California Organizing Academy (COA)
Campaigns and social change of any type have organizing at their core, which is why we have developed the California Organizing Academy. Developed originally by our Executive Director for the Sierra Nevada Alliance in 2009, the California Organizing Academy is a non-partisan, intensive two-day program training community activists on the Midwest Academy model, and focuses in part on key environmental and social justice issues identified by regional leaders. Over 400+ community organizers are graduates of this program, and of that number, 27 now hold county and state elective office.
Organizer trainings have historically taught the basics of how to influence decision makers, but the lack of focus on one or two core regional issue has resulted in uneven success. We intend to change that with a more issue focused approach.
Our goal is to create a cadre of trained organizers to move the ball on key environmental and social justice issues in the state, and to encourage candidates to embrace those positions as part of their platforms. This work is strictly non-partisan in nature-- the more candidates that embrace the position, the better the chance for success.
The development of personal organizing skills is often the individual’s first foray into the world of conservation campaigns. We have found through the years that contacts made as a function of the organizing effort sometimes open a door to further public service. There are now numerous sitting Supervisor and City Council members in the Sierra and Central Valley who trace their road to success back to these past organizer trainings.
We encourage funders and other organizations to partner with us on these annual trainings, to nominate promising individuals and organizations for participation, participate in the training themselves, and to help us identify the key organizing issues and campaigns for the current cycle.
Progressive interests have often allowed themselves to be divided by minor issues, resulting in the election of people who do not reflect their values. The development of Community Partnerships is a critical step in addressing the social, economic and environmental issues of Central and Northern California. The Fresno Partnership was formed in 2013.
The Fresno Partnership, now the independent, 501(c)(3) Central Valley Partnership, hosted candidate forums in 2014, 2016 and 2018, including Fresno City Council, Fresno District Attorney, Fresno County Supervisor and numerous Tulare County races. Attended by over 1,400 people, these forums put candidates on the record on issues ranging from air quality and immigration to development issues.
The Central Valley Partnership has set the emulative example of how smart organizing and facilitation can break down barriers and create alliances where none previously existed. Candidate Forums, Income Inequality actions, Bus Rapid Transit testimony, Healthcare Forums, General Plan testimony to enlist disadvantaged communities in the AHA, farm-worker food drives and community organizer trainings are a few of the 2013-2018 Partnership activities.
Our newest Northern California Partnership is centered around our Cannabis Removal On Public Lands Project (CROP). Our initial community organizer training for the CROP Project was held in Humboldt County in October 2018, where we graduated 46 activists from numerous regional non-profit organizations. Our second training took place in Mendocino in January 2020 with 47 graduates, and highlighted CROP as an example of successful organizing.
Our next training will be in Redding in late Spring 2020. To learn more or participate, please contact us.
on Public Lands (CROP)
California has joined a handful of states permitting the growing and use of recreational cannabis, but the illicit market continues to dominate post-legalization production. Much of that production occurs on public lands (60%), where 90% or more of is controlled by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). These grows, known as "trespass grows", undercut the price of legal cannabis, adversely affecting growers participating in legalization. Lacking any regulatory oversight, trespass grows poison wildlife, water, and users alike, and create a public safety threat to surrounding and downstream communities.
Community Governance Partnership (CGP), along with our key conservation partner, The California Wilderness Coalition (CalWild), has launched a campaign that is building public and political support for removing these illegal grows from federal public lands. Both organizations have complimentary experience in designing and implementing effective campaigns, and in establishing the complicated political coalitions required to see them through. To read national media coverage around the project, please click here.
CGP, CalWild, and our allies believe that the CROP project will greatly increase the state and federal resources to remove trespass grows from the federal public lands. CGP and its staff bring to the table a unique combination of deep experience in implementing both environmental policy campaigns, and campaigns designed to elect progressive leaders at all levels of government. In the process, it has developed experience building left-right environmental and political alliances in challenging western geographies.
The Strategic Mentoring Program utilizes retired elected officials to act as mentors to newly elected representatives, teaching them how to effectively govern, build coalitions and better reflect their constituencies. First implemented in 2012, it teaches newly elected how to:
Use the appointment process
Establish policy initiatives
Reach out to constituencies
Create model ordinances and resolutions
Hold town halls, and
Increase government efficiency.