NFG Community Organizing Toolbox

colist-admin at colist-admin at
Thu May 17 11:25:41 CDT 2001

[ed:  Helen replies to the ongoing discussion about academic knowledge vs. 
community knowledge.  A brief thought from me at the very end, following 
reprints of the message she is responding to.]

From: "Hartnett, Helen P" <helenh at>

well, i think the ed. and eric help in my argument about power. letters
(organizational affiliation, titles, etc...), i don't often use, only when
they will bring "power" to the local again, my point, it is
about power, how we use it, how we distribute it.  we all have it, in some
form, how do we maximize it.......

At 10:11 PM 5/13/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>A COMM-ORG "colist" message
>All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
>[ed:  Eric continues the conversation on academic and community-based 
>knowledge.  A quick note from me at the end.]
>From: Eric Weir <eweir at>
>At 12:47 PM 05/07/2001 -0400, "Hartnett, Helen P" <helenh at> wrote:
> >to me the issue is power, not letters after a name.
>Why put the letters after the name? What are you doing when you do it?
> >"knowledge is not power-alone", but it can assist
> >in moving local power forward.
>Notice, "can." Too often, it seems to me, statements coming from people
>with letters after their names, by those make them and those who hear them
>alike, are assumed to have a privileged legitimacy, to be more deserving of
>serious consideration than those made by people without letters after their
>I suggest they stop using the letters. Let their statements earn their way
>in the world. [I'm not suggesting they can't, just that they should. What
>else is our commitment to democracy about?]
>Eric Weir
>Decatur, GA
>eweir at
>[ed:  as I mentioned in a previous message, sometimes the community group 
>actually wants the PhD after my name to help legitimize the information we 
>have collectively gathered.  And I have sometimes even been yelled at by 
>community people when I haven't presented myself as a degreed academic (I 
>still get mistaken for a student at times--probably the long hair).  To me 
>the letters are a strategic issue with status implications that need to be 
>taken into account as part of the strategy.  But I do agree that letters 
>should not grant automatic legitimacy and perhaps should incite automatic 

[ed:  I just want to be clear that my issue is not whether letters appear 
after my name but who decides and how they decide.]

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