Occupy Movement Political Education Workshops


Curricula + Resources

USSF Starter Kit - Neoliberalism in our Communities


Workshop Goals:

  • To understand neo-liberalism, the current economic system in this country and how it is different than previous stages of capitalism
  • To share how neo-liberalism plays out in our communities
  • To show how neo-liberalism plays out in Third World countries
  • To challenge the myth that “There Is No Alternative” and inspire hope that another way is possible.

This workshop was developed in preparation for the first US Social Forum.


For 2010's USSF, this US Social Forum Workshop Series was developed by SOUL (School of Unity & Liberation) in conjunction with POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) and Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) in the San Francisco Bay Area. This Workshop Series is designed to support organizations in developing unique curriculum to prepare delegations to attend the US Social Forum 2010 in Detroit.



The other workshops in this series are:


  • History of the World Social Forum/US Social Forum
  • Detroit 101 Converging Crises: Economy, Ecology, Empire
  • Standing with the People of the World
  • Neoliberalism in Our Communities
  • In It to Win It: Our Movement and Strategies.*

You can find them here on Build the Wheel.*


* "In It to Win It.. ." coming soon!

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The Growing Divide: Inequality and the Roots of Economic Insecurity


In 1900, the great African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois predicted that "the problem of the twentieth century" would be "the problem of the color line." That is, the unequal relationship between the lighter and darker races of humankind. Today, the economic divide between white people and people of color remains disastrously wide. This "economic apartheid" is not natural nor unchangeable. Instead, it is the outcome of policies—largely governmental—that confer disproportionate advantages to white people and systematically block the development of assets for people of color.

The "Closing the Racial Wealth Divide" workshop includes participatory activities that:

  • Engage participants in dialogue about their own economic lives
  • Illustrate income trends by race
  • Illustrate wealth trends by race
  • Examine a "structural" analysis of wealth inequality
  • Review policies that shaped the accumulation of assets historically
  • Identify strategies and actions to close the wealth gap
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Occupy Tactic Star

Download this post as a printable PDF

Occupation of a space is itself a tactic. It is an action intended to help us build momentum and to move us a step closer toward our goals. And it's been wildly successful so far!

But an ongoing occupation of space is also more than a tactic. An occupation serves as a base camp from which we launch many different tactics. Right now occupation movement participants are deploying different actions and making complex tactical decisions every day.

Choosing or inventing a successful tactic typically involves some intuition and guesswork — and always risk. But the more we think critically about our particular contexts, the better we can become at judging how to act strategically. Projecting and measuring our success is complex, but we shouldn't let the murkiness of these waters deter us from diving in. Patterns do emerge. We can learn a great deal from our experiences when we critically analyze them. This tactic star (see PDF) names some key factors that change agents can consider when determining tactics. The same tool can be used to evaluate actions together after they have been carried out.

Strategy: How will the tactic move us toward achieving our long-term and short-term goals?

Message: What message will the tactic communicate? How are our actions likely to be interpreted? How will we use the tactic to connect with people’s values? How will the tactic carry a persuasive story?

Tone: Will the action be solemn, jubilant, angry, or calm? Will the energy attract or repel the people we want to engage? How?

Timing: Can we leverage unfolding events and new developments as opportunities? What potentials does the political moment hold for us? How are our opponents vulnerable right now?

Audience: Who do we want to reach with our tactic? What response do we want our action to inspire in them?

Allies: How will the tactic affect our allies or potential allies? How will they receive it? Will it strengthen our relationship with allies or jeopardize it?

Resources: Is the action worth our limited time, energy and money? Can we get more out of it than we put in? Do we have the capacity to pull it off effectively?

Target: Do we want to influence particular decision-makers? Who? For what end? What message will the tactic send to those we’re targeting? Will it pressure them to capitulate to our goals, or will it enable them to dismiss us, retaliate, or turn public sentiment against us?

Cross-posted at BeyondtheChoir.org

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Capitalism Workshop description: This SOUL workshop is filled with interactive exercises that break down economics in an easy-to-understand way. The activities are based on the participants’ daily experiences, and include an understanding of how wealth is distributed in the United States, and how economic inequality happens. It is included in Building Power, Sharpening Minds, SOUL's Political Education Workshop Manual.

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Colorful Mamas of the 99% Creative Family Action Toolkit

Colorful Mamas of the 99% did a creative family action called Big Bank TIme Out - Colorful Mamas and Children Teach Big Banks to Share!  The action went down on November 4th and we want to share our process and tools with you!  We urge all who identify with the 99% to stand up and take actions to make our world more just and equitable.  We wanted to echo Occupy Wallstreet messages to an audience of families, especially communities of color, as well as show folks a variety of ways to be involved in the movement of the 99% (not only encamping).

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Chinese Progressive Association - San Francisco

This training is developed and adapted by the Chinese Progressive Association-SF and Seeding Change for new and emerging organizers. It draws from curriculum created by CTWO, SOUL and uses the "transformative organizing" framework from Eric Mann's recent book "Playbook for Progressives." This workshop includes a scenario based in an Asian immigrant community. This workshop can be adapted for other Asian immigrant and refugee communities and other communities of color.

Chinese Progressive Association-SF (www.cpasf.org) and Seeding Change, a Center for Asian American Movement Building (www.seeding-change.org



An Introduction to Research Justice aims to build the capacity of grassroots organizers and community members and better equip marginalized communities to reclaim, own, and wield all forms of knowledge and information. With strategic support, the knowledge and information generated by these communities can be used as political leverage to advance their own agendas for change.

The toolkit effectively:

  •  Explores the theory of Research Justice – a strategic framework that seeks to transform structural inequities in knowledge production
  •  Advances community-driven research as a powerful tool to build grassroots power
  •  Helps participants choose which research methods will prove most effective for their campaigns and organizing objectives
  •  Employs popular-education techniques to encourage leadership development

This is really just a primer to introduce students to the idea of Tactical Clusters. We are developing a more formal workshop outline and will post.

Creative, bold visuals make a great center piece for every direct action. They do much more than make your actions look good. They unify your group, amplify your message, invite people to have a personal interaction with your work, and provide
a visual story through symbols that clarify the issue. If you integrate art into your campaign strategy and actions, you can make change irresistible.

In this manual you will find simple directions on how to make banners, giant puppets, stencils for t-shirts and posters, and cus- tomized t-shirts. Use them as a starting point and improvise your own techniques!

List of organizations providing trainings, technical assistance, fellowships, and curriculum to support community organizing.