Posts Tagged ‘London Citizens’

Movement for change: the man who coined the phrase questions its embrace by Labour

04/02/2011, 11:47:10 AM

by Anthony Painter

It is rum that community organising has risen to such prominence as a result of the election of Barack Obama. Because, of course, he would never have been president had he not turned his back on community organising. By the time he went to Harvard to study law, he had lost faith in the ability of organising to achieve significant change.

One of his leading activists turned around one day and said to the young Barack, “Ain’t nothing gonna change, Mr Obama. We just gonna concentrate on saving our money so we can move outta here as fast as we can”.

David Mendell, Obama’s biographer, also chronicles his loss of faith in organising by his third year on the south side of Chicago. He had come to the conclusion that without hard political power, his time was wasted. Upon the untimely death of his political hero, Harold Washington, Obama “felt shackled by the limited power of a small nonprofit group to create expansive change”, writes Mendell.

His campaign certainly adopted some of the insights of the community organising tradition: focus on organisation building, networked through kith and kin, focus on the ultra-local. Equally, it concentrated ruthlessly on hard political power, was centrally directed and had intense message discipline. In other words, its core narrative came from the top, while its organisation reached into community grassroots. It was focused on the hard power of community campaigning rather than the soft power of community organising.

When the Birmingham Edgbaston campaign looked to learn from the success of Obama ’08, it sought to understand it as a community-based hard political campaign, as opposed to looking back at Obama’s community organising years. Obama ’08 – the movement for change – was a political movement. Its plan was to mirror the “new (political) organiser” model described by Zack Exley, and then develop ever more sophisticated means of issue-based community engagement once victory had been secured. And that is what it is now doing. (more…)

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Caroline Alabi on yesterday’s Compass conference and leadership husting

13/06/2010, 10:41:13 AM


The first issue that needs to be addressed is how on earth did the Compass conference manage to sell out even though it was on the same day as England’s first World Cup game?

Fair enough, the actual match didn’t kick off till two and a half hours after the conference ended, but many who have endured the World Cup in the past will know how important it is to have a ‘good spot in the pub’ to ‘warm up to before the kick off.’

The morning speakers were the first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, Nick Dearden of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Christine Blower from the National Union of Teachers and Neal Lawson of Compass. They all spoke well on where Labour went wrong at the last election and what is required for us to move forward. (more…)

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