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Organising Together across Difference

Organising Together Across Difference: Relational Experiments in Community Organising - our final report

Organising Together Across Difference has been an 18-month research-action project undertaken by Citizens UK and Associate Professor Amanda Tattersall that developed and analysed strategies to strengthen community organising’s ability to respond to widening social polarisation and division. The goal was to use organising practices to create new ways of forging relationships between groups that foster our ability to find common ground with people that are different to us.

The result is the development of the ‘relational experiment.’ Relational experiments, such as Weaving Trusts, are short local workshops that can be run by Leaders and/or Organisers to create opportunities for people from different organisations to meet. They can be as small as a house meeting or as large as an assembly, and their focus is supporting individuals to have multiple one-to-one meetings with other people in their community.

Through 37 interviews, participant observation and case studies from across six Citizens UK Chapters and Alliances, this report distils a series of best practices for organising relational experiments.

We hope you enjoy reading it is much as we've enjoyed the journey of learning alongside you over the past 18 months!

Organising Together across Difference - a self-directed learning module

This 25 hour learning module has been created as part of the Citizens UK Organising Together across Difference project that has been running since early 2023. 

In the UK, and indeed more broadly across the world, there is a rise in the politics of polarisation and division. We see it in tension around race, polarisation around ideology, and division across geographic and class lines. We now have a mainstream political culture that is promoting the idea that the stranger is a source of fear.

These tensions around difference will be heightened this year as we approach a national election. Difference around race, culture, and religion have been exploited by politicians over the past decade to win elections, and our communities and the relationships we rely on every day have been sacrificed in the name of this opportunity and fear..

This rise of ‘big difference’ politics is antithetical to the mission of broad-based community organising, which seeks to build relationships across difference so we can build change for the common good. But the rise of a politics based on difference has challenged community organising, and invited Citizens UK - the home of community organising in the UK - to explore how we can strengthen our practice.

To do this, Citizens UK has been supported by Lotteries UK to enlist Associate Professor Amanda Tattersall to help lead the Organising Together across Difference project. Amanda is a researcher on community organising but she is also an organiser herself, having established the Sydney Alliance and community organising in Australia. 

Amanda has helped a growing number of Citizens UK organisers and chapters to try new strategies and work with new ideas in order to strengthen how we can build connection and power across our differences. You will hear about some of these ideas here - in particular the concept of ‘Sameness and Difference’ as a way of seeing how our own leadership journey and our ability to build powerful connection with others can be understood as a dynamic between experiencing a sense of sameness with others while respecting the differences that sit between us.