organizing and social movements
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Jun 25 14:05:51 CDT 2003
[ed: Joe offers some questions to inform our discussion and Doug
responds to Fran's thoughts.]
From: "Joseph Catania" <jccjlw at msn.com>
It would be interesting to hear people's thoughts about the context
of social change efforts today - social movements and community
organizing. What I mean is, we have a non-profit sector - with all
the legal wranglings that come with it - that governs what
community based organizations that organize and advocacy groups
do and how they do it. We also have foundations who set the
agenda for what is "fundable" work and what is not.
Often, community-based organizations want to connect their local
organizing with more global work - get connected with broader
movements. It is happening, but it is often very difficult because of
the limited vision of foundations (not all of course, there are
wonderful examples of foundations breaking out of traditional
"project" giving mode and encouraging coalition building across
organizational, identity, issue and geographic boundaries).
Organizations can be concerned with what they were "funded" to
do, which might prevent them from getting more involved in
broader, less local issues. Project based funding is not necessarily
conducive to what Frances is suggesting, which I agree with.
Organizing and social movement are mutually enabling. I think we
need to create new forms that make this so and concentrate on
building power and using the power we have.
What kind of impact has the explosion of the non-profit sector in
the last 30 years had on organizing and social movement?
Advantages? Disadvantages? to the current system.
From: "Doug Hess" <DHess at frac.org>
I think Fran's remarks are good, but I still think some teasing apart
of ideas needs to be done between these two terms. For instance,
" As Randy and others have noted, organizing (including
organizing) has been intertwined with many social movements.
Developing a locally-based network of people and institutions
capable of addressing a range of issues defined by the members
(i.e. CO) built much of the base for the civil rights movement, and
continued to shape, carry out and sustain the movement's work and
While I certainly don't think the two are dichotomous, the statement
that organizing built, continued, carry out and sustain aspects of a
social movement implies there's a difference. To put it another
way: I think organizing can get results in absence of a movement.
Maybe the reverse is not true, but that doesn't mean they are
coterminus. Is any of this making sense? Lemme try it this way: A
good movement needs good organizing, but good organizing
doesn't necessarily lead to a movement. For instance, were the
people doing organizing before the civil rights movement caught
fire not doing "it" right? I don't think so. I think that movements
often have sources in the national socio-economic scene, and
maybe even international if you follow how post-WWII geo-politics
assisted the civil rights movement, that community organizing
cannot always influence (but can use).
(Again, just to be clear: just because I think they are two separate
entities does not mean that they are strictly either/or. Same with
justice: organizing and movements can both lay claims to working
for social justice.)
Senior Policy Analyst
Food Research and Action Center
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fax 202-986-2525 email dhess at frac.org
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