New COMM-ORG paper: A Collective Recruitment Plan is Needed for Community Organizers

colist at colist at
Sat Dec 31 11:16:45 CST 2005

[ed:  Richard continues the discussion of the issues raised in Joe's 
paper. I have now linked all the comments from the listing for Joe's 
paper on the COMM-ORG papers page at]

From: Richard L Wood <rlwood at>

I find Joe Szakos' paper on the challenges and shortcomings of
organizer recruitment both thoughtful and well grounded in reality. My own
sense from my research and hundreds of conversations with organizers
around the country is that the shortage of enough folks with the right
skills, passion, and dedication for this work is THE limiting resource out
there. There are some interesting models of organizer recruitment,
training, and ongoing formation in play out there as well, but usually
kept quite in-house by the sponsoring organization or network. On one
level, that makes sense: an organization that invests the time, money,
and supervisory expertise in recruiting and developing organizers of
course wants to keep the benefits of that investment to itself. But at
another level, it undermines the whole effort: by keeping organizer
recruitment "under the radar" for most folks, it badly limits how broadly
this career and vocational opportunity is known (as Joe notes). So the
challenge, it seems to me, is to either find ways to do collective
recruitment, training, and ongoing development under a model that protects
all the constituent organizations' self-interests and strongest practices;
or to set up institutes to catalyze recruitment and training outside of
any specific organizing effort, and only later linking participants to
interested organizations.

I don't know of anyone really doing the former approach well.
Marshall Ganz' organizer training curriculum at The Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard represents one very strong model of the latter
approach, though one has to worry that people from grittier, non-elite
backgrounds might never find their way into it (but that may not be the
case -- anybody know? you out there, Marshall?).

Thanks for raising an important issue. RLW
>>> Hi COMM-ORG,
>>> I am very pleased to announce the availability of:
>>> "A Collective Recruitment Plan is Needed for Community Organizers"
>>>     by Joe Szakos
>>> Having worked with both national organizing networks and local 
>>> community organizing groups, I know how difficult it is to recruit 
>>> organizers for this vey difficult work.  Joe's paper takes on this 
>>> difficult issue, exploring both the problem of organizer recruitment 
>>> and some options for confronting it.
>>> You can find Joe's work at the COMM-ORG "Papers" page, in the 2005 
>>> section:
>>> I hope that this work inspires some discussion.  Authors contribute 
>>> writing to COMM-ORG in the hopes of getting comments, so please feel 
>>> welcomed to contact Joe directly, or discuss his work through the list.
>>> Thanks so much to Joe for contributing this work.
>>> Randy Stoecker
>>> moderator/editor, COMM-ORG

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