Lee, Ntanya and Steve Williams. 2013. "More Than We Imagined: Activists Assessments on the Moment and the Way Forward." Ear to the Ground Project.

  • This report is based on Interviews with 150 activists from 30 communities around United States (2012-2013) aimed at exploring how movement leaders think about the current political moment and the state of political movements.


Four themes emerged as core points of unity in the participants’ collective assessment of the ‘state of the moment’ and ‘the movement’:

  1. Our issues intersect
  1. Trial by fire burns more than it builds

Need to be more deliberate in cultivating youth leadership; movement mentorship

  1. Movement culture makes hard work harder

*One dynamic that many participants mentioned is that we often fall into thinking small. Some described this as self-marginalization; and others as localism. *Racist and patriarchal practices in movements *We don't act like we plan to win fundamental change-either sacrifice big picture for short-term campaigns or ‘put up the good fight’ on the margins *We spend more time fighting each other, not system-- we need to encourage more healthy, constructive internal debate

  1. There is no substitute to base-building

What is needed (top responses from community movement leaders):

  1. Develop a shared vision of a healthy, just and sustainable society.
  2. Deepen the political development of all movement activists and leaders.
  3. Craft a multi sectored strategy for lasting social change.
  4. Create new organizational forms in order to break out of issue and sector silos.
  5. Integrate personal and social transformation into all aspects of movement work.
  6. Advance audacious and strategic campaigns.
  7. Expand ‘resiliency’ projects and the alternative ways that people are already meeting community needs for jobs, food, housing, energy-production, banking, public safety, and more.
  8. Build united fronts and strategic multi-class alliances.
  9. Join or build ‘political homes’— spaces in which people come together based on ideological unity with one another.
  10. Better utilize new communications technology to build broad support for left ideas.


  • Need to renew Political Culture

o “Our work is more profound than simply battling those who defend and benefit from exploitation and oppression. Since the systems of oppression and exploitation permeate all aspects of our lives, we must also transform the culture in which we operate. This cannot simply be a task that we take on after we win.”

  • Need to craft new answers to the key questions at this political moment of systemic crisis:

o Economic, ecological, and crisis of empire (the hegemony of U.S. imperialism is falling internationally and the racial composition is tilting towards a non-White majority in a country founded on white supremacy).

  • Vision: What is our vision of an alternative, more just, healthy and sustainable society? How does this vision promote global justice?
  • Conditions: What is our assessment of conditions nationally and internationally? How are those conditions likely to shift?
  • Balance of forces: What are the social, economic and political interests of different social groups in the United States and internationally? What is the base, interests and programs of different organizational forces throughout the United States and internationally?
  • Strategy: Who is our core constituency? With what groups do we want to unite? What is our strategy for building the power necessary to realize our vision?
  • Key Fights: What fights can we take on now that will advance that strategy?
  • We need to build a movement of movements
  • Need to get out of issue silos
  • Develop shared language
  • Create spaces for “strategy greenhouses” –incubate ideas, relationships across diverse networks,
  • Create more spaces reflection on strategy and political contexts—identify what works and share and support actions that can advance our shared struggles
  • Improve and strengthen movement media-- greater unity, facilitate a shared discussion and analysis
Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Jul 29, 2015, 5:51:18 AM