After three years, OrganisingCities will culminate in a global gathering of renowned city-based citizen leaders and researchers. This global gathering is a space where researchers and the global team of urban alliance leaders can finally all meet in the same space together.
The gathering’s participants feature just over one dozen handpicked city-based organisers who are leading innovative political interventions in their cities that bring diverse citizens together for a common purpose.
Together, they will explore how citizens are organising and democratising their cities, transforming the very meaning and practice of democracy in the process.
Austin, Progressive Networks
Austin is the blue heart of a red state and has seen the development of a massive number of non-electoral and electoral organisations, magnifying since the election of Trump. Most major national networks (indivisible, ACLU, most unions) are locally active, alongside a resurgent progressive Democratic campaign (Beto for Governor).
Colleen Loper is Director of Political Strategy at Way to Win, a homebase for progressive donors and organizers seeking a strategic approach to funding that advances transformative policy, wins elections, and builds lasting power in the States. Colleen is a queer feminist who has been working to empower women, young folks, and communities who haven’t been lifted up in Texas, Nevada, Florida locally as well as across the nation through her consulting work. She has been the Deputy Director of the Texas Future Project where she advised how to best leverage investments in Texas infrastructure to build power for independent political organizations while also strategizing how to win near-term elections for long-term people power.
Barcelona, La PAH & Barcelona en Comu
Following the Global Financial Crisis, Barcelona has seen the rise of major housing campaigns, enormous mobilisations like 15M and the transition of some of these social movement activists into a radical political party, PAH.
João França is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. Until January 2017, he was an editor for the non-profit Fundació Periodisme Plural, which publishes four media outlets devoted to the promotion of social justice. He is specialised in social movements and housing, following the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH, Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) since 2011. He conducted an oral history research on the platform and the movements that preceded it, which was published as a book: Habitar la trinxera. Històries del moviment pel dret a l’habitatge a Barcelona (Octaedro, 2018). He is also author of Retrats de la Barcelona comunitària (Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2019), on community organising experiences in the city of Barcelona.
Cape Town, Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi
Reclaim the City is a social movement of working class people, students, tenants, and young professionals who live and work in Cape Town. It is a radical housing organisation in the city working to desegregate the rich, white inner city through affordable housing. They have undertaken substantial long term occupations of publicly owned buildings to demonstrate the need for emergency housing and inner city accommodation. Reclaim the City aims resit against the capture of public land by private property developers, and believe that all pieces of public land should be prioritised for affordable housing especially that which is situated in prime and well located areas.
Ndifuna Ukwazi works to contribute to building movements in South Africa by supporting new organisations, mentoring young leaders and teaching activists. NU advocates for urban land justice through political organising, litigation and research. NU works closely with the Reclaim the City Movement and the Social Justice Coalition, a mass-based social movement campaigning for safe, healthy and dignified communities in some of South Africa’s largest, most under-developed and crime affected townships.
Buhle Booi is a political organiser at Ndifuna Ukwazi in Cape Town and part of his role is to support Reclaim the City, a movement of tenants and workers campaigning to stop displacement from well-located areas. Buhle believes that it is essential for youth to advocate for human rights and social justice, so as to create a brighter future for the next generation.Buhle has played an instrumental role at Equal Education (EE) the movement of learners, teachers, parents and community members fighting for equal and quality education in South Africa.
Nkosikhona Swartbooi works as the Head of political organising unit for Ndifuna Ukwazi and a campaigner for Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) an organisation of activists that use research and strategic litigation to campaign for justice and equality in poor and working-class communities. Nkosikhona’s campaign work and activism was started in Khayelitsha.
Citizens UK and London Citizens
Citizens UK organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. They are an affiliate of the IAF and active in more than 12 cities across the UK it’s the home of community organising in the UK. Their diverse member organisations of over 450 civil society institutions include schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, parents groups, health practice, charities and trade unions. Citizen UK helps these members to develop leaders, so they can participate in public life and hold politicians and other decision-makers to account on the issues that matter to them. Citizen’s UK’s vision is for a healthy democracy with civil society at its heart.
London Citizens (part of Citizens UK) is one of the largest urban alliances in the world with over 250 affiliates.
James Blatchley-Asfa is a Lead Organiser at Citizens UK, leads a team of 6 organisers in South London and heads up our work with migrants and refugees. James has also developed new ways of organising with universities through a partnership with King’s College London that included the creation of Parent Power. James is a dual British and Iranian national and grew up in Thornton Heath, Croydon. He has a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University as well as an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St Antony’s College, Oxford and an MA in Community Organising from QMUL. He previously worked as a Campaigner in Amnesty International’s North Africa Team and has worked at a number of other charities, organisations, and trusts. James is a governor of a primary school in Brixton, a keen photographer and mediocre footballer.
Jonathan Cox is the Deputy Director at Citizens UK and Lead Organiser for Citizens Cymru Wales. Jonathan grew up in Bargoed during the Miners’ Strike and the de-industrialisation of the South Wales Valleys by the Thatcher government – experiencing early on that “if you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu”. Following stints working for an MP and Government Minister in the Blair administration and as a campaigner in a refugee sector, he became an Organiser in 2006, learning the craft from Citizens UK’s Neil Jameson and Bernadette Farrell, with mentoring from Jonathan Lange of the IAF. As Deputy Director of Citizens UK, Jonathan is based in Wales where he leads a nation-wide chapter and supervises chapters in Birmingham, Essex, Somerset and the Thames Valley, as well as UK-wide projects working with migrants and refugees, National Training, and the Guild of Community Organisers. Jonathan is married with two young children. He is an Anglican and holds a first-class undergraduate degree in History and Politics from the University of Durham and an MA with Distinction in Community Organising from Queen Mary, University of London. He is currently an Associate Lecturer at Newman University (which accredits Citizens UK’s training), and co-delivers two courses at Cardiff Business School which train 300 students in organising each year.
Hong Kong, The Civil Human Rights Front & Hong Kong Citizens
In parallel to widely-publicised struggles for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the city’s urban politics have also been fraught. Both the Civil Human Rights Front and Hong Kong Citizens have been active in forging civil society alliances to democratise the city’s development.
CHRF was established in 2002 and is an umbrella organisation which now has about 50 local member organisations, including pan-democratic political parties, NGOs and groups in civil society that are concerned about human rights issues and democracy. It is best known for organising the half-million-people march during the Anti-Article 23 Movement (national security legislation) in 2003. In 2019, it kick-started the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement, coined the “5 Demands”, and continues to be a major protest organisation holding 1-million, 2-million, then 1.7-million people marches from June to August of 2019.
Bonnie Leung Wing-Man has been the Vice Convenor for the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) in Hong Kong since 2017. She is also an elected District Councillor in Hong Kong representing the Civic Party, a pan-democratic party which is known for their efforts in defending the rule of law, freedom and human rights. Before that she was political assistant to Alan Leong, S.C., then legislator, for 8 years.
Daniel Man Kwok Fai is the Founder and Director of Hong Kong Citizens. Daniel has over twenty years’ experience of community work in Hong Kong. Throughout his career Daniel has helped build capacity in grassroots’ community organizations, founding Hong Kong Citizens in 2013. In 2015 Daniel established a locality based Alliance name as Sham Shui Po Community Alliance, including local Residents Organisations, Womens groups and self-help groups, committed to listening campaigns and house meetings to rebuild Hong Kong Civil Society. Daniel holds both Social Work Degree and Master of Social Work from the HK Polytechnic University and HK Baptist University respectively.
Industrial Areas Foundation, North West
The IAF North West supports nine urban alliances across North West America and Canada. Founded by Saul Alinsky in 1940, the Industrial Areas Foundation is the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organisations. The IAF partners with religious congregations and civic organisations at the local level to build broad-based organising projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities. The IAF currently works with thousands of religious congregations, non-profits, civic organizations and unions, in more than sixty-five cities across the United States and in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Joe Chrastil is a Regional Organiser for the IAF Northwest, providing training and support for the leaders and community organisers of the IAF affiliated organisations in Washington, Oregon, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He has been organising communities since 1979, including the last 27 years in Washington State. He has extensive experience in building and launching action-oriented community organisations – focusing on leadership development and capacity building – that have addressed a wide range of issues related to jobs, immigration, health care, education, energy, housing, and transportation.
Kings College London
Anne-Marie Canning MBE is the Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at King’s College London. In this role she provides leadership and strategic direction for full lifecycle widening participation across the institution. In 2018 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to higher education. Anne-Marie is also the independent chair of the Department for Education led Bradford Opportunity Area. She is a member of the Universities UK Ministerial Social Mobility Advisory Group and has served as the elected Chair of the Russell Group Widening Participation Association. Anne-Marie and her team work with Citizens UK to lead groundbreaking community organising initiatives at Kings, transforming the institution inside and out.
Living Wage Movement, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand brings together community/secular, union and faith-based groups to campaign for a Living Wage.
Lyndy McIntyre is a community organiser with Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ in Wellington, New Zealand/Aotearoa. Lyndy was active in the founding of the New Zealand Living Wage Movement in 2012. The movement unites faith groups, community organisations and unions who share a common concern about poverty and inequality in Aotearoa. Lyndy has 35 years commitment to the trade union movement, in a wide range of activist, organising and campaigning roles.
New Economics Foundation, London
For more than three decades, the New Economics Foundation’s (NEF) mission has been to transform the economy so it works for people and the planet. NEF celebrates – and helps to enable – the new economy springing up from below, but also knows that it needs support from above, including a state that prioritises people’s wellbeing and a healthy planet over a misplaced faith in free markets and competition. Therefore NEF works with people igniting change from below and we combine this with rigorous research to fight for change at the top.
Stefan Baskerville is Director for Organising and Movement Building, responsible for NEF’s work focused on organising with people, communities and campaigns to build their power to make change across issues of housing, work and pay, the environment, and the economy. Stefan previously worked as a lead organiser with Citizens UK, organising with hundreds of leaders from civil society to build broad-based organisations capable of taking action for the common good. He was part of the team which ran the Living Wage campaign and established the Living Wage Foundation. He has delivered leadership training with a wide range of organisations, including faith institutions, trade unions, universities, NHS trusts, multinational corporations, the United Nations, and at Oxford University’s Said Business School.
Queensland Community Alliance
A sister to Sydney Alliance it began in 2012. The QCA are an alliance of faith groups coming together with charities, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to work together for the common good. They’ve been helping Queenslanders fight for a fairer and better life through the issues that matter to them. They are an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).
Dave Copeman is a Senior Organiser for the Queensland Community Alliance. He is currently engaged to explore the building of Alliances in North Qld and Central Qld. Dave was the founding Lead Organiser of the Queensland Community Alliance and was instrumental to creating the organisation until stepping down as Lead Organiser in 2018 to live in Spain with his family. He came to community organising after 15 years of social change campaigning, working for Amnesty International in Queensland and East Africa, the ACTU and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
Elise Ganley joined the Queensland Community Alliance as an organiser in 2017 and comes from regional South Australia. She was inspired by Nottingham Citizens to practise broad-based organising back in Australia while studying law and politics on exchange. Elise has been organising around loneliness in the suburbs of Brisbane, bringing together local community and faith leaders with the University of QLD to create an internationally unique, social prescribing network which connects isolated people from primary health care into community groups across Mt Gravatt. Before this she co-ordinated a Christian, high school student movement against kids in immigration detention, fundraised for not-for-profits and ran the first Australian Catholic Youth Listening exchanges between young people and Catholic Bishops.
Devett Kennedy is the Lead Organiser of the Queensland Community Alliance. From Paris to Whyalla to Woodridge, Devett has 20 years experience in developing ordinary citizens as transformative leaders in their own lives, their communities and the broader society through values-based social action. Devett has been the organiser behind much of the Alliance’s most successful organising including funding better public transport in Logan, Establishment of community maternity hubs, and Concession fares for people seeking asylum. He passionately believes that building habits of relational power, deep listening, public action, and strong organisation are our best hope of creating lasting democratic change.
The Sydney Alliance brings together diverse community organisations, unions and religious organisations to advance the common good and achieve a fair, just and sustainable city. The Alliance does this by providing opportunities for people to have a say in decisions that affect them, their families and everyone working and living in Sydney. It is a non-party political organisation, and an Industrial Areas Foundation affiliated community organising alliance with around 40 different organisation members. It began in 2007. The Lab’s researchers have been active in the organisation, and Amanda Tattersall was its founder.
David Barrow is the Lead Organiser at the Sydney Alliance and has been with the Alliance for 9 years. Over this time David has organised leaders to work together on issues as diverse as transport, housing, social inclusion, employment, refugees and energy. David is keen to work out how he can better support leaders to get to the table with decision makers in NSW, a highly centralised and often inaccessible jurisdiction, with a conservative Westminster-government, and how to win beyond and to the side of governments. Organising with a decolonising framework is an important priority as the Alliance organising and leadership starts to reflect the wider age and cultural diversity of Sydney. Before coming to the Alliance David had seven years experience organising on and off campus. David was the President of the UTS Union Board, the NSW and then the National Union of Students. David plays a leadership role within the Uniting Church as a member of the NSW Synod Standing Committee and as Chair of the Leichhardt Uniting Church council. David has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and International Studies.
Chantelle Ogilvie-Ellis is the Community Organiser for the People Seeking Asylum Campaign, and the Campaign Mentor for Voices for Power and recently was the acting Lead Organiser. Chantelle joined the Sydney Alliance as a staff member in 2014, after 6 years as a key Alliance leader in her role with the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s Justice and Peace Office. Chantelle has taught theology in a number of tertiary institutions, and has published articles on themes of inter-religious dialogue, spirituality, democratic participation, and organisational change.
Thuy Nguyen is working with the Vietnamese and Filipino communities on issues of affordable and clean energy. Thuy has experience in advocating for climate action with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. She has also been involved in policy and research regarding Australia’s asylum seeker policy and international human rights. Thuy is particularly passionate about working with ethnically diverse communities to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources so these community can thrive. She hopes that through this project, she will be able to engage with the vibrant Vietnamese community in Sydney and help them address their concerns regarding power and the environment. Thuy has a Bachelor of International Studies and Law.
Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau is a Minister at the Strathfield-Homebush Uniting Church. Rev Alimoni has led four significant assemblies of the Sydney Alliance, two with senior NSW and Federal Liberal Party politicians, each making tangible commitments on anti-slavery measures or solar initiatives. ‘Moni’ is one of the leading figures within the Australian-Tongan community and is the chair of the Voices for Power team. Moni has led and preached at large gatherings of the climate movement as a representative and powerful advocate for resilient Pacific peoples.
Mary Waterford holds the position of Chairperson of Sydney Alliance and is a Board member of Sydney Community Forum. Mary has worked in the community sector in Sydney in Management, Policy and Advocacy roles for over 40 years and knows well both the challenges of Sydney and the power of working together as a united voice for inclusion and social justice. Mary was Executive Director of Western Sydney Community Forum from 2008 to 2015 and most recently worked as a volunteer in Timor-Leste at Rede Feto, the peak advocacy network for women’s organisations. Mary has been a member of Sydney Alliance since 2009. In 2016, Mary was awarded an Order of Australia Award (AM) is for significant contribution to the community through social service and welfare organisations as an advocate for equity, human rights and dignity.
Mathew Humphreys is Professor of Political Theory and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. His teaching and research focuses on environmental political theory and theories of ideology. Recent work has centred upon the relationship between environmental policy outcomes and democratic processes. This includes environmental politics, especially the ethics of and acceptability of forms of direct action protests such as the climate camp, sit ins, ‘ecological sabotage’, anti-roads protests etc. Ethics and political conflict — in democratic societies, how should citizens behave? Should we seek to make reasoned argument and pursue interests and beliefs through the ballot box or are more radical means, such as occupations, sit-ins, boycotting, attacks on property and even violence against the person, acceptable? Public attitudes to shale gas in the UK.
Paul Routledge is a Professor in Contentious Politics and Social Change in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. Paul’s research involves politically engaged and committed research that is practice-based and conducted in horizontal collaboration with social movements. His research interests include critical geopolitics, climate change, social justice, civil society, the environment, and social movements. Paul’s research has had a particular focus on the spatiality of social movements in the Global South and Global North, and the practical, political and ethical challenges of scholar activism. This has included work on: transitions to democracy in Nepal in 1990 and 2006; the anti-roads (environmental) movement in Scotland; anti-dam resistance on the Narmada river, India); anti-tourism/environmental struggles in Goa, India; the alter-globalisation movement, especially the People’s Global Action network of Asian farmer and indigenous people’s movements. Paul is the author of various books, including Space Invaders: radical geographies of protest (Pluto Press, 2017), Terrains of Resistance: Nonviolent Social Movements and the Contestation of Place in India (Praeger, 1993) and Global Justice Networks: geographies of transnational solidarity (MUP, 2009, with Andrew Cumber).
Sydney Policy Lab team
Louise Beehag is the Chief Operations and Engagement Officer at Sydney Policy Lab and has more than 15 years experience in local and state governments, universities and entrepreneurial environments in Australia and internationally. Before joining the Sydney Policy Lab, Louise was based in Singapore as Director of Executive Education at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where she worked with governments across Asia and the Middle East to design programs to inspire leaders and transform policymaking.
Lisa Fennis is the Lab’s co-Chief Operations and Engagement Officer. Having worked at the intersection of academia, civil society and advocacy for almost a decade, she is passionate about building powerful alliances to tackle the most pressing questions of our time. Lisa came to the Lab after leading the Sydney Peace Foundation, where she elevated voices of some of the world’s most effective changemakers. Before this, Lisa coordinated the Electoral Integrity Project at the University of Sydney and Harvard University. Lisa also worked on transitional justice for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. Lisa has a MSc in peacebuilding and conflict resolution at Gothenburg University and the University of Amsterdam, and a BA in public administration from the Hague University.
Rosemary Hancock is a sociologist who writes about the intersection of religion with politics and activism. She is currently a Researcher at the Sydney Policy Lab and a Research Associate at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Her research grapples with the ways religion is integrated into grassroots political spaces, the ways in which religion influences or motivates activists in their political practice, and how the engagement of religious people and organisations in democratic politics and civil society transforms those spaces – and how political action transforms religious communities. Rosemary was born and raised in New Zealand, and moved to Sydney, Australia in 2009. She holds a PhD from the University of Sydney (2016) and works at the University of Notre Dame Australia as a researcher in the Religion and Global Society program at the Institute for Ethics and Society. Her first book, Islamic Environmentalism: Activism in the United States and Great Britain, was published in 2018 by Routledge.
Kurt Iveson is an Associate Professor of Urban Geography and organiser who has worked for nearly two decades on relationship between cities and citizenship. His PhD on the politics of urban public space produced the widely-read book Publics and the City (Wileyt-Blackwell). Along with other academic books and journal articles that have reached an international audience, Kurt is also a regular public commentator on urban politics in Sydney. This includes his fortnightly radio show Down to Earth, which showcases citizen-initiatives to make urban environments more just and sustainable. Kurt is also an active community and union organiser. He has led the Sydney Alliance’s Transport Research ACtion Team, and is currently President of the University of Sydney branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.
Isabelle Napier is the Project Manager at the Sydney Policy Lab. Isabelle has been building programs, public dialogue and partnerships that transform our understanding of community, environment and policy for a decade. Isabelle was previously based in Copenhagen, where she managed programs for international non-profit MAD and was a consultant to the Danish Government’s Ministry of Food and Environment. She now manages MAD’s Australian activities in collaboration with art precinct Carriageworks and chef Kylie Kwong. Isabelle studied ethics, politics and economics at Yale University and the Sorbonne and later held a fellowship at Yale’s Sustainable Food Program. At Yale she researched politics and markets and worked with actors across agri-food systems to research and push levers for broad-based social and political change.
Marc Stears is the Director of the Sydney Policy Lab. Before arriving in Sydney in 2018, Marc had been Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford and Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, one of the UK’s largest think tanks, where his work often focused on deepening partnerships with community groups who are often overlooked in the policy process. Between 2012 and 2015, he was Chief Speechwriter to the UK Labour Party, a co-author of the party’s 2015 election manifesto and a member of the Party’s general election steering committee. He has also advised a number of commercial and non-commercial organisations on strategic communication, democratic inclusion and community engagement, these have included Coram Young Citizens, Channel 4 television, EY, GlaxoSmithKline, Let Us Learn and Linklaters. In his academic work, Marc is an expert in democratic theory and the history of ideologies and social movements. He is the author of Demanding Democracy (Princeton, 2010), (Oxford, 2002) and an editor of many volumes.
Amanda Tattersall is an experienced Australian community organiser and researcher. She has been innovative in the civil society space, co-founding GetUp.org.au (equivalent to MoveOn.org), founder and Lead Organiser for Sydney Alliance (Australia’s first community organising alliance), co-founder Labor for Refugees (a movement intervention into the Australian Labor Party). She was also the youngest ever elected official of Unions NSW and President of the National Union of Students. Amanda has a PhD on coalition building which produced the first global text comparing union-community coalitions – Power in Coalition (Cornell University Press). She is currently the postdoc on the Organising the 21st Cities Project. She created a podcast – ChangeMakers – to channel case study insights into easy to digest stories. It has had over 200 000 downloads, making it the most successful social change podcast in Australia, and one of the most popular in the world.