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 have 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. They have gone back to their institutions to listen to their own members about the pressures facing their families that they would most want to address.
Congregations are in various stages of listening to their own members, yet some dominant themes are emerging: 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. They are starting to strategize 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.
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.
For more information about ACTION, contact Kris King, Lead Organizer @ (405) 613-3621