College of Constructive Hell Raising

cch-logo-4-0-latin-copy“Think Like an Organizer”

Now accepting applications for the 2018 semester, beginning January 16th and ending May 22nd.

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What is the College of Constructive   Hell-Raising?

How do you make positive change? How do “Davids” ever beat “Goliaths?” What’s the Difference between a “Strategy” and a “Tactic?” A “Movement” and an “Organization?”

The College for Constructive Hell-Raising is a semester-long, citizen-friendly seminar class to help DFW activists of all kinds think more like organizers.

We present and analyze basic community organizing principles in interesting and engaging ways, including firsthand accounts from veterans of past and current DFW social justice campaigns.

Whether you’re trying to win a stoplight at an intersection, overcome discrimination, or shut down a toxic polluter, the same principles of organizing apply. Become a savvier citizen of The Republic, and become a better advocate for your cause: raise more constructive hell.


The Particulars 

Class meets two Tuesdays a Month, 7 pm to 9 pm, at the  Meadows Conference Center, 2900 Live Oak, in Old East Dallas. Enrollment is limited to 20 students.

You’re encouraged but not required to attend informal discussion sessions with our guest lecturers at the Bryan Street Tavern after class adjourns.

Preference will be given to existing DFW groups who want to better train volunteers or staff and help pay for enrollment with scholarships, but all are welcome. This class is for anyone who wants to do more productive social justice work, not just environmental activists.

The cost is $200. This covers the costs of a book and lots of reading materials, plus some transportation costs of the instructors.  Scholarships are available. Please check the box on the application form.

Since there are only 10 classes, absences are costly. We understand our location makes it harder for those living and working outside metro Dallas to attend, but that’s why we start at 7 pm. Make sure you allow for DFW traffic in order to arrive on time.

Class Schedule 

January 16th: 

“What is Constructive Hell-Raising?” 


January 30th : 

“The Four Dirty Words of Organizing”

Guest Lecturer: Peter Johnson 


February 13th: 

“(Internal) Organizing”

Guest Lecturer: John Fullinwider


February 27th: 

“Strategy vs. Tactics”

Guest Lecturers: Kim Batchelor, Mavis Belisle and Sister Patricia Ridgley 


March 13th: 

“(Self) Critical-Thinking”

Guest Lecturer: Luis Sepulveda


March 27th: 

“Perception is Everything”    

Guest Lecturer: Jeff Jacoby


April 10th: 


Guest Lecturer: Zac Crain  


April 25th: 


Guest Lecturers: Don Maison and Patti Fink 


May 9th: 

“Means vs Ends”

Guest Lecturer: Sara Mokuria


May 23rd: 

“The Qualities of a Good Organizer”


Guest Lecturers

Kim Batchelor 

Bois ‘ Darc Patriot and tenant’s rights organizer

Mavis Belisle

Veteran DFW peace and anti-nuclear organizer

Zac Crain 

Senior Editor, D Magazine

John Fullinwider

Longtime community organizer and original Bois D’arc Patriot

Jeff Jacoby 

Austin Program Director, Texas Campaign for the Environment

Peter Johnson

Former MLK Jr associate, original Dallas SCLC organizer

Don Maison

25 + years as Director of AIDS Services of Dallas

Sister Patricia Ridley

Life-long social justice worker based in Dallas, with emphasis on Central American and immigration rights

Luis Sepulveda

West Dallas environmental justice organizer who won clean-up of lead smelter waste

Sara Mokuria,

Co- Founder, Mothers Against Police Brutality


Jim Schermbeck, Dean of Instruction

Jim Schermbeck has been a professional community organizer in DFW since 1989 when he opened the Dallas office of the National Toxics Campaign. He’s currently Director of Downwinders at Risk.


Downwinders At Risk, Board of Trustees

Downwinders at Risk is perhaps the most successful grassroots environmental group in Texas history. It’s certainly one of the most persistent.

Founded in 1994 to stop the burning of hazardous waste in Midlothian cement plants, it broadened its mission in 2010 to include protection of DFW air quality when it won its original fight.

Downwinders board members are all DFW residents. They’re all veterans of their own organizing campaigns.

Since its founding, Downwinders has used basic community organizing strategy to win its victories. Now we want to share what we’ve learned with other North Texas activists who want to increase their understanding of community organizing techniques, as well as learn about DFW social justice history.


Comments from the Class of 2017:

“It made me move away from thinking of myself as an activist – someone who subscribes to a particular set of beliefs or positions, but doesn’t necessarily push forward a policy or action. Now, I think of myself as someone who has the tools to translate opinions into action. Now, I’m concerned with being effective, not just being right.”


“The information and knowledge gained from the College is invaluable for anyone at any stage of outreach, political gaming, activism, or simply in business or life.”


“The College is the best way to learn about historic progressive battles in Dallas, connect with a diverse group of committed citizens, and learn how to be a pragmatic, effective organizer.”


“I didn’t anticipate how quickly I would become informed on the history of progressive politics in Dallas; I didn’t anticipate getting to meet so many incredible organizers in the city (both lecturers and students).”


The depth of the class, as well as the opportunities to actually discuss and learn from those “in the trenches” and behind the scenes of significant events of the past couple of decades. It was invaluable seeing the different strategies and techniques used to accomplish goals.


“…the camaraderie and connections with other local activists that, despite my extensive network, I had never met before, was immeasurably important to the work I’m currently doing and plan to do in the future.”


“The level of insight that Jim has from his years of organizing was invaluable and very well organized/structured. The resources, thoughts behind each class topic, and chance to both connect with fellow aspiring organizers and meet/network with veteran difference-makers more than met what I was hoping for this course.”