We Keep Us Safe: People Power

Jennifer Evans, Associate for Communications and National Partnerships

At a recent rally calling for the ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, one of the rallying calls was, “We keep us safe.”

This call reminded me of the power of community and how power either comes from a lot of organized money or a lot of organized people.

The Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO) model helps us do just that by bringing people of faith and other non-profit organizations together to carry concerns and values into public life and by standing in solidarity with intentionally marginalized people to improve communities.

If you’re not familiar the CBCO model consists of the following:

Listening – People share with one another their concerns and real-life experiences. Experiences that some may have no point of reference for due to their own privilege and power. Listening is a powerful and transformational tool if we allow ourselves to bear witness to the suffering of others. Through this dialogue areas of concern emerge, and major priorities are determined.

Research – Research committees are then formed to examine solutions that have worked in other cities that could be replicated to resolve long-term problems. Research is also conducted to identify public officials who have power and authority to implement the research committee’s solutions. Members are also trained in how to successfully press officials to move closer to the goal of implementing solutions.

Action – We show up for each other! CBCOs hold a large public meeting with local officials. Members and supporters (usually hundreds or even thousands) gather in solidarity to negotiate solutions with public officials in attendance. Through organizing their power together and taking direct action, they are creating change.

Advocate helping someone submit online application. Photo credit: Missoula Interfaith Collaborative.

As I reflect on the call, “We keep us safe,” I’m reminded of how important and sacred this work is. In these challenging times, I’m leaning into the wisdom and teachings of Black women such as Mariame Kaba who said,

“Everything worthwhile is done with other people.”

Audre Lorde who said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

And June Jordan’s poem below on activism.

Let us keep each other safe through bearing witness to the lived experiences of others and deciding wholeheartedly not to turn away.


The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to 

One Great Hour of Sharing.