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, congregational level; the second is to examine how organizing embodies a distinctive vision and practice of democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns, particularly the last one. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, this limited 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 and in shaping the world they live in. 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. Community organizing as a form of democratic politics embodies these three elements. It begins with listening and has a particular set of practices for organizing people and for generating shared action toward common ends. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other, with the series as a whole being a 101 course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing. EPISODE ORDER: LISTEN - 1. What is Community Organizing? And Why is it Needed? 2. The One to One or Relational Meeting; 3. House Meetings. ORGANIZE - 4. Power; 5. Leadership; 6. Institutions; 7. Money; 8. Popular Education. ACT - 9. Universals & Rules of Action; 10. Strategy, Tactics, & Direct Action; 11. Campaigns as Public Action. Broader Reflections I: The Theology & Spirituality of Organizing; Broader Reflections II: Organizing in Political Theory and the History of Democracy
Ep.9: 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. ...
Ep.8: Organized Money I: Money Power & Fundraising
This episode discusses the positive and negative ways money and politics connect and the ways and means to organize money through politics so it serves human flourishing.
Ep.7: 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
Ep.6: Institutions: Why They're Vital for Democratic Politics
Discusses the place of institutions in organizing, what is an institution, what makes for a healthy institution, how and why institutions are central to the kind of democratic politics organizing undertakes, and why without them the individual is left naked before the power of the market and the state.
Ep.5: Leadership, But Not As You Know It
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.
Ep.4: The Ability to Act: Power Over and Power With
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.
Impressive and substantial
I was skeptical that one could get at the essence of IAF organizing in a podcast - I was afraid it would be too academic - but Keisha and Mike speak from their years of organizing on the ground to answer Luke’s questions with compelling stories. I was especially gratified to hear Keisha talk about the challenges of recruiting both younger people as organizers and institutions other than faith-based ones.
Great intro to organizing
Brilliant podcast for both those new to organizing and those long in the field looking for a refresh and renewal.