I am a new fan of local organizing guru Bill Traynor. My local organizing heroes are in Lawernce. Together, they are rolling out network-centric organizing strategy at the community level.
"Our principal role, as an organization and a network hub, is to let loose this power of collective demand in the neighborhood environment, a place where the suppliers have ruled for quite some time. "
Yeah! Are we building "supplier organizations" or are we focused on letting loose the power of collective demand?
Kudos to Bill and the Network in Lawerence!
Across the country there is a fundamental condition that consistently undercuts even the most successful community development efforts: chronic disengagement. In most cities, public or civic life is a hostile environment for the average person, ruled by cynicism and division, and dominated by entrenched habits of isolation and detachment. Unfortunately, while our community development field is engineered to build the physical things communities need – new homes, community centers and small businesses – and to some extent, to influence the policy that supports those products, we are not designed to attack this condition. CDCs, other community building groups, and the funders and intermediaries that support them, have to confront the possibility that if we do not build resident power and engagement and repopulate the barren public landscape in our cities, then we are ignoring one of the key challenges in the field today and undermining all our other efforts.
At Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW), a CDC in Lawrence, Massachusetts, we joke that, for years in our city, everyone has had just enough clout to stop anyone from doing anything, but not enough to actually get anything done. Lawrence is one of those places where disengagement has left a vacuum of energy, vision and leadership in public life.