Find Sites and Handle Logistics
Any large-scale community organizing effort is full of details – the things that seem to be insignificant, but often make the difference between a well-run program, and one marred by miscommunication, missteps, and mistakes! The key is to plan ahead, and think through all the steps along the way.
Often a coordinator needs a committee or a few detail-oriented volunteers to handle this part of the work. There’s too much here for one person, so involve a small group to make sure things run smoothly.
Consider the kinds of spaces you will need.
When planning where your dialogues will be located in the community, be sure to look for places that feel welcoming to everybody. If possible, identify a contact person at each site who will work with you.
Also consider this basic checklist:
- Is there adequate light?
- Is it easy to find?
- Is it served by public transportation?
- Is there ample parking?
- Are the rooms and seating comfortable?
- Are there public restrooms? Kitchen facilities?
- Is there a large building with many breakout rooms, such as a community college or large house of worship where several groups could meet?
- Are the locations “friendly” to all kinds of people?
- Are there places with elevators or ramps for easy access?
Pick out sites and think about scheduling.
Site selection: Have your coalition members find locations. Some possible kinds of locations include:
- Fire stations
- Grange halls
- Community police buildings
- Large meeting rooms in corporate or government buildings
- Community colleges
- Neighborhood associations
- Churches, synagogues, or mosques
- Social service agencies
Scheduling: Ask people what will work for them, and use that as a basis for your scheduling.
- Offer a range of choices. To accommodate all kinds of people, you can schedule dialogues for different times of day, and different days of the week.
- Or, you might want to hold them all on the same day in one central location. This is easier for the organizers because you only have to arrange one
site. Be sure that it’s a location that has plenty of parking and many
Pick a day of the week that doesn’t conflict with other regularly scheduled community events.
- Consider the schedules of the young people who will be participating. What are their school and after-school commitments? What are their transportation needs?
Make plans for child care, food, transportation, and other considerations.
- Will some groups require child care? Who will provide it?
- Can we provide transportation?
- Are the locations served by public transportation?
- Do we need to make arrangements for hearing- or visually-impaired participants?
- Will we need on-site translators?
Set up a process to communicate about program details.
It’s important to have a system in place for facilitators and members of the organizing team to communicate with one another – making sure that people get the information they need to make the program run smoothly.
Answer these questions:
- How will we distribute the materials that facilitators need before the first session? (discussion guides, recording forms, newsprint, sample ground rules, step-by-step guidelines for each session, evaluation forms, general information on the program and its sponsors, and plans for an action forum)
- Do organizers and facilitators know whom to call if they have questions or problems?
- Do we need a process for sharing information quickly by telephone – a “phone tree”?
- Would e-mail be a good way to keep in touch?
- How will we handle notifying people about weather cancellations?
- Who is the key contact person to work with the media? Do facilitators know how to contact that person?
Planning the Kickoff | Next: Hold a round of dialogues
Note: These pages are adapted from Organizing Community-Wide Dialogue for Action and Change. You may download this guide in PDF format at no charge, or order printed copies for a nominal fee.