Mapping your community
You and your group aren’t acting alone. You are already part of an ecosystem or a community.
Sometimes that community will be politically active. You can measure this yourself by asking the following questions:
- How many people support the work of my campaign?
- How many people are having conversations about the change we are trying to make?
- How many actions are already being organised in my community?
An active community is a social movement. This means a collective effort taken by many people and organisations across society working together towards a similar demand or change, i.e: the Black Lives Matter movement or the Climate Justice movement.
When you start campaigning for your vision of a better future, it’s important to spend time mapping the community you are already part of. Doing so helps you identify:
- Your potential allies
- Their interests
- The work they are already engaged in
- Their existing power and reach
Your community will also contain people who are hostile to your vision. Make sure you map those too so that you can work together to minimise their negative impact on your work.
The more people in your community you can involve to do this mapping, the better your mapping will be.
How to map your community
- Conduct a desk research on your environment: who else is working on your issue? Who takes decisions on your issue? Which communities and groups are affected by your issue? Which groups do not want your issue to change? You can find this information by browsing the web, reading local newspapers and getting familiar with the public narrative around your issue.
- Divide the actors you identify as either potential allies and potential opponents. You can also map which people you already have a connection with, and those you don’t have contact for yet.
- Draw out a power map like the one shown below and plot out where your allies and opponents sit.
- In the top right hand corner put the community members who are most influential and most supportive. These are your natural allies and champions
- In the top centre put community members who are powerful but not yet strongly supportive of your cause. It is important to take them into account in your campaign strategy so as to try to make them see the importance of your issue.
- In the bottom right hand corner put the community members who are most supportive but not yet powerful – you can think about how to build power with these allies.
- In the top left hand corner put the community members who are the most powerful and most opposed. Identifying these actors will help you think about how to make sure they do not have a negative impact on your campaign (e.g. by discrediting you or obstructing your actions).
Once you have identified your potential allies, you will need to devise a plan to reach out to them.