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         Sider Endorsement - On Power - Wheaton Professor - Rev. Youngblood - Community Organizing 
         Community Development - Democracy - Linthicum


  Blame the System

Community Organizing assumes the possibility of agency on the part of most people including the most oppressed people. People need not remain victims; they can be actors in the process of creating their own futures. This encompasses individual self-help (the emphasis of conservatives), mutual aid or community development (conservative unless it involves changing systems), and collective action to change institutions (the emphasis of liberals, progressives, and radicals).

How change comes about begins with core values like freedom, community,  equality, justice, security, democratic participation. These are standards against which any ideological conclusion or policy formulation needs to be measured: does it bring us closer to or take us farther away from those core values? The next question is about how to build the people power that will bring us closer to realizing those values. What alliances, in what form of organization, with what relationship to a broad constituency of people are required to hold those in power accountable? Further, what will it take to transform dominant relations of power in which a relatively small group of people holding great wealth or key political positions defines the parameters of how the people live what kinds of jobs they have, at what pay; what kind of housing they live in, at what cost; what kind of health care they receive, paid by whom; what kind of education their children experience, serving whom; what kind of environment we live in, at what price to whom?


Within the context of organizing, ideas most be assessed with two measures first, their merit, and second, their capacity to unite the broad and diverse base that is required to build effective constituencies for change. For the most part, intellectuals focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter. ( 185, 187-8)

At the Table

System Meetings

Frederick Douglass

A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER'S TALE by Mike Miller, Berkeley:Heyday Books, 2009. CSCO believes this is the best book on organizing. Miller has been with CSCO for many years.

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