[COMM-ORG] query: Organizing for Action

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Tue May 14 13:30:04 CDT 2013


[ed:  Sam asks a question of the group.]

From: Sam Beck <sbeck at med.cornell.edu>

Are social and economic justice issues Left or Right?

Sam Beck


On 5/8/2013 8:50 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
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>
> [ed: thanks to Drew and Richard for responding to Michael's query. 
> Others?]
>
> From: Drew Astolfi <drewastolfi at facehawaii.org>
>
>
> In Hawaii my organization - Faith Action for Community Equity or FACE 
> has a little contact with OFA.  There is overlap between the 
> leadership of the two groups.  But the overlap is not very important 
> to either group.
>
> I do think that community organizing in the US has been partially 
> absorbed/co-opted/influenced by the emerging Democratic party 
> consensus (5 years of Obama with three more to come and a good chance 
> of Hilary Clinton being President in 2016) .  As the political elite 
> have become more liberal in the US, community organizations (PICO, 
> Gamaliel, the surviving ACORN groups, and National People's Action and 
> the Center for Community Change) have found it harder to position 
> themselves in a purely non-partisan way.   Partly this seems like an 
> issue of funding - as SEIU replaced CCHD as the largest funder of 
> community organizations the tone of the organizing changed.  At the 
> same time there has been a simultaneous pressure on the right as the 
> right wing has moved further and further from the center and 
> identifies community organizing as one of its enemies.
>
> I've been thinking about this a lot lately, since I feel this dynamic 
> is really changing what community organizing is here in the US.  I am 
> afraid that is all I have though - a kind of instinct about the way we 
> are changing.
>
> I think OFA is a symptom of this overall change, but I do not think it 
> has been all that successful.
>
> **************************************
>
> From: Richard Layman <rlaymandc at yahoo.com>
>
>
> I haven't looked at the particular organization, and I am not a 
> scholar of civil society, but I think it's important to recognize that 
> there are many different elements of social movements, social change 
> and/or transformation, points on what I call the issue continuum, and 
> inflection points.
>
> When Hillary Clinton said during the 2008 Presidential election 
> primaries that "it takes a President to get it done," she ignored the 
> reality that by the time an issue comes to "a vote" it's likely that 
> many decades have been spent dealing with a particular issue, building 
> a base of support, and making it a prominent issue on a national scale.
>
> What I call the issue continuum is merely the recognition that on any 
> issue there are myriads of positions (points) along a continuum from 
> very conservative to very progressive.  What I learned through 
> observation  (it wasn't something that they taught) working at a 
> national consumer advocacy group with Nader lineage is that if you 
> stake out a hard core position you don't get it but you get a lot more 
> movement towards a better outcome than you would if you compromised 
> early (something that Pres. Obama hasn't learned yet, actually).
>
> A line I use about this is: "when you ask for nothing that's what you 
> get.  When you ask for the world, you don't get it, but you get a lot 
> more than nothing."
>
> In my own work now (transportation planning, specifically sustainable 
> transportation--walking, biking, and transit) I take a social 
> change-social movement-social marketing-systems approach to the 
> subject.  We're trying to change people's behavior, we're trying to 
> build comprehensive support systems for sustainable mobility that are 
> comparable in strength to the systems that have been built to support 
> automobility etc.  It's a lot more than just getting the President to 
> sign a transportation bill.  (cf. 
> http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/bmag/sbsm0909/kn-effective-social-movements.html 
> and 
> http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/bmag/sbsm0909/feature-marketRebels.html?cmpid=bmag&edition=09-autumn)
>
> Basically, OFM is more likely to be what we might call a party 
> organization (cf. _Political Parties_ by Michels) rather than a 
> community organizing effort designed to build participatory democracy, 
> empowered participation (cf. the books _Deliberate Democracy_ and 
> _Empowered Participation_), civil society or the increase the capacity 
> of citizens and to focus community, social, and organizational capital 
> towards bottom-up as opposed to top-down initiatives.
>
> Richard Layman
> Washington, DC
> http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com
> On 5/5/2013 8:38 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
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>> [ed: apologies for the delay in getting messages out this week. It's 
>> been busier than normal. Please feel welcomed to engage this 
>> discussion on COMM-ORG.]
>>
>> From: Michael Rothschuh <michael at rothschuh.de>
>>
>>
>>
>> For Discussion;
>> What do you think about „Organizing for Action“? There are similar 
>> and often the same subjects as in the different community organizing 
>> networks or in social movements, Issues like jobs, health care, 
>> immigration reform and in the moment gun controlling. But it is 
>> concentrated in the actual agenda of the Obama government. And I 
>> think there is no discussion about the ways, how to get the aims. On 
>> one side I see it as a top-down organization. On the other side it 
>> might be a chance for people to bring their own perspective, their 
>> own questions and answers into the agenda. Does anyone know: Are 
>> there connections between OFA and different local Community 
>> Organizations?
>>
>> Best wishes for you!
>> Michael Rothschuh, Hamburg, Germany
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