What is ACTION?
ACTION (Allied Communities of Tulsa Inspiring Our Neighborhoods) is Tulsa's only broad-based organizing effort. Through our member institutions (congregations and non-profits), we teach the practical skills of public engagement to Tulsans. In so doing, ACTION aims to sustain a vibrant democratic culture in Tulsa, which builds the power necessary to effect change around issues that matter most to our families. Channel 8 speaks with ACTION leaders about this mission.
ACTION is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and a partner organization with VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) in Oklahoma City. It is affiliated nationally with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), which is the oldest and largest organizing network in the United States. ACTION operates under the West/Southwest IAF Network.
Hear more about the work of ACTION on Tulsa Public Radio with Rich Fisher on Studio Tulsa
How We Started
In 2013, clergy and institutional leaders in Tulsa began a conversation about the challenges that face Tulsa. This collective was particularly concerned with the deep divisions between races, ethnicities, religions, and classes in the Tulsa metro-area and longed to build an organization that could cross these lines, so that people could learn to stand together to take action on the challenges that face their families, neighborhoods, and communities. They believed that there was a great deal of talent within their institutions that could offer important insights and solutions to challenges if they were organized. They contracted with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the nation’s oldest and largest organizing training institute, to teach them how to build such an organization.
Working with an IAF organizer, area congregations and non-profits held a series of training events to provide clergy and lay leaders with the opportunity to reflect on building power, understanding how power operates in a community, turning anger into a healthy and constructive force for action, clarifying the difference between public and private relationships, and turning problems into winnable issues.
In November of 2016, over 250 people from member institutions across the city gathered to publicly declare our intent to work together to address the issues affecting our friends and neighbors. We adopted the official name of ACTION - Allied Communities of Tulsa Inspiring Our Neighborhoods.
Our institutions began, and continue, by listening to their own members about the pressures facing their families that they would most want to address. In the stories told, some dominant themes have emerged: lack of mental health services; education in general and overwhelming student loan debt among young professionals; a lack of services for the elderly, including adequate public transportation; and concerns for immigrants in our community. We are strategizing about actions to take and about building relationships with public officials and the business community to impact the political decisions that get made in Tulsa and in the state.
For more information about ACTION, contact Christy Emig, Tulsa Project Organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kris King, OK Lead Organizer at (405) 613-3621
Deanna Tirrell, president
Jen Sims, treasurer
Marilyn Clarke, secretary
Rev. Kelli Driscoll Crews