I. Introductory Session on Expectations--Thursday:
Participants were asked to form small groups, each with a funder, an
academic, and an organizer/leader. Each group was to develop a list of
their top three expectations for the gathering. Below are the results.
- What's the role of academics in addressing community and/or justice
- How can we expand on this role?(a. credentialing; b. policy analysis;
c. identify organizing talent; d. tech assistance/$$)
- How and where do we find each other?
- How are partnerships created between organizers and academics?
- Would like to be updated on the development of faith-based organizing?
- Would like funders and academics to better understand organizing as
experienced by organizers and leaders.
- Increase student interest in issues of struggle, particularly those
that involve labor.
- Get academics more heavily involved in community issues and more active
in working within the community.
- Learning from the experiences of each participant in this group.
- relationship building and reconnection
- Hear about models/examples of collaborations and hear where interests
- Discuss possible role that funders can play.
- What is the role of funders in this process? Interest/self-interest?
- What is the set of self-interests or limits on what academics can do
- How can we build a mechanism to broaden ever-widening circles of collaboration?
Among academics? Among funders? Among other constituencies-labor?
- What on-going collaborations are now underway? What gets funded?
- How do the three proposed collaborative partners come together?
- What is the role of labor unions in these partnerships?
- What is the effect of state coalitions on voter initiatives (esp. bilingual
- Want to get network of solidarity and support for academic work related
to social movements and community organizations.
- How can we find incentives to link community organizations and groups
to academics, students, and public policy experts.
- Better access to funders, dollars, for community organizing efforts.
- Do community organizations see a strategic need to link w/ allies in
labor movement, academia, and other social movements?
- To learn about successful collaborations with academics.
- To advance collaborative work in the interest of organizing
- To get a basic sense of the landscape.
After the groups reported back to the larger group, the larger group
identified the following themes:
how to make and maintain connections
how to bring interests and resources together (get out of our boxes)
real life examples
labor as part of this?
What is the role of academics?
What is the role of funders?
Further discussion focused on:
concern about larger philosophical issues; different models held by
organizers, funders, etc - models of organizing, grantmaking, research
role of the media; the larger public's assumption of what is going
what is faith-based organizing? In Virginia, that makes [the speaker]
Participants asked us to remember:
- to make our definitions explicit
- the media context, selling of images/ideas
II. Panel Session--examples of Collaborations--Thursday:
In this session, four panelists each spoke for 10 minutes, and a discussion
Rob Kleidman, Cleveland State Unviersity: Lessons in collaborative work-relationships
are important; how be honest w/someone who is not part of your organization;
better understanding by actually being involved; become a better teacher;
have an effect on the world. For organizers-have an outsider to reflect
org.; bring new resources in. Learn importance of collaboration as a process.
Lisa Donner, ACORN. About how to find academics. -"hunting expedition"-finding
out what research was out there (useful to have tips); finding data for
local area (needed to get people to create data and do studies-timeline
was an issue here); looking for expert spokespeople (usually use only own
people so used member-academic teams); needed people to do educational
meetings; "hamburger study" looked at McDonald's pay in suburbs
compared to downtown did by ACORN itself (suburbs paid more). Now research
came out by academics.
Larry Ferlazzo, Sacramento Valley Organizing Community. A little wary
of academics. But working with some research organizations (not universities).
Would rather have others do research and organizations use it. Have done
visits to UC-Davis but can't find partners. Have had some help with Harvard
Business School, USC. Potential-academics are smart and have access to
resources. How can developing relationships transform both parties.
Rachel Parker Gwin, Virginia Tech University. Service learning is a
way to get students involved with community groups. Some issues: negotiate
true partnerships (diversity training to teach students are not helpers);
keep students involved beyond course requirements; institutionalize relationship
within university-create centers and get U. to fundraise for community
1. academics not having time or resources-how to get work supported
above and beyond normal expectations. What does time cost? Problem is pressures
are to publish stuff not useful to activists. Hiring people on a short-term
2. Question of objectivity.
3. How do you hold institutions accountable-or do you just find individuals
who sneak it on the side? Should you transform whole institution or just
find some space to do good work?
4. Utilitarian nature of the discussion-academics do research and organizers
do organizing. Maybe the right doesn't make such distinctions between roles
and we shouldn't either. There are a lot of people in the academy looking
for something good to do.
5. What is the role of funders in this? Could foundations pay organizations
to do their own research? Why were funders not on the panel? (answer-funders
here not really funding this yet)
6. Could use model similar to separate community development and community
organizing model (where independent community organizations partner with
CDCs when needed and pressure them when needed) to also manage university-community
relationships. An attempted litigation effort in California to get universities
to do community power research in rural areas failed.
7. Can't expect researchers to invest in basic organizing-it's outcomes
of organizing that helps universities. We need to know what organizers
do that impacts the agendas of the researchers.
8. Cites examples of UNO Urban Planning, and Oakland U (?).
9. A lot of different boxes-academic can't find entry point to community,
problems in community are interdisciplinary.
10. Want to hear from academics some practical strategies for funders
to support this kind of work. Want to know strategies and leverage points.
Also fund interdisciplinary work. Also service learning work can be funded
by grants-students often have to do internships for free and can't do that
in some places-at least need living expenses. Kellogg Foundation and Bonner
Foundation have also done that. A couple of meetings convened by funders
in Cleveland. PRAG in Chicago is another model. NCRP study on the right
shows right-wing foundations are pouring enormous dollars into research,
but left-wing foundations not doing that. Have community groups control
resources and decide whether they want to link up with academics.
11. In approaching universities, need to enter into relationships with
representatives so that institution can engage in internal change.
12. Want some kind of network so people can find each other.
III. Separate Funder, Organizer, Academic Small Group Discussions--Thursday
In this session, we separated organizers into one group, funders into
another, and academics into a third. Each group was to identify what their
interests were in a organizer-academic partnership, what they could offer
to the other two groups, what they wanted from the other two groups, and
what the opportunities and challenges were in collaborative work. Following
the report backs from each group, there was a general discussion to identify
common themes and issues.
- develop relationships with academia as well as do direct funding
- build links to reveal the worth of CO
- show outcomes
- influence public policy; but fragmentation and fragility of community
organizations make it hard to see them as an ally in this
- fund groups not on the margins; academics are instrumental in helping
groups move from margins
- fund organizations with potential for scale
- help organizations become more purposeful learners
- move organizations to drop purist attitude
- cross disciplines, open doors
- vantage point
- funding collaborations
- access to the community for academics
- get out of the box
- see us as other than money
- be in learning relationships
- long-term vision
- help us step back and evaluate ourselves
- honest evaluation of your work
- get word out to media
Organizers and Leaders
- credibility and credentialing of the work
- policy analysis
- strategic planning
- growth relationships for intellectual capital
- help framing policy debates
- measurement framework and tools
- diverse ideas
- tell stories
- revitalization strategies
- critical look at our work
- regional strategies
- agitation, challenge, threat
- access to resources
- meaningful work, opportunity for academics to put their work to use
- something to analyze for academics
- live audience
- "cover": opportunity to speak out and hide behind organizing
effort, be in new arenas
- improve neighborhoods where academies are located
- alternative to identity politics
- curiosity and understanding
- commitment to relationship around certain principles
- integrity in stated goals
- write about in plain English
- let community set agenda
- increased resources
- better knowledge
- ability to develop broader vision
- sometimes misunderstanding of our work
- not be taken over
- more exciting ways to do work
- energize students offer opportunities
- affect the world
- reality check
- help change the world
- mentor students
- further democratic potential of CO
- hope in hard times
- access to community
- creates rigor in our work
- open our institutions, get more leverage
- From organizers:
- 1. access and info to develop the partnership
- 2. acknowledge institutional pressures
- 3. willingness to invest time in relationship
- 4. mutual respect (demand accountability, test us, take risks w/ us)
- 5. respect our independence - don't ask us to lie
- 1. money for policy research, funding
- 2. money for think tanks
- 3. willingness to talk to us
- 4. respect academic integrity
- 5. network existing resources better
- 6. long-term commitment
- 7. be part of the intellectual process
- 8. network actors more
skills: analysis, research, writing
body of knowledge
access to academic community
resources: libraries, etc
spreading the word
ourselves as dialogue partners
Challenges and opportunities:
we do different work, have different time frames, rewards, etc.
we're often more respected than activists by powers that be
ways to structure ongoing relationships
we can accomplish more together
inform policy through new models
complementarity - challenge and opportunity
The discussion generated the following themes and issues:
- strongly against utilitarian relationships, for deep encumbered relationships
- overlap between academics and organizers: reality, change the world
- public policy as an opportunity to come together
- massive collaborative think tank
- pace of change is such that we need each other; can share in developing
theory of change
- recognition that right wing is way ahead in visioning and creating
- need to get the word out
- written vs. oral culture
- academics wanting independence from particular community organizations.
vs. organizations saying we want to call the shots
- acknowledge demands on each group
- mutual respect
- what drives the research agenda (independence v. control)
- funders bringing groups together: different views of this (academics
stressed, organizers did not)
We adapted the agenda on Friday, based on what we learned Thursday,
to begin with some reflections from the large group after they had a night's
sleep behind them. So we began with about 40 minutes of discussion asking
people to talk about what moved them, what intrigued them, and what surprised
them. Here's what people said:
- research can be done confidentially
- beyond CO, there are other kinds of advocacy and issue groups; are
we talking about working with them
- desire by funders not to be treated instrumentally
- tension between academic freedom and organizers wanting control: (Richard
Wood): I will show people stuff, but not give them veto power over what
- lots of funders were activists, academics before became funders; struck
by our interests to be part of this triumvirate in more meaningful way;
tension between institutional role and personal desires
- role of the media; how lift the stories, deal with indifference and
- intrigued by interest in creating something very significant that would
counter what the religious right has done; nationally, bring people together
that have not been working together in the past
- almost all organizing ventures have some research going on; how teach
- sociology umbrella for the academics; where are you in intersecting
with other disciplines; how boost that work
- interest in organizers in movements;
- surprise that this conversation is only coming up now; have talked
with lots of organizers about are you building a movement or an organization;
I've always felt organizing will lead to change because they change people;
movements can't be planned
- academics are removed from the real world; from another planet
- academics want to connect; all politics is local; hard to know how
to connect without knowing who you are; who wants to connect: individual,
institution; how can we be useful to one another?; uncomfortable with vagueness
of what this is
- from academics: organizers aren't purely instrumental, do want deeper
- there's still a level of our discourse that assumes that we are about
trying to do something, change things in the dominant culture. We're not
being clear enough about the need to think hard, be clear and critical,
about changing the way mediating institutions operate. Doing so opens up
whole news ways to collaborate.
- We're operating very individualistically; talking to organizers is
not the same as talking to communities; there's another level of engagement
beyond organizers; in academia there's something beyond sociology. Engaging
institutions and communities
- Agree with frustration about vagueness; if I were an organizer would
not be clear about value of collaborations. Disagree with notion that collaborations
need to be purely local. Power comes also from knowledge and ideas, which
are completely portable. Don't need to look just at local academics.
- If we were to build trust across lines, we have to get beyond where
we have a lot of faith about getting people in the same room, assuming
exchange of ideas builds community. We need enough time to get to know
one another. I applaud this start, but this is only a start.
- If an individual CO needs research, they do need to be comfortable
with researcher. There is another level of research, involving studying
many organizations, over large geographic span. We're working with archives,
reports, etc. that may be useful in understanding effects of organizing.
That doesn't necessarily depend on profound relationships.
- There' s much more than research: help CO groups to sharpen point of
view, provide road map to policy process, etc. It is data, there is value
in giving community-based efforts research tools.
- I had assumed we were talking about relating to institutions; now have
to deal with forming relationships with individuals.
- Self-interest of Interfaith Funders: we stepped out of our usual model
of funding to say one of our long-term interests is to see organizers get
out of the box at how they look at making change. It is hard to talk about
collaborative work outside of local context. But to move forward we need
to be in conversation about collaborative work, even if there is no framework
now. How develop relationships including beyond utilitarian ones?
V. The Vision Discussion--Friday
We had planned to break up into some special topic interest groups,
but when we asked people to indicate which ones they wanted to be involved
in, nearly all chose the "vision discussion" so we convened mixed
small groups (academics, organizers, and funders together in each) to address
- what is the context that creates a need or desire for collaborations/partnerships?
- What role might collaboratives/partnerships play in addressing the
context and how are they related to other responses?
- What could collaborations/partnerships look like?
- How could collaborations/partnerships frame public policy?
Here are the report backs from each group:
- Need for more leverage in policy arena; looking for synergy
- Failures of previous funding efforts and emerging concern about participation
- Too much for community groups to do
- Our power is diffused, fragmented
- Need to be smarter about dealing with media
- Context of global economy
- Shared information
- Make available more resources
- Sharpen analysis and messages
- New venue for leadership development over the long term
What do they look like?
- Foundation that's involved as fiscal agent, community organization.
manages, constituency steers
- Diversified leadership
- Connect research centers
- National networks
Influencing public policy:
- 1. State level
- 2. Influence our larger visions of what kind of world we want to live
- need for power, understanding social change, devolution, corporate
- understanding political, religious, economic system
- Personal satisfaction
- Broader perspective
- Students learn more about real world
- Broaden academics view of community
- Deepen capacity to make funding decisions
- Provide tech. Skills, open doors
What do they look like:
- 1. local informal conversations with the players
- 2. a university department becoming a member of the community organization
- 3. contractual relationships
- 4. umbrella for funding for education of community
- 5. ad hoc advisory group
- 1. publishing and studies
- 2. popular writing
- 3. understand context
- 4. restore faith in public debate
- 5. knowing who players are
- global economy, marketization of life, etc
- poor people losing
- global disparities
- need for everyone to recognize this context
- develop relationships w/ health care
- universities produce professionals who, e.g., teach
- organizers change people, academies change ideas
- figure out how to speak to folks, as powerfully as does the right
- the right supports each other, we don't
- how do individual organizations add up to a movement
- organizers start where people are, are afraid of introducing ideas
- popular education and dialogue
- include pastors in political education
- change the academy from inside
What do they look like:
- Interfaith education
- Scale of thinking - need to increase
- More and better organizing
- Start from where we are, much further along than 10 years ago
- Sue Lacy - My biggest fear as an organizer is when I'm 60 I'll be reading
the same news as today. How do we transform our organizing, which is good,
into undeniable explosion such that media will have to pay attention?
- There is a real hunger to talk about the bigger issues, not many opportunities
- Conspiracy: the only way to order the relationships is to conspire
together because this is where we need to go. Too many things have kept
us apart, but it's not enough to say we have to find ways to research together.
I'm interested in whether we're going to go somewhere together
- That implies we agree on where we want to go
- Never heard "electoral politics" mentioned. Discussion invited
- Increasing solidarity around ideas and relationships
- Need for strategic visioning
- How modify market economy (earlier comment of how find alternative
- Karen Paget, in American Prospect, we either have to organize ideas
or organize people
- Next Steps--Friday:
We spent some time at the end both presenting what our next steps would
be and what next steps others wanted.
- Jeannie Appleman will develop a list of funders who fund community
efforts, who are interested in developing relationships between organizing
and academia. Spence Limbocker will help on this; and will continue to
- Madeleine Scammell, of the Loka Institute is organizing a conference
on similar topics, and creating guidelines for community-academic partnerships.
- Randy Stoecker is writing up this report for distribution.
- Rob Kleidman is organizing a core group to develop further next steps.
Suggestions for other possible next steps:
- Connect with each other electronically? Jeannie: can send stuff to
me and I'll send it out.
- Question: for local funders, want national funders to partner with
- convene together
- More polished report, that gets out to the rest of the academic and
activists communities, publishable
- Discussion around this: is it worth doing, who else should be part
of the conversation?
- Short version of key points - 2-3 pages.
- Briefly described best practices, conditions for them, impacts. (Randy:
there are two examples, Madeleine's and U. Tenn.)
- Madeleine: there are 16 campuses
- Sue: Does this group of people want to move forward to create something
we're not able to do separately.? Discussion - how to do that, what to
- Jeannie - there are funders interested in organizers talking across
disciplines. May be possible to have another conversation.
- Rob: core group to figure this one. One from each constituency
- Richard: need to put legs on this
- Randy: stay in conversation, contact
- Ken: Two possibilities. Form left-progressive organizing think tank.
Don't see that happening. Too diverse etc. What can happen is a place for
people of talent and spirit to compare what they have done. Because of
this conversation I'll be more lively in my work. Resources are very important.
Even if not a think tank.
- There are research activities and institutes that are not networked,
connected to the communities, and they can be.
- Other people interested: Marshall Ganz, Mark Warren.