A brief history of Community Organising.
Community organising is nothing new. Globally people been organising in local areas to fight against injustice, traditionally community organisers have been inspired to take up their role to improve the conditions of their community. Paulo Freiere and Saul Alinsky are the two main inspirations to the new form of community organising in England, more famously President Obama, who moved to Chicago worked as community organiser to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants, and now community organising is here in the North West of England!!
To many, Saul Alinsky is known as the man that gave birth to community organising, the ‘founder’ and the ‘father’. He used the traditional trade union methods back in the 1930’s and applied them to poor communities tackling social issues. Those made poor by economic, demographic and social changes he encouraged take an equal part in designing solutions for their problems. Born in Chicago 1909 he grew up to become a criminologist and his first case was to study gangland activity, he then quickly realised that gangland activity was formed through deprivation. Alinsky claimed that in order to tackle some of the issues in communities they needed a form of power, he famously quoted “power goes to two poles, to those who’ve got the money and those who’ve got the people”. If there was no money in the community, there was still hope, ‘power in the people!'
In 1971, his final piece of work was published, Rules for Radicals! In the opening paragraph Alinsky writes,
“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is, to what they believe it should be.”
His work may have been outdated over the years, his methods adapted, and his tactics criticised; but to this day Ignite! North West CIC firmly believe in his approach to working with communities.
‘The first thing you’ve got to do in a community is listen, not talk; learn to eat, sleep, breathe only one thing: the problems and aspirations of the community. Because no matter how imaginative your tactics, how shrewd your strategy, you’re doomed before you even start if you don’t win the trust and respect of the people; and the only way to get that is for you to trust and respect them, and without that respect, there’s no communication, no mutual confidence, and no action.’
For more information visit: http://infed.org/mobi/saul-alinsky-community-organizing-and-rules-for-radicals/
Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educationalist, he was concerned for the most part about the traditional forms of education and the effects they had upon the most deprived and oppressed people in society.
Traditional Education, Freire believed, was designed to futher oppress people, through traditional education you are taught by one person who will tell you what to learn and how to learn it. Freire was interested in how Informal Education could have an empowering impact upon oppressed people.Informal education is not about one person impacting upon another, it is about discussion and dialogue, where people learn from each other, they learn through speaking and listening to each other to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and of the wider world. It was important to Freire that education be relevant to people, that those who were learning were doing so through a lived experience. Freire was also concerned with 'Praxis', an action that is informed by knowledge. Praxis is possible when a person, or a group of people, have listened to each other and are deeply informed of a situation.
It is evident to us at Ignite! North West CIC that to strengthen Communities we must enter into dialogue with those that live there, we must listen deeply and truly understand the individual identity of each community. We will work inclusivley with everybody who wants to work with us in a community, we will not exlude anybody for any reason and we believe that each person has a right and a responsibility to take action and make their Community a better place.
"The oppressors do not favor promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders"
For more information visit: http://infed.org/mobi/paulo-freire-dialogue-praxis-and-education/