New Orleans Every year for the last forty years or so, we’ve suited up for a YE/YB Meeting or to be more formal, the “Year End / Year Begin” meeting, where all of the allied organizations review and evaluate the progress of the previous year and make plans, have strategy, and planning sessions, undergo training workshops, and, yes, enjoy the fellowship of each other’s company with network, maybe watching the New Orleans Pelicans lose a game against somebody, and hope to make it long enough at some watering hole near the new building to hear Jill O’Reilly belt out a Bonnie Rait song and “give people something to talk about.”
This years the number of organizers eligible to attend had moved up past the 40 mark for the three days of meetings with folks in from Canada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and all over Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. Reports came in from Italy, India, and the radio stations in Little Rock and New Orleans. Affiliates in Maryland couldn’t attend, but will be there next year along with perhaps some representatives from other countries.
We started out with a visit to the newly established ACORN Farm, a joint project of ACORN International and Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, and we were delighted after a brief cold snap in New Orleans to see all of the progress and plants actually growing in the beds. The shade structure and water catchment area was coming up quickly. Combine that with the fact that in the middle of the meeting the whole staff got to “taste test” the new samples of what our kitchen will be turning out for the two Fair Grinds Coffeehouse locations when the second opens soon, and all I can say, is this is not your father’s “year end / year begin” meeting.
Add to that extensive sessions on building Citizen Wealth Centers, Affordable Care Act training and enrollment, brass tacks of organizing new communities and work groups in Local 100 United Labor Unions or various community organizations, vigorous discussions of “choice architecture, the “kludgocracy,” and the push to make organizing about “deliverables,” rather than power, and all eyes were wide open no matter how many hours of meetings. As the KABF crew could have said, following Canadian rap sensation, Drake, “we started at the bottom, but we’re all here now!”
Hard to imagine a better way to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend or a brand new year!