Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Today's session of Training Tuesday is from the panel, 'Organizing Theory and Practice: Translating Community Organizing to Online Space'. Our panelists are Charles Lenchner, the Online Organizing Director of the Working Families Party, Joan Minieri the Cofounder of Community Voices Heard and the author of "Tools for Radical Democracy", Kristi Barnes, the Communications Director of New York Jobs with Justice, and Talia Schank, the Grassroots Fundraising and Communications Director of Community Voices Heard.
We were not only blessed with expert panelists, our audience was made up of experts too. This shows how far from "established" online organizing is, the experts are absolutely still students.
What occurred, was a somewhat unique discussion about the successes, struggles, and future potential of using new media in coordination with well-established, person-to-person organizing. In the progressive blogosphere, we have a tendency to revel in the successes. What our panelists focused on in this session was the disconnect between many of the entrenched community organizers, the ones knocking on doors and building relationships one home at a time, with the rather new community of online organizers.
First things first, if you are completely oblivious to the ancient art of community organizing, and it is very ancient, Joan Minieri began the panel with a fantastic five minute synopsis:
One of the major factors the keeps many progressive organizations from more fully incorporating online tools is that many of us are working with the poor, the disenfranchised, and the disconnected communities. Their constituents may not have the most consistent access to the series of tubes that is the internet. This last clip is an example of one theme that emerged throughout the conversation: the internet can be used to amplify the voice of your constituents, regardless of their connectedness.