How We Started
In 2013, clergy and institutional leaders in Tulsa began a conversation about challenges facing Tulsa.
This collective was particularly concerned with the deep divisions between races, ethnicities, religions, and classes in the Tulsa metro-area. They longed to build an organization that could transcend these social lines so that people could learn to stand together to take action on the challenges that face their families, neighborhoods, and communities.
The clergy 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
- Understand how power operates in a community
- Turn anger into a healthy and constructive force for action
- Clarify the difference between public and private relationships
- Turn problems into winnable issues.
In November 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 to evolve, by listening to their own members about the pressures facing their families. In the stories told, some dominant themes have emerged: lack of mental health services; education needs; 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.
After a decade of organizing, we've accomplished several wins and continue to build relationships with individuals, institutions, public officials, and businesses to impact local and state-level politics for the common good.