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 … Continue reading Organizing My Fat Self
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 … Continue reading “So, What Do We Know?”
Of all the folks I've met since becoming an organizer in 1994, I owe more to Claire McGrath--both professionally and personally-- than anyone else. At SUN, she has been an integral leader--chairing meetings, plotting strategy and deciding policy on the Board of Directors (even signing my paycheck as treasurer.) Personally, she and her family rescued … Continue reading Claire McGrath
I recently came across a quote from one of the leaders of a grassroots group in Pittsburgh that organizes to make sure that any public tax benefits to private corporations come with a Community Benefits Agreement (C.B.A.) These agreements guarantee that the projects receiving civic largesse will provide in return jobs for low-income residents, environmental … Continue reading “We Have To Get Scary”
Today, I attended a public Board of Directors meeting of the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corp., more informally known as the Land Bank. The Land Bank is foreseen as a way for the city and county to jointly manage the increasing number of vacant and abandoned buildings in our neighborhoods. These vacant houses have created … Continue reading Admitting There Is A Problem
OK--What do Syracuse, Bruce Springsteen and community organizing have in common? Me! SUN is a member of National People's Action, one of the main organizations behind the 99% Spring. This coalition is sponsoring a massive nationwide training on non-violent, direct action protest. I'm helping to put this training on in Syracuse. Bruce Springsteen lent the … Continue reading Syracuse, Bruce Springsteen & Community Organizing.
I spoke with a group of Jesuit Volunteeer Corps members last night, a focused conversation on organizing, power, race and class in Syracuse. The group of 8 young people are working for a year with various social service agencies around town. The official description of the JVC is this: The Jesuit Volunteer Corps offers women … Continue reading Idealism, up close and personal.