Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Community Organizing Careers2

"...[T]oday's student activists are much more pragmatic, savvy, and patient than their counterparts in the 1960s. They are skeptical but not cynical. They are not paralyzed by old ideological battles or identity politics. They respect differences of opinion, including religious beliefs, as well as the right to dissent. They understand they can disagree with their goverment and still love their country and its ideals. They want major changes in our institutions and policies, but they know that people need to win stepping-stone reforms before they can envision a different kind of world."

Peter Dreier, "A New Wave of Community Organizers for the Obama Era," April 11, 2009.

That's terrific but kind of scary. I'm still working on getting all this balance right after thirty-five years mucking about the nonprofit sector and social-change world. And of course you have to be able to do your share of scut work, be paid very little, put up with parents who don't understand, and hold off the career demons. Obama made it three years, not bad.

I like the college-debt reduction idea in exchange for public service --just has to be made fair and related to some common-sense outcomes. Sometimes community organizing gets dumbed down to fit the acceptable outcomes -- community outreach, promoting access, civic engagement. But it could work.

There might be a capacity problem with some of the major organizing networks in terms of expansion -- core infrastructure, lead organizers, organizer training.

I've also thought that the Obama Machine should be raising money to support community organizers and organizing campaigns rather than soliciting money to retire Hillary Clinton's debt or supporting rallies for the budget.

No comments: