Radio — A new model of multi-issue social justice organizing in Oshawa


On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, organizers Tiffany Balducci and Jim Freeman talk about We Are Oshawa, a new organization working on multiple social justice issues in a small Ontario city.

Oshawa is a city of just over 150,000 people on the north shore of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. A centre of auto manufacturing, it was also the birthplace of industrial unionism in this country, after a crucial strike in 1937. Though certainly not as hard hit as some manufacturing communities across North America, things like unemployment, poverty, and income inequality have a presence in the community today in a way that just wasn’t the case 40 years ago.

New times require new ways of struggling to create change. We Are Oshawa is a new-ish group, and when you hear it described — what it draws from past struggles, how it goes about its work, who it involves — it sounds just like common sense, like the sort of thing that’s probably already happening everywhere. Yet it’s not at all clear to me that that is the case — We Are Oshawa is actually, I think, quite an exciting experiment. It is multi-issue. It is quite pointedly not a coalition, but rather a horizontal, democratic membership organization whose political focus is determined by those members. It involves labour activists, students, community activists, environmentalists, retired people, youth, and more. It is campaign-based, it emphasizes creative actions, and it seems able to apply a healthy share of strategic thinking. It combines newer activist tools like social media with a major emphasis on older approaches that many groups today don’t do nearly as much as they should — things like face-to-face encounters, door-knocking, and canvassing. Balducci and Freeman talk with me about the group, its campaigns and actions so far, and its approach to mobilizing people.

To learn more about We Are Oshawa, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit the recently revamped website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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