Communities United to Save Darfur: 200+ groups and growing!
|Save Darfur, 10 Octobre 2006|
Lindsey Petersen is the local organizing coordinator for the Save Darfur Coalition. Her job includes reaching out to our network of Communities United to Save Darfur groups that dot the United States (and increasingly the world). These 200+ local organizations are the backbone of our grassroots education and advocacy campaigns and have been at the vanguard of the movement to end the genocide in Darfur.
SDC: What sort of activities do Communities United to Save Darfur groups undertake in their local communities?
Communities United groups participate in a wide variety of activities, including holding meetings with their elected officials, collecting letters to go to the President, and holding an event to educate their community about Darfur. Groups have organized everything from a Yogathon for Darfur to hosting a forum where academics and refugees join together to discuss the ongoing genocide.
SDC: What advice do you offer group leaders who are trying to get a new group off the ground?
I think the key is just starting small by getting support from your family, friends, co-workers or fellow congregants at your house of worship and then spreading the word to your wider community. Holding a small event such as a dinner for Darfur, or showing our DVD to your social circle, is an easy way to get people interested in Darfur and raise awareness about the genocide. In my role at the coalition, I also help groups by connecting them with people who have successfully started groups in the past and who are happy to give advice on what they found worked best.
SDC: Can you share with us specific examples of remarkable achievements of local groups and their leaders over the past year?
Katy Flynn from Des Moines for Darfur started a group from scratch and within months had been on TV news, various radio stations, and has most recently held a successful Day for Darfur rally at the grounds of the state capitol in Iowa.
Beth Reilley of the Indiana Coalition to Save Darfur started out by collecting signatures for a petition at her local church and quickly was able to reach out to Methodist churches throughout Indiana. Beth's work on behalf of the people of Darfur has been so impressive that the CBS evening interviewed her for a piece on Darfur advocacy.
Another example is the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur which successfully organized 12 busloads to our rally in NYC. This was a huge accomplishment that helped us to increase turnout for our historic rally.
It's truly amazing how much these groups are able to accomplish throughout the year. Many group leaders have no background in organizing or activism but they have been able to achieve amazing results.
SDC: If readers want to start their own local group, what should they do?
Anyone who wishes to start their own organization should register their group on the website and contact me with any initial questions or concerns. I would also encourage anyone with interest to sign up and be a part of our nationwide network of people working to end the genocide in Darfur.