[I] encourage people to experiment... I think the best way to figure out what might work [in organizing] is simply to do it, regardless of the potential mistakes one might make. One must be willing to make mistakes. In fact, I think that the mistakes help produce the new modes of organizing-- the kinds that bring people together and advance the struggle for peace and social justice.
Angela Davis, Abolition Democracy
Programs by TICO
As public education is currently organized, there are few, if any, school spaces where students are granted the privilege to respond to Davis’ call to action. Courses on government institutions teach structural processes of function rather than how to run for office oneself or how to be a registered, informed voter. Community involvement is encouraged as an extracurricular rather than organized as a course to teach students how to draft up a volunteer resume or how to begin and recruit for a non-profit of their own. Curriculum that embodies and is informed by civic organizing would ensure the continuation and success of political participation on the account of current and future constituents. The fault of the public education system exists when we communicate the importance of political and civic participation without illustrating how to participate to ensure accountability and progress.
Government Should Work for All of Us
“The key question isn’t big government versus small government -- it’s who government works for” (Elizabeth Warren). In the almost 250 years since the birth of our nation, we have amended our constitution twenty-seven times, elected 45 presidents, and established 50 states and fourteen territories. Yet, the foundational structure of our democratic government institutions and the ways citizens interact with them are almost identical to how they were in 1776.
As a result of these out of date practices, marginalized communities are left out of the policy-making processes affecting them. This diffusion of power extends from people for whom the government and its functionings are most accessible and applicable to those for whom it's not. The distribution of power is important because it impacts our allocation of resources and what we understand as needs. If the same voices have access to centers of power, then we're missing out on so many ideas, issues and experiences. We want to break the divisions that exist between groups in our society to create opportunities in which everyone has access to government power and feels protected. We believe that the tools of political participation should be constantly updated. We believe in a society built on the foundations of multiculturalism and respect for human rights, one in which we continuously question our society and institutions. We can do this work through actively engaging in perpetually innovative and sustained civic organizing.
The Time Is Now
The time for youth and community civic engagement is now. In the past few years, young people have helped create and support large scale revolutionary movements, educating and organizing their communities, taking to the streets to demand change, and working towards collective liberation. However, many of these movements have often not been self-sustaining and suffer from disruptive media cycles and fluctuating public interest. As such, TICO is interested in civic organizing on a grassroots level – with new forms of communication, we have seen the revitalization of political organization in high school and college campuses, social media campaigns and petitions, phone banking, community conversations, emails urging representatives on policies, and much more. Even through its growing popularity, political organizing is still considered a trade skill, one that is rarely brought into the classroom or even considered academic. Without the methods, knowledge, or proper resources, participants are unable to organize laterally and effectively make the change they seek.
Nonetheless, the politics that the majority of individuals engage with at the most local level, or for the first time, occur within a political organizing framework. And yet, many of the forms of political work today contain barriers to participation: civic engagement, whether through rallies, protests, or demonstrations, are generally only available to able–bodied persons and young folks who are free from the constraints of work. TICO aims to make civic engagement both accessible and more broad–based by placing the tools for civic organizing in the hands of all community members. As such, opportunities will arise not only for active, physical participation (i.e. on the ground work) but also for community organizing that transforms bursts of action into sustained movements. This might include brainstorming and writing the values of a particular organization, creating websites for others to get involved, organizing reading groups, fostering a lasting strand of communication among all stakeholders, etc.
Politics as it occurs to everyday people originates from the community; it is a politics that should extend beyond the classroom, allowing history lessons and political theory to give rise to concrete action and organization. As such, TICO products serve the integral role of helping all people participate in civic organizing and transforming civic engagement into an implicit aspect of life.