In the short period since the beginning of this century, an emerging trend towards the development of national networks of local community based organizations has begun to grow. These include the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Jobs with Justice, the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Pushback Network, and the Right to the City Alliance. Some of the networks are industry/demographic specific and others are broader. Together they represent hundreds of thousands of constituents in poor and low-income communities and hundreds of grassroots community-based, worker, student and youth organizations.
What many of the networks share, is a focus on deep leadership development of members, in addition to membership base-building and power-building. And each are organizing strategic responses to the critical demands and intersections of contemporary society, for example developing strategic cross-sector/cross-demographic organizing models that bridge Black-Brown/African-American – immigrant communities, bridging the gulf between labor and community, and extending linkages between local organizing and phenomena of globalization.
Given the current period, there is a window of opportunity to increase our impact, through the development of strategic collaborations and movement building approaches to raise the profile of our communities and the struggles they face in the wake of the crisis. This imperative has propelled the alliances to work collectively through a process formerly called the Inter-Alliance Dialogue (IAD) and now known as UNITY, a network of emerging networks, to impact the economic recovery process and address key global negotiations on issues ranging from global warming to new trade and finance rules.
In December 2008, representatives from six of the country’s leading grassroots alliances and networks – Grassroots Global Justice, Jobs with Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Pushback Network, and the Right to the City Alliance – came together to identify concerted action in response to the crises impacting our communities, the United States and the world. This meeting gave launch to a project known as then as Inter-Alliance Dialogue. In 2011 the IAD formally became known as unity. Through this collaborative of alliances we seek to: 1) Respond to the current economic and environmental crises by developing a bold agenda for change founded on a vision of just, equitable and democratic recovery, 2) Ensure that our base constituencies – historically marginalized communities, especially communities of color – are aligned and united at the forefront of efforts for transformative social change, 3) Achieve a level of scale, power and impact beyond the reach our separate networks/alliances, and, 4) Develop our local, regional and national capacity to win.