In the end, it was my choice to leave home, to organize. It was chance that brought me to the kind of organization where I developed this craft and perspective, and its been circumstance that’s continued to form and shape how I understand the world around me and what is to be done. I place myself in a social movement that is characterized by community organizing that’s gone global, labor organizing that’s grown outside of factories and a politic that pushes beyond political parties. It is a social movement, in sum total that seeks a redefinition of democracy, and the realization of labor and human rights based in justice. Sounds easy enough, right?
In the summer of 2010, almost 10 years after my departure, I found myself back home in Phoenix, doing something I would have never predicted – organizing. My home state had become ground zero for hate legislation against immigrant workers and families. Over the years I’ve witnessed the antics of Sheriff Arpaio, the mounting laws aimed directly at my family and community. I’d been waiting for this. The irony for me was that, the place I left to organize is precisely the place where I have found myself in this work again. To do this work, over the long haul, you’ve got to find yourself in it. And that, as I suppose is true for all of us, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the various things we dive into. This experience made me think that perhaps our lives don’t fall on a linear, chronological path. Instead, we move in spirals and that some things come around again. Its like life gives a nudge.
Back at the bar, in deep deliberation of life’s nudge, I leaned back, surprised and immediately responded: Why can’t I be both? The truth is I want to dream it and build it. I am part architect, part carpenter. I don’t really want it any other way. Following that conversation, I joined the effort to push back on the PoliMigra in Arizona and beyond. Its important for me to be plugged into and supporting local, community based campaigns. I also feel like I’ve got something to contribute at the ‘national’ or movement level. But the other thing that came back around, was this need to write. After much more bar conversations and deliberation, for me, I think that writing is the meeting point between the concepts and design of the organizer who is an architect, and the builder and implementor who is the carpenter. So along with working to stop the PoliMigra, I’m creating this space for bringing together my reflections, experiences, hopefully producing new ideas and commentary on what’s next.
I’m ready for the next rounds. This time, I find myself in this work. The reason I organize is once again personal. My purpose, it’s woven into my story. Its time to share it.