I’m a community organizer. The shibboleth of community organizing is “educate, agitate, organize.” Lay out the reasons behind the problem, get people pissed off about it and then work together to change the situation. It’s the opposite of social work, a field of work that identifies personal problems to correct rather than the “powers-that-be” that cause oppression.
One effective way for organizers to get a handle on the agitate part of the equation, to truly understand another’s oppression, is to focus on the oppression you may have faced in your life. Understand the disrespect and disenfranchisement in your own life–and allow yourself to truly feel the anger that oppression creates within you. This will allow you to help others to harness their anger and use it to to empower both themselves and their community.
I’ve always felt like I had to intellectualize this part of my professional training. Why? I’m The Man. Name a societal privilege and I’ve had it bestowed upon me–I’m a white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, Ivy League college graduate, from a solidly middle-class family with a home in the suburbs, a two parent household, with a stay-at-home mother and a professional father. Currently, I’m a homeowner, happily married and we’re both employed. I’m empathetic toward suffering, but have faced no really serious societal problems. Or have I? I’ve been fat my entire life. Continue reading
Who knew? It was started and discontinued years ago when Frank Malfitano was the director of the Landmark Theatre. Supposedly, there are even stars on the sidewalk down there on S. Salina. Well, the newspaper decided to start up a conversation about the 100 most famous Syracusans. You can see the list by clicking on the hyperlink.
I have a lot of questions about the list–and all of them boil down to a few basic questions: Continue reading
Renee, who writes the Bendiful blog has done a lot for blogging in CNY–in addition to her blog on fitness, parenting and other issues, she has helped organize the CNY Bloggers Group helping folks who toil in the virtual fields to come out of the shadows of their monitors and meet up in real life.
Unfortunately, Renee’s blogging opened her up to a horrendous case of bullying recently. Yep, bullying isn’t just for the schoolyards anymore. Some bullies grow up and start gyms and try to continue their bullying ways.
Read the hyperlink for Renee’s experiences. I’m asking bloggers in CNY to add their comments to her blog post in support of Renee–and to point others in the same direction. As is usually the case, Mitch Mitchell from the I’m Just Sharing blog is leading the way on this–with both a blog post and video!
Oh, and by all means–tell everyone that the owner of Saltfit gym in Skaneateles is a completely arrogant punk and that no one should ever patronize the establishment.
In Syracuse and Onondaga County he will always be known as cop-killer Billy Blake. In 1987, while under arrest and being escorted into court in Dewitt, he grabbed a gun from an Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff and started firing. He killed one of the deputies and injured another. Blake was sentenced to 77 years to life in prison for the murder.
In December, the Yale Law Journal gave him an honorable mention in their annual prison writing contest. On Saturday, the NY Daily News ran a storywith a brief interview with Blake about his essay and its topic–long-term solitary confinement. A brief Google search shows that the site Rap Genius has posted the essay online. Continue reading
Just this morning, I asked a question in a live on-line Q & A with David Cay Johnston. The session is being hosted by Syracuse.com, the Post Standard, “the-whatever-the-hell-you-call-the-local-newspaper” these days. Mr. Johnston was a reporter for the NY Times, where he covered tax issues. He is the author of an in-depth look at how the tax system exacerbated inequalities in our society in the fascinating book “Perfectly Legal.” Mr. Johnston is currently a visiting instructor at Syracuse University. Continue reading
The photo is one of a button that the old Merchant’s Bank used to distribute before all Big East games. They would have a contest and choose a winning phrase for beating each opponent in the old Big East conference. Back in the day, I had my own season tickets to Syracuse U. basketball games. In the upper row of the second level, on the corner of the court behind the benches–I needed a Sherpa guide and oxygen to make it to the seats. But it was great. Late 80′s thru the early 90′s. The small-time eastern basketball program that I watched in Manley Field House had morphed into a national power–playing in the mighty Big East conference and dragging in crowds that sometimes topped 30,000 for our most heated foes–especially Georgetown. Continue reading
A friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in awhile, commented on a Facebook posting of mine today. He asked how things were going in Syracuse, and since he has labored as an organizer, I laid the typical, world-weary organizer rap on him as a reply:
Things are limping along in Syracuse–more poverty than ever and less compassion because the upper and middle classes are feeling constrained as well. Unions fight to elect politicians who then ignore them when it counts. City government is going broke paying for city employees (police and fire) who refuse to live in the city–contributing to the decline of our tax base. You know–same shit, different day.
Too snarky, by a longshot. It’s all true–but somehow incomplete. I thought of a phrase that my wife used the other day: “So, what do we know?” It’s a nifty line that really resonated with me. I think it’s a great opener for a leadership meeting: short, snappy and demanding others to leap into the breach! Continue reading