Are YOU a Community Organizer?
I recently completed an Undoing Racism® Community Organizing Workshop hosted by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a “a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation.”
I still have so many thoughts left to process from the 2 and a half day training.
Much of my work and training has been around working with people inter-personally: either individually or in groups. After participating in the training and having opportunities to reflect back on all that I have done so far, I can see that many of the skills I have are in line with community organizing, but up until this point, I had never really identified myself with the title of Community Organizer.
However, as a result of participating in a simple closing common ground exercise at the end of the training, I was able to see the true Community Organizer in myself, and I hope you’ll be able to find the organizer in you as well after reading this post.
For those of you who might not be familiar, Common Ground is a silent exercise in which people stand together in a circle, and a facilitator (or facilitators) read a series of statements about a particular topic. If the statement is true for you, you would step forward, look around to see who else has stepped forward with you (to see who else you might share “common ground” with), and then you would step back. As this process continues, participants are able to find commonalities between themselves and others.
Here are the statements that were read aloud by one of the trainers in the workshop that helped me to be able to see and understand my abilities as a community organizer:
Common Ground for the Community Organizer:
“I educate/teach formally or informally.”
“I work in a multi-racial, multi-cultural collective as a part of my social justice work.”
“I have brought people together around a common concern.”
“I work to develop leadership in others.”
“I ask critical questions.”
“I engage in work/practices that aim to shift power.”
“I work to build relationships with others.”
“I have invited people to get involved in a social justice issue…and they came!”
“I have hosted a dinner/gathering/movie night with friends.”
“I have used the tool of agitation to motivate people into action/awareness/”
“I have called/written a government representative in regards to a social/political concern as a part of a collaborative campaign.”
“I address/seek to address the root causes of oppression.”
“I work to build towards movements that work towards people and communities acting/speaking to their own best interests.”
“I continue my own learning/education about social justice.”
So what about you?
I enjoyed this exercise because I found it to be really empowering. From the outside in, getting started may seem intimidating and complicated. This is post is in no way to say that those things can’t be true, but I think the point here is that sometimes, we might have everything we need to begin, but could be unaware of it because of idealistic standards, or maybe even a lack of awareness of our own gifts that we might bring to the table.
If you could answer yes to any, or many of those statements, you might just have the makings of a community organizer, whether you know it or not.
Could you see yourself in these statements? Are you a Community Organizer?
Grace & Peace,
Relando Thompkins, MSW: Servant Leader, Teacher, Learner, Social Change Agent, and now….Community Organizer!