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fastforumlogo Welcome back to Fast Forum!  Consider it a “Plenary-to-Go” or, maybe an “Insta-Debate!”  We pick a hot topic and ask 3 – 6 organizers from across the country to weigh in. They will have about 500 words to make us go “….hmmmmm.” Our hope is to draw out new ideas and to encourage new voices to take a stab at the freshest challenges facing our community. This month, we asked four organizers for their reflections on the question:

How does electoral work support or undermine grassroots organizing efforts?

Makani Themba

makani-photoSushma Sheth interviewed Makani Themba-Nixon for Organizing Upgrade in mid-2009.

Sushma: These are dramatic times, politically, socially and economically.  What do you think are the most significant shifts happening right now and how do you think they change the context of our work.  Clearly, your knowledge and skills base is broad.  So please draw from whatever is relevant, especially from your experiences organizing within the black community as well as your media work.
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3 0 nouraface3Interviewed by Joseph Phelan and Sushma Sheth

What is new about the current political context, especially as part of the Obama era?

Since January 20, 2009, we have experienced what feels like an unprecedented shift and have [probably] assumed that it is a function of a refreshing Obama Administration. However, the major shift that we feel is the absence of a revolutionary Bush Administration. Bush’s tenure as President marked the most revolutionary era because for the first time in modern history, our head of state supplanted secular language, otherwise mandated by the Establishment Clause, with religious language in discussing matters of foreign and domestic policy.

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terrypic2Interviewed by Sushma Sheth

These are dramatic times politically, socially, and economically.  What do you think are the most significant shifts happening right now, and how do they change the context of our work?
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gihan

Joseph Phelan initially interviewed Gihan Perera in person in September 2009. Gihan further developed these ideas after leading a get out the vote effort, in Miami, in November 2009.

We are living in very particular political and economic times. What do you think are the most significant shifts that are happening right now?  How are they changing the context for left grassroots organizing?
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After receiving an incredibly warm welcome, Organizing Upgrade is excited to continue bringing you thoughtful opinions and strategic essays for left organizers. We also want to stir the pot!  We want new ideas and new voices to take a stab at the freshest challenges facing our community.

Welcome to Fast Forum, the new addition to Organizing Upgrade.  Consider it a “Plenary-to-Go” or, maybe an “Insta-Debate!”  Every month, we will pick a hot topic and ask 3 – 6 organizers from across the country to weigh in. They will have about 500 words to make us go “….hmmmmm.”  This month, we asked six organizers for their reflections on the question:

What can left organizers learn from the fight over healthcare?
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Willie BaptistWillie Baptist was interviewed by John Wessel-McCoy for Organizing Upgrade in June 2009

Present Situation

Any approach to social change, organizing and leadership development has to be based on your assessment of the situation and of the problem.  If you have one assessment or one diagnosis, you’re going to have a particular prescription and a particular approach to the solution. Either we’re dealing with a teddy bear or we’re dealing with a grizzly bear, and either estimate will determine your set of tactics, your organizing approach.  If you think you’re dealing with a teddy bear and in reality it’s a grizzly bear coming at you, you’re going to be in trouble. So this estimate of the situation is absolutely crucial to the process.

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Aa-smallThis summer, Organizing Upgrade asked Aarti Shahani to characterize the shifting landscape of immigration reform. This essay came weeks after her ground breaking report on Homeland Security’s infamous 287(g) program, which made national headlines and was entered into the Congressional Record. Aarti considers the limits of the prevailing framework for immigrant rights and points to structural shifts in state and federal policy that cry for new analysis and innovative action.

Welcome to Organizing Upgrade

We are living in amazing times.  Between the groundbreaking election of President Obama and the onset of the largest economic crisis that this country has seen in decades, the terrain of politics is rapidly shifting beneath our feet.  The left-progressive movement is currently engaged in a re-evaluation and r

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

What We Need to DoJoseph Phelan of Organizing Upgrade interviewed Bill Fletcher Jr. by phone in early June 2009.

Joseph: Bill, the first thing I want to get to with you is: What do you think are the most significant things happening right now in the world? What are the shifts that left organizers in particular need to be paying attention to?

Bill: We are living through the convergence of three crises: economic, environmental and a crisis of state legitimacy.  It is a moment where we’re dealing with more than a recession or even a depression. We’re dealing with these forces that are coming together and opening up tremendous possibilities in terms of the development of a new set of politics and a new political practice. But at the same time, it’s very dangerous and very scary.

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