Civil Rights legend Peter Johnson talking community organizing with this year’s class.


There might be no better symbol of Downwinders’ transformation from a local clean air group to Something More than our successful College of Constructive Hell-Raising.  We just began our fourth year with a class of 22 students that will push the number of alumni to over 50 at this May’s graduation. Seven of our 12 current board members are graduates.Unlike other seminars for political activists that examine electoral strategies or specific skills like public speaking or fundraising, the College enables its participants to “think like an organizer.” Its sessions are a combination of the same principles taught to professional organizers at the nation’s oldest schools of community organizing and the local history of effective social change as told by the people who made it.

Environmentalism is not its focus. Rather it’s a deep dive into the mechanics of how “Davids” beat “Goliaths.”

Per custom, original Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organizer Peter Johnson was the semester’s lead-off guest speaker. As someone who knew MLK Jr. on a first name basis, Peter instantly brings history down from the pedestal many of us want to put it on. Other guest lecturers include John Fullinwider, Changa Higgins, Mavis Belisle, Sister Patricia Ridgley, Kim Batchelor, Luis Selpulveda, Patti Fink, Don Madison, Colette McCadden and Meagan Green.

As impressive as our speaker line-up is, it’s also the diversity of students who’ve fueled the success of the class – urban aggies, animal rights and police brutality activists, peace and immigration activists, LGBT, transit rights and anti-gentrification activists. We’re growing a network of relationships that transcend single-issue silos and making new friends that connect us to larger struggles.

Interested? Another class begins January 2021 with enrollment beginning in September. You can put your name on a waiting list to get an early heads-up here, and follow the College on FaceBook here.

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