For someone who doesn’t like community organizing, I seem to have gotten myself significantly involved in community organizing.
I’m pretty much all in at this point.
Before getting involved in this work, my interactions with some community organizing projects felt like I was being manipulated. The work is meant to be ground up, grass roots inspired with support from experienced and professional staff. I observed, in the past, as organizers set up listening opportunities and helped the participants lift up the concerns that seemed to be already chosen by outsiders from on high.
From my first experience in Fresno, that has absolutely not been the case here. Our staff has done a great job of listening to the leaders who work in the trenches and the most vulnerable citizens who benefit from the advocacy.
I said I would participate as long as we continue on this path, as long as I don’t feel manipulated and that the work we do truly reflects the needs of the community… and it does.
While this work normally makes up a small piece of my average week, the past few days have been intense with a powerful event on Saturday as we kicked off the newly formed Faith in the Valley partnership between the five counties of the Central Valley. 1500 people joined together at the Fresno Convention Center as we unveiled the People’s Covenant in which we strive to improve our system of incarceration, increasing efforts in prevention, build jobs in the Central Valley through the clean energy field, and address the living conditions of the immigrant families who are so important to our Valley. The work branches into other complementary areas as well.
Check out Carmen George’s article on the event in the Fresno Bee: Faith groups unite under a new banner: Faith in the Valley
Monday, Max and I took our show on the road and headed up to Sacramento where PICO California (the California wide version of Faith in the Valley) and Reform CA (the Reform rabbis community organizing network in California) met with Gov. Jerry Brown to hear his reasons for sponsoring Proposition 57 and meet with each of our legislators.
It was an honor at both events to help lead the music and, in addition to playing for the gatherings, I got to be a proud dad as Max really took the lead in songleading for each group.
Yeah, I’m definitely committed to the great work we’re doing and I’ll continue to make sure that we continue to listen to all those affected by the injustices, support them in making their voices heard and empower them to stand before the powers that be and fight for the causes that balance the scales of justice.
Just please don’t call me a community organizer.