Last month, Nebraska Appleseed sent Rachel Gehringer-Wiar, Appleseed’s organizing intern, to Chicago during spring break to attend the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change training. The Academy provides training and consulting to equip organizers, community leaders, and organizations to think and to act strategically and to win justice for all. Rachel shared with us her experience at the training.
At the end of March, I had the opportunity to spend time with a group of passionate organizers at the Midwest Academy’s week-long training in Chicago. The workshops were long and extensive, but the tools and methods I took from them are invaluable. I feel privileged to have had this experience early on in my organizing career—I was the only student attendee, and the next youngest person was three years older than me. While the Midwest Academy benefits organizers of any age, it was really great to get such an intense training at a younger age.
I attended session on recruitment, media communications, holding public meetings, building campaign strategies, and building sustainable organizations and coalitions. I feel I can bring the skills we discussed and practiced throughout the week to any position I may have in the world of community organizing. At Appleseed in particular, I now approach my work with a clearer sense of strategy and specific goals. I’m excited to continue to implement these skills in my student organizing efforts already this spring.
The best part of the week, however, was getting to meet and spend time with passionate organizers from around the country. There were a few organizer there from the National Council of La Raza who work on immigration and Latino issues, there were four people from the east coast from Food & Water Watch, and there were others working on issues like juvenile justice, housing and tenants rights, green transportation, and neighborhood safety.
I created connections with people doing work they are passionate about all over the country. This was the most exhilarating part by far—to build these connections around the country while I am still young. I plan to keep in touch with many of these people, and I am excited to talk with them about the work they continue to do.
Rachel Gehringer-Wiar is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and studies English, Music and Human Rights. Rachel has been involved in Appleseed’s efforts to prevent divisive and unconstitutional Arizona-style immigration proposals from passing in Nebraska and works with Rebecca Gonzales on Appleseed’s equal opportunity and racial justice project.