Monday, October 29, 2012

"An organization which claims to be working for the needs of a community...must work to provide that community with a position of strength from which to make it's voice heard."

"All other problems arise from this two-sided reality: lack of education, the so-called apathy of black men... Almost from its beginning, SNCC sought to address itself to both conditions with a program aimed at winning political power for impoverished Southern blacks. We had to begin with politics because black Americans are a propertyless people in a country where property is valued above all. We had to work for power, because this country does not function by morality, love, and nonviolence, but by power."
-Stokely Speaks, p.18-19

The education referred to in the second passage is that education on garnering power and its proper use for communal uplift. Power is that position of strength as the poor gain their voice and call for unity and creative problem solving. Problem solving comes through politics and the communities' use of resources gained through politics. Power looks like organization and discipline to understand the system and it's patterns of exploitation. It must be understood though that this exploitation can come from many sources including the individual crying foul. Therefore, the purpose of organization is to discuss the socio-ecological model's sources of exploitation (using diagnostic tools to evaluate where the most pressing issues can be solved), collecting data revealing the communities' strengths and weaknesses, organizing and mobilizing the community to maximize resources, and developing relevant policy to get additional resources. This is the purpose of organization.

In order to explain each duty of organization I will begin with the CDC's CHANGE diagnostic tool. This tool, despite it's inadequacies, has much to offer in the way of critical analysis of a communities resources and strengths. Namely,

However, after evaluating the positive contributions this kind of analysis can offer, we must recognize what Guy W. Steuart recognized in his writings and lecturing, that information is not sufficient for changing health behaviors or policy affecting health behaviors. This is a 'both, and' situation. We, as organizations, must have both the data analysis necessary (the information) to describe and evaluate our conditions, and the community organized and mobilized to demonstrate the organized power to turn resources into positive change. 

More, the community organization and mobilization process is one of healing in and of itself. The process of a community taking ownership of their issues of concern is the first step to their gaining real power to change injustice to justice. It's this power we must learn how to take and wield for the betterment of our whole community. For most of us, though, power is misunderstood as being an individual's weapon rather than a collective's weapon.