Defining Community Organizing
“An organizer’s job is to assist people to build a powerful vice through which they can effectively speak on their deepest concerns. An executive director works for a board of directors; the board makes policy and the executive director (and a staff) implement that policy; an organizer, on the other hand, assists leaders and members of a democratic organization to make – and implement – their policy and programs. In current terms, the iron law of organizing is not to do anything for people that they can do for themselves. …
organizing is a process to build people power. It is deeply rooted in
democratic values and the moral, economic, and social justice teaching of
the world’s great religious tradition. Community organizing today is
making regional, state, and national challenges to the present ‘power
structure.’ This particular approach to people power addresses all the
issues stemming from inequalities of wealth, income, and power. It solves
or ameliorates specific problems for specific constituencies and tackles
big issues that affect most of the American people.
organizing process shifts people who think of themselves as, and who in
fact often are, powerless, helpless victims of unaccountable power to
become active participants in civic life. If often brings together diverse
groups, replacing suspicion of ‘The Other’ with mutual respect and
cooperation. This diversity can be of race, ethnicity, religious belief,
age, neighborhood, income, gender, citizenship status, or any of the other
sources of conflict that typically divide people.
organizing deepens the experience and meaning of ‘community’ –
whether inside an already existing organization, like a religious
congregation or a union or among residents on
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.