Building the Movement "From the Bottom Up" Print
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"The first things to be disrupted by our commitment to nonviolence will not be the system but our own lives." -- Jim Douglass

History is made by movements ? mass movements of people who organize themselves to struggle collectively for a better world. The movement to close the School of the Americas/WHISC is a nonviolent force to change oppressive US foreign policy as represented by institutions like the SOA/WHISC. It is made up of people from many backgrounds and represents a positive and fundamentally different alternative to the system of violence and oppression.

We have a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean who have been fighting oppression for the past 510 years. To do so, we must come to grips with our own privilege and recognize how it shapes our assumptions about struggle, organizing and the future.

Our movement is strongest when the work is guided and shared by many perspectives representing its rich diversity. Here are some of the places where decisions are made and work is happening that you can get involved with:


Strategy Meeting

On President?s Day weekend, 2004, grassroots activists from all over the country who are locally active in the campaign to close the SOA gathered in DC to evaluate the work of the past year and develop the broad action plan for the year to come. This group also helped to shape how the selection of the smaller group of people who will meet throughout the year on issues requiring broad grassroots input will happen. This meeting happens in Washington, DC every spring. Contact the SOA Watch office to inquire about being a part of this.



Local Groups

The backbone of this movement is made of small groups of people in many different places working locally. These groups organize carpools and caravans to Fort Benning and DC for mobilizations, coordinate local legislative work, conduct outreach campaigns to educate their local communities about the issue and more. They often form the support network that makes it possible for Prisoners and Probationers of Conscience to risk arrest and imprisonment. If you are looking for a way to deepen your involvement in this struggle, connecting with or starting a local group in your area is a good way to begin. To see a list of local groups click here. If you are part of a local group that is not listed here, click here. For more information contact the SOA Watch office.


Working Groups

The November vigil and action at Fort Benning, the legislative campaign - these and many other aspects of the work are huge tasks that are shared by people across the country participating in working groups. A working group is a collection of individuals coming together to focus on a specific piece of the movement to close the SOA. These groups conduct most of their meetings through a very low-cost conference call system. The working group structure is a great way for experienced activists to share their skills and knowledge as well as a way for people newer to the struggle to learn some new organizing skills. If you have ever wondered how the November vigil is organized, how the legislative action campaign is coordinated or how SOA Watch gets the story out in the media, then joining a working group is the way to go. Click here to find out how or call the SOA Watch office.