Organizing Upgrade

WILLIE BAPTIST: A New & Unsettling Force

Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00 Published in Community Organizing

3305708874 64f0e5b67c tThe strategic relevance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign

This is a revised version of an article originally published in Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements. Volume 2 (1): 262 - 270 (May 2o10).  It was written in response to David Harvey's “Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition.”

My name is Willie Baptist, like a Baptist Church. I am formerly homeless and still poor. I have been poor all my life and have been organizing among poor people in the United States for over 40 years. I participated as one of the organizers in the National Union of the Homeless nationwide organizing drive back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We developed chapters in 25 cities across the US with over 15,000 members and it t was perhaps the first time that homeless people organized homeless people on this scale. I also served as the Education Director for the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, an organization of poor and homeless white, Black and Latino families based in Kensington, the poorest community in the entire state of Pennsylvania, for 10 years. I have worked to build networks of grassroots organizations fighting poverty and connect them with international struggles of the poor including the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) of Brazil and the Abahlali base Mjondolo Shackdwellers movement of South Africa. I currently serve as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence at Union Theological Seminary and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative’s Poverty Scholars Program.

READERS FORUM: New Strategic Directions

Sunday, 01 August 2010 00:00 Published in Community Organizing

Organizing Upgrade wants to engage you - our readers - in the strategic dialogue we have started here.  At the recent Social Forum, we heard from so many of you that you have been reading the site regularly and that you really appreciate the dialogue.   We are honored that you  appreciate the space we have created.

But now we want to hear from YOU!

We are experimenting with a new type of forum - a "Reader's Forum" - designed specifically to draw out the voices of the many left organizers, activists, and thinkers from around the country. We know you are reading.   We also want to know what you are thinking!

Beyond Non-Profit Models

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 00:00 Published in Community Organizing

fastforumlogo-300x168Welcome back to Fast Forum!  We pick a hot topic and ask 3 – 6 organizers from across the country to weigh in. Our hope is to draw out new ideas and to encourage new voices to take a stab at the freshest challenges facing our community. This month, Jidan Koon, Senior Fellow at the Movement Strategy Center in Oakland, guest-edited a FastForum exploring the efforts of different organizations to push the boundaries of the non-profit model.

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