Posted March 27th 2010 at 11:16 pm by
in Lawrence

Who's Got the Power?

Alex Goldenberg, a member of the Lawrence Practicum, led the class  in a power analysis exercise, an important element of any community organizing campaign.  A power analysis enables participants to assess the types of influence and control (i.e. power) that people and organizations wield over a given issue.  Such information is useful in creating new strategies for building relationships to accomplish a group’s agenda.

In this case, Alex drew on a power analysis model developed by SCOPE/AGENDA and the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL).  First, we discussed the meaning of power.  Next, we articulated our agenda: “To unite the community and Enel Corporation around possibilities for improving and generating revenue from canals and alleyways while forging strong relationships with the new administration.”

Too ambitious? We’ll see.

Next, Alex presented the group with a graph. The horizontal axis showed the type of support that a person or group had regarding this agenda (die hard, active, inclined towards, neutral) and the vertical axis showed the scale of influence  people or groups currently have over that agenda (not on radar, can get attention, taken into account, power to have major influence on decision-making, active participant in decision-making and decisive decision-making power). We used triangles to represent actors with power to carry out the given agenda, rectangles to represent organized groups, and circles to represent unorganized groups.   Students and instructors brainstormed a list of actors and positioned each on the chart.  A very telling pattern emerged: With the exception of the Enel, we found that certain well-organized interests (i.e. a mill owners association, the Police, and some non-profits) were clustered on the left of the chart, representing their likely support for this agenda.

We expect that this analysis will develop as we get to know more people and develop our understanding of the issues.  It’s a work in progress.

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