Meet Our Team: Weronika Paszewska
February 10, 2021
Tectonica is lucky to have one of the best teams on the planet. To help you get to know the amazing folks that make up our team, we'll be sharing interviews with different team members. Check out this interview with Weronika Paszewska, Organising Network Lead at Tectonica, where she describes how she found herself in this work and her view on digital organising.
Tell us a little about your role at Tectonica.
I’m the Organising Network Lead at Tectonica. My role is to support Tectonica’s community in exchanging experiences and learnings with each other and also to make sure that our innovations, current thinking, and developments are available to the ones who can benefit from them and from working together. And I make sure that we are in the center of this field. I also prepare highly curated resources on the topics of digital organising for our Tectonica Organising Network. I am building my contribution on my experience from intense years of campaigning and organizing in the challenging political context.
How did you end up working in this field?
I am an activist. I learned it from my dad who is very passionate about social justice and taught me how to look at political events through solid values lenses. I was working with various topics working in the: education reform sector, Polish-Jews dialogue, youth empowerment, sustainable growth and consumption, digital rights, environmental issues, and the human rights sector. And it was always a bit frustrating deciding on the one issue, as the world is complex and not divided into CSO and the grass-roots group topics. I didn’t want to choose, so in 2014/2015 I co-founded Akcja Demokracja, a multi-issue progressive organisation that is people-powered and through the 5 years mobilize 400k people to do various actions from signing a petition or donating to organizing a protest or local group. I have campaigned and done organizing for 5 years. The core of our operation was mobilization. At some point, I realized that mobilization is not enough and that true power lands in organizing. And that was the first step on my path to join Tectonica. I attended as an expert their event on the preparation for The Europan Report on the State of Digital Organising and was amused by the discussions and thinking that was happening over there.
How do you understand digital organising in the current context, and how might it change in the coming years?
For me, digital organising is not very distinguished from how we define traditional organising. Its basis is the same: people building relations and standing together for the common cause. Although the digital part of it is important. It supports organising and enables it to scale up, be more impactful and go beyond barriers due to technological tools.
I am foreseeing more exciting experiments happening in this field and hopefully more sharing of experiences and learning. This is also why Tectonica Organising Network exists - to facilitate mutual learning and bring us all to the next level of digital organising.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed digital organising and how will it continue to change things further within the world of campaigning?
OMG! That’s the big one. As the pandemic is changing almost everything it has also a tremendous influence on how we do our campaigning and organising work. First of all, it is almost a year and we are still in it and many experts say that due to the advancing decrease of biodiversity, after Covid-19 we would not make it out of the hood. So I see it more as long-term changes and adjustments we need to make.
What we’ve already seen is much more activity happening in the digital world, which gives hope that it can speed up some technological developments that will better support organising efforts. Some of them, we have already seen during a big effort made by many communities in the US during presidential elections. Tactics, like phone banking, canvassing or volunteer recruitment, were re-innovated in a new way.
The pandemic crisis also revealed how interconnected issues are: corporate power, health system and access to vaccination or social justice, economic conditions, and climate. I see it coming that we are going to value collaboration and partnerships more and that we are getting the conclusion that without it will be impossible to accomplish change. This is where organising steps in and gives the biggest hope to me.
What do you think makes Tectonica stand out in this sector?
It will be Tectonica’s dedication to organising. I haven’t seen many agencies being so clear about what is needed for progressive organisations, political parties, and groups. We say here “organising over messaging”. I believe good communication and well-crafted narratives are super-important and we still have to learn a lot in this field. But they should be rather a supplement to our core work than its essence. At Tectonica we have good knowledge of digital tools and we are constantly learning and innovating how to use them to build strong and sustaining organising components for your work. We believe that’s the direction we should be looking into and I think this commitment distinguishes us in the sector.
Tectonica has also a very diverse team and its diversity contributes to our shared wisdom. We work through diversity and our expertise is exponential due to it.
What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I've been at Tectonica since mid-January, so I still have a lot ahead of me. Although I enjoy a lot working on the conceptualization of digital organising, we are still wrapping our minds around finding the right ingredients and patterns (you can call them differently) that build real people-powered organising. This week we organise a community virtual meeting on activities and metrics that we should be looking at. So feel free to join us if you are also trying to bring some innovation into your work in this field.
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