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.
Stephen Lerner from SEIU (the guy who helped create the brilliant Justice For Janitors campaign) gave a keynote address at the 11th anniversary dinner of Grass Roots Organizing in Missouri--a kick ass group that is, like SUN, a part of National People's Action. Check out the last part of this speech if you need a … Continue reading “There’s No Better Time To Believe In Justice Than Right Now!”
OK, we're all probably being a little too dramatic about the possibilities of Occupy Wall Street, but damn if it isn't inspiring. THE media story of the moment is now about economic inequality, not budget cuts and austerity. That alone is a victory. Anti-bank activists have been fighting some of these same battles since post-World … Continue reading Prosaic Politics During Revolutionary Times
h/t Words On Walls
I'm struck by the over-the-top rhetoric that is accompanying the protests over the closing of the Ida Benderson Senior Citizen Center, a drop-in program run by the city's Parks & Recreation for many years. The Center is scheduled to be closed by the city on October 1st--its $120,000 annual rent and the extra expenses for … Continue reading Desperately Seeking The Revolution
The huge sticky post-it notes, the magic markers and the deafening silence when you ask the assembled folks "who wants throw out the first idea?", are occupational hazards for a community organizer. After all, one of Saul Alinsky's famous Rules For Radicals is "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." If you … Continue reading Why I’m Tired Of The “Vision Thing.”
"Everybody's restless and they've got no place to go/ Someone's always trying to tell them/ Something they already know/ So their anger and resentment flow." - - "Mohammed's Radio" Warren Zevon As an organizer for Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN), I was looking forward to a Common Council committee meeting last night. After all, SUN had … Continue reading Educate, Agitate, Organize.