Part of a Movement
While the Close to Home approach has been primarily implemented and evolved within North America, it is also part of an international movement advocating for whole communities to lead domestic and sexual violence prevention, primarily through changing social norms. Here are a few notes on how Close to Home’s philosophies and approach fit within that context.
What We Bring to the Conversation
In our efforts to bring this work into a more central space where critical momentum can be gained, the Close to Home approach exemplifies the following:
- Change is more powerful and lasting when everyone is involved. Since domestic and sexual violence affect all of us in some way, we all have a role in creating change.
- While this is provocative and challenging work, it is also meaningful and fun. It is about living a vision of community beyond the end of violence starting now, through the sharing of food, compassion, conviction, and opportunities for action—enabling both personal transformation as well as social and political change.
- We can define processes for community organizing while still letting it be emergent. Structuring and systemizing the work does not need to make it forced or imposed. Creating these types of frameworks will only strengthen our efforts, enabling us to better compare, evaluate, and evolve practice.
“Organizing” vs “Mobilizing”
While the Close to Home approach refers primarily to community “organizing,” it is important to note that the terms “mobilizing communities” and “community mobilization” are central to international conversations advancing these and similar ideas. While some people feel that “organizing” and “mobilizing” are two ends of a spectrum, with “organizing” being the more political of the two, we treat the words synonymously. That said, we mostly use the term “community organizing” because of its connotations of activism for North American readers. It is critical that we make the distinction between “awareness” (as in receiving) and “action” (as in doing). The Close to Home approach relates to community organizing as work that explicitly engages community members in individual and collective action.
“Network” and “Network Members”
The Close to Home approach draws from the growing literature on “network theory” and “network leadership” in relation to how community members are engaged as actors in social change. Here the term “network” is not describing an umbrella organization, nor a national association or electronic social networking platform—as may be more common in international conversations. Rather a network, in this case, is a flexible community organizing entity. Community members can choose to participate in varying roles, small or large, to advance social change efforts, and in doing so become a “network member.” Being a “member,” above all, provides a sense of purpose and belonging rather than a set of fixed obligations, and is an experience that can be self-defined and changed over time.
Most significantly, a network is driven by strong relationships and shared leadership, with everyone bringing ideas and skills to carry the work forward. The initiating organizers/organization support and facilitate the process, as network members discover the strengths of their community and co-create the social change campaigns they feel will be most effective.
Learn more about network development. >