Seizing the Moment

A popular education approach to strategic planning

Popular education, given the connection between learning, analysis and action, is a form of strategic thinking. However, popular education goes about so-called strategic planning differently from the dominant practice found in the non-profit and social movement world. Seizing the Moment is a rigorous, participatory, and creative means of researching, analyzing and planning that can be applied to organizational, community and social movement contexts. It draws on the widest possible array of popular education thinking and creatively draws upon diverse practices to design and conduct the most appropriate and effective process for organizational and social change.

Choosing a popular education approach allows you to work with us in a way that supports the needs of all of your stakeholders in new and exciting ways. Popular education employs, whenever possible and appropriate, a vast range of tools such as storytelling, scenario planning, backcasting, asset mapping and community mapping, theatre of the oppressed, visual arts, writing, popular economics tools and more  to give voice to the essence of your group or organization.

When we “seize the moment” we are guided by the pattern of a dynamic spiral of critical phases: Setting the stage; Naming ourselves; Naming the issues; Analyzing the issues;  Planning for action; Taking action; and Evaluation/Monitoring/Follow up.

We like to begin our work with you by discussing your hopes and goals so that together we can end with you having a plan to move forward over the period of time for which you are planning. In order to address how sustainable, socially just change happens we apply an analysis of power, oppression, and resistance in all our work. This is an indispensable way in which we “walk the talk” – being transparent about our principles, sharing them and learning about your principles as we look for common ground.

NAMING THE MOMENT grew out of a Toronto-based popular education community development program, The Moment, of the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice—1986-1996. During the ten years of this program dozens of community groups and hundreds of individuals participated in monthly workshops to share experience, learn together, create new knowledge and make plans for ever-more-effective social change work. Many collaborations were born of this work. And the methodology of “naming the moment” grew and developed  from its Latin American roots in popular education into a vibrant Canadian approach to popular education community development. With the founding of the Catalyst Centre in 1998, naming the moment had a new home where it was developed still further as “seizing the Moment.” The original manual, pictured here, is available for free download.

A popular education approach to strategic planning: Strategic planning is a characteristically linear process projecting a path from present position and capacities to a future where outcomes can be measured and evaluated. Popular education process follows a “spiral” logic (more like a coil, really) in which the process returns to a similar but different starting point before beginning a new cycle of analysis and change. This diagram illustrates one way to apply this thinking to a planning context.

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