We’re back!

originally published on September 7, 2010

Hi!  We’re back!  Did you miss us?

Welcome to Beyond the Choir. Here’s a brief blurb about what we’re all about.

And here’s some of what we’ll be up to in the coming weeks and months:

  • The Blog. I’ll be posting commentary on current events and social change, teasers from the book I’m writing (It’s called… wait for it… “Beyond the Choir”), occasional book reviews, and probably some other stuff.  Over time, I’ll be bringing other contributors on-board.  And then there’s… (drumroll) …
  • The Beyond the Choir Interview Series. We’ve got an exciting line-up for the fall.  More details, teasers and promo to come, but I’ll be interviewing progressive movers and shakers from the grassroots, as well as some remarkable authors and academics. You’ll be able to read and listen to the interviews right here – and subscribe to the podcast.
  • Training and Consulting. We’re getting the team back together and pulling in some new talent as well.  We provide fee-for-service strategy and skills training and facilitation for grassroots social change organizations.  We’ll announce the new team in October.

Wait? What’s Beyond the Choir?

a short history

In 2004, Madeline Gardner and I founded Beyond the Choir as a humble little side project.  We loved grassroots organizing, but we often felt frustrated with the “preaching to the choir” dynamic we saw at work in our beloved progressive social circles.  We set out to explore why groups become insular, and how some groups and leaders manage to overcome this pitfall – to reach “beyond the choir.”

Beyond the Choir was mostly just us creating an intentional, collaborative space to study social change movements and to further develop our theory of leadership, organizing, and progressive change.  “Our” theory, of course, is just us learning from a lot of other people, as well as from our own experiences.  We’re both organizers and trainers, so we turned our ideas into training curriculum and used the Beyond the Choir brand as a vehicle for our training and consulting work.  We also produced some handouts, and the antiwar organizing primer Building a Successful Antiwar Movement (You can download the PDF here – it’s a little outdated.)

I started writing Beyond the Choir the book in 2005, but put the nearly completed first draft “on the shelf” a year and a half later, when I went to work with the War Resisters League.  I went straight from WRL to MoveOn.org, and the most capacity I could find for Beyond the Choir was to offer occassional training workshops.

But now I’m carving out the space to re-launch the project.  Madeline is still on the training team but won’t be as actively involved with the blog for now, due to other commitments.  We’ll be building this up as we go.  So stay tuned…

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