Our movement program focuses on finding the patterns from hundreds of social movements across history

We are interested in the problems of movement culture: scale, collaboration, and managing chaos.

Movement Ecology

The key to movement collaboration

The story repeats itself, you are in a meeting and one person has a suggestion that another disagrees with completely, they talk to each other, they even try to listen to each other, but at the end there is no agreement. Just another meeting that makes people question why we even meet in the first place.

This capacity to collaborate across differences is simply the key to creating a large and diverse enough social movements that can tackle the complex problems we are all facing today.

Movement ecology is about seeing what is behind those conflicts, what are the actual differences, because listening is not enough, one must see what is behind the words, the strategies that lie underneath. 

In our study of hundreds of movements across the last two centuries, we have seen that every great movement had a Movement Ecology framework; we see it in the Movement of Landless Peasants in Brazil to India’s Independence Movement.

What leader would not want broad awareness about their issue, or a large segment of the population willing to vote and mobilize for it?

Mass Protest Movements

The vehicle to get thousands of people engaged into changing the political weather.

In 2005, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) introduced House Resolution 4437. The legislation proposed a series of draconian anti-immigrant measures that would have made being in the U.S. without authorization (i.e. ‘undocumented’) a criminal infraction rather than a civil one. The bill would have also made providing support to undocumented immigrants a crime; in addition, it required companies to use E-Verify to make sure their employees were documented, and called for new border fencing. The bill passed the House on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182 (with 92% of Republicans supporting and 82% of Democrats opposing). Known as the “Sensenbrenner bill,” HR 4437 catalyzed widespread outrage and protest.

In the spring of 2006, the immigrant rights movement mobilized against the extremist legislation. An estimated total of between 3.5 million and 5.1 million people participated in marches, which took place in more than 140 cities and 39 states. Two of the first cities to hold marches — with hundreds of thousands of people in Chicago and more than one million participants in Los Angeles — launched the issue into the public spotlight. These initial demonstrations so effectively established opposition to the proposal that when a version of the bill came to the Senate floor, nationwide protests ensued involving millions of participants. The movement channeled this momentum into a call for more national protests on May 1, which garnered similar levels of active support.

This is a mass protest movement, we have seen some in the US with Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, recently with the Women March, and the #NeverAgain movement. Every movement that seeks to change the political weather has to engage and produce moments of the whirlwind. When you see many of these movements you begin to see a pattern, a cycle if you will.

Decentralized organization requires more structure, but in a different way.

Decentralized Organization

a flexible, dynamic structure that can bring thousands of people while maintaining discipline and movement integrity.

It’s a regular day, you go to your office, church, or place of work. Coffee in hand, you get there, it’s a little late and you find 3 people waiting for you at the office. You schedule meetings with them. Next month after a local campaign you gain some publicity, you walk into your office and there are 10 people that want to be part of your movement, you rush to schedule meetings, you get everyone’s information, just as people were getting inpatient.

Now it’s a been a year, in the neighborhood state another organization working on a similar issue has been doing mass protest, thousand of people came out in support of it.

Suddenly you arrive to your work place and there are hundreds of people interested in joining, now what do you? How do you absorb them? What roles do you give them? How do you capture their information? And most importantly how can they join the movement without a bottleneck?

These are questions that we at Ayni are trying to answer to create new forms of organization that can address these challenges. We developed a training program call SWARM that seeks to answer some of these questions and to prepare organizations on how to deal with these kinds of scenarios.