Organizing is Distinct from Advocacy

Evaluating Community Organizing

Catherine Crystal Foster and Justin Louie, Blueprint Research & Design, Inc. March 2010

Organizing and Advocacy Differ at a Core Level

Community organizing is emphatically bottom-up. It is the community members who select the issues, proffer the solutions, and drive strategy and execution. Most advocacy is fundamentally top-down, even if the work is authentically undertaken on behalf of community members. Advocates speak for others, while organizers inspire community leaders—everyday people—to speak for themselves. Tellingly, the
so-called Iron Rule of organizing is, “Never do for people what they can do for themselves.”

Community Members Can Be Experts

Organizers and leaders also believe that community members can be experts, and that expertise is not the sole domain of policy professionals. A low-income mother with little formal education can be an expert on local educational needs just like a senior think tank fellow, through her own experience or by conducting community led action research in her neighborhood school.

Leadership Development is a Central Concern

The leader-focused lens also points to another difference from advocacy. In organizing, leadership development is a central concern and a key outcome in addition to policy change objectives. This has major implications for priorities and goals. It makes capacity development look different in organizing than in advocacy, since the capacities to attract and develop leaders are a top priority in organizing.

Organizers Operate in an Oral Culture

Finally, certain logistical aspects of organizing differ from advocacy in a significant way. Organizers operate in a predominantly oral culture, in contrast to the more archived, written culture of advocacy. Organizing often places a premium on process and ritual, particularly as it concerns base-building and direct actions. In addition, organizing takes place in a more diffuse setting: in homes, churches, schools, or community venues, rather than in a central office or the corridors of the state house.

Who Has the Answer?

No One Will Do It For Us But Us

How much of this is relevant to people of color in Spokane? Black Lives Matter has opened up a small window of opportunity for change. In order to measure our progress we will need a Baseline. Not an expensive study, but a discussion of YOUR personal needs and OUR needs. Let us know so we can plan strategies to take actions.

Send comments to and the list of all comments will be passed on to the Spokane NAACP and The Black Lens News.

Vote! 3 Days

So You Want to Live in a Police State? (Excerpts)

Paula Gordon, Huffington Post11/07/2016 03:24 am ET Updated Nov 07, 2017

If you think a police state will make America great again a.) you’re wrong, and b.) you’ve got your candidate — Donald Trump and the Deplorables are your self-evident choice.

In a national forum, Trump promises to lock up his opponent if he wins. And there are the Chants: “lock her up,” “execute her.” And the blind rage at his rallies against foreigners and immigrants and women and Jews and Muslims and reporters and anyone else who does not toe the Trump line … wherever it is that day. And the contempt for due process, laws they don’t like, the government, anyone who disagrees with them. And the claim that anything that doesn’t turn out as they want is “rigged.” And the refusal to accept results they don’t like, e.g., the expressed preference of American voters. And the willingness to try to intimidate those voters who might not vote as they want, voters who might be women or Hispanics or Blacks or the poor or foreign-born Americans or … democrats. And, always, the threat, implicit and explicit, of violence.

If you think a police state will make America great again c.) do you really want the alt-right running your life? and d.) do not think it cannot happen here.

For my part — and with my vote — I’m choosing the path toward “Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

Vote! 4 Days

Clip from Ray Anderson The Paula Gordon Show Nov. 24 2009

A True Radical, a Great Man

Paula Gordon, Huffington Post

08/13/2011 04:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Green is good for business. Not greenwash, GREEN. By working with nature rather than despoiling nature, Ray Anderson has led his company to high levels of success and profitability.

Ray Anderson died this week, of cancer. And the cancer is not incidental to this story. Ray was a friend and an inspiration. A lot of people talk about the environment. Ray did something. A lot of people say that we have to choose between a livable environment and a prosperous economy. Ray showed them that they were wrong, and he did it in an industry which is one of the most toxic around. Though it is impossible to know with absolute certainty precisely what causes a cancer, Ray spent much of his early career in the old-fashioned carpet industry … one which used (and still uses) bioactive, petroleum-based chemicals to manufacture the carpets. There’s a very good chance that long-term exposure to those chemicals caused the cancer that killed Ray.

Vote! 5 Days

January 20, 2021 we will know if you believed Black Lives Matter. Did it or didn’t it?

It’s not too late between now and November 2, 2020. Will you ask your friends and relatives if they voted? If they haven’t encourage them to vote a straight blue ticket during this election.