Strategy & Soul
by Daniel HunterHome.html


Our movement was outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars. Every local official resisted us. Newspapers chastised us. The governor derided us. Private investigators were hired against us. Thugs threatened and even attacked us. And the state supreme court suspiciously and consistently sided against us.
	On a good day, we had confidence we could win—even with the odds against us.
	This conviction tells you something about our movement against two unwanted casinos in Philadelphia. We believed in people power. We had faith in folks’ ability to organize and overcome long-shot odds. That we were able to make huge wins shows our correctness in thinking David can beat Goliath, even when Goliath has deep pockets and overwhelming political support.
	What that conviction doesn’t show is the strategy. The uncertainty. The skills. The mistakes. The heart. The soul. It doesn’t show you how we organized or used direct action to feed our success (which, though substantial, was not complete).
	I want you to see all that—which is why I wrote this book.
	One of the leaders of Casino-Free Philadelphia, Shirley Cook, often pulled me aside and urged me to write about our movement, saying, “Other people need to learn how to do what we did. We rallied thousands of people when everyone thought it was hopeless, and when there was so much corruption. Lots of people can learn from us.”
	Yet as I began writing, I didn’t want to essentialize our movement into lists of what a good organizer does, or reduce our story into bite-sized vignettes that prove my points about what makes for good organizing. I wanted to invite you into the real deal, where you can see our glories, our inventiveness, our mistakes, and join us in assessing what makes for good strategy. It’s risky business, because it’d be much safer to give you a list that we could both pretend is the whole story. You then wouldn’t see my flaws, our missteps, or our shortcomings so clearly. But I didn’t want to sell you a dream.
	Instead, this book is a narrative of real bare-knuckles, on-the-ground organizing. I bring you into our fervent worrying in late-night meetings, yelling matches behind church benches, and last-minute action planning outside judges’ chambers. The nuances of strategy come to life in those moments. You get to wrestle with us over our choices—Do we publicly humiliate the judges who screwed us, or do we show traditional decorum because they will rule on future lawsuits? 
	It’s a faithfully recreated narrative, showing the grand arc of a movement. I meticulously went through tens of thousands of emails, thousands of articles, and hundreds of meeting notes to portray events accurately. I wanted to avoid the pitfalls of other historical movement narratives—often written by people outside the movement—which had left me shaking my head, not believing the activists had really seen something coming, knowing it had never really happened that way, or frustrated that the movement’s loss (or win) was foreshadowed as if its outcome were inevitable. I tried to be honest about the personal struggles in the movement, even while striving to respect the dignity of all of the people involved. I even kept names real, as much to honor the work of everyone involved as to keep the sense of authenticity. 
	Though it’s a story of a movement, it’s not written to be a comprehensive story of Philadelphia’s anti-casino movement. It’s my story, with plenty of interesting moments that have never been publicly aired: threats to destroy our offices, our strong-arming councilmembers to support our shadow election, private brokering with the governor, and behind-the-scenes arguments with senators. But there are plenty of other stories left out and people who deserve more credit than could fit in this book. I hope folks will pardon me for that.
	As I wrote, it became important to make this more than just a reflection on our methods and tactics. A mentor, Antje Mattheus, challenged early drafts of the book, saying, “It reads great, but you’re not present in the narrative.” Her words struck me as if she had accused me of lying—because to my mind, it would be dishonest to separate the part of the journey that relates to soul. I needed to reveal my sense of hopelessness when the supreme court screwed us, the high, elated feeling after successful direct actions, and my love and affection for our team when we were in the groove. I had to bring in the heart and the emotional journey, a too-often ignored dimension of campaigning. 
	The result is that you’ll get the feel and passion of campaigning alongside the challenges and art of strategizing. 
	You’ll see many traditional lessons of activism applied—as well as us bending or even breaking those rules. On this point, I’m remembering the first direct action training I attended, almost two decades ago, where I was taught that when dealing with the media we should always be succinct, stick to our talking points, and be courteous. It’s generally good advice. But in the grind of the campaign, we sometimes became wordy, waded far from our talking points, and even yelled at a reporter! And you can see how we made those moments work for us.
	Therefore, this book is not a single set of rules, but stories to help you better understand the logic behind effective strategy. Even when we created rules, we sometimes broke them—like when we abandoned our agreement to never do a march or rally. You’ll see why we made that rule, and how it helped us create vibrant new tactics like the public filibuster, shadow election, document search, and we-are-not-scared-of-stunts actions. Then, when we break the rule and organize a rally, you’ll see how the timing is right and it makes sense.
	You may want to just read this page-turner as a political thriller or historical novel, but if you want to get the most out of the strategy lessons, it’ll be helpful to keep asking yourself what you might have done in our situation, or how you would analyze the current political terrain, or how you might make a better decision. I’ll be delighted if you come up with better answers.
	Either way, you’ll learn how we responded to the strategic challenges before us. When things go well, you’ll see the often hidden ingredients that got us to that point. You’ll see how important it was for me to show empathy for our opponents, even when they attacked us. That’s another part of the dimension of soul in this book, using that core value of empathy—what I refer to as high-ground organizing—to stay on the offensive and be more savvy campaigners. 
	It all adds up to giving you more skill in the art of strategizing, organizer tricks and techniques, reflections on the personal journey of campaigning, and even a few facilitation tools and theories of social change along the way. By exploring these levels all at once, you’ll gain skill in doing what organizers need to do: weigh multiple options and juggle many balls simultaneously. 
	It’ll be a fun ride. Enjoy learning about both strategy and soul.


Introduction * Chapter 1 * Chapter 2Chapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2