In defense of Community Organizers

Written by Debra

Topics: Coal

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When I turned on my TV last night, I was shocked to see major political figures dissing community organizers. From what I could tell, community organizing is a job for lightweights who want to avoid responsibility. “Oh my gosh,” I thought, “I’ve wasted my entire career!”

Then I turned off the TV and did a reality check. The job of a community organizer is to help community members make connections between the various problems they’re experiencing (let’s say the link between high rates of childhood asthma, high unemployment, and the coal power plant spewing soot down the street); facilitate community members’ coming up with their own solutions (hmm, maybe shut down the coal plant and invest in clean energy, green jobs and education); and empower them to win change and take back their neighborhoods. That sounds like a huge responsibility to me.

If there were more dedicated community organizers out there, more communities would be taking back the power that is rightfully theirs. That would leave less power for the politicians – and the corporate interests behind them. Maybe that’s what they’re afraid of?

(RAN is a nonpartisan organization that takes no stand on any political candidates. This post is merely intended to defend a noble career choice.)

19 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Toben says:

    Thanks for posting this Debra. I totally agree and felt the same way reading the pull quotes this morning.

  2. Scott says:

    check the new website.

    Politicians like power. Community organizers organize communities to build power for themselves and not rely on politicians. Politicians don’t like that.

    The ultimate goal of the community organizer should be to make themselves irrelevant.

    The goal of the politician is to make themselves the most relevant person in the room.

    Go figure that someone who spent 8 years waging open warfare against poor and working communities in NYC, and a mouthpiece for big oil dissed on community organizers.

    More troublesome is the open warfare being wage on activists and organizers this week in the streets of the Twin Cities by the authorities with a $10 million bill being footed by the GOP Host Committee for future lawsuits.

  3. janet curtis says:

    It is ludicrist to laugh at comunity organizers! Or to discredit that work. As for Palin, she shows no respect, while others are not judging her children and will politely refusre to make that into issue. But McCain saying this campaign is NOT about issues..well we have alot that needs to be addressed. It’s too bad that not many people know Palin, but I do, from petitioning against her wolf areil slaughter for years, which she now wants to implement in other states and kill all wildlife in this manner. THAT is not pro-life for animals nor the environment. And denying global warming is plain stupidity..Be wary of her, she is not the right choice! Already caught in lies, already under investigation..the least she could have educated her children on if not on sex,..could at least have said, Look, I am a public official, do NOT embarrass me!

  4. Jill Clodfelter-Mason says:

    I respect Community Organizers to the fullest. THEY put people first. Sarah apparently doesn’t put people first, even children with special needs.

    Even though Sarah indicated during her speech that she would be an advocate for children with special needs, as Governor of Alaska Sarah reduced funding for children with special needs by a whopping 62%!

    Outside of her wonderful ability to lie about helping children with disabilities, she is quite talented at being condescending towards the people (Community Organizers) who help the individuals that need to greatest amount of help.

  5. Harriet says:

    Hi Debra,
    You are so right! This should be published in every newspaper. I know the Democratic parties would love to see this.
    Keep up the good work. Without people like you and Senator Obama we wouldn’t have communities to organize, only vigilantes running around shooting people who get in their way.

  6. Nora Jones says:

    Wow, I didn’t know she wanted to extend that contemptible practice of aerial wolf slaughter into other states. She is pure evil. I guess if she gets anywhere near the White House, the US will be wildlife-free within a couple of years. Go, community organisers.

  7. Craig Nazor says:

    Organizing communities is the foundation of democracy. For citizens (the components of communities) to become active in politics is the DEFINITION of democracy. So Sarah Palin has been a mayor and a governor. Who did she represent? Did she draw her power from the will of the people, or did she say, “trust me, I know what to do”, and then do what she thought was “right”? Is it about her, or is it about the community? A vote for Sarah Palin will obviously be interpreted by her as an approval of her policies, and I, for one, find many of those policies despicable: ariel hunting of wolves and bears, increased logging of temperate rainforests, no human responsibility for global warming, teaching creationism in schools as “science”, drilling in the ANWR, drilling in the Chukchi Sea… it reminds me of another very unpopular “decider”. Well, in the voting booth, the community is the decider, so let’s get organized!

  8. John Davis says:

    Awe, hell, I am a community organizer! I guess those big mouths are jealous that their campaign can’t get community organizers to work for them. Me, I’m for Obama and Peace and Non-violence in my community.

  9. SusanM. says:

    I was first shocked, then angered by the Palin comment about community organizers not doing any “real work”! It was down right untrue, as well as a highly offensive statement. I sincerely doubt that Palin actually knows what a professional community organizer does;including the skill level required or how little they are paid.

  10. Mary says:

    I was SO embarrassed to hear Gov. Palin making a mockery out of Senator Obama’s commitment to community organizing. Community is what makes or breaks a society if there is no cohesiveness. It seemed so juvenile, that behavior. I am an undeclared voter, not affiliated with any party and it is obvious now more than ever why I chose this way. I am livid with the seeming arrogance of Ms. Palin and her outright disregard for people who live with less. Sarah and Todd Palin live in a mini-mansion on Lake Lucille. As Alaska’s governor, she spends more time apparently in Wasilla than Juneau. Sounds a bit like Mr. Bush and his ‘western’ Whitehouse. Palin is a former beauty queen — albeit Mr. McCain is enamoured by her — after all he has a Barbie-doll wife. See any connections?
    Condolezza Rice for GOP VP candidate would be an improvement in monstrous proportions!
    Can anyone imagine Sarah Palin dealing with countries of strict Muslim or modest faiths with her outspoken, ‘maverick’ self? The same Sarah Palin that was scantily clad on the cover of Vogue magazine…I wonder if Mr. McCain saw that issue?

  11. David Weinstein says:

    The democrats need to shine the light on the anti-democratic ideology of Mc
    cain and Palin, to call extremists extremists.

  12. Monica Kuehn says:

    Thank you people for being real. I will be unpartisan here. Any people — Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc. — who espouse world domination and “peace” meaning “pacified” will also hate comunity soul, leadership, humanity. It is not a political party issue (in the UK it’s the Labour Party who is espousing the anti-tariff, anti-border policy, and the war with Iraq). If you are unware of what PNAC (look it up) was the neocon cartel’s “think tank”. (Neocons are not “right”, and not “left”). Palin, McCain, etc., have the earmarks of not true “right” Conservatives, but neoCons. PNAC (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. were in it) was the “think tank” (cartel’s voice). It claimed they wanted “extraordinary events” to shock people to have people hurting and wanting wars and anti-environment policies which neocons. 10,000 scientists (including Nobel Prize winners and Gold Medal winners) have signed that the Bush administration (not the Republican party) has covered up environmental and other science, to further political agendas. Neocon stuff can be found in all parties and non parties (the populace or other branches like CIA, etc.) My point here is keep it straight — so you can stay strong, be real, be community aware, be wonderful! And fight wherever you can. Perhaps under a Democrat leadership the 9/11 lies and other things will be opened, NOT because Dem’s are better or something, but the cover-up didn’t happen under their rulership. Keep trying to be real. We need real people, real community leadership, and NO WOLVES SHOT, by the way.

  13. Monica Kuehn says:

    This sentence was an editing mistake on my part: “It [PNAC] claimed they wanted “extraordinary events” to shock people to have people hurting and wanting wars and anti-environment policies which neocons.” It should have read, “It [PNAC] is on record saying it wanted an “extraordinary event” to speed the poosibility of traumatizing, catalyzing the US people into wanting war, and wanting the “good” changes the neocons want — such as “peace” which they SAY will be only possible by controlling people.” Read the PNAC document, “Project for the New American Century” — it’s DISGUSTING. But it’s all couched in terms of “peace” and “prosperity” if we toe the line. Heard of the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America” (SPP)? It’s what Prime Minister Harper (Canada), George W. Bush (USA) and Felipe Calderon (Mexico) are pushing. Silently. It is an EEC government blending of administrations, policies, military (“security”), etc. They will sell it to you as being “good for you” because of “terrorism” and the “need for sharing commodities”. What they don’t say is it will rob Canada of its water, allow US military policies to pressure and involve Canada and Mexico, and ruin environmental and health and educational differences (sovereignties). Point being: learn, grow, fight them. You people are the possibility … because you know what’s at stake: our communities (humans) and our natural planet. You go, people!

  14. Frances C Ibarley says:

    It is these community organizers who DO get things done when so often not even city, county, state or national government (because the needy can’t wait due red-tape) manage to get whatever needs to be done. Thanks to these community organizers of whom many are probably volunteers!

  15. Sophi Zimmerman says:

    Thanks so much for your comments on community organizers. I have benefited from their work and find it preposterous that the GOP believes they don’t have any actual responsibilities!

  16. Susan Woods says:

    These candidates offered no ideas or plans to deal with our economic crisis. They are so out of touch. And Sarah Palin has no excuse for that. She’s young. Her attitude toward continual killing of wolves and wildlife is ignorant and brutal. The ruination of Alaska would not even provide enough oil to the next generation. Neither she nor John McCain is in touch with community needs. They would have benefited from the “community organizer” experience. They are not acknowledging the real issues and show no signs of awareness.

  17. Linda Chambers says:

    Thanks to everyone for your enlightened comments. We all benefit from the work of community organizers. I guess Republicans forget that if there platform is less government, community organizers are critical to fill in the needs of communities accross America.

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