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Selection from Building Power, Sharpening Minds Manual
This introductory power analysis workshop examines power in our society – who has it, who does not, and why the system is set up this way.


A. Show the group the Pyramid of Power drawn up on butcher paper. Ask the participants to explain what they see in the picture. Ask questions to help guide the conversation if needed: how many people are on top, how many people are on the bottom, what is the relationship between the two groups, etc.

B. Facilitator should make sure to point out the large number of people on the bottom, the small number on top, and the relationship between the two is that the people on the bottom are holding up the people on the top. The people on the bottom are building the pyramid higher and higher and even though they are putting in all that work, the people on the bottom are staying on the bottom and the people on the top are getting higher. Check for understanding before moving on.

C. Ask the group how they think this picture relates to our society and what we were talking about in the power chart. Ask the question: “In this society, who is on top and who is on the bottom?” Help the group move towards an understanding that this is how power is set up in our society.

D. Conclude by explaining that the great thing that we can see from this Pyramid of Power is that the power of those on top completely rests on our shoulders. In other words, if we step back and let all of the bricks fall, those in power fall also. So, even though we are at the bottom of this period, we do have a great deal of power.

Selection from Training for Trainers Manual


A. An important question to ask as we begin is “Why do we do this?.” “Why is education is important?” We all have experiences with education, so we are going to look to these experiences to help us answer these questions.

B. We will take 5 minutes to fill out this handout called “Empowering / Disempowering Experiences”. Please reflect and then write down (in words, pictures, etc.) one empowering classroom experience you had and one disempowering experience you had. Try to write something from your experiences in either elementary school or high school in a “traditional” learning environment (like the classroom). Just so you know, you will be sharing your stories with at least one person.

  • • Silent reflection and writing using “Empowering / Disempowering Experiences” handout.

C. We will now split into pairs to share our stories. Find someone who you do not know or do not know well. Share your stories with them – both the empowering and disempowering experiences. We have 10 minutes total to so each person should take about 5 minutes to share. I will announce when 5 minutes has passed and you should switch.
  • • Pair sharing

D. Now we will open up the circle for anyone who wants to share either of their stories with the rest of us. take
  • • 3-4 of each empowering and disempowering experiences.

E. Now I would like for everyone to think of 2 words which you will share out loud. The first word is one word to describe how you felt as a result of the empowering experience. The second word is about your disempowering experience. Think about, in that experience, how you would have wanted to feel in that situation, how you could have felt if the situation had been handled differently.
  • • Take a minute for reflection

F. We will do a go around to share our words. Please say just your two words – no explanation. Allow them to stand on their own.
  • • Go around

G. Thanks to everyone for sharing. The reason we do this is to answer the question that I initially posed to the group – why is education important? Specifically consider this question after the stories that we all just shared. Why is education important?
  • • Take a few thoughts from the group.

H. The way that SOUL looks at it is that education and learning are significant and transformative experience in our lives (weather positive or negative). So it is important that we remember details in these experiences – where you were sitting, what your teachers voice sounded like, what color socks you had on, etc. These experiences shape us both positively and negatively. Learning and education are powerful forces. They can make us feel stupid and hopeless and disempowered; they can make us feel alive and passionate and empowered. This is what is at the center of this training, what is at the center of this question. Education is a powerful force, and it is the responsibility of people like us – conscious people, revolutionaries, people fighting for social justice, organizers, activists - to be able to recreate these empowering experiences with the people we are working with. It is our responsibility to use education as a force of liberation. This is why we do this.

* Facilitator’s note: This exercise can be emotional, specifically as people are sharing their “disempowering experiences”. Be aware of this possibility. Also, be sure to take at least an equal amount of empowering and disempowering experiences, and try to end with an empowering experience so that the activity ends on a positive note.

Selection from the Global Justice Training Manual
This training explores how Bush’s ‘War on Terrorism’ impacts poor, people of color and especially young people in the U.S. Issues around policing (including detentions)



  • Hand out 2 sheets of paper & something to draw with (pens, markers or crayons).

  • Close your eyes, think of an interaction you’ve had with police, teachers, welfare caseworkers, etc. when you felt you didn’t have any power. When you felt like you were at war. What happened? Why didn’t you have power? What did it feel like? Now, open your eyes and draw…

  • You could also do this exercise as a writing exercise, or you could have the group make collages from magazine cut-outs.

  • Now, I’m going to read a situation that has happened post 9.11. I want you to listen closely and after I am done, you will draw on a separate piece of paper.

    You and your family are from Pakistan. You came to the United States sixteen years ago when you were only two years old. You always assumed you were an American citizen because you have lived here practically all your life. You are about to graduate from high school and go to community college. One night while your family is sleeping, you hear a loud knock on the door. Then, eight armed INS agents knock down your family’s door and rush in shouting. Your entire family wakes up confused and scared. The INS agents grab you and take you with them. When you protest, they hit you so you fall unconscious. When you wake up, you are in jail. You can't get any information about where you are or why you are there. You don’t know what is happening or when you will see your family. You ask to talk to a lawyer but no lawyer comes. Your family can’t get any information about where you are being held either.

  • This situation has happened to over 1200 immigrants who have been disappeared and detained by the INS. Most of them are detained because of minor immigration violations (things like overstaying their visas) and many don’t have access to lawyers or other
    basic rights.


    You and your family are a Black family living in New York City. One morning, while everyone was getting ready to go to work and school, you hear a noise outside your apartment. Before you can say anything your door is kicked in. All of a sudden there was a loud bang like an explosion and the whole apartment shook. Then you saw twelve intruders rush into your apartment and tackle your 57 year old mother to the ground...Within minutes your entire family was handcuffed to chairs. The 12 intruders rifled through all of your belongings apparently looking for something. You look over at your mom and she’s not doing so well. She keeps saying her chest hurts. You are scared. You yell at the intruders to untie your mom but they don’t listen. There’s nothing you can do. Within two hours, your mother is dead from a heart attack. Only then do you find out that the intruders were the New York City Police Department, that they were looking for terrorist and drug activity and that they got the wrong apartment.

  • A version of this story actually happened to Alberta Spruill a Black woman who worked for the City of New York on May 16, 2003.

  • How do you feel right now? What are you thinking about? Draw a picture describing how
    you feel.
  • After the participants are done drawing, put their pictures up on the wall. Have each person describe both of their pictures in one word.

  • What’s the difference between your two pictures? These drawings will be the backdrop to our conversation today. We should remember these feelings as we think about how the war impacts youth, communities of color and poor people.

  • Bush’s ‘War on Terrorism’ greatly impacts young people of color. Today, we are going to understand what those ways are. Many times, we can’t hear about them on the news or in school – so it is up to us to find out the information we need.

  • Sometimes we know our own personal wars very well. But sometimes it is hard for us to connect our experiences to what is happening in Iraq or Afghanistan. Today, we are going to talk about how the War on Terrorism impacts us in the U.S., here at home.

  • Tool from the Youth Organizing Training Exchange*


    A. The facilitator should outline each area of organizing work as identified on the chart, making sure to define:

      Base-Building: Recruiting and retaining a large group of volunteers members from impacted communities who participate in and help direct and implement the work of the organization.
      Leadership Development: Developing the political analysis and practical skills of members of your organization to enable them to build the organization’s base, fight campaigns, and build the organization.
      Campaign Development: Building sustained fights to win concrete policy and institutional change on issues that impact your constituency.
      Organizational Development: Building the staff, resources and infrastructure capacity to sustain healthy and effective base-building, leadership and campaigns.
    The facilitator should stress the inter-relationship between these fours arenas in the
    organizing process.

    B. The organization should start the self-assessment by determining their current capacity (low, medium or high), utilizing their own internal capacity measures. The organizations should color in the chart up to their current capacity level. (Make sure this is done with judgment since all organizations need to go through growth processes.) If the group needs an example, use the following “Base-Building example”
      NO CAPACITY: Intention to build base, but no formal membership structure or recruitment. Can only mobilize and involve active core.
      LOW CAPACITY: Small volunteer membership and able to mobilize and involve close associates and ally organizations. Developing membership structure with staff-based recruitment.
      MEDIUM CAPACITY: Medium volunteer membership and able to consistently mobilize some previously unorganized people from your constituency. Developed membership structure with youth-led recruitment.
      HIGH CAPACITY: Large volunteer membership and able to consistently mobilize a significant proportion of your constituency. Developed membership structure with youth-led recruitment and active volunteer youth leadership.
    C. Next the organization should talk about how they want to develop their capacity in the next year in each of these areas, recognizing that it’s unrealistic to get to high capacity in all arenas in one year. They should set realistic capacity-building goals, using another color to fill in the chart up to the level they want to achieve in the next year. The colors will be a great visual representation of biggest strength areas and biggest growth areas.

    D. After using this tool, the organization should set specific numerical goals for capacity-building and develop a plan for achieving each of those goals.

    * This tool was developed by SOUL and the Movement Strategy Center in preparation for the
    first Youth Organizers Training Exchange. Please credit these organizations if you use it.
    Thank you!
    Selection from Movement 101 Curriculum


    A. Break the large group down into small groups of 3-6 people. Give each group a piece of butcher paper with the power grid (drawn according to the chart). Ask the groups to identify the relationships between each oppression, writing the relationship between the systems on the line that connects each oppression. They can describe the relationship by talking about the generalized / abstract relationship (Example: There’s a relationship between capitalism and white supremacy based on the capitalist drive to super-exploit people of color.) or by giving an example (Example: One example of the relationship between white supremacy and patriarchy is that women of color are held to racist beauty standards and taught to hate their bodies.). Give them 15-20 minutes to do this.

    B. Have the small groups report back. Ask for any comments at the end of each presentation.

    C. Finally, draw a circle on top of the "X" which marks the intersection of all four systems of oppression. Lead the group in a discussion about the connection between all four systems of oppression. Help the group to draw out answers like "Money" and "Power,” and write these answers inpside the circle.
    Selection from Organizing 101 Curriculum


    A. Break people into pairs to complete a matching exercise to introduce people to the different terms used to describe the different roles that people play in the organizing process, using the following definitions:

    ORGANIZER: a person who is responsible for ensuring the growth of the organization by developing members to lead the process of building the base, developing campaigns and build the organization.

    LEADER: a member of an organization who takes initiative in analyzing problems and thinking through solutions, gains the loyalty and trust of other members of the organization and shows commitment by being actively involved in the planning and execution of campaigns.

    MEMBER: a person who is part of the organization’ constituency who meets the organizations’ criteria for membership (e.g. pays dues, completes organizational orientation, participates in actions or activities).

    BASE: the people from the constituency that an organization can readily mobilize for events, actions and meetings although they may not be formal members.

    CONSTITUENCY: a group or class served by an organization or institution, specifically the people impacted by the issues that the organization works. This can also be thought of as an organizations’ potential base or as the “community” to be organized.

    B. In the report-back, have each pair put out the definition for at least one term. Check for understanding at the end of the exercise. Stress that (in an organizing model) the base, members and leadership need to come from the specific constituency (i.e. the people impacted by the issue). People who are down with your cause but aren’t from your base should be seen as “allies.” Ask the group for an example. You can also utilize this example:
      A youth organization is organizing against the expansion of the juvenile hall in their town. Their constituency is young working-class people of color form their town, particularly youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system already. When they have actions, they turn out their youth base; they also turn out their allies, including teachers, prison activists, and other progressive people.
    C. Utilize the “Role of the Organizer chart as a visual method to help people understand the continuum of participation. The ORGANIZER is responsible for making this process move forward: recruiting people from the CONSTITUENCY to get involved in organizational activities (join the BASE), become MEMBERS and then to develop as LEADERS.

    D. Utilize both the pyramid version of the chart to show the process of development over time (e.g. there are fewer people in each category as you go up the pyramid because everyone goes through a process of development that takes time and work) and the circle version to show that leaders must remain accountable to the base and the membership and connected with the constituency overall.
    Selection from Support & Accountability: SOUL's Organizational Development & Supervision
    Model Curriculum

    You will not share this sheet. This is a tool to aid in your self-reflection.
    Reflect on your performance in the organization. We encourage jotting or journaling during reflection.

    Please rate yourself in the following areas:
    (5 is the highest and 1 is the lowest)

    High level of discipline, with strong work ethic 5        4        3        2        1
    Reliability: Follow through with responsibilities and commitments 5        4        3        2        1
    Openly engage in the practice of criticism/self-criticism 5        4        3        2        1
    Patiently, consistently, and constructively oppose manifestations of class elitism, heterosexism, male supremacy, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry in interactions with SOUL staff, movement activists and with folks in trainings. 5        4        3        2        1
    Work in a democratic fashion 5        4        3        2        1
    Work with a problem-solving orientation 5        4        3        2        1
    Take initiative/ self-starter in the work 5        4        3        2        1
    Actively work to build the organization 5        4        3        2        1
    Long term visioning and strategic planning orientation 5        4        3        2        1
    High expectations for quality and quantity of work 5        4        3        2        1
    Implement work plan effectively 5        4        3        2        1
    Always trying to improve self 5        4        3        2        1
    Take initiative about your own political development 5        4        3        2        1
    Organized: store information effectively 5        4        3        2        1
    Confidence in skills and abilities to lead 5        4        3        2        1
    Sense of humor - warm spirit 5        4        3        2        1
    Utilize creativity 5        4        3        2        1
    Punctuality: Be on time! 5        4        3        2        1
    Focused 5        4        3        2        1

    Have a radical/ left political analysis 5        4        3        2        1
    Hold a strong desire to help build a broader social justice movement 5        4        3        2        1
    Passionate about the role of young people in fighting for liberation 5        4        3        2        1
    Understand role of your program’s impact on individuals and broader movement 5        4        3        2        1
    Knowledge of curriculum that is trained 5        4        3        2        1
    High level of facilitation skill 5        4        3        2        1


    Direct, honest communication (both internal and external to the organization) 5        4        3        2        1
    Offer support to co-workers & ask for support when needed 5        4        3        2        1
    Treat co-workers with respect and patience 5        4        3        2        1
    Listen well 5        4        3        2        1
    Represent the organization in a positive way 5        4        3        2        1
    Lead with humility and openness 5        4        3        2        1
    Deal with conflict in a principled way – honest, constructive, direct, work towards solution 5        4        3        2        1
    Try to share skills and strength 5        4        3        2        1
    Ability to make genuine connections with people 5        4        3        2        1

    Actively engage in the organization and movement in a principled way – honest, constructive, direct, work toward solutions 5        4        3        2        1
    Participate in collective process within the organization 5        4        3        2        1
    Accountability to the organization, not just to individuals in or outside the organization 5        4        3        2        1
    Think about impact of your actions on the organization and the broader movement 5        4        3        2        1
    Grounded in movement building 5        4        3        2        1
    Build relationships with movement organizations 5        4        3        2        1
    Participate in relevant movement activities, as is appropriate 5        4        3        2        1

    Self-Criticism Worksheet

    Reviewing my job description, do I fulfill my responsibilities?

    What are my overall strengths?

    What are 3 specific goals I want to set to maximize my strengths?

    What are my overall weaknesses and areas of development?

    What are 3 specific goals I want to set to improve my weaknesses? What is my proposed plan and timeline to achieve this growth?

    What support and accountability do I need from your co-workers and supervisor in that process?
    Be concrete.
    (“Call me on -----”, “Encourage me to -----”, “When you see me doing -------, I need you to -----“)

    Key contributions I want to make to SOUL this next year?

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