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Chapter 3.  

Finding What You're FOR & Fighting for What You Love

A color portrait of Mindy Fullilove, smiling.

"A program of action arises from people’s needs and a desire to fix the deep structural problems we face in the city. A program is a compass through the thicket of urban life."

- Dr. Mindy Fullilove

In this chapter you will:

  • learn about Finding What You’re FOR and programmatic strategy for organizing

  • articulate a FOR statement

  • see examples of grassroots organizing in communities fighting for what they love.

Finding What You're FOR

Orienting yourself around what you are for is an important skill for change-making. While organizing around what you’re angry about or what you fear might fuel or drive you, it can also leave you feeling reactive and burnt out.  Instead, holding what you are for at the heart of your organizing allows your values to drive your work.  Leading with your values opens you up to the formation of a coalition, by helping you find alignment with others who share these beliefs.

The concept of Finding What You’re FOR comes to us from labor organizer Ernie “Big Train” Thompson and his daughter, Mindy Fullilove, MD, who tells us that growing up her dad loved to tell the story of the cat, the fox, and the tree. 


Below, Josh and Jaden Thompson, son and granddaughter of Ernest Thompson, perform a musical rendition of his story.

From Remembering Rosa: A Concert for Peace, 2020. Video Courtesy of University of Orange.

Finding What You’re FOR allows us to find allies and build coalition. Ernie taught that organizers need to work with many people to develop a program. The program has to identify what the group is FOR.  Dr. Fullilove included “Finding What You’re FOR” as one of the elements of urban restoration that she writes about in her book Urban Alchemy.

A diverse group of people on the steps of a municipal building protesting against evictions with large colorful banners.

Inquilinxs Unidxs / Tenants United demonstrating FOR residents being able to stay in their homes. Photo courtesy of Dominic Moulden.

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