Tag Archives: canada

Welcome to My World on Thanksgiving!

photo from ACORN in Buenos Aires

New Orleans   On the eve of the USA Thanksgiving there is a long list of chores and cleanups, some long postponed, that have to be sorted out as family and friends assemble.  Normally, these times signals a momentary lull, a chance for a breath, but believe it, working in the world is not like that at all, and the pace quickens.   While so many are getting ready to put their feet up and feedbag on, I thought I would share:

  • Canada has Thanksgiving, but almost a month ago, so it’s just another workday and the emails keep rolling, especially on their release of a new remittance report.
  • Pictures in this morning finally from Buenos Aires on a recent human rights workshop in La Matanza, which the organizer had time to send since a general strike yesterday shutdown the city and most of the transportation.
  • Skype conference call today to prepare for our setting up the field program next week in Ecuador for the national elections in five provinces.
  • The election may be over in the USA, but ACORN International members are examining slates, programs, and plans for elections this coming year not only in Ecuador, but also in Honduras, Kenya, and Indonesia.
  • Work slowed in Mumbai as our operations in Dharavi with many Muslim members battened down the hatches as the shock troops of the right parties hit the streets to mourn the death of communalist instigator Bal Thackery.  Newspaper reports indicate that police have picked up two young women who questioned the respect being given this man on Facebook.
  • Social Policy went to printer yesterday for the fall issue, so proofs have to be checked out today, so issue hits mails internationally and domestically next week.
  • Interesting hour long conversation yesterday with David Moberg, labor reporter at In These Times, about organizing strategy and the work being done by UFCW at Walmart these days in USA.
  • Interesting reports from ACORN Italy on new legal services support being rolled out for our members there with more details to follow.
  • Early morning email from Belgrade where a former ACORN organizer in Ottawa is starting the process of seeing if an ACORN Serbia can be built there in coming months.
  • As I write this, I’m bouncing back and forth on Skype notes, about how to integrate community organizing into an on-line medical training course being offered globally and recently accepted as a pilot for 500 med students in Sudan.  They asked that I block dates in November 2013 to speak with them at their conference in Thailand potentially.
  • Double checking the schedule at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse so we can fit in the meeting after the holiday on how well we are doing on our environmental footprint and sustainability measure, making sure we are staffed fully on Thanksgiving because our community needs us, approving another group to play soon and another yoga and dance time slot, and getting ready to host the Tides Foundation JBL Awards presentation next week.

There’s always a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving and this small sample reminds me how lucky I am many decades ago to have found work that teaches me daily and resists boredom no matter the tedium of tasks, and where so many of us have developed small skills that can make contributions to the work being done every day around the world to bring justice, equity, and security to so many people.

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Gone Fishing with Rod, Reel, and Books

Rock Creek   No newspapers, no cell service, no internet, no television, no plumbing, and only power from a car battery and some solar cells we brought along:  sweet!  Almost two days of chores, which we actually enjoyed, before we could wet a line.  Third cast, I caught a beautiful, good size brown trout.  Lucky days! Life is good!  Am I on vacation or what?

Reading has been interesting and besides catching up on sleep, boy we needed it, that’s what we’re doing.

Little Bets:  How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims was loaned to me on the West Coast recently by a friend.  It’s one of those kind of Malcolm Gladwell books that are so popular these days that draw large conclusions from small evidence.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that great either.  In terms of organizing, Sims borrowed a definition from psychologist Karl Weick to define “small wins,” which was interesting:  “…a concrete, complete implemented outcome of moderate importance.”  Another psychologist said these were “landmarks” indicating whether we are on the right direction or not.  Interesting.  Some right on points about the importance of “really listening,” which I wholeheartedly endorse.  A fascinating story about Procter & Gamble’s efforts to expand in lower income communities around the world was fascinating to me.  P&G hires ethnographers to “actually live with representative users” in a program they call “Living it.”  Along with senior managers they “spend time in low-income homes around the world to better understand what matters in their lives, including their desires, aspirations, and needs.”  Scary smart.  None of this was probably worth the $25.00 for the book, and if any of us have to read one more story about how they operate at Steve Jobs Nexus and animation outfit, we’ll all shoot ourselves, but not bad either for plane rides and the like.

One I’m really liking is a book by Keith Heyer Meldahl called, Hard Road West:  History and  Geology along the Gold Rush Trial.  I’m going to leave this one in the Silver Bullet on Rock Creek.  He weaves the rough road for the 49ers and farmers with the geology they are passing.  Having driven most of these trails on earlier trips West, it is riveting, and manages to make geology interesting.  Maybe not John McPhee interesting, but darned good!

The one that is closer to work, but very well written and actually a brilliant history that I’m enjoying is Victory:  The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda Hirshman.   Her understanding of social movements and how they develop is spot on, and the history and the players are not as well known to me, so she’s teaching me things that are critical.  Got a ways to go, but I’d recommend this history with four stars!

Plowed into two recent novels yesterday as well to good effect.  One is Richard Ford ‘s new work, Canada.  I like Richard for his work with ACORN in New Orleans after Katrina, and  a book called Canada  has to have value.  Couple that with the setting in Montana, and I was halfway through before I realized.   Finally I started True Believers: A Novel by Kurt Andersen.  The review had caught my eye as a different tale of the 60’s with reference points many of us who remember them would enjoy.  Add some politics to that, and who knows, it might be interesting.  I’m not hating it so far!

 


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