Monday, November 22, 2010
So our task over the course of three days was not only to share what we're doing separately in our individual cities, but to attempt to develop a plan for nationally collaborative work. Can we be more then the sum of our parts and what would that look like? Could there be a nationally "branded" effort that would work in both New Orleans and Portland? That was our challenge.
Organizers are managers in a sense, which means we have ideas and experience about what works and what doesn't, we've all developed instincts over the years of our work. This can work for us when we get together in that often times one person can see potential obstacles that perhaps another hasn't experienced. It can also be a challenge to find consensus amongst a group of passionate organizers who have strong ideas about what works in their community and what doesn't.
The second and third day of our meeting was inspiring, and really tough at times. Folks got emotionally and physically burned out, others had lots of questions about the direction of our work. It was honestly the toughest AFSC national gathering I've ever attended. It's also potentially one of the most productive. Perhaps meaningful organizing isn't supposed to be a piece of cake, perhaps that's why we call it a struggle. Maybe the struggle isn't just against the systems of oppression and violence, but also a struggle to organize ourselves and our communities. Sometimes it's a struggle against our old idea and behavior patterns.
The good news is that we developed some pretty amazing plans for the next 12 months. One is really broad and super youth driven, the other deals with something a little specific and policy driven. I'm not going to go into details just yet as we're ironing out kinks but I'm excited that we're gonna see real national collaboration around youth work at AFSC, I believe this will position us to turn up the volume a few notches. This will make us more than the sum of our parts.
Oh, and I did get a few minutes to give a super lazy tour of some of Atlanta's street art, which of course took us to the Krog tunnel. Would have loved to have given a more legit tour of Atlanta. Maybe next time.
American Friends Service Committee