended a workshop presented by Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice concerning the massive boondoggle in Tarrant County, Texas, called the Trinity River Vision. You can read more about that at savethetrinityriver.org.

Walsh is part of the Castle Coalition, the activism arm of IJ. Its focus is to defeat eminent domain abuse by building local coalitions against objectionable projects without ever having to enter litigation, like a preemptive strike, if you will. She emphasized forming an effective organization and building a broad coalition among potentially affected constituents. Some examples of how to work with allies, make noise, and work with media are posted online.

Below is a list of 14 tips that were mentioned at the workshop for building a successful grassroots coalition.

  1. Identify others potentially threatened: property owners, renters, employees, customers, suppliers, tax payers, those who could face similar threats in the future
  2. Create a broad coalition with one unifying message
  3. Get local political officials and media on your side
  4. Find respected academics to support your findings, recruit college students
  5. Use current members to recruit others
  6. Distribute fliers — door-to-door, at businesses, or hang signs
  7. Go where the crowds are
  8. Utilize sign-in sheets
  9. Welcome new members
  10. Match talents with tasks
  11. Define victory
  12. Get online — keep everyone current; give visitors five things they can do now
  13. Speak at every public meeting
  14. Hold rallies and protest — be visible
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