Other people affected by the project

Opposing a redevelopment project and eminent domain takes a lot of work and energy. You can win, but you need allies. Start with the people who are directly affected by the project. If you don’t know them, you can go door to door or hold a neighborhood meeting to discuss the situation. Pass out flyers to all your neighbors to get them to attend. In large projects, there are usually some people who are willing to sell and others who are not. After you have talked to the other people affected, you will have an idea of the lay of the land. There also may be other people who are not in the area directly affected but live nearby and care enough to help you.

Form a citizen group

Once you have a sufficient number of supporters, it is useful to have a community group with a name. That group can then hold events and be listed on press releases.

Policy organizations

Start talking to all kinds of community organizations to see if any of them will support you on this issue. Policy groups that are members of the State Policy Network, usually are interested in opposing eminent domain for private use. Try their website to find out if there is one in your state, www.spn.org. If the area is historical, try some historical preservation or history societies. If the area contains primarily businesses, try the National Federation of Independent Businesses and other business organizations. If the area is primarily residential, the residents may have connections to groups that can offer support. For example, depending on the character of the neighborhood, there could be seniors organizations or societies or political groups that focus on issues related to a particular nationality or ethnicity. You will not be able to get support from all or even most of the organizations you try, but even two or three can make a huge difference.

For example, in Pittsburgh, the owners formed their own community organization and secured support from The Allegheny Institute (a local policy organization) and a historical society. In Mississippi, owners secured help from The Southern Christian Leadership Coalition and the local National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Building a Coalition

In building a coalition to fight eminent domain abuse, you must first establish the foundation of your coalition and then build upon it. To identify the foundation, identify who is and who is NOT on your team by creating two lists: 1) Friends List, and 2) Enemy List. This is the foundation of grassroots guerilla warfare. Assess each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and then set up your core army based on this assessment. Once your core group is established, you can build your coalition from that foundation, branching off in as many directions as possible.

Analyze the community and categorize your constituencies. A sampling of possible constituencies may include but are not limited to political, residential, business, academic and community organizations. It is key to have “a friend” establish credentials, connections or at the very least a voice within one of these constituencies–and build upon it. Each constituency should become a mini-army (subcommittee with a mission or goal) all the while remaining an essential part of the greater army as a whole. An example and basic coalition diagram is provided as standard model for you to tailor and individualize to your own unique community and battle.

The key to growing a successful coalition is to have as many members of your army in key areas or groups serving as representatives for your cause-and build upon it.