San Antonio Around this time every year as part of the training and staff development program at ACORN we hold a dialogue of interested organizers. This year the topic was development and implementation of multinational campaigns so we could look at models from other campaigns, read some about work done by other organizations, and examines our own work with the India FDI Watch and the Sherwin-Williams efforts. The dialogue had brought together an interesting group of organizers involved in both our community and labor work meeting in a room at the end of one leg of the Riverwalk.
All of which establishes the context but not the theme of this piece. Put a dozen organizers together anywhere and who knows what might end up being discussed and this often happens, especially in these dialogues. We got into the obligations and responsibilities for organizers of keeping on top of developments everywhere with the work and its impact. We came in perhaps at the back door by noting that we would all be hugely unhappy if we went to a doctor and the doc was not up to date on the latest procedures and breakthroughs from what might have run in the paper that morning to the cutting edges of the medical journals. We did not want to be in the hands of someone who was handling us with the state of the art as of 5 or 10 or 20 years ago, but someone who was “right on time” now. Doctors, accountants, lawyers, and others faced requirements that forced continuing education in order to remain in the work. I wondered how people tried to keep up to date as organizers. How many books or journals on organizing did people read? How did they see their own development in the art and craft of organizing? We may not be doctors, but we often have a lot of people counting on us to carry weight.
One thing led to another and one of the organizers — at the risk of seeming silly — suggested that perhaps there needed to be an ACORN Book Club that shared titles that people would recommend for reading about organizing. Another thought maybe circulating a short review would help. Another believed that sending out an excerpt or chapter to the ABC members, much as was done in preparation for the dialogues, would be helpful. Using Social Policy as a discussion and reading piece in the offices was one idea. Another was looking at the news in different ways and keeping at the edge.
We ended up thinking this was not such a bad idea at all, so away we go!
We will figure out a way to keep a list of “organizing” books and recommendations right on this site for the ACORN Book Club and would encourage our readers to start posting up their favorites and recommendations right away on this blog.
With everyone helping maybe we can start pulling something together quickly that sets the background and then pushes the edges forward for all of us. We’ll see.