Grassroots: From the Ground Up (Presentation for Discussion by Guest Blogger Eli Creighton)

To my fantastic UNST 421: Enhancing Youth Literacy Students, this one is for you!  Please check out Eli’s presentation: Grassroots Movement (1).

Then, discuss the following questions:

•What are some major grassroots organizations you can think of?
•What good can these small movements do?
•Are grassroots movements ever effective?
•Do the movements have to be big and popular to effect change or can a small group do just as well?
•What are the implications if we don’t have grassroots movements within our society?

10 thoughts on “Grassroots: From the Ground Up (Presentation for Discussion by Guest Blogger Eli Creighton)

  1. Eli,

    Great PowerPoint! The first grassroots organization I could think of was the Occupy movement. I remember when I first heard about it: a friend had posted a picture of United Airline pilots on Wall Street. My old employer was really supportive of that movement and then later brought her daughter to her first rally for Occupy Portland.

    While Occupy had some internal issues, I thought that it was great that so many people demanded to be heard and that the idea spread across the country. I don’t think that they have to start big to be able to get their message out there; little movements can get attention and inspire others, either in their personal life or in their political life.

    I think grassroots movements are important for our country because they focus on what needs need to be met and give under- and unrepresented people a voice. I’m grateful that we live in a country where these organizations and movements are allowed and supported.

  2. Eli,

    Grassroots movements are another one of those “next big thing” fads that a lot of movers and shakers are getting excited about. I imagine that, like charter schools, and Promise Neighborhoods, they can really work… if they’re well-designed and have lots of support.

    Something that strikes me as especially great about the grassroot idea is the versatility of causes that can be represented through a grassroots movement. I found this tidbit online about grassroots movements:
    The description about grassroot is great, but what really caught my interest was the list of grassroots movements at the end. There are so many! Some of the names really shocked me (The National Rifle Association?!)

    Grassroots organizations offer people a real opportunity to raise their voice against injustices that they care about. In our modern version of democracy, freedom of speech is difficult when you’re one tiny person. When people band together with a common goal, the message is stronger, louder, and makes a bigger impact.

  3. Eli,

    Thank you for your excellent PowerPoint. It really taught me something more about what grassroots are. Like Savannah, the first and most impressive grassroots action to me was the Occupy Portland movement, because it really got big, and appeared on headlines worldwide: my uncle in China called us, asking the situation here in Portland, because he saw it on the Chinese headline news. Of course, these grassroots are a leeway for the higher authorities and the public to know about what people want, but doesn’t necessarily get what they want.

    I think sometimes it’s not a bad idea to make everything big, because something really needs to be heard. However, just like some examples in your PowerPoint, including Amnesty International, and SOS Children’s Village, which I have never heard of before; they don’t need to create a huge uproar, but still doing some excellent work. So it all comes down to depend on what the situation is when we talk about whether or not to make it big.

    If we don’t have these grassroots activities,many voices of our society would be silenced, particularly those from the poor, and minority groups. we do not want the form of government and society where saying something is a privilege, and not a right! Thanks!

  4. Eli,
    You presented the material very comprehensively and asked some great questions. I immediately thought of my local Neighborhood Watch group. It’s funny but it literally started since the beginning of the term this year. The first meeting was last week and it started exactly as you have described. One woman saw a problem and has started putting people and resources together. She went around to every house on our series of blocks and brought fliers, information she gathered, secured a meeting space from the church on the corner, and got knowledgeable people to run the meeting. She is already interested in dispersing responsibility and accountability. Much like the idea of it being a community responsibility. She has suggested the best way to have this done is to have block captains.
    Super interesting and timely presentation.


  5. Great job, Eli! The first thing I thought of when I heard about your topic was actually Obama. I think the Obama campaign of ’08 really hammered home the idea that he was so involved in grassroot organizations during his time in Chicago. But not all community work is technically “grassroots”, as your presentation explains. I also think it’s interesting that some blogs discuss the idea of “astro-turfing” or making your organization seem like a grassroot one when it’s not. I think there’s a certain amount of street cred or an affectionate quaintness to the term “grassroots” that some organizations like to capitalize on.

    • Cam,

      I read through most of the post before I replied to Eli’s presentation, but I stopped just short of yours. The Obama campaign was what first came to my mind too.

      This idea of “astro-turfing” seems terrible, but interesting (in a morbid sense) at the same time. Why is it that for every real and pure idea, there is always someone that wants to capitalize on and commercialize it? Do you know any examples of companies that have done this? I’d be interested to see if they can actually fool us into believing them.


  6. Eli,
    Nice presentation! You raised some great questions, one being do grassroots movements have to be large to be effective? My answer to that is no. An example of that is the anti-fluoridation movement that began when the mayor and city council decided to add fluoride to our water. These people quickly mobilized and managed to collect over 40,000 signatures, more than enough to demand a vote on the subject. This shows that, at least at the local level, small grassroots movements can certainly be effective.

    • Great example, Krista! I was incredibly impressed by the people in my own neighborhood working to collect signatures and to advocate for a vote. They proved that it is very possible to get your voice heard…

  7. Thanks for the kind words guys, it is much appreciated. I am glad that my presentation has sparked something of an idea in your minds. When I was researching grassroots movements, I was trying to think of famous ones that I knew. It was kind of hard to pinpoint them though because grassroots is such a broad thing. It is anywhere from the Occupy movement like we’ve mentioned, to things like Boone’s Neighborhood Watch. The organizations that we deem grassroots are merely things that start from the ground up, with no intervention from outside agencies. They don’t have to be big, they can be just one person. As long as they have a clear mission and use the resources they have at their disposal, they can be seen as a grassroots movement.


  8. Really good presentation Eli!

    It’s funny because the first thing I thought of when I saw grassroots was Obama’s grassroots campaign. I wonder if this actually counts as grassroots? Of if it is more in reference to the people who volunteer and donate their time. Something my mom does each year is put together a group of friends and family and together we not only “get out the vote” to those around us, we actively look for ways to volunteer on the issues that are important to us. We don’t all necessarily agree on every issue, what is key is that we agreed it IS important to participate in the election and work towards what we believe in. From that perspective I definitely think it falls in to the realm of grassroots.

    What I took from that experience the first time I was able to participate and every year since has been different. I learn so much about things I may not have taken the time to examine before. And the main goal is to reinforce how important it is to continue to be informed, have an opinion, and VOTE. I honestly think it’s something I will do for my kids and nieces and nephews in the future. Her grassroots movement will live on, hopefully for generations beyond her life and mine.

    Thank you again for your presentation!


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