Graduation Date

Fall 2022

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Michihiro Sugata

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. James Ordner

Subject Categories



Community organizing is a practice of building and utilizing collective power, often initiated by groups who have little or no preexisting social or economic power. By acting together in a disciplined, organized, and targeted fashion, organizing is used to exert influence in the public square to achieve policy outcomes, provide mutual aid, and reweave the fabric of social relations in communities, frequently in direct opposition to existing power structures. Thus, creating a shared understanding of power that is fundamentally liberative is key to the success of organizing efforts and moreover, to creating lasting community cohesion that can continue to mount effective opposition to domination and oppression. The analyses in this project are the result of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with highly active members of a rural community organizing network, True North Organizing Network, that operates in schools and faith- and spirituality-based institutions in Del Norte and Humboldt counties and adjacent Tribal lands in rural Northern California. Interview data was analyzed in parallel with field notes taken over more than two years of participant observation. Analyses showed strong connections between conceptions of power, spirituality, and conflict that indicate the importance of organizational approaches that challenge normative understandings of dominating power or power over. The project presents these connections and moves towards hypothesizing new methods for analyzing the efficacy of community organizing practices through generating collective shifts in conceptions of power as collective and relational.

Citation Style