In the practice called consensus
organizing, community organizers learn all they can about the "downtown
interests" (the local powerholders) and about the community and its
grassroots leaders. The downtown interests and grassroots community leaders
often oppose each other and tell themselves and their associates stereotyped
stories in which their opponent plays an ineffective or malevolent role.
Consensus organizers try to identify a project -- such as a job training
program -- that is of interest to both the community leaders and downtown
interests. Then they engage the parties in real dialogue about that program
only, leading to productive collaborations and new relationships. Later,
those relationships can be used to make real progress on other community
issues, since the stereotyped us-vs-them stories have been replaced with
a belief in the possibility of shared exploration and shared benefits.