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The Guiding Principles of Community Organizing

CO like other concepts, has set of principles to guide the practice. It is people’s
organized response because the system it contends (struggles with) is organized:

Go to the people.
Live among them.
Learn from them.
Plan with them.
Work with them.
Start with what they know.
Build on what they have.
Teach by showing.
Learn by doing.
Not by showcase, but a pattern.
Not odds and ends, but a system.
Not piecemeal, but an integrated approach.
Not to conform, but to transform.
Not relief, but release.

Go to the people and live among the people. Learn the culture of the people and try to
integrate into the culture.

Learn, plan and work with the people. The people are highly knowledgeable about the
local situation so the community organizer must avail of this opportunity.

Start from where the people are in their development. There must be a proportionate
blend between top-down and bottom-up technologies in order to tap the indigenous
resources in the community.

Teach by learning first from the people. The community organizer must realize that local
or indigenous knowledge is not inferior to Western or scientific knowledge. Respecting
the people’s knowledge will encourage them to learn other skills to complement what
they already know.

Integrative and holistic approach. The community organizing must focus on the
interdependency and the interrelatedness of the factors needed to transform the situation
of the people for the better.

Cumulative and continuous. CO is not one time great even but grows gradually without
break until specific problems are addressed and phased-out.

(Source: ASI CD Monograph, 1998)