Your City, Your Voice is a series of activist trainings developed by Transportation Alternatives’ renowned team of community organizers. Hear the lessons learned in their years of hyper-local, grassroots political activism. Absorb the tools and tactics that contributed to winning campaigns to change New York’s speed limit, and introduce innovations like protected bike lanes, bike share, and speed cameras to city streets.
You’ll be taught how to engage with your neighbors and organize a successful local campaign -- valuable lessons that could apply to the fight for a protected bike lane, or an effort to protect a community garden, or a campaign to advocate for better food access for your community. Your City, Your Voice is an adaptable activist training on effective community organizing tools that can help you achieve a wide array of goals.
Your City, Your Voice: A Complete Introduction to Activism
Next up: 1/27/18
This all-day training is a crash course in how to get involved in activism, designed to give you the organizing tools that you will need to run a successful activist campaign. During the seven hour training, you will be introduced to powerful activists from the five boroughs and beyond, and learn specific tactics for effective activism, including but not limited to: anti-oppression and intersectional activism; campaign planning; public speaking; social media organizing; coalition building; and interacting with elected officials. Lunch and snacks are provided.
Introduction to Real New York City Civics
Next up: 1/29/18
This training is a recommended follow-up to Your City, Your Voice 101 focusing on the systems of advocacy, appointments, and elections that govern New York City. You will learn how all the levels of local government intersect, the roles and powers of appointed and elected officials, and most importantly, how talking to the right people at the right time can advance your cause. This module is designed to give you the scoop on how politics works in reality, beyond what you learned in high school civics.
Storytelling for Activists: A Writing and Design Workshop
Next up: 2/5/18
The success of any activist campaign depends on the ability to effectively communicate. Learn how to market your campaign, shift tone for varying audiences, and the most effective ways to communicate your message in words and pictures. This training will include a graphics primer that works even for the most novice designers and an in-person writing workshop and critique to help you hone your message.
Event Planning and Attendance
Next up: 2/12/18
In activism, public events are an effective demonstration of political support. This training will focus on the best ways to draw a crowd at an event, mobilizing coalition partners and their supporters, and tips for preparing your supporters for the event. Transportation Alternatives organizers will share lessons learned from hosting over 500 events a year, and enabling thousands of New Yorkers to participate in politics in all five boroughs.
Organizing Through Social Media: Beyond the Basics
Next up: 2/19/18
Social media has the ability to multiply the effectiveness of activism. This training on using social media to amplify activist campaigns is applicable to digital natives and old-school activists alike. You will learn the ins and outs of hashtag activism, best practices to grow your social media base, and how to use tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to apply political pressure.
How to Overcome Campaign Hurdles
Next up: 2/26/18
Power Mapping is a strategic tool for activists to determine how to use political pressure for maximum effectiveness. In this training, take a deep dive into how to navigate the murky power relationships that influence decision makers. You will learn about local political clubs, historic party machines, and the power dynamics that could make or break your campaign.
How to Cultivate Leadership
Next up: 3/5/18
Social Mapping is a growth tactic that can boost your political power, by boosting up your friends and neighbors. Learn how to juggle events, materials, and press calls as your campaign grows by cultivating leadership in your supporters. This training will guide you through the steps to building a sustainable leadership structure that will help your campaign persevere, successful meeting structures, and effective communication strategies for your leadership team.
Kicking Off Your New Campaign
Next Up: 3/19
Many of us have jumped into a campaign mid-stream, learned the ropes, and even triumphantly won important changes. Many of us have also struggled to take those victories and transition them to the next big thing. Join this training to learn what it takes to start something entirely new, grow momentum, and attract a critical mass of supporters. What it takes to start a campaign is often entirely different than what it takes to finish one!
Everything ELSE You Wanted to Know About NYC Gov’t
Next Up: 3/28
Skilled TransAlt organizers return to the complicated subject of how New York City politics works in real life. This training makes accessible the inner workings of the county committees, political clubs, and even judgeships, and how these interact with the decisions of community boards, elected officials, and city agencies. Understanding how politics in NYC works is the first step to understanding how to win campaigns and make change.
Thinking Like Your Decision Maker
Next Up: 4/2
Every campaign is working to win the support of key decision makers -- these are people, often elected officials (but not always!) -- who can help make our campaign goals a reality. What factors into their decisions? Join this workshop as we dig deeper into the question “Who is the key decision maker, and what makes them tick”?
Media Training: Engage the Media Like a Pro
Next Up: 4/9
Any successful campaign has leaders who are able to convincingly convey their messages to the press. But talking to the press can be easier said than done. Attend this training to learn how to effectively message to the media, speak confidently to the camera, and get your point across to key audiences.
“I Did My Own Study!”: Practical Research for Campaigning
Next Up: 4/16
Powerful, pointed research is essential for any campaign. But what makes research practical? Join TransAlt’s Director of Research as we learn how to direct our research questions to amplify our campaigns. Learn how to identify research that can be done with your community group, can garner media attention, and inspire people to take to the streets to demand change.
Photography and Video Best Practices
A good photograph or video has the capability of traveling far beyond your group, potentially taking your message further than you thought possible, producing buzz that could make a huge difference at key moments of your campaign. There are tips and tricks for taking good photos and videos, and TransAlt’s resident experts will walk you through the process of capturing a moment and making it a potent tool for change.
Defense Against the Dark Arts: Fending Off Common Oppositional Tricks
Next Up: 4/30
TransAlt organizers have seen it all. And if you’ve ever left a community meeting feeling confused, disempowered, dejected, or alienated, it’s likely because some participants were practicing the “Dark Arts”. At this training, learn to recognize some common oppositional tricks used by opponents of safer, more people-friendly streets (as well as WHY they can be effective). The good news is that every strategy has a counter-strategy, so come to this training to really be prepared for anything.
Monthly Speaker Series
On the last Tuesday of every month, Transportation Alternatives will host a speaker related to the practice of powerful community organizing in New York City, and will feature experts experienced in issues as diverse as labor organizing, anti-gun violence organizing, to disability and reproductive rights advocacy. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with each other in conversation related to the topics at hand. The speaker series is aimed at deepening our understanding of how others have successfully achieved social change, facilitate cross-issue community building, and improve our ability to make New York a better place for people.
Louis Bailey, Organizer, WEACT for Environmental Justice
The Environmental Justice Movement began in order to call attention to and organize against environmental racism, which is often left out of mainstream, largely white, environmental advocacy agendas. In 1991, a multinational group, including WE ACT, attended The First People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. At the event, The Principles of Environmental Justice were created and agreed upon, and still stand as a guiding set of principles for the Environmental Justice Movement today. WE ACT is the lead organizer of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change, and has provided effective leadership in the development of New York City and northeast region environmental justice alliances to network, collaborate and impact environmental policy-making.
Emily Drabinski, Organizer, Long Island University Faculty Lockout
Sean Basinksi, Director, Street Vendor Project
New York’s community of 20,000 street vendors comprise some of our most diverse and marginalized workers. Many are undocumented. Few speak English. They often fight each other for scarce sidewalk space to eke out an honest living. In the meantime, their opposition are some of the most powerful and well-connected stakeholders in our city. SVP staff and members will share lessons we have learned in fifteen years of organizing – and winning – against the odds.
Emma Whitford, Reporter/Organizer, DNAinfo and Gothamist Unionization
Courtney Williams, Founder and Chief Strategist, The Brown Bike Girl
Jennie Romer, Sustainability Consultant, Plastic Bag Tax Activism
Nidhi Gulati, Public Space Consultant
Reverend Billy, The Stop Shopping Choir
Linda Prine, Reproductive Health Access Project
Katrina Johnson Zimmerman, THINK.Urban, Designing Public Space for Women