query: teaching organizing in little time
Discussion list for COMM-ORG
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Mon Dec 10 10:23:39 CST 2007
[ed: thanks to Mindy, Michael, John, and David for replying to Aaron's
From: "Melinda Chateauvert" <mchateau at aasp.umd.edu>
I think teaching by example/case study, especially in a short amount of
time, is the most useful. The goal is to get participants to apply lessons
from the example to their own situations, and/or teach an analytical
framework that helps them interpret other organizing tales ("stories of
struggle") and learn from them as well.
I've been collecting these stories for quite awhile. 2 recent case studies
I've used that students (in a semester long course) really liked and
responded well to were:
Sam J. Miller, "Homeless Revolution" ShelterForce Online Issue #151, Fall
http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/151/organize.html (although would require
reading ahead of time).
NOW with David Brancaccio "The Coalition of Immolakee Workers v. Taco Bell,"
from originally broadcast on PBS, May 27, 2005
http://www.pbs.org/now/society/ciw.html - which can be downloaded as DVD.
This is about 25 minutes in length, leaving time for dissecting, analysis
and discussion. Focuses on "iron triangle" strategies,
community-worker-student-church partnerships. Can be used to discuss how
race and racism configures media responses and movement leadership.
From: MBrown7387 at aol.com
Aaron, Great questions, I have done a basic community organizing
workshop for many years that in very little time that covers what you
mention. It goes over the differences between service, advocacy,
mobilizing and organizing -- and I often add: education, community
development and electoral politics. I use a basic training picture
which I draw with stick figures on flip charts with the "service
provider", "advocate" etc, and who s/he serves, advocates on behalf of
etc. I have the "service provider" giving a "fish" to the "client". I
ask for examples: "Who does this?" People get it pretty quickly. I
focus on organizing by drawing a big box (with the organizer's stick
figure back to the group), depicting the boundaries and qualities of a
long-lasting organization (including money, members, leadership group,
rules, by-laws, legal status, issues, guidelines, values, groundrules,
etc) to show the differnces. I cover this subject in my book, Building
Powerful Community Organizations, p. 279-298 which is not too much to
read and is in pretty simple terms, I think. Hope that helps. You can
call me as well, my number is 781 648 1508, and also in the book, Email:
MBrown7387 at aol.com Michael Jacoby Brown, www.LongHaulPress.com
From: Joatlas at aol.com
I don't have any good ideas, but it's a great project. keep us informed.
National Housing Institute/Shelterforce Magazine
74 Clinton Ave.
From: "David Koppisch" <DavidK at RHD.ORG>
Aaron - it looks like you are in Milwaukee. I would contact Milwaukee
Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH). They are doing citywide
and regional organizing there. And should be able to help you.
> [ed: please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Aaron's query.]
> From: Aaron Schutz <schutz at uwm.edu>
> Most people in my city don’t know much about organizing, and they mostly
> don’t know that they don’t know. They feel somewhat hopeless about the
> huge problems facing the city, and I think often sense the limitations
> of efforts focused on service to the needy, but don’t really know what
> else to do.
> One Solution:
> I would like to come up with a short workshop for small groups of
> non-profit workers, teachers, residents, and others that would introduce
> them to the tradition of community organizing. The goal is NOT to teach
> them concrete skills, but instead to give them entrée into what is an
> alien perspective about community change.
> The best approach would probably be to bring this workshop to where
> these leaders already meet. But in these cases you would likely be given
> very limited time: from 1-3 hours at most.
> The Problem:
> In my experience most people continually reinterpret what one tells them
> about organizing into frameworks that make sense to them. The community
> development/social service perspective is deeply engrained. If you ask
> them to pick a target and imagine a possible issue, even after
> explaining basic concepts, for example, they often choose neighborhood
> residents as targets and seek internal cultural change or community
> building as a goal. The idea of wresting power from the powerful or
> resisting outside structural oppression is difficult for them to
> coherently grasp.
> On the other hand, there is something uniquely compelling about the
> community organizing approach, especially to those who work in
> traditional social service occupations.
> I just did an hour-and-a-half presentation to a group of early career
> non-profit workers, and I think I started to reach some of them (and
> pissed a number of them off), but I am not very happy with my current
> Why Do This?
> The goal would be to increase the number of people in the community who
> at least have heard of organizing, focusing on key leaders. At the
> minimum, we need more people who have some sense of what organizing
> entails, who can engage coherently and usefully with organizers, and
> who, once they learn about organizing, may have interest in pursuing
> these ideas further and supporting more “organizing like” activities.
> This isn’t all we need, but I think it might help.
> I would love to hear others ideas about how one might approach this
> problem. Or even whether you agree that it’s worth addressing.
> What would you focus on in terms of the few concepts you could try to
> get across in such a short time?
> What kinds of activities would you try if people only had 15-20 minutes
> to collaborate?
> Aaron Schutz
> Associate Professor & Chair
> Dept. of Ed. Policy & Comm. Studies
> University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
> P.O. Box 413
> Milwaukee, WI 53201
> Office: (414) 229-4150
> Fax: (414) 229-3700
> Website: educationaction.org
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