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Why do we do it?

We do it because we are thankful. Leaders and organizers deeply appreciate the democratic tradition that our fathers and mothers worked and fought and sometimes died for. We value the tradition of labor organizing and worker rights that protected so many millions of Americans and helped make humane and shared prosperity possible. We honor the many religious traditions (Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and others) that inform our public action and deepen our understanding. We know we are fortunate to live in a country shaped by these and other extraordinary forces.

We do it because we are angry. We experience daily the obstacles to life, liberty, and happiness's pursuit. Our children attend schools that are sometimes incapable, sometimes unwilling, to provide decent basic education. Our neighbors live in public housing that is poorly maintained, dirty, and unhealthy. Our families walk streets still plagued by criminals and often ignored by police. Our members work for minimum wage, or poverty wages, or temporary wages, often without adequate benefits. Our cities suffer from flirtations with sports and entertainment boondoggles, while neighborhoods decline and people flee. These and other realities propel us into organized action.

We do it because we are hopeful. We believe that we can overcome the obstacles that are placed in our way. We know that we can build homes, reduce crime, improve and start new schools, reconstruct entire communities, raise wages, and maintain momentum over months and years and decades.

How do we do it?

We do it with discipline. In organizing, accountability starts from within. A leader's ability to participate in training, relate to followers and fellow leaders, pay dues, and remain focused on clear priorities prepares him or her for an effective role in the public arena.

We do it with chutzpah. We don't let others set boundaries, barriers, and distractions that prevent us from identifying the source of a problem and the shape of a solution. We don't see ourselves as squatters in the public square, but as full owners of what happens there.

We do it with joy. We experience the joy of relating to people unlike ourselves, both within and outside of our organizations. We learn about the richness of other racial and ethnic and religious in an environment of mutual respect and regard. We watch new homeowners turn the key on the home of their dreams, children graduate with honors after four fulfilling years, grandmothers walk with confidence through lobbies once ruled by gangs, working people take home a wage that supports family life, whole communities rebuilt and renewed. We know what it is to win.

Note: This page comes from two pages on the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) website.

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