Today kicked off day one of the first 2009 Community Action Training hosted by the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO, pronounced as "C 2").
I am really excited to be a part of this training. Community organizing -- that grassroots, folks from the ground up speaking up and speaking out for themselves with a fiery passion, carving out a place for themselves in a politics that structurally excludes them. I want to be a part of that! To be part of the kind of movements that I've only seen on documentaries (like the one about the strike against the decision to admit men at Mills College, the one about las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the one about the Women in Black [http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/organizations/women_in_black], the Coalition of Women for Peace in Palestine, and perhaps more recently, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" [http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/v2/]).
One thing that crossed my mind over the course of the evening were the overlaps between community organizing, as I'm learning about it through CTWO, and nonprofit public policy advocacy, as I'm learning about it through the Nonprofit Administration program at USF. Both are rooted in similar methods of political analysis -- the Advocacy Progress Planner (http://planning.continuousprogress.org/) being a more robust and high-tech form of the "three questions movement organizers need to ask" -- #1 What's going on? #2 What's your vision? #3 How do we get there? The latter forming the crux of the former. Community organizing is often involved in advocacy work -- such as gathering petitions to put an initiative on the ballot ("direct advocacy" in support of Measure K "Kids First" in Oakland, for example). It's about gaining broad-based support, be it though door-knocking or a knock-out op-ed.
So why does being at Community Action Training seem worlds away from my regular life as a "nonprofit professional"?