Community organizing as a specific method was founded by Saul Alinsky in the United states of the 1950’s / 1960’s. Alinksy was a dock worker from Chicago. Community organizing is an open and accessible process of community building that seeks to broadly empower community members by creating a more equal distribution of power throughout the community. It is based upon the belief that social change necessarily involves social struggle.

Community organizing tries to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence decision-makers on a range of issues over time. Community organizers work with and develop new local leaders and attempt to influence government, corporations and institutions, seek to increase direct representation within decision-making bodies, and foster social reform more generally.

The more specific working methods which will be applied during the workshops are very diverse. Each workshop leader will choose his or her personal approach, depending on the theme of the workshop. The common denominator in all workshops is the combination of the practical application of creative skills, and the in-dept reflection on social relations and political power dynamics. Participants formulate their own standpoint regarding social issues in their neighbourhood, and they learn to translate their opinion into creative output, for example by writing a piece of spoken word about it. The explicit focus on creative methods will help the participants to think out of the box and look for solutions in unexpected places. Another example: The workshop on theater of the oppressed gives an example of how drama skills can be applied to find innovative solutions on social problems.

The open and participative structure of the workshops will help the youngsters to express their opinions freely, discuss their own point of view with others, develop their own talents, and choose their own preferred forms of expression. Workshopleaders provide the participants with tools andexamples, but it is the participants themselves, who choose how, and to what end, they will apply the tools that are offered to them. They focus on the problems in their neighbourhood that are relevant to them, and they design their own activity to address these problems when they return home. This approach will encourage them to take a look at different social and political issues from various angles. The working method will sharpen the youngsters critical and creative thinking, their debating skills, their ability to listen to others and will surely give them some new insights in various complicated issues which relate to their lives. This will help them in both their personal and social development.

The informal learning process is further stimulated by the shared undertaking of activities next to the workshops such as city tours and cultural excursions. Besides these parts of the program, we will make sure that the participants will have sufficient free time, and that there will be opportunities to get to know the cultural life of Amsterdam in the evenings. These social activities are an opportunity for the participants to informally get to know each other and will create an atmosphere of fun, solidarity and friendship.

The general working method of the city tours and cultural excursions is focused on teaching young people about each other and the city in which they meet, through personal stories. We always works with workshopleaders and city guides who are young themselves and who approach the transmission of information through their own personal experiences. Besides this personalized approach, another key feature of the working method is the application of creative tools and skills to stimulate young people to look at themselves and their surroundings from a different and fresh perspective.