Tenant Organizing Tactics

ACORN ACORN International Community Organizing

Outside of Frome, England      We were all organizers.  We adapted and made the best of it, and then got to work.  And, the work went amazingly well!  The combination of video and oral reports the night before meant that the day’s business could get right to the meat of the matter of sharing organizational and experience and knowledge with each other, country-to-country and, as importantly, debate and discuss critical issues of direction, planning, and program for all of ACORN.  I’ll admit I was skeptical.  We were sitting around on legless chairs on the floor in a huge yurt, but, shoulders to the wheel, and let the magic happen.  And, indeed, once everyone wrapped their arms around the agenda and got about the business, the meeting was excellent.

Here’s a good example, tenant organizing tactics.  Virtually everyone around the room had a suggestion with a story to go along with it.

The French talked about a “move in” they did at the city’s housing authority’s office in Grenoble.  The issue was electricity not working, so the move-in involved major appliances.  The members showed up with a television, refrigerator, microwaves, and whatever they needed to plug in and make the point.  The authority got the message that the wiring had to be fixed, so victory achieved.

We heard about an action that folks from Bristol called a “thunderclap” where everyone was posted a message on Facebook at the same time in order to pressure a target on social media.

The organizers from Ottawa and Toronto regaled the team with stories of cockroach circuses and rallies.

In the United Kingdom an action at a landlord’s house organizers’ referred to a “doorstopping” when they showed up to rally at the house.  A riff on that tactic other organizers mentioned involved flyering on the block where a targeted landlord lived where the leaflets shamed an unnamed neighbor as a slumlord asking them to guess who it might be.  Not surprisingly, they heard pretty quickly from the landlord that he would fix the problems at his property.

John Anderson told a great story about an action in Burnaby in British Columbia.  The tenant resolution office there had long lines and extensive waits for service as complaint cases came up on the docket.  There were no washrooms, so this became a source of constant complaint.  ACORN built a fake-porta-potty out of cardboard and erected it in the middle of the office.  It didn’t take long to win a commitment for the washroom to be constructed.