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Home About Us SOA Watch Local Groups
How to Build a Local Group PDF Print E-mail
Many thanks to Incite! Women of Color Against Violence for much of this organizing information.

SOA Watch is made up of hundreds of local groups around the hemisphere, doing work in their own communities to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign to close the School of the Americas. Your work to connect with others in your own community is a key part of our movement's work to close the SOA.

We are still working to expand and improve our information on building local groups. Please send feedback and suggestions to Becca at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Find or list a local SOA Watch group in your community.

General Thoughts on Local Organizing

  • You do not need as many people as you think to do effective organizing. Three people are enough to begin a local group. Even if your group does not attract lots of members, you can still do important work in your area.

  • Understand that people will put in varying amounts of time into organizing efforts. A few people will do lots of work; some will contribute every once in a while; others will show up at special events; some will only contribute financially, etc. Rather than become frustrated that not everyone is putting in the same amount of work, learn to work with what people ARE able to do and make the most of what they ARE willing to contribute. That way, they will not become alienated from the work, and will hopefully later increase their commitment to the group.

  • You do not need to know as much as you think to do organizing work. Most successful organizers learn by doing and by trial and error.

  • Do not become disheartened by failure and mistakes. It is through mistakes that one learns how to organize effectively. For every successful event or campaign someone organizes, they probably were involved in ten events/campaigns that did not work.

  • Possible Activities for Local SOA Watch Groups

    1. Form study groups to educate yourselves on the issues of the School of the Americas, U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America, insitutional and personal racism and militarism.

    2. Do education in your community. Host a public video showing of a film about the SOA (Click here for list of available videos and DVDs). Table at local events and hand out flyers about the School of the Americas (Click here for flyers available for downloading). Support the work of community organizations in your region, and work to connect local issues with the SOA. Cut and paste SOA Watch's flyers to make them relevant to current community struggles. Host a speaker in your community to talk about the SOA.

    3. Coordinate Congressional petition or letter writing campaigns urging Representatives to co-sponsor HR 1707 to suspend operations at the SOA/ WHINSEC. Ask Senators to sponsor similar legislation in the Senate. (Click here for more info and for updates on the legislative campaign).

    4. Coordinate, sponsor and actively participate in discussions, rallies and demonstrations addressing issues central to militarism, to US foreign policy towards Latin America, to racism and to the lives of those most affected by places like the SOA.

    5. Conduct teach-ins and consciousness-raising sessions among your communities.

    6. Promote activities which create dialogue and coalitions among activists working for justice.

    7. With your local group, write letters to the editor of local papers responding to coverage of militarism, of Latin America, of community struggles for justice. (Click here for more tips on media outreach).

    8. Promote activities which organize and advance the leadership of youth, especially youth most affected by places like the SOA.

    9. Use media advisories, news releases and follow-up calls to get media coverage of your community events, vigils, speakers or demonstrations. (Click here for sample press releases and more).

    10. Produce and distribute public information in the form of flyers, stencils, graffiti, posters, etc.

    11. Plan direct action in your community ...

    So you're ready to organize?
    Click here for more information on:
    • Creating egalitarian structures
    • Researching and framing the issues
    • Building community and developing allies
    • Developing a campaign
    • Organizing actions
    • Holding meetings
    • Speaking publicly
    • Fundraising

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    Contact us

    SOA Watch
    733 Euclid Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    phone: 202-234-3440
    email: info@soaw.org