A key to community organizing work —Seth Gunning

This comment by Seth Gunning came in on the backfire effect and how to leapfrog it. -jsq
Great article John. Thanks for turning me onto the research presented here, I’ll be looking into and using it. I’d also suggest a book called “Breakthrough: from the death of environmentalism to the politics of possibility”. I think you will love it.

Beyond changing the messaging on signs, which I think is a great idea, I think what the research reflects is a fundamental change in the approach to the work.

A key to community organizing work, as opposed to activism,

is intimately knowing and publicly identifying your self-interest. Speak with your peers one on one to help them identify and expand their self-interests as a way to build capacity for the work. To empower and connect with community members and decision makers. A limited number of people can do a limited number of things for a limited amount of time, but if your primary focus as activists/organizers is to connect people with and expand their internal capacities as well as provide training to enhance external skills as are related to the work, a limited number of people can make largely unlimited amount of change to root causes issues; that is, to systems rather then symptoms.

Great posts. Love the place your coming from. Good Luck and all my will to the allies enhancing Valdosta’s clean, just energy future!

-Seth Gunning

5 thoughts on “A key to community organizing work —Seth Gunning

  1. Michael G. Noll

    Community organizing work does not succeed without activism. Since when are these opposites?
    Community organizing work does not succeed if you do not “intimately know” the various facets of those you want to “organize” (or in terms I would prefer, those you want to work with).
    Community organizing work does not have one sole recipe, as every communal broth has its own cooks and ingredients, some of them old, some of the young.

  2. Michael G. Noll

    Activism as well as community organizing are not simply about isolated issues if looked at holistically. To use the metaphor of a garden, your “one issue” may be tilling the soil on one day, fertilizing the soil another day, taking the weeds out the next day, perhaps watering the plants the following day, and so on. Yet all these activities have one goal: a harvest.
    Again activism and community organizing are not opposites. One cannot successfully happen without the other.
    Your garden won’t grow without the single activities that eventually lead to a harvest. And your single activities will not lead to the ultimate goal either, if not connected with the larger concept of a garden.
    In other words, activism and community organizing are interdependent.

  3. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Weeding is good, but cover crops are better, and the garden needs to be planted before the last weed is gone. “In other words, activism and community organizing are interdependent.” It’s good to see you agree with what Seth and I wrote. -jsq

  4. Seth

    We can make them dichotomous, in an order to speak about them more distinctly; but my intent (in the comment turned blog-post above) was not to insinuate that the two are anti-thetical or opposing to one another in many ways at all.
    That is not to say, though, that the work of one doesn’t clearly look much different from the work of the other.
    I hesitate to use metaphor, because while they might be good heuristic learning tools, they too often are or become justificatory and prevent us from communicating clearly.
    I will refer instead to this narrative, the basis of what I was attempting to communicate about my perception between the differences in activism work (all good and well) and organizing. http://beyondthechoir.org/diary/51/activism-vs-organizing-reflections-on-gramsci-pt2

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