Show cover of Listen, Organize, Act! Organizing & Democratic Politics

Listen, Organize, Act! Organizing & Democratic Politics

The Listen, Organize, Act podcast focuses on the history and contemporary practice of community organizing and democratic politics. Alongside this specific focus are two others: the first is to explore how organizing connects democracy and religion, particularly at a local level; the second is to explore the visions and practices that shape small 'd,' participatory democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, each series looks at democracy as not first and foremost about a system of government, or set of laws, or an ideology but as rooted in three things. The first is a commitment to listen to others different to oneself because their experience, their story, who they are as a person matters. Listening honors fundamental premises of democracy, as it marks a way of respecting the dignity of each individual, the importance of dialogue as against killing and coercion as means of resolving conflicts, and that people should have a say in decisions that affect them. The second is that democracy does not just happen, it needs organizing. And if it is to be democratic, it needs people organizing between themselves to determine their living and working conditions. If ordinary people don’t get organized then they are subject to others acting on them and their living and working conditions being determined by systems and structures controlled by others who either won’t listen to them, don’t have their interests at heart, or are actively hostile, wanting them silenced or disenfranchised. And finally, democracy lives or dies by shared action. Listening and organizing generate the means of coming together, but at a certain point people must act together to move the world as it is towards becoming a more just and generous one in which all may flourish. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other to form an integrated series. Season 1 is a foundational course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing and build a more just and generous common life through democratic means. Season 2 is a foundational course in the meaning, purpose, and character of democracy.


S1.E1: What is Community Organizing? And Why is it Needed?
In this, the first episode, I talk to Keisha Krumm and Mike Gecan about what is community organizing, what it involves, and why it matters.  Community organizing can also be referred to as broad-based organizing, institution-based organizing, faith-based organizing, or neighborhood organizing. Keisha and Mike prefer just to talk about organizing as the work of enabling people to come together to build power to effect democratic change where they live and work. As you will hear, boundaries between labor and community organizing and between movement building and community building work are fluid. What is constant is the need for relationally driven, bottom up forms of democratic politics.Guests: Keisha Krumm and Mike Gecan are two very experienced organizers with the Industrial Areas Foundation. Keisha recently became lead organizer with Greater Cleveland Congregations having been an organizer in Milwaukee for a number of years before that. And Mike has been an organizer for over forty years, written extensively on organizing, and done much to shape its contemporary practice. They each tell something of their story at the beginning of the episode.Resources for Going Deeper:Saul Alinsky. Reveille for Radicals (various editions), Chapter 11; Luke Bretherton, "The origins of organizing: an intellectual history," Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), Chapter 1; Bernard Crick, In Defence of Politics (London: Continuum, 2005); Lee Staples, “‘Power to the People’ Basic Organizing Philosophy and Goals,” Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing, 3rd edn (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), 1-14, 21-35; Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century (New York: Nation Books, 2017), 251-284. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
64:54 2/15/21
S1.E2: The Basic Tool of Organizing: The One to One or Relational Meeting
This episode discusses why and how listening is the beginning point of democratic organizing and the role of the one-to-one or relational meeting in that work. The first part is a discussion with Lina Jamoul about what is a one to one, what it involves, and how it differs from other ways of engaging with people in democratic politics.  In the second part I talk to Arnie Graf to reflect further on some of the tensions and issues that arise in doing one-to-one’s. Guests: Lina Jamoul is Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. Arnie Graf began organizing work as part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and then went on to work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) for over forty years. More recently he worked with the British Labour Party to develop the insights of organizing for local party politics in the UK. Arnie recently published a book narrating all this work entitled: "Lessons Learned: Stories from a Lifetime of Organizing" (ACTA, 2020). Resources for Going Deeper: Edward Chambers with Michael Cowan, "The Relational Meeting,"  Roots for Radicals: Organizing for Power, Action, and Justice (New York: Continuum, 2004), Chapter 2; Jeffrey Stout, “Face-to-Face Meetings,” Blessed are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), Chapter 12. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
49:18 2/15/21
S1.E3: The Other Basic Tool of Organizing: House Meetings
In this episode I examine the second key tool organizing uses for listening, building relationships, and effecting change: the house meeting. As a form of democratic politics that begins with listening and is attentive to the experience, conditions, and stories of people where they live and work, organizing needs practices for listening well. Along with the one-to-one discussed in the previous episode, the house meeting is just such a practice and the other basic tool of community organizing. So in this episode I discuss the history of the house meeting, what it is and why it matters, how to do it, some of the issues and problems that often come up when facilitating a house meeting, how it feeds into building power, and how it contrasts with other approaches to listening and engaging people in democratic politics such as focus groups.  GuestsTim McManus has been with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) for over thirteen years now, organizing in Dallas and Phoenix before becoming the Lead Organizer for Communities Organized for Power in Action (COPA), the IAF affiliate on the Central Coast of California. He is currently building a new IAF organization in California’s Central Valley.  Before becoming an organizer, he was a high school teacher.Maria Elena Manzo was born in Mexico and came to the US aged 14. She was a farmworker, going back and forth to Mexico until she was 30 after which she was able to settle in California. She has been a leader with COPA for almost 20 years and currently works as program manager for Mujeres en Acción.Resources for Going DeeperGabriel Thompson, “The Mexican Problem,” America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016), Chapter 5; Aaron Schutz and Mike Miller, “Fred Ross and the House-Meeting Approach,” People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky (Nashville: University of Vanderbilt Press, 2015), Chapter 8.  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
61:39 3/2/21
S1.E4: The Ability to Act: Power Over and Power With
This episode discusses power, defined simply as the ability to act. It focuses on the relationship between power and democratic politics, the distinction between "power over" or unilateral power and "power with" or relational power, and questions such as who has power, how should it be analyzed, is anyone really powerless, the nature of self-interest, and how does organizing build power to effect change.GuestsRobert Hoo is the Lead Organizer and Executive Director for One LA-IAF. He has fifteen years of organizing experience with the Industrial Areas Foundation in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Sacramento. And before that served as an AmeriCorps member in Connecticut.Ben Gordon is senior organizer with Metro IAF which he joined in 2016. He currently works with the IAF organizations in Boston, Connecticut, Milwaukee, as well as several labor union partners. Prior to joining Metro IAF, he was Director of Organizing for the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), a 200,000-member affiliate of the public employees union (AFSCME). He began his professional organizing career in 1987 with the Southern Region of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union organizing clothing factory workers in the Southeast.Resources for Going DeeperFrederick Douglas, “West India Emancipation” (1857). A key statement of the importance of power in radical democratic politics. Available online: Bayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement.” Discussed in this and other episodes.  Available online: Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: Vintage, 1975). Considered a classic, this book gives an account of the urban planner Robert Moses. Organizers consistently refer to this book as a detailed and very revealing case study in how to gain power even when you don’t hold an official or elected post, how power operates institutionally, how to get things done, and how to analyze power; Saul Alinsky, John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography (New York: Vintage, 1970). Another case studies in how power is built up and wielded effectively, this time in a non-state focused form of politics, that of union organizing; The distinction between “power with” and “power over” originates with Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (New York: Longmans, Green, 1930 [1924]); Hannah Arendt also sketched a conception of relational power in her essay “On Violence.” See Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (London: Penguin Books, 2006 [1963]), 105–98; Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992). A reading of the New Testament and the ministry of Jesus as exemplifying creative, non-violent resistance and the use of relational power to bring change; Amy Allen, “Feminist Perspectives on Power,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (on-line), For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
69:22 3/9/21
S1.E5: Leadership, But Not As You Know It
This episode discusses the nature and purpose of leadership in organizing, how it is defined and understood, who are leaders, the difference between leaders and organizers, and what their respective roles are in the shared work of organizing. The understanding and practice of leadership in organizing is very different to that put forward in most leadership training programs, institutes, and business schools. It is counter cultural and embodies a deep wisdom about leadership that can be applied in many if not most institutional settings, particularly in congregational ones.GuestsElizabeth Valdez has nearly 40 years of organizing experience. Having begun her work as an organizer in El Paso on the US-Mexico border, she has since organized in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and now Houston where she is the lead organizer of The Metropolitan Organization, the IAF affiliate there. She is a senior organizer with the West/SouthWest IAF and has pioneered work to address infrastructure, employment, housing, and medical needs in the region.Bishop Douglas Miles has over 50 years of experience combining congregational ministry with leadership in addressing community needs of one kind or another.  This work began with setting up the first homeless shelter with accommodations for women and their children in Baltimore in the early 1970s and has continued on with innovative initiatives to address addiction, educational needs, and starting an alternative juvenile sentencing program. He co-founded Baltimore’s Interfaith Alliance and was a key leader in the development of BUILD, the IAF affiliate in Baltimore, of which he has twice been its Co-Chair.  And as a leader, he has trained many organizers. In his day job, he has built up and pastored large and thriving churches in Baltimore and Memphis.Resources for Going DeeperJeffrey Stout, “The Authority to Lead,” Blessed are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), Chapter 8; Noelle McAfee, “Relationship and Power: An Interview with Ernesto Cortes, Jr. (1993),” in People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky, eds. Aaron Schutz and Mike Miller (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2015), 226-234; Marshall Ganz, Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Workers Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), see especially pp. 3-21; Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos, “Developing Leaders from All Walks of Life,” Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community (San Francisco: John Wiley & Son, 2007), Chapter Five. Includes an overview of leadership styles, a case study of developing a leader, and worksheets for organizers to use when training and developing leaders. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
62:43 3/16/21
S1.E6: Institutions: Why They're Vital for Democratic Politics
Building on the previous episodes on power and leadership, in this episode I examine the place of institutions in organizing, discussing what is an institution, what makes for a healthy institution, how and why institutions are central to the kind of place-based, relationally driven democratic politics organizing undertakes, and why without them the individual is left naked before the power of the market and the state. Also reflected on is a key rule of organizing, which is that all organizing is in the first instance disorganizing.GuestsMartin Trimble is Co-Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).  He is directly responsible for the IAF’s organizing work east of the Mississippi River. He has organized for 25 years with IAF affiliates in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina.  Prior to organizing with the IAF, Martin was the founding director of Opportunity Finance Network which supports and provides standards for financial institutions that invest in affordable housing and community development work nationwide.Rev Patrick O’Connor grew up and received his theological education in the West Indies. He is currently the lead pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, a multicultural congregation in the Presbytery of New York City. He has served this congregation since 1992. Under his leadership, First Presbyterian is involved in the development of the “Tree of Life” a $74 million dollar affordable “mixed income” housing development that includes a community space and a health care facility. His leadership extends beyond the congregation to the Presbytery of New York City and the General Assembly of his denomination.  And he is Co-Chair of the Metro IAF Leadership team, Chairman of Queens Power, a Director of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, and Chairman of First Jamaica Community and Urban Development Corporation and a member of the board of Trustee for the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Resources for Going DeeperMichael Gecan, Effective Organizing for Congregational Renewal (Skokie, IL: ACTA Publications, 2008). Good introduction to organizing and how to use organizing as part of congregational development and institutional renewal; Harry Boyte, Civic Agency and the Cult of the Expert (New York: Kettering Foundation, 2009). A clear-eyed reflection on how to re-imagine institutions that serve the needs of their members, build up the ability of people to act together to achieve public work, and the need to dethrone what Boyte calls “the cult of the expert.” Free to download: Illich, Tools for Conviviality (Marion Boyars Publishers, 2001); Sheldon Wolin, “Contract and Birthright,” The Presence of the Past: Essays on the State and the Constitution.(Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1989), Chapter 8; Hugh Heclo, On Thinking Institutionally (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Lee Staples, “‘Keeping it all together: Organizational Development and Maintenance,” Roots to Power: A Manual For Grassroots Organizing, 3rd edn (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), 221-263. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
61:09 3/25/21
S1.E7: Popular Education: Organizing Knowledge & Learning to be Political
This episode focuses on popular education, discussing what it is and why it’s key to good democratic organizing with Ernesto Cortes, Jr. Alongside organized money, organized people, and organized action, building power to effect change requires organized knowledge. Organized knowledge generates the frameworks of analysis and understanding through which to re-narrate and reimagine the world, destabilizing the dominant scripts and ideas that legitimate oppression. But rather than be driven by ideological concerns, popular education as an approach to organizing knowledge begins with addressing and seeking to solve real problems people face where they live and work. This entails informal, self-organized forms of learning.  Another way to frame popular education is as a grounded approach to addressing the epistemic or knowledge-based dimensions of injustice and creating policies that put people before top-down programs of social engineering (whether of the left or the right).GuestErnesto Cortes, Jr. is currently National Co-Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation and executive director of its West / Southwest regional network. Beginning in the United Farmworker Movement, he has been organizing in one form or another for nearly half a century, helping to organize or initiate innumerable organizing efforts and campaigns. The organizing work he did in San Antonia in the 1970s in many ways set the template for community organizing coalitions in the IAF thereafter. The fruits of his work have been much studied and he has been recognized with numerous awards and academic fellowships, including a MacArther Fellowship in 1984, a Heinz Award in public policy in 1999, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University in 2009.Resources for Going DeeperSaul Alinsky, “Popular Education,” Reveille for Radicals (various editions), Ch. 9; Charles Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom: the Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle(University of California Press, 1995), Ch. 3. Details the organizing and popular educational work of Septima Clark, Ella Baker, and Myles Horton in the formation of the civil rights movement; Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change (Temple University Press, 1990); Stephen Brookfield and Stephen Presskill, Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice (Jossey-Bass, 2008), see especially Chapters 4 & 5;Michael Oakshott, “Political Education,” The Voice of Liberal Learning (Yale University Press, 1989), 159-188.  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
44:52 3/30/21
S1.E8: Organized Money I: Money Power & Fundraising
This episode discusses the positive and negative ways money and politics connect and the means to organize money through politics so it serves human flourishing. Democratic politics has always involved a struggle to ensure money serves people rather than people serving money. The paradox is that, to do so, democratic politics necessities not just organizing people, but also organizing, or better, re-organizing money. The conversation in this episode about organizing money has two sides to it. The first is how to hold dominant centers of economic power - whether in the market or the state - accountable for the use and distribution of that power. The second is how to fundraise to pay for the work of doing democratic politics in ways that are independent of patronage by either the state or the wealthy. This second aspect of the discussion focuses on the difference between 'hard' money that is raised from members, and 'soft' money that comes from grants and foundations, and the tensions between them.GuestsJanet Hirsch is a leader with the IAF affiliate One LA through her participation in her synagogue, Temple Isaiah where she is the Vice President of Social Justice and sits on the Executive Committee of the Temple Isaiah Board.  She has been involved in One LA for over 12 years, leading campaigns on public education, immigration reform, increasing access to mental health services, the expansion of the California earned income tax credit, and most recently, a Covid-19 equity vaccination pilot in South Los Angeles.  Janet was born in Zimbabwe but has lived in Los Angeles since 1987.Joe Rubio is a senior organizer with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation and supervises IAF Projects in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas where he has organized around public education, workforce training, and immigration. He also leads a regional effort called Recognizing the Stranger, which is developing immigrant leadership in 19 metropolitan areas in the Western US. He has been with the IAF since 1992, working in San Antonio, El Paso, and Arizona and now lives in Tempe, Arizona.Resources for Going DeeperJulie Nelson, Economics for Humans (University of Chicago Press, 2006); Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017);Sarah Lange, “Crafting an Effective Fundraising Strategy for Community-Based Organizations (CBOs),” Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing, 3rd edn (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), 400-415;Kim Klein, Fundraising for Social Change, 6th edn (Jossey-Bass, 2011); Luke Bretherton, “Economy,” Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019). A theological analysis of the issues discussed. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
61:52 4/7/21
S1.E9: Organized Money II: Economic Democracy & the Solidarity Economy
This episode focuses on is how to organize money so that it fosters the flourishing of where we live and work through generating different kinds of institutions and ways of building wealth in a community to those that dominate the existing economy.  Alternative, more democratic forms of economic production and investment and ways of structuring work and ownership are needed to address economic inequality, issues of racial equity, and the need for environmentally attuned forms of business. To discuss what is sometimes called the "solidarity economy," I talked to Felipe Witchger and Molly Hemstreet about the imaginative ways they are organizing money, how this work is embodied in a particular form of economic democracy - the cooperative - and how they envision a more just and generous kind of economy.GuestsMolly Hemstreet is the Executive Co-director for The Industrial Commons. She co-founded the organization in 2015 to support industrial workers across her region. She is a native of Morganton, North Carolina where she continues to work and raise her family. After leaving university and working for a bit as a teacher, she worked for the Center for Participatory Change organizing economic development initiatives across rural Western North Carolina in a response to the need for fair livelihoods, and then, in 2008, she founded Opportunity Threads, currently the largest, US based worker-owned company that does cut and sew work. She also co-founded the Carolina Textile District in 2013, which supports the resurgence of textiles across the Carolinas. Molly has also served on the national board of the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) and the Board for the NC Employee Ownership Center. Felipe Witchger organizes at the intersection of cooperatives and financial investment. He co-convenes the US Economy of Francesco, at network of Catholics responding to Pope Francis’s call for a more holistic vision of economic development, serves on the Board of, and is Co-Founder of the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA). Felipe has spent 10 years organizing education and faith leaders into a purchasing cooperative which is designed, governed, and owned by the communities it serves.  Prior to CPA, Felipe led energy research and consulting initiatives with agencies such as Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) and Groundswell.Resources for Going DeeperLuigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni, Civil Economy: Another Idea of the Market, trans., N. Michael Brennen (Agenda Publishing, 2016);Gary Dorrien, ‘Rethinking and Renewing Economic Democracy,’ Economy, Difference, Empire: Social Ethics for Social Justice (Columbia University Press, 2010), Ch. 9;Vera Zamagni, “A Worldwide Historical Perspective on Cooperatives and Their Evolution,” in The Oxford Handbook of Mutual, Co-Operative, and Co-Owned Business, ed., Jonathan Michie, Joseph Blasi, and Cario Borzaga (Oxford University Press, 2017), Ch. 7; Jean-Louis Laville, “Social and Solidarity Economy in Historical Perspective,” in Social and Solidarity Economy: Beyond the Fringe, ed., Peter Utting (Zed Books, 2015), Ch. 1; Jessica Gordon Nembhard, ‘Introduction: A Continuous and Hidden History of Economic Defense and Collective Well-Being,’ Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
66:15 4/14/21
S1.E10: Strategy, Tactics, & Direct Action
This episode examines the ways organizing develops a strategy to bring about change, the kinds of tactics used to achieve change, and the different kinds of democratic action involved in moving from the world as it is towards a more just and generous one. To ground the discussion it focuses on the initiation, development, and success of a campaign run by Common Ground in Milwaukee which addressed the foreclosure crisis there in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis. This serves as a case study through which to stage a wider reflection on the relationship between strategy, tactics and different forms of shared action in organizing.GuestsKathleen Patrón has been an organizer since 2011 and is currently the lead organizer of Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) where she has been organizing around issues of police reform  and accountability and healthcare.  She is also leading a process of reorganizing GBIO. Prior to her work in Boston she worked with Common Ground in Milwaukee which is the focus of the conversation.Sanford Horwitt has a wide ranging background. A long time reside of Chicago, he began his career teaching at the University of Illinois in Chicago, he was then a legislative aide and press secretary for Congressman Abner Mikva. Later he was an advisor in the national gun control movement and directed the Citizen Participation Project at People for the American Way where he founded the First Vote program. Sandy is also an author, his books include "Let Them Call Me Rebel," the definitive biography of the godfather of community organizing, Saul Alinsky. And alongside that he is also executive producer of a new PBS documentary, "Mikva! Democracy is a Verb" and the founder of the Mikva Challenge, one of the country’s leading youth civic education organizations. Sandy joined the conversation via phone so the sound is a little muffled.Resources for Going DeeperSanford Horwitt, "Alinsky, Foreclosures and Holding Banks Accountable," Huffington Post (2012)Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971, various editions); Gene Sharp/The Albert Einstein Institution, “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action” (1973);  Michael Beer, Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century (ICNC Press, 2021); Lee Staples, Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing, 3rd edn (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), Chapters 4 & 5;Bobo, Kim, Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max, “Part 1: Direct Action Organizing” in Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists, 4th ed. (Santa Ana, CA: Forum Press, 2010), 1-105; Ed Chambers, “The Practice of Public Life: Research, Action, and Evaluation,” Roots for Radicals, Chapter 5. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
72:04 4/22/21
S1.E11: Campaigns as Public Action
This episode discusses the process of identifying an issue, developing a campaign to address that issue, and the kinds of public action a successful campaign involves.  How organizing develops and conducts campaigns is different to how many other kinds of campaign are run, whether that be an election campaign or an advertising campaign. To discuss with me the distinctive approach to campaigns and how they constitute a form of public action that not only wins change, but also builds up a community better able to act for itself rather than simply be acted upon is Jonathan Lange and Janice Fine. The conversation with Jonathan and Janice focuses on the initiation, development, and then subsequent spread of the Living Wage Campaign, a campaign in which Jonathan played a key role and that Janice researched and wrote on extensively. The focus on the Living Wage Campaign, which originated in Baltimore, serves as a case study through which to stage a wider discussion of what campaigns are, how they develop creative policy proposals, and their broader role in organizing.GuestsJonathan Lange comes from what he describes an old fashioned Jewish socialist family. His grandfather and father were active union members. It was in the labor movement that he got his start, organizing with the Clothing and Textile Workers Union in the 1980s.  He then became a community organizer with the IAF and has since organized in both work based and place based forms of organizing for over 40 years. As we shall hear, he was the lead organizer of the first ever Living Wage Campaign. A key aspect of his work has been training other organizers and leaders around the world, particularly in the United Kingdom and Germany which is where I met him over 15 years ago now.Janice Fine is Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. She is also the co-founder and Director of Research and Strategy at the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO). Fine teaches and writes about forms of collective action among low-wage workers in the U.S including innovative union and community organizing strategies. She also studies historical and contemporary debates within labor movements regarding such issues as immigration policy, labor standards, privatization, and government oversight.  Much of this is addressed in her book Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream. Prior to becoming an academic she worked as a community and labor organizer for over twenty years.Resources for Going DeeperCampaigns:Mike Gecan, “Part II: The Habit of Action,” Going Public: An Organizers Guide to Citizen Action (New York: Anchor Books, 2002), 49-126; Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos, “Part Three: Developing and Running Campaigns,” Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community (San Francisco: John Wiley & Son, 2007), 35-124; Luke Bretherton, Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), Chapters 4 & 5; Taylor Branch, “The Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Parting the Water: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988), Chapter 5; Saul Alinsky, “They sit to conquer,” John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1949), Chapter 6.The Living Wage Campaign:Janice Fine, “Community Unions and the Revival of the American Labor Movement,” Politics & For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
74:18 5/5/21
Introduction to Season 2
A brief introduction to the new season of the Listen, Organize, Act! Podcast. This season explores the people, texts, and ideas that organizers have turned to again and again to inspire shared action and explain the meaning, purpose, and character of democratic politics. I start the series with an episode on the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides. A passage from his book The History of the Peloponnesian War is constantly used to teach about the relationship between power and politics.  And then, in turn, comes episodes on the democratic vision of Saul Alinsky, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Hannah Arendt, Bernard Crick, and Sheldon Wolin. The series ends back in the ancient world, with two episodes on the relationship between the Bible and organizing. Tune in! For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
02:25 7/7/22
S2.E1: Thucydides and the Athenian-Melian Dialog
With Jed Atkins, I discuss Thucydides understanding of politics, how he has shaped the history of political thought, and the context for him writing "The History of the Peloponnesian War." We then focus on a passage from "The History" known as the Athenian-Melian dialog, reflecting together on the ways this dialogue frames the relationship between power and politics. In the second part, I discuss with Anna Eng why the dialogue is drawn on by community organizers to teach democratic politics and how she uses the dialog in trainings.Guests:Jed Atkins is the E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Classical Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Duke University. He is chair of the Classical Studies Department and Faculty Director of Transformative Ideas and the Civil Discourse Project in the Kenan Institute of Ethics. A scholar of Greek, Roman, and early Christian political theory, he is the author of “Cicero on Politics” and the “Limits of Reason; Roman Political Thought;” and (with Thomas Bénatouïl) editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Cicero’s Philosophy.”Anna Eng is the lead organizer of Nevadans for the Common Good, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Originally from Portland, Oregon, she has organized for over 20 years in California, Texas and Nevada.  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
75:12 7/15/22
S2.E2.1: Saul Alinsky - Part 1
This two-part episode discusses the work of Saul Alinsky, the “dean of community organizing,” and the different traditions and influences that shaped his democratic vision. The key texts discussed are his two books: “Reveille for Radicals” published in 1946, and his more well known later book, “Rules for Radicals,” written in 1971. In this first part of this two part episode I discuss Alinsky, his writings, and his legacy with Amanda Tattersall. Amanda currently directs the Policy Lab at Sydney University. With a background in social movements as well as union organizing, she was inspired by reading Alinsky to set up Sydney Alliance, a community organizing coalition in her hometown. Since doing that, she has helped develop a number of other initiatives to craft creative, democratic responses to endemic problems.Guest:Amanda Tattersall is an Associate Professor at Sydney University and a community organiser. She established community organising in Australia founding the Sydney Alliance, and also co-founded GetUp Australia’s largest digital campaigning organisation. She currently uses her community organising experience to lead relationship-driven research with the Sydney Policy Lab on issues like climate change and mental illness. She also hosts the ChangeMakers Podcast.   For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
45:09 7/21/22
S2.E2.2: Saul Alinsky - Part 2
This two-part episode discusses the work of Saul Alinsky, the “dean of community organizing” and the different traditions and influences that shaped his democratic vision. The key texts discussed are his two books: “Reveille for Radicals” published in 1946, and his more well known latter book, “Rules for Radicals,” written in 1971. In this second part of the episode I to talk to Mike Miller. Mike started out in politics as part of the early stirrings of the student movement at UC Berkeley. From there he got involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), doing work in Mississippi but mostly organizing support for SNCC on the West Coast. That led him to working with Cesar Chavez as part of the Farmworker Movement. Coming off of all of that he ends up as a community organizer based in San Francisco, his home town, but organizing in different locations around the US for many decades until his retirement. His move from SNCC to organizing in the Bay Area was catalyzed by meeting Saul Alinsky who recruited him to work for the Industrial Areas Foundation for a while. I talk to Mike about his relationship with Alinsky and what he thinks was Alinsky’s understanding of democracy.  Towards the end, Mike reflects on the different pathways organizing took after Alinsky died. Along the way, he draws some contrasts between the different kinds of organizing he has been involved in over the years.Guest:Mike Miller was a leader in the pre-1960s birth of the student movement at UC Berkeley, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field secretary, and director of a community organizing project initiated by Saul Alinsky. He has been a lead organizer, consultant, mentor and workshop leader in the field of community organizing over many decades. He has taught community organizing, social welfare, and urban politics at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Notre Dame, Lone Mountain, San Francisco State, University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee, and Hayward State. He has also written extensively on the subject and related matters in numerous magazines and journal articles. His books include “A Community Organizer's Tale: People and Power in San Francisco—the 1964 to 1972 story of the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO),” and most recently, a co-edited volume entitled “People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky.” He currently directs the ORGANIZE Training Center: For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
52:10 7/23/22
S2.E.3.1: Ella Baker - Part 1
This episode discusses the work of Ella Baker and the different traditions and influences that shaped her organizing and her understanding of democracy. Baker didn’t write much and what she did write is not widely available. Instead, her approach is taught through accounts of it by historians of the civil rights movement and her biographers. So it is her life and practice that I focus on in this two part episode. In part 1 of the episode I discuss Baker's biography, her vision of democracy, and her legacy with my colleague, Wesley Hogan. Wesley is Research Professor at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke. She has researched and written extensively on the civil rights movement, particularly the work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (or SNCC) which Baker helped organize and within which Baker was a key figure. And in her most recent book, Wesley examines contemporary movements influenced by Baker such as the Movement for Black Lives and the International Indigenous Youth Council, which is involved in the struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect sovereign control of Indigenous lands. GuestWesley Hogan is Research Professor at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. She writes and teaches the history of youth social movements, human rights, documentary studies, and oral history. Her book books include, On the Freedom Side, which draws a portrait of young people organizing in the spirit of Ella Baker since 1960; Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America (2009) and a volume co-edited with Paul Ortiz entitled, People Power: History, Organizing, and Larry Goodwyn’s Democratic Vision in the Twenty-First Century. Between 2003-2013, she taught at Virginia State University, where she worked with the Algebra Project and the Young People’s Project. From 2013-2021, she served as Director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. She co-facilitates a partnership between the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke,The SNCC Digital Gateway, the purpose of which is to bring the grassroots stories of the civil rights movement to a much wider public through a web portal, K12 initiative, and set of critical oral histories.Resources for Going DeeperCharles Payne, “Slow and Respectful Work” & “Mrs Hamer is No Longer Relevant,” I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), Ch.’s 8 & 13.Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).J. Todd Moye, Ella Baker: Community Organizer of the Civil Rights Movement (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).Mie Inouye, “Starting with People Where They Are: Ella Baker’s Theory of Political Organizing,” American Political Science Review 116:2 (2022), 533–546.Interview with Ella Baker (1968) For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
86:29 8/18/22
Ep3.2: Ella Baker - Part 2
In this second part of the episode on Ella Baker, I talk to Gerald Taylor. We discuss the influence Baker’s approach and vision had on him as an organizer, how he sees her understanding of organizing play out on the ground, and his own involvement in myriad grassroots democratic initiatives. Along the way, he recounts a compelling set of stories and reflections on what it means to do organizing in the spirit of Ella Baker. GuestGerald Taylor was a national senior organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) for  nearly 35 years, and for much of this time he was the IAF’s Southeast Regional Director. In 2015, he co-founded Advance Carolina, the first state-wide Black led 501c (4) in North Carolina focused on building Black political power. His organizing career began as a teenager through involvement in the civil rights movement, with him eventually being elected as New York State President of the NAACP Youth and College Division at 17 years old. He then organized with the National Democratic Party of Alabama, an interracial third political party, in their historic election victories of 1970. He went to be involved in numerous organizing initiatives in the US, most notably in New York City, Baltimore, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Jackson, Mississippi. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, he spent four years organizing African American communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to receive disaster relieve leading to the formation of a coalition that negotiated nearly one billion dollars in disaster relieve funding for these communities. He has trained thousands of leaders, including clergy, over the past forty years in community organizing and congregational development. He has also lectured at colleges and universities, including Shaw Divinity School, Hood Divinity School, North Carolina Central Law School, Duke Divinity School, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Garrett Evangelical Methodist Seminary, and UNC Chapel-Hill on theories of social change, community organizing, and leadership. He has also worked internationally with organizations such as Bread for the World, the Sidney Alliance in Australia, and been a consultant to democratization initiatives in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.Resources for Going DeeperSee the show notes for the previous episode For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
44:20 8/18/22
S2.E4.1: Bayard Rustin - Part 1
This episode discusses the remarkable figure of Bayard Rustin who pioneered many of the tactics and strategies still used in large scale organizing work. A lifelong and committed Quaker, Rustin is in many ways a paradoxical figure. A utopian realist or pragmatic radical he was criticized for many of the positions he took yet his commitment to people power manifested through nonviolent, democratic means of change and his holistic vision of social, economic, and political transformation was deeply revolutionary. From the 1940s onwards he was at the forefront of struggles for peace, racial equality, economic justice, and the dignity of all people. And as an openly gay man he was constantly harassed and excluded by those he worked with because of his sexuality. Alongside his life, work as an organizer, Quaker theology, and democratic vision, this two part episode discusses his seminal essay "From Protest to Politics," still used by organizers today.In this first part, I talk to Sarah Azaransky who teaches at Union Theological Seminary. Sarah is writing a book on Rustin and has researched and written extensively on the historical influences and figures that shaped the civil rights movement. These include a biography of Pauli Murray, another key figure of the struggle for civil rights, as well as a history of the interaction between civil rights leaders in the US and the Indian independence movement led by Gandhi.GuestSarah Azaransky teaches social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is author of The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith (2011) and This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement (2017). She is working on a volume about Bayard Rustin to be published in Eerdmans' "Library of Religious Biography" series.Resources for Going DeeperBayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement (1964),” Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin, eds., Devon Carbado & Donald Wise, 2nd edn (New York: Cleis Press, 2015), 116-146. Also available online.Bayard Rustin, Strategies for Freedom: The Changing Patterns of Black Protest (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976).Jerald Podair, Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009). Concise biography that directly addresses Rustin’s work as an organizer and his political philosophy.George Shulman, “Bayard Rustin: Between Democratic Theory and Black Political Thought,” African American Political Thought: A Collected History (Chicago” Chicago University Press, 2021), 439-459. A superb essay that reflects on how the tensions and contradictions in Rustin’s life and how his debates with Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Staughton Lynd articulate the condition and possibilities of democratic politics today.Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003), dir. Nancy Kates & Bennett Singer. Documentary film about Rustin’s life.  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
76:27 8/29/22
S2.E4.2: Bayard Rustin - Part 2
Building on the previous episode, this one continues to discuss the work of Bayard Rustin and the overlapping struggles that shaped his vision of democracy and his approach to organizing. I do so with Harry Boyte.  We focus on Rustin’s practice as an organizer, his conception of nonviolence as a form of democratic politics, and how to understand Rustin’s classic 1964 essay “From Protest to Politics,” as well as what Rustin has to teach us today. Along the way, Harry tells dramatic stories about his own work as an organizer and unfolds why Rustin's approach shows how distinctions between left and right or conservative and progressive are useless for thinking politically. Harry reflects on how all communities have democratic and authoritarian impulses. For him, the work of organizing is to identify and build up the capacity of the former and counter the work of conflict entrepreneurs who play on the latter.GuestHarry C. Boyte is a public intellectual, organizer, and theorist of the public work framework of civic engagement and participatory democracy. He worked as a young man for Martin Luther King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, reporting to Dorothy Cotton, director of the movement’s 900 grassroots citizenship schools. From 1966 to 1972, following the suggestion of King, he organized poor white mill workers in Durham, North Carolina who built a community organization, ACT, which made connections with poor blacks in Durham. He was a co-founder of the New American Movement, a precursor to Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialists of America, before he shifted to a democratic populist philosophy in the late 1970s. Boyte is now Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy at Augsburg, a Senior Associate of the Kettering Foundation, a cofounder of the Institute for Public Life and Work, and on the Scholars Council of Braver Angels.Asked by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute in 1987 to organize a project on democracy, he translated what he called the “citizen politics” he had generalized from the organizing of the Industrial Areas Foundation into a variety of projects to democratize institutions, from schools and colleges to government agencies and nonprofits. In 1990, working with Dorothy Cotton and Jim Scheibel, he founded Public Achievement (PA) a youth political and civic education initiative based on community organizing practices and a larger view of democracy which has spread to more than 20 countries.From 1993 to 1995, Boyte coordinated Reinventing Citizenship, a cross partisan alliance of educational, civic, and philanthropic civic groups, which worked with President Clinton’s White House Domestic Policy Council to analyze the gap between citizens and government and to advance the idea of “public work,” akin to what Nobel prize winner Elinor Ostrom later theorized as “polycentric governance” as an alternative to simple regulation or service delivery. In 2012-2013, on the invitation of Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement, he coordinated the American Commonwealth Partnership, a confederation of higher education and civic groups formed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act establishing land grant colleges.Harry Boyte has authored, coauthored, and edited eleven books on democracy, citizenship, and community organizing, including The Backyard Revolution (1980), Free Spaces with Sara Evans (1986, 1992); CommonWealth: A Return to Citizen Politics (1989) and Awakening Democracy (2018). His writings have appeared in more than 100 publications including New York Times, For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
72:24 9/8/22
S2.E5: Hannah Arendt
This episode discusses the work of the hugely influential political theorist, Hannah Arendt, and how it provides profound insights into the nature and purpose of both politics and democratic organizing. Arendt's books include the Origins of Totalitarianism, Eichmann in Jerusalem, The Human Condition, and On Revolution. These works, along with her numerous essays, are vital for understanding the politics both of her day and ours.  I discuss Arendt’s understanding of politics, power, violence, and the resonance between Arendt’s work and organizing with Leo Penta. If you know nothing about Arendt and her work, this episode is a great introduction. And if you are a veteran reader of Arendt, this episode opens up how Arendt's work connects to and is a key dialogue partner for existing forms of grassroots democratic politics.GuestLeo Penta is a Catholic priest, community organizer, and academic. His doctorate focused on Hannah Arendt’s concept of power, a focus generated by his time as a community organizer in New York where he helped found the East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) organizing coalition. He has continued to work as both a priest and organizer, first in the States and then, since 1996, in Germany.  While in the States, Penta spearheaded an effort of the Industrial Areas Foundation from 1990 to 1996 to develop “IAF Reflects”, an institute for reflection on organizing. The Institute conducted seminars with the participation of both well-known academics and renowned practitioners to deepen the theoretical base for the work of organizing. From 1996 to 2017 Leo Penta taught at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, developing a focus on community development. In conjunction with this, he developed the first community organizing initiative in Germany, called “Menschen verändern ihren Kiez/Organizing Schöneweide.” In 2006 he became the founding director of the German Institute for Community Organizing (DICO) which is dedicated to developing the practice of community organizing in Germany and training professional community organizers. He has continued to study Arendt’s work and how it can help frame organizing throughout his career. For contact and further information: and www.dico-berlin.orgResources for Going DeeperHannah Arendt, “On Violence, part II" in Crises of the Republic (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co, 1972), 134-155.Hannah Arendt, “Action” in The Human Condition (various editions), Part 5.Hannah Arendt, “On Humanity in Dark Times: Thoughts about Lessing,” Men in Dark Times (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co, 1968), 3-32.Hannah Arendt, “Totalitarianism,” The Origins of Totalitarianism (various editions), Part 3“What remains?” Interview with Hannah Arendt on her life and work by Günter Gaus for German television (1964). With subtitles. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
99:08 9/24/22
S2.E6: Sheldon Wolin & Radical Democracy
This episode discusses the work of the influential American political thinker, Sheldon Wolin. Wolin is one of the foremost theorists of radical democracy. His insights are also extremely helpful in naming the contemporary forces and dynamics that undermine and subvert democracy - all in the name of being democratic. Like other figures discussed in this series he writes in a compelling way, drawing on a diverse range of sources including  historical examples, the Bible, and contemporary culture to explain his ideas. His work has been important in helping to frame and make sense of on the ground democratic organizing. While giving an overview of his life and work, the key text of Wolin’s I focus on is his essay “Contract and Birthright” from his essay collection entitled The Presence of the Past. I  discuss Sheldon Wolin with Laura Grattan, a political theorist at Wellesely College. Laura's scholarship is shaped by nearly a decade of community organizing with Durham C.A.N., an IAF affiliate in North Carolina.GuestLaura Grattan is Jane Bishop '51 Associate Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. She researches and teaches political theory, with a focus on grassroots organizing and movements for racial and economic justice. Her books include Populism’s Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America, which analyzes populist rhetoric and organizing in historical and contemporary social movements (including the nineteenth-century People’s Party, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and DREAM Act and UndocuQueer organizing). Her new project investigates movements such as the Movement for Black Lives, prison abolition, and #Not1More Deportation and the ways they generate alternatives to the colorblind ideology and practices that have produced and sustained the carceral state in the U.S. She is also co-editor of Deliberation and the Work of Higher Education: Innovations for the Classroom, Campus, and Community, which explores issues and practices of civic engagement among college students. At Wellesley, she co-directs the Project on Public Leadership and Action, an initiative led by faculty who are committed to action-oriented and public facing research that builds civic agency among students and in the surrounding community.Resources for Going Deeper Sheldon Wolin, ‘Contract and Birthright,’ in Presence of the Past: Essays on the State and the Constitution (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1990), 137-150.Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought - Expanded Edition (Princeton University Press, 2004) For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
88:44 10/21/22
S2.E7: Bernard Crick on Politics & its Enemies
This episode discusses the work of British philosopher Bernard Crick, with a particular focus on is his seminal essay “In Defence of Politics.” In clear prose and with sharp insight, Crick sets out a definition of politics and an account of why and how politics is essential not simply to survive but to thrive. Community organizers, alongside many others, have turned to Crick's essay again and again to explain the meaning, purpose, and character of democratic politics.I discuss Crick's political philosophy and the essay with Maurice Glasman, a political theorist, Labor peer, and a founding figure of the Blue Labor movement. The concerns of Blue Labour very much echo and resonate with those Crick outlines in his essay. As well as knowing Crick personally, Maurice shares an involvement in Labour Party politics with Crick. Prior to this involvement, Maurice was, for many years, involved in community organizing as part of London Citizens and Citizens UK.GuestMaurice Glasman is a Labour Life Peer and Director of the Common Good Foundation.  He was educated at the Jewish Free School, a comprehensive school in East London, and then studied Modern History at Cambridge University. He went on to complete his Phd at the European University Institute.  He has written two books, "Unnecessary Suffering" (Verso, 1996) and "Blue Labour: The Politics of the Common Good" (Polity, 2022).  Resources for Going DeeperBernard Crick, In Defence of Politics, 5th edn (Continuum, 2005)Bernard Crick, "Civic Republicanism and Citizenship: the Challenge for Today," in Bernard Crick and Andrew Lockyer, Active Citizenship: What Could it Achieve and How?  (Edinburgh University Press, 2010)Maurice Glasman, 'Preface to In Defence of Politics' (2013)All available to download from:  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
75:03 11/29/22
S2.E8: The Bible & Democratic Organizing - Part 1
In this and the final episode of this second series I discuss the relationship between the Bible and organizing. The turn to Scripture to imagine and narrate politics is often assumed to be the preserve of authoritarian theocrats. But since the formal development of community organizing in the 1930s, and long before that, texts from the Bible are consistently used to both teach democratic organizing and envision the need for radical, democratic change. The use of Scripture in this way builds on long standing Jewish and Christian traditions of thought and practice.  I begin this episode by talking to Ernesto Cortes who was featured in episode 7 of the first series. In that episode he discusses his own formation as an organizer. Here he reflects on why he consistently turns to Scripture to frame the task of organizing and to train others in the work of building a more democratic society. The passage he unpacks is the story of Jethro and Moses in Exodus 18, which he reads as a way of envisioning democratic forms of leadership. In doing so, he self-consciously builds on Saul Alinsky's (S2.E2) use of Moses as a model for the role of the organizer. In the second part of this episode I talk to Marshall Ganz, another hugely influential figure in the contemporary development of grassroots democratic organizing. Marshall currently teaches at Harvard in the Kennedy School of Government. But he has a much storied career in organizing before that. He tells me about his involvement in various democratic movements as a way of narrating the role of Scripture and religion in his own life and the movements he contributed to. These include his involvement in the Civil Rights movement (and the role of the Black Church) and the United Farm Workers movement (and the role of the Catholic Church). He begins by reflecting on his Jewish upbringing. Later he talks through his re-engagement with Judaism and how this shaped the development of his influential public narrative approach which involves telling a story of self, us, and now. As a complement to Ernesto Cortes’s meditation on leadership through the story of Jethro and Moses, Marshall reflects on the story of David and Goliath as a way of teaching strategy.GuestsErnesto Cortes, Jr. - for details see season 1 episode 7.Marshall Ganz is Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He began organizing with the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (see S2.E3). He then joined Cesar Chavez in his effort to unionize California farm workers, working with the United Farm Workers for 16 years (see S1.E3). During the 1980s he worked with grassroots groups to develop new organizing programs and designed innovative voter mobilization strategies for local, state, and national electoral campaigns. He eventually completed a PhD in sociology and came to teach at Harvard. His book, Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement was published in 2009, earning the Michael J. Harrington Book Award of the American Political Science Association. In 2007-8 he was instrumental in design of the grassroots organization for the 2008 Obama for President campaign. In association with the Leading Change Network he coaches, trains, and advises social, civic, educational, health care, and political groups on organizing, training, and leadership development around the world. For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
62:42 12/10/22
S2.E8: The Bible & Democratic Organizing - Part 2
In this final episode of season two I continue discussing the relationship between the Bible and organizing. I begin by talking to Keisha Krumm, who opened the first episode of season one (you can hear more about her journey there). Here she gives a reading of Luke 18, or what she renames the parable of the tenacious widow, and reflects on what Scripture means to her in her work. I then talk to Alexia Salvatierra. Alexia shares something of her background, her formation as an organizer, and of her work with predominantly Evangelical churches.  I was keen to talk to Alexia as she has developed a compelling vision of the specific role and gifts of churches in broader social movements and democratic coalitions.  Scripture is central to her vision of the meaning and purpose of democratic politics. Alexia also gives a reading of the tenacious widow, one that compliments and amplifies Keisha's, as well as the story of David and the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12. She situates her readings within a broader account of what she calls serpent and dove power, a framework derived from the exhortation in Matthew 10.16: "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."GuestsKeisha Krumm is lead organizer for Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan community organizing coalition in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Since 2001, she has previously organized and built community organizations in Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma, and Milwaukee. Her work entails developing leaders within congregations, educational associations, nonprofits, and labor unions to tackle issues ranging from job creation, quality education, affordable health care, mental health, to racial justice. Keisha has a master’s degree from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Christian Community Development. She is a devoted wife and mother who has committed her life to justice seeking.Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra is a Lutheran Pastor with over 40 years experience in combining congregational ministry with community organizing. She is currently the Academic Dean of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community at Fuller Theological Seminary and the Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation. She is the author with Peter Heltzel of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World (Intervarsity Press) and Buried Seeds: Learning from the Resilience of Vibrant Marginalized Christian Communities with Rev. Brandon Wrencher (Baker Academic, 2022). In addition to her academic work, she coordinates the Ecumenical Collaboration for Asylum Seekers and serves on the leadership team of Matthew 25/Mateo 25––a bipartisan Christian network to protect and defend families facing deportation in the name and spirit of Jesus.  She has been a national leader in the areas of working poverty and immigration for over 25 years, including co-founding the national Evangelical Immigration Table in 2011, the 2007 New Sanctuary Movement, the Guardian Angels project for unaccompanied migrant minors in 2014, and Matthew 25/Mateo 25 in 2016. From 2000 to 2011, she was the Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice in California—a statewide alliance of organizations of religious leaders who come together to respond to the crisis of working poverty by joining low-wage workers in their struggle for a living wage, health insurance, fair working conditions, and a voice in the decisions that affect them.Scriptures discussed: 2 Samuel 11-12; Matthew 10; Luke 18.  For more information & relevant updates follow me on Twitter: @WestLondonMan For readings to download relevant to or discussed in an episode visit:
53:33 12/23/22

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