The organizations and individuals who formed the Alliance for Sustainable Communities-Lehigh Valley in 2003 thought it necessary to unite people and organizations in addressing the urgencies of our times, such uniting enabling them to establish community priorities and to develop the clout needed to bring about systemic change.
In this section, we discuss democratic, collaborative organizational structures that we are initiating for uniting, empowering, enabling, engaging organizations and individuals in developing effective political action.
Some people may look askance at the notion of creating organizational structures. Indeed, there seems to be a tendency for folks seeking to change things, to forge ahead without attending to the development of organizational frameworks. Kind of with the perspective that all organizational structures are impediments to action. And perhaps having in mind the Margaret Mead quote often given, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
That Lone Ranger mentality needs to be challenged. We need effective political action. Toward that end, we need, we believe, to encourage each other to be forthright, initiating, communicating, assertive participants within organizational structures we create to get the job done.
As Naomi Klein stated in This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate Change (2014: 158) “As many are coming to realize, the fetish for structurelessness, the rebellion against any kind of institutionalization, is not a luxury today’s transformative movements can afford.”
So, while the Alliance has tended to be project-oriented with a rather loose organizational structure, we have come to believe that in order to establish community priorities and develop the clout needed to bring about systemic change, as originally intended, democratic, collaborative organizational structures are necessary. Such frameworks can engage, empower, and enable individuals, communities, non-profit organizations, and municipal agencies to work together in common cause.
To a get a clearer sense of what such collaborative organizational structures are about, we will discuss each of the particular organizational frameworks proposed in the pages that follow. We emphasize here that these organizational forms, which are at present in embryonic form, are thought to work best when they are set up to work synergistically with one another.
While our understandings and strategies continue to develop as we learn, these are the collaborative organizational structures being proposed at this time: