Over the last couple of months, I have crossed this country in what has become a 10,000 mile road trip. Everywhere that I can, I have stopped to meet with my fellow activists along the way. In each of those meetings, I have observed one very succinct and organically developed phenomenon.
Coalitions are forming.
Two years ago, when I first delved into the world of activism, and Anonymous specifically, individuals with whom I associated upheld one banner or another. Issue-oriented groups formed to organize resistance to those specific injustices. Often dubbed “Marches,” these groups organized and united their supporters for on-the-street action surrounding mainstream media, genetic modification of food stuffs, geo-engineering, or simply to say that a particular group existed. More often than not, the supporters of one such issue-oriented group were also supporters of the others.
With Anonymous, like Occupy, groups formed around geographic location. Whether city or state, local, loosely-knit collectives began to become active in nurturing a consistent supporter base for the purposes of information sharing, collective action and issue awareness.
As time has passed, these local collectives are taking next steps towards much stronger organizations, under broader umbrellas of inclusion. In places like Connecticut and Ohio, these coalition organizations are rewiring the paradigms of political and public engagement. What were typically liberal or conservative or libertarian groups are now joining together with veteran, LBGT, hacker, anarchist, communist and other ideological groups through a structured process of resistance to state and corporate violations of rights and liberty.
Existing outside of the typical left-right political paradigm, these umbrella groups maintain the issue focus of earlier activist groups, but are doing much more than those single issue groups are capable of achieving. Coalition-building is common in pluralist republics around the world, but is a relatively novel implementation here in America. By establishing a central hub for many groups to coalesce around, organizations like Activate CT and Unite Ohio are gathering larger numbers for mass action. With these greater numbers, city halls, school boards, county commissions and state governments are being forced to take notice and action in ways that earlier incarnations of activist groups were unable to achieve.
This trend is occurring in Indiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Michigan as well. The hub coalitions are not only gathering political strength, but also nurturing the individual groups that fall within the umbrella. This can occur through organizational support, greater reach for information sharing, and highly valuable networking opportunities. They are also serving as a central collection point, offering a directory of member groups, with location and mission information for the smaller organizations. With access to directory information, individuals across each state are better able to connect with like-minded activists and locate other groups to engage with.
Activate CT, for instance, has connected smaller activist groups working on the same project on two ends of that state. In this connection, research was shared, efforts were streamlined, and work was not duplicated, all while combining the strength of the separated groups. Unite Ohio has been able to maintain constant pressure on a local school board in which a bus driver attacked students without consequence, and were able to amass the numbers to effectively shut down a recent school board meeting until they addressed the issue.
As you attempt to organize within your area, consider how the establishment of a statewide Activist Hub Group can offer greater results than a single issue group. Work to form coalitions independent of the left/right paradigm. You can expect greater numbers at events, more streamlined information availability, a greater pool of volunteers from which to draw upon, and a stronger voice in front of established corporate and political groups.