Organize Peers

When you organize, you are trying to build the power of a group that shares similar problems, and they work to solve these problems together by learning what people and institutions could help, or are getting in the way.  

Your Rights

  • You have the right to meet with your councilmembers.
  • You have the right to sign petitions. *
  • You have the right to assemble
  • You have the right to belong to political groups

Things You Should Know:

When you encounter a problem, it helps to have more people noticing the problem if you want to fix it. And it’s even better if more people are working to fix the problem with you. This is what organizing is all about.

So here are some steps that you can take to organize your peers:

  1. Identify the problem: maybe your school food is the worst, or maybe your DC One Card doesn’t get you into some government buildings. Ask yourself if this problem affects other people. Problems that affect lots of people are usually the responsibility of the government. If you are having an issue with your parent about curfew, that is not something that other people can relate to, but if you are having an issue with the lack of school computers, that is an issue that a lot of people can relate to.
  2. Reach out to your peers: you can do this through social media, word of mouth, fliers, videos, etc. You want to get the problem out there, and you want to hear what they have to say about the problem. Maybe what you thought was the problem, was not really the center of that problem. For example, you thought that your school lunch isn’t serving different food, so it gets boring, but after talking to other people, you find out that they have food allergies and can’t eat the school food. That’s a bigger problem that can be fixed by the same solution. Start keeping a list of the people who have shown interest in your problem and want to help you fix it.
  3. Invite them to a meeting: you should set aside a time and space where people can come together to really talk about the problems and offer up some potential solutions. Even though it’s not your responsibility to brainstorm ideas for solutions, it’s easier for the government if you can have a few solutions ready for them. In this meeting you should set some assignments (with deadlines) like:
    1. Research government officials who can help: learn about the government, who is who, who the bosses are, what their responsibilities are, etc.
    2. Research other groups who have had this same problem: depending on the size of your problem, you should look at other schools, neighborhoods, cities, or even countries to see if other people have worked to solve that same problem. This is a good way to brainstorm possible solutions.
  4. Reach out to the government: Usually an easy way to go is to set up a meeting with a government official, or testify in front of council. Some problems can’t be solved like this only, and you will need to do step 5 at the same time- for example, if you want to kick out a person in government, or put shame on government departments that are not doing their job. You should look at council, agency leaders and staff, as well as government department leaders. (linked to these items on the website)
  5. Put on the pressure: if things didn’t go well, or are moving slow, you should organize a protests, a letter writing campaign, a phone banking, or another large action (look at examples here) to get what you want. You should also continue to get more and more people interested and talking about your issue through social media.

Here are some resources that help youth get involved in the political process:

Take Action: