New York City After a long day of meetings in the big city, I got back to my priceline special in Chinatown on the Bowery to find a curious email from a conservative blogger asking me about the date of posting for the Organizers’ Forum announcements on the home page www.organizersforum.org. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but once there I found nothing special other than the usual background on the Forum and the notice of the 2011 dialogue to be held in Cairo at the end of September. Turned out from my correspondent that Glenn Beck was fixated on something or other about the Organizers’ Forum and particularly the trip to Cairo.
I didn’t see the show, but I’m betting Glenn was hoping he could join the delegation of community and labor organizers from the USA and Canada traveling over to Egypt to meet our counterparts there, especially in light of all of the excitements triggered by the mass movements on the streets these days. Unfortunately, one of the duties of being the chair of the Forum is that sometimes I have to deliver the bad news, and in this case I’m going to have to disappoint Brother Beck and tell him that despite the fact that I bet he’s a bundle of laughs on a trip, this is really an experience exclusively for organizers, so there’s no room in the end.
Furthermore, not surprisingly, this is a hot ticket already!
On Sunday as all hell seemed to be breaking loose my colleague, Judy Duncan with ACORN Canada forwarded me a tweet that was wondering if I was in touch with the street organizers in Cairo. I wish! I said the same on one email inquiry. On the other side I got one email from an organizer in Chicago who was recruiting 4 or 5 organizers to go and a text from another who was already committed to attending from Maryland who was widely excited about what we might learn in the wake of these massive social changes.
Contrary to Beck’s fertile and creative imagination, the Organizers’ Forum is a great experience for organizers because we are able to learn from our counterparts in other countries what is the same and what is different in their organizing experiences. We try to wrap our arms around a different culture and a unique set of organizing obstacles and challenges. Greg Galluzzo of the Gameliel Foundation was speaking to me the other day and was telling me that the report from their participant in the Vietnam dialogue in 2010 was so moving that it not only almost brought tears to other organizers eyes because it was such a transforming experience for him, but they already had a list of people signing up for Cairo.
Beck should be worried about the Organizers’ Forum. This is a capacity building experience that is now self-sufficient thanks to the level that organizers, their networks, and their unions value it so dearly. Achieving even this modest level of sustainable capacity building should be a frightening and disturbing thing to the Becks of the world.
But organizers need something of our own, and this is it! From what I read there are hundreds of meetings for right wing pundits and radio/tv personalities, so hopefully this disappointment will build character for Beck over the long arc of his future. For organizers, get your names in early for this one!