Past Vancouver Program

We had a great time at the 2014 Vancouver event. The program was a combination of plenaries, planned break out sessions, and crowd sourced sessions where participants chose the topic and run things.

Here's a record of what went down.


Josh Berezin, Analyst Institute

Testing: Why we do it, How we got here, and What's next?

Progressive campaigns in the United States are increasingly using randomized controlled experiments to evaluate and optimize programs. Although experiments can reveal valuable and often startling findings for campaigns, there are significant cultural and organizational barriers to integrating testing. This talk will cover testing's benefits and challenges, as well as future research areas.


Patricia Lange and Cheryl Brown, Douglas Channel Watch

Being David - The Inside Story of Beating Goliath in Kitimat

How did a small community group starting with $200 in the bank take on one of Canada's biggest pipeline companies and win? Hear the inside story of how Douglas Channel Watch, a small advocacy group, chose to build a movement that went head-to-head with Enbridge during a municipal plebiscite on the proposed Gateway pipeline. Their win sent shock waves across Canada.


Anna McClean, Logan McIntosh, and Jolan Bailey,

From click to action: How takes change from the web to the ground

Do online petitions really work? What percentage of your online supporters will show up in person? uses digital platforms to create opportunities to bridge to offline tactics. Hear what works for us, and what doesn't. Discuss strategies to leverage viral online campaigns and build lists for deep offline organizing. Combine #hashtags and creative action to make change and win.


Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish Nation and Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director, ForestEthics Advocacy

Going Beyond Alliance Building

Politics is transactional and campaigns seize on those transactions by trading support on specific issues. That practice can - and will - continue while at the same time, deeper relationships that go beyond the campaign goals themselves are critical to addressing larger challenges. This session, led by Ben West and Ian Campbell explores campaigning while honouring land and title rights, and taking winning to a new level.


Orion Irvine, Canadian Labour Congress, and Patty Barrera, Unifor

New Initiatives in Labour

In this era of declining union density and so-called “right to work” attacks, some unions are trying new ways of organizing workers both inside and outside of traditional structures. Unifor has launched an experiment with Community Chapters that can sign up non-union members, possibly as a stepping stone in creating a new local. The Canadian Labour Congress has launched the Fairness Works project to better engage current union members who may not be very active in their union. Can new initiatives like these help labour turn things around?


Carly Weir, Alaskans First; responder: Josh Berezin, Analyst Institute

404,000 Alaskans, 20 phone lines, 1 Database, and a Really Big Vision

With mounting pressure from corporations to mine, cut, or drill Alaska’s natural resources for export and a legislative body that is beholden to corporate campaign contributions at every level, affecting real change in Alaska is a daunting task.  With less than 404,000 Alaskans registered to vote, contacting every one of them over the next 2 years seems plausible. But how will that lead to change?  Find out how a few groups are working together to change the status quo in Alaska.


Jorge Salazar, Diego Cardona, Tanvi Bathia, Marlio Herrera, Fresh Voices Youth Advisory Team

Making it Count for Immigrant and Refugee Youth - Lessons from the Field
Fresh Voices works to expand the influence of immigrant and refugee youth on policies and practices that impact their lives.Over the past three years, it has organized a provincial summit for youth and senior government staff, led a dialogue series, wrote the Fresh Voices Report, and launched the Make-it-count campaign. This session will explore some of the questions and lessons learned. What made the project distinctive? What has given it strength and credibility? How have systems of power and privilege been navigated, and both enabled and/or undermined the mission of the work? What learnings are most relevant for professional organizers and their funders when working with, rather than for, disenfranchised communities on social and environmental justice campaigns?


Patty Barrera, Unifor, and Michiah Prull, David Suzuki Foundation

Turning the Ship: Is Institutional Change the Hardest Part of Organizing?

Unifor and the David Suzuki Foundation work in different sectors, but they share a similar challenge: retooling their institutions to do more organizing work. Is this the hardest part of organizing? Hear how each is tackling it, and how an organizing approach itself can help.


Jasmine Thomas, Yinka Dene Alliance and Christie Lee, Idle No More

Building First Nations Power

The Yinka Dene Alliance and Idle No More are two of the biggest First Nations movements in recent history with quite different approaches – equally powerful. The Alliance has created a united wall of opposition to the Enbridge pipeline through a multi-tiered approach of organizing locally, nationally, and globally, using the Save the Fraser Declaration and building allies through the Solidarity Accord. Idle No More has taken a decentralized approach that fosters diverse grassroots actions in communities everywhere, brought together with days of action. Hear Jasmine and Christie compare these movements and talk about what’s next.


Josh Stuart, cStreet Campaigns, and Matt Takach, Dogwood Initiative

A Good CRM Changes Everything: How We Learned to Connect Everything and Become Feistier

A good data systems can inform almost every aspect of the way you work, and make you feistier! But which one? Josh makes the case for NationBuilder, while Matt makes the case for Salesforce - CRM smackdown!


Ashley Bentley, UBC Sexual Assault Support Centre and Angela Marie MacDougall, Battered Women's Support Services

Organizing to End Violence and Promote Safety

It is a unique moment when a movement hits a turning point; when the media and public finally begin to pay attention to an issue that is often forgotten. The campaign against sexual assault and violence against women is at a turning point, making headlines from universities campuses to the highest levels of government. Come learn from Ashley Bentley, Assistant Manager of Sexual Assault Support Center at the AMS Student Society of UBC and Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women's Support Services on how their organizing and advocacy work have contributed to this increased awareness.


Reilly Yeo & Vojtech Sedlak, Open Media, and Angus Wong,

Carry a Big Stick: How to Build and Manage a Huge Online Community and manage two of the largest online communities in Canada. How did they grow? How do they go deeper with their supporters? And, how do they bridge between campaign issues especially when not all supporters share the same value sets? Come walk softly with Reilly, Vojtech and Angus to find out.


Scott Nunn, ACORN, and Michael McCarthy Flynn, Living Wage for Families

Organizing for Economic Justice

Income inequality is emerging as one of the most significant issues facing Canadians today. With an increasing gap between rich and poor, communities are rising to build power and change policies to better reflect their circumstances.Scott Nunn from ACORN and Michael McCarthy Flynn Living Wage for Families discuss their efforts fighting for economic justice. The Living Wage for Families Campaign will share their organizing approach including how they successfully persuaded the City of New Westminster to adopt Canada's first living wage policy. ACORN will discuss its contribution to the Living Wage campaign in New Westminster and outline their model used to build power for low income communities in Metro Vancouver.


Stefan Avlijas and Meghan Sali, the Winch Institute

Targeting: Vote Hunting Amongst Chronic Non-Voters

Students don't vote right, so why even bother chasing them? When the difference between winning and losing is 5% you can't afford to ignore the chronic non-voter, you have to target your message to them. Whether you're running campaigns on safe turf or in hostile territory,  the Winch Institute team talks about how to use targeting to reach specific groups of people that can mean the difference between winning and losing.


Celine Trojand, Dogwood Initiative

Building a Blizzard: Inside One of BC’s Biggest Distributed Organizing Efforts

Dogwood has embarked on an ambitious effort to build organizing teams ("snowflakes") right across BC in preparation for a possible HST-style citizens initiative that would bring the expansion oil tanker and pipelines to a vote. Hear about successes and challenges with team formation, about overcoming the fear of “letting go” of control to the teams, about why fathers with young families are taking the lead, and about the resurrection of the Penticton peach stand pushed into the lake during the MC Hammer riot of ’91.


Deborah Littman, Co-Founder and Lead Organizer, Metro Vancouver Alliance

Relationship-Based Organizing

Many of us know that building relationships between individuals - based not on politics but on shared values and common experience - is a key factor to successful movement building. This session will put that theory into practice by getting people connecting with and learning from one another. Led by Industrial Area Foundation-trained Deborah Littman, co-founder and lead organizer of Metro Vancouver Alliance, a coalition of over 40 labour, faith, and community organizations. Be prepared to get talking!


Sharon Gregson, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

From Big Picture to Big Asks

One of BC's most effective and energized alliance-building campaigns, the $10/day child care campaign spent years fighting for an idea without demanding specific outcomes. Vancouver's own crusader for a provincial and national child care program, Sharon Gregson will tell the story of moving a big idea to a single ask and seeing the momentum follow.


Shea Sinnott, Organize BC, and Cam Fenton,
Collective Capacity Building

This session will explore two successful and active examples of training and distributed organizing. The Fossil Free Canada divestment campaign has exploded to over 40 campaigns on campuses across Canada in just over a year, and is leveraging minimal resources to build momentum on campus, off campus and across movements. Organize BC, inspired by the work of Marshall Ganz, has aligned a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations around collective training events for emerging leaders and volunteer organizers. In the past eight months Organize BC has held seven training events in six different communities throughout BC, with 170 people from 16 groups going through, and with more to come.


And 6 crowd-sourced sessions chosen and led by participants.