The Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative is a bold, new way to organize for real, progressive change. We are a member-owned coalition progressives that started off in the Greater Milwaukee area – and now are going beyond – organizing to achieve social, economic, and environmental justice. Member-owners of the Organizing Co-op develop strategic issue campaigns with the support of their own organizer and Citizen Action of Wisconsin in order to create a more just society and to empower more Wisconsinites to get involved!
What’s the history of the Organizing Cooperative?
After years of damaging attacks on our state, it was clear that what Progressives had been doing wasn’t working anymore. The founding member-owners of the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative came to the conclusion that, to build a successful grassroots movement in Wisconsin, the people actually needed own their organization in order to fight for the issues that matter to them the most.
So back in the Spring of 2015, a group of progressive activists from the Greater Milwaukee area met with Citizen Action organizers to plan an innovative way to organize. Their new idea was simple: Launch a local advocacy organization owned by its members (an “Organizing Cooperative”) and hire a Professional Organizer that the members direct, who will work to unify and strengthen the influence of existing progressive individuals and groups in the Greater Milwaukee area, and recruit and train more individuals to get involved.
The organizers of this project knew that in order to make this member-funded cooperative possible, they had to find 200 or more people in the area to pledge to pay small monthly dues to fund this organizer position. So they set a 60-day deadline, and spent two months recruiting over 200 progressives to be member-owners!
Now the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative has over 1,000 members and continues in four different regions of the state! Our long term goal – what we are most excited about – is to expand this Cooperative organizing model all over the state of Wisconsin! We hope to have professional organizers working with people in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Janesville, Appleton, Green Bay, Superior, Madison – anywhere people want to organize to make Wisconsin a better place to live and work! This will increase our power state-wide, creating a more unified and organized progressive movement for economic, social and environmental justice.
Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative member-owners are individuals, advocates, leaders and supporters who live in relative proximity and belong to all different kinds of organizations: labor unions, political parties, grassroots groups, faith-based groups, and nonprofits. Where these groups have worked separately in the past, they come together as member-owners of the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative!
Citizen Action of Wisconsin trains, houses and supervises the Professional Co-op Organizer. Citizen Action also takes care of the nuts and bolts required to have an employee, like providing their wages, a union contract, benefits, nonprofit status, collecting tax information, etc.
However, the Professional Co-op Organizer(s) is held accountable by our contributing member-owners through the democratically elected Steering Committee in their region, comprised of at least 15 member-owners. All member-owners should feel free to reach out to the Chair of their elected Steering Committee:
- Greater Milwaukee Co-op Steering Committee Chair (includes Radio-Active, Acción Ciudadana and Healthcare for All Campaigns): Beth Ludeman, [email protected]
- North Central WI Co-op Steering Committee Chair: Don Dunphy, [email protected]
- Northeast WI Co-op Steering Committee Chair: Brian Post, [email protected]
- Western WI Co-op Steering Committee Chair: Terry Meyer, [email protected]
100% of member contributions will be used to hire, train, supervise, support and provide the wages and benefits of the professional organizer working with co-op members. It will also cover mileage reimbursement, cell phone and other miscellaneous expenses. For questions, contact Director of the Organizing Co-op Incubator, Kevin Kane at [email protected].
Your membership in the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative means that you have a say in the issues we work on. Member-owners interested in the same issue area can form their own Issue Development Team. Issue Development Teams are comprised of member-owners who care about the same issue and are willing to meet regularly, research an issue, and develop a strategic issue campaign. Member-owners who wish to form an Issue Development Team can contact the their organizer for help in starting their own Issue Development Team, finding others to get involved, and for guidance in developing their issue campaigns.
In addition, Citizen Action of Wisconsin is always happy to suggest issues that we find to be strategic and have the most potential to succeed. For example, we believe that addressing the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, preventing a global climate genocide, creating more family supporting jobs and cleaning up government are issues that appeal to many people. These issues provide a variety of opportunities to make a difference at the local level (city and county), as well as at the state level, and would help us recruit more new members.
Greater Milwaukee: Kevin Kane (temporary) (414) 944-1696 (cell), Click here for the position description
Western Wisconsin: Breana Stanley, [email protected]
Northeast Wisconsin: Noah Reif, [email protected] (262)343-6163
North Central Wisconsin: Joel Lewis, [email protected], (715) 551-2525
Want to start up an Organizing Cooperative in your community? You can reach out and talk to Kevin Kane, Director of The Organizing Co-op Incubator at Citizen Action of Wisconsin anytime!
- Call or text – (414) 944-1696 (cell)
- Email – [email protected]
- Twitter – @KevinKane
- Facebook – facebook.com/kevin.kane.35
Starting in July 2018, Kevin Kane – who helped conceive of and implement the idea of the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperatives in urban and rural areas across Wisconsin – transitioned to launch The Organizing Co-op Incubator together with Citizen Action of Wisconsin and People’s Action.
The Incubator will work to spread the concept of member-owned community and issue organizing (the Organizing Co-op) across the country, while supporting them in their different stages of institutional development. Working together with leaders in rural and urban areas to envision, implement and experiment with ways to take back our democracy and drive the economy in an inclusive direction. Organizing their voices without large donors or the wealthy.
Kevin and leaders in Southeastern Wisconsin will be testing and implement bold new strategies for organizing middle and moderate income families throughout 2018, and will share these lessons with those seeking to innovate in their backyard. Only by organizing the vast number of working class and middle income families – people, money & ideas – can we hope to level the playing field and make whole our democracy again. If you are interested in the Organizing Co-op ideas, please contact [email protected]