Small lessons about community organizing trough my experiences in USA as an professional fellow in community organizing.

kirilka angelovaI spent 42 days in USA learning, sharing and working on the topic of the community organizing. Of course I can’t share all my experience in one page but I will try to summaries my community organizing experience. And yes I am really grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be part of the professional fellowship program sponsored by U.S State Department Bureau of the Educational and Cultural Affairs. Locally  organized by WSOS and Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development.
So what is it community organizing?
It is never about us! It is about the interest of the community, Is about them! You as an organizer are not beginning or end! You have to ask them to be your partners because of their own interest. What can truly be accomplished with the community? And why community building is so important for the society and for building policies in general? Why we should count on each other? What can be improve and prove?
Again it is never about us as an organizers it is about them what is the change they want to see is it less homelessness, is it better education, is it better living, is it better understanding of the differences, of the religion, or just the need we to be more people to people.
I realize that the problem is in …or the most important is finding the problem? So you have to find the problem – and yes this is the hardest part. To find the problem to indentify it.
As an organizer you have your job, your hobbies, your self motivation, your networks, your organization. Of course there is always the reason the turning point why you chose to become a community organizer: is it because of your anger, or is because of the education that you have or you don’t have, is it because of your skills or is because of your family, it could be because of your religion as well.
Everybody has his/hers turning point – his/hers anger it is all about involving and engaging if you are becoming community organizer just because you have to or just because somebody push you it is shown but if you truly believe in what you want to achieve and what you have to do it is just obvious.
Is it job? Hobbies? Motivation? Networks? – isn’t it all connect with the organization? Or the problems are with the religious, education, skills, family? Where is the anger? What are the turning points?
It is all about relation and all about concerns. My job as an organizer is to organizing them to organize themselves. To build the organization and develop it on next level. Community organizing groups are made up of relationships between individuals. Of course, this is not all that holds them together. Long-term groups depend on a loyalty to the organization and its historical relationship to the community. And on, the specific issues that a group works on can draw in commitment. But at the base level, at its best, a community organizing group is made up of relationships between individuals.
Some people have the impossible dream to shows up. You always have to ask yourself questions. What can truly be accomplish?
“Community” is not something that is given in particular neighborhoods or cities. In the inner-city today, for example, people often do not know their neighbors and may actually fear some of the people who live or congregate on their blocks. Mobility in these neighborhoods is high, often for financial reasons, so it is harder for a coherent sense of geographic identity. And even when people do know each other, studies indicate that in poor communities relational ties generally don’t cross social class lines. In other words, poor people know other poor people, and more well-off people know those with economic situations more like their own.
The problem is not that people today don’t belong to any organizations at all, or that they don’t volunteer to help others. Instead, what have been lost are collections of people who see themselves as an ongoing, relatively permanent “we” that can act as collectives.
Commitment and engagement – in 4th step
First, one of the key mottos of organizing is: “People don’t come to meetings because they see a flyer or read an announcement in the bulletin. People come to meetings because someone invited them.” This is a powerful truth of human motivation. In the most basic sense, it’s much easier to go to a new place with new people if there is someone there that you “know.” Being invited also makes a person feel more important, it seems like it actually matters if they show up or not. And you can’t be accountable to a flyer. You are only accountable to another human being. If someone calls you up and invites you and you say yes, then you are accountable whether you follow through or not.
Second, people feel a part of organizations and actions not only because they care in abstract about an issue, but also because they feel connected to the individuals in that organization. The more relationships you have with people in an organization, the more you will feel a part of it and actually responsible for its success or failure.
Third, your relationship with someone allows you to engage with them around their self-interests or “passions.” If some random person calls you up and says “I know your kid is going to the school that it doesn’t give the good education,” you might even be offended. But someone who has had a personal conversation with you, and to whom you have made some accountable commitment, however small, has the right at least to call you up and talk with you about this—regardless of how you respond to them.
Fourth, once you do a lot of personal meetings one on one , the group you are a part of starts seeming less like an abstract collective, and more like what it is, a collection of unique individuals drawn together for a range of diverse reasons and convictions, however structured your organization may be. You start to understand challenges and internal tensions in your organization in more complex terms. Someone once said to me that: It’s not the idea, it’s the people.
This is actually a pretty profound statement, when you think about it. No matter how great your idea is, how “right” you are, you won’t get anywhere if you can’t get other people together around it. On the other hand, quite horrible ideas often get put into effect because enough people are willing to support them. If you don’t know your “people” then you won’t be able to understand which ideas will and won’t “go,” or how to get people to understand the “truth” of ideas you hold dear (even if you are actually wrong).

to be continued…Kiki

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