Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's been a quiet week in Minneapolis....

.... even though right next door there have been speeches, celebrations and protests. You wouldn't know it at our house, where we have barely turned the TV dial from the baseball station, watching the Twins lose every night. Pick your poison.

It's a far cry from 1968, when I stayed with my grandparents down in Jackson, Minnesota, and watched the whole Republican convention on television, with my grandfather's running commentary about how Nixon was a good guy because he did not grow up rich, like those Kennedys. (My grandfather also said that "Voting for Roosevelt was the worst mistake I ever made." He would say that and then, a little later, tell us that he was going "down to the co-op for a while." When I got older, that confused me.)

It's not that I don't care about politics. Although there are many political viewpoints (and now, even religious viewpoints) in my family, and we have learned to love each other, mostly, anyway.

And it's not that I don't care who becomes President.

But I worry that, for many people, voting has become their only act of civic participation. And of course, a lot of people don't even vote.

So, I was saddened and disturbed by what I heard about the derogatory comments about community organizers last night. One of the things that community organizers do is teach people how to participate effectively in their community, for social change -- for themselves.

I know a little about organizing, as I have received some training from The Gamaliel Foundation. One thing I find refreshing is that organizing challenges both liberal and conservative orthodoxies. It's not about hand-outs, or about rescuing poor people, but about empowering people to act for their own good. And it's not about "rugged individualism" or bootstraps, but about acting together for a common cause.

I found this article by a real live organizer ting inspiring and enlightening.

I'd also like to recommend (at least to Minnesotans) the book The Citizen Solution, by Harry Boyte. It's published by Minnesota Historical Society Press. I may post more about it later.

Finally, as all of the Conventions and all of the speeches fade from our view, and we get back into the pre-election groove of hearing all of the negative advertising, I would like to direct you to this helpful non-partisan truth-o-meter. (yep, they all do it...)

Now, I think I'll head down to the co-op for a little while....

10 comments:

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thanks for speaking from your experience about community organizing. It's good to get the perspective of someone who knows.

ROBERTA said...

that truth-o-meter was great!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Love the truth-o-meter.

And the belittling of community organizers makes me so sad. Well, yeah and mad too.

afeatheradrift said...

The response to the slam "just another community organizer" has been met with this: "Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor." This is pretty much spreading around the bloggosphere today in answer to Ms. Palin's sarcasm.

mompriest said...

Someone said to me today: Jesus was a community organizer. Pilate was a govenor....anyway, it made me chuckle...

FranIAm said...

Diane- this is just an amazing post. I sat here and read it three times - it really gets to the heart of things.

Thank you for sharing your insights and your wisdom- always so generously.

Singing Owl said...

Yah, sarcasm usually does come back to bite one, doesn't it?

Your grandfather sounds a lot like my father did. Heh heh...

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

Diane

I think the most poignant thing you said was, "But I worry that, for many people, voting has become their only act of civic participation. And of course, a lot of people don't even vote."

I think you are really on to something. We live in a time when small d democratic values like open civil discourse and small r republican values like governmental accountability are needed. The key to making that happen are gutsy people who will help others learn how.

Diane said...

Well, unlikely, most of the organizers I know are gutsy. That's one word that describes them. I don't mean to make fun of Sarah Palin AT ALL, but perhaps in her small town, there weren't any organizers? I know that organizers work mostly in urban and suburban communities, and are not as present in rural areas (sadly).

Kievas said...

Thnaks for the link to the tuth-o-meter--I'm adding it to my list of websites that one of our groups is compiling for a discussion next month on resources to help would-be voters.