welcome new COMM-ORG member

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Tue Jul 29 10:30:08 CDT 2003

[ed:  thanks to Marisa for inviting us to discuss Colleen's post, 
copied below.  Some thoughts from me at the end.]

From: "Marisa Novara" <novaram at crcl.com>

Hi Colleen,
I felt compelled to write with a comment on your posting below.

It is important when talking about money, control and ownership to 
start with the basic premise that these are not things that one can 
successfully "bring to" someone else. To assert so sounds 
paternalistic at best. We cannot GIVE people power. The most we 
can do - and the best we can do - is to work along side, to work with 
people to develop the skills to create and claim THEIR OWN 
power. This may just seem like semantics, but I do feel it is a very 
important distinction.  

Marisa Novara

> From: "CED" <ced at snhu.edu>
> Hello Everyone,
> I am happy to be apart of this little community of information! 
> My name is Colleen Sage and I work in the (non-profit) School of
> Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University, 
> where people come from all over the United States and the world to learn
> how to go out into poor communities and bring money, control and
> ownership to the poor people living there.
> I commend everyone who is involved in this program and others like it. 


[ed:  this is a set of issues which cause me continual consternation.  
I want to use Colleen's words, because they help me feel useful 
and relevent, which are difficult feelings to achieve in academia.  
At the same time, I agree with Marisa.  I suppose if I had power--
like access to decision-makers or loads of money, I could think of 
myself as giving some form of power to others.  But even then it is 
up to the people themselves to make something of that access or 
money (and since I have neither of those things myself it doesn't 
matter anyways).  So, as someone in academia, I have felt 
compelled to think of myself as a "helper," working with community 
groups and organizations to help them get what they want, on their 
terms.  I do have some skills that I can give--research skills, 
planning skills, facilitation skills.  Those often feel like small things, 
and sometimes it is difficult to hang on to the big sense of 
empowerment that Colleen's message expresses.  

I also wonder if there is some distinction between the development 
approach and the organizing approach expressed in the discussion 
here.  The development approach is often described as bringing 
things to people, which the organizing approach is often described 
as people going out and getting those things.]  

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