Needing to Organize; Judge Vaughn Walker; District 10 Supervisor Race; NUHW Landslide …

by on February 9, 2010

To the Editor:

Great article!! Randy Shaw hit the nail right on the head. Organize, Organize, Organize should be our mantra. But like we have done after every movement in this Country, once we have win small battles we retreat and forget about the war, like the war on poverty, the war drugs and the war for civil rights etc.

I don’t think it is an either/or regarding elections vs organizing it is both – we need new leaders and new policies and you must organize to do both. What made the 2008 elections so powerful was its ability to organize people around a set of values, not issues. Right after the 2008 elections, we went right back to issue campaigns and never shored up the base of folks who still believed it was about values. The teabaggers sure took notice and began a grassroots mobilization and now are organizing around their values.

Yes, I agree it takes money to organize a movement but we cannot wait for foundations to back it. They only represent 13% of the entire donor world. What if every so-called progressive donated $1 or more to the movement couldn’t we fund our own movement? But you it can’t be for issue based organizing that’s too divisive, it has to be around a broad set values first!

Evonne Tisdale
Nashville, TN

To the Editor:

Congratulations on an excellent article. I am a grassroots organizer and communications professional and have long bemoaned that second-class stature of grassroots organizing, communications and mobilization.

Nowhere is this inadequacy seen more clearly than in the current debate on health care reform. I’ve seen up close through my work with charitable organizations that represent patients (e.g. Epilepsy Foundation, American Diabetes Association). Even though they represent millions of people, these organizations have a limited ability to mobilize their members in support of their advocacy objectives.

It’s not for lack to trying, mind you. It’s just that grassroots organizing has never been a very high priority. And look at where it’s gotten us! Our health care system utterly fails many people with a chronic medical condition. We’re on the verge of enacting historic reforms, but instead of mobilizing members to demand action, not much happens. I think many groups understand the value and importance of grassroots organizing. But when it comes down to it, there’s a lot more we could be doing to advance our respective causes.

Joseph LaMountain
President, SparkLight Communications
Alexandria, VA

To the Editor:

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. First, taking part in electoral work, as PDA and groups like it do, is organizing. It’s not ‘versus’ organizing. We organize people to vote, fight to stop the wars and fight for HR 676, day in and day out. Because we engaged the election, we have three times the strength we had before. And we are not a 501C3, get no grants from foundations, and no one is paid. That’s not something to want to continue, but it hasn’t meant that we do little, less or nothing.

But it’s true that we have fallen away from a ‘culture of organizing’ that we had in other times. We’ve got too many Lone Rangers. Ask how many people you know are socialists? Then ask how many of them belong to a socialist group of any sort? I’d bet it’s one out of a hundred. You can’t blame that on Obama, Democrats, voter registration or the smaller ‘funds’ from corporate ‘foundations.’ If you want to solve this problem, start by looking in the mirror. What are your base community groups? What is your socialist group? How many friends and contacts have you recruited. How many donations FROM THEM did you gather up?

I think we know a good part of the answer.

Carl Davidson
Aliquippa, PA

To the Editor:

Thanks for the story on Judge Walker. I kind-of agree, and I kind-of don’t. From what I read, this was an open secret – Prop 8 attorney Andy Pugno knew it too, and my guess is that they already planned to use it in a big way if and when they lost the case … I’m thinking it was better that it came out now, so the effect will be somewhat defused later. The Prop 8 side as much as admitted in the SFGate article that they planned to use it against us anyway.

J. Scott Coatsworth
El Dorado Hills, CA

To the Editor:

The stakes are incredibly high – so I look forward to much more coverage of the race for a new District 10 Supervisor. Unfortunately you got it wrong in your article when you reported that I am among the candidates. I am deeply committed to my current work, and to raising my son as a well-loved Black child in this city.

I remain passionate about building the ‘new’ Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth, as a member-led multiracial organizing force in the city with a strong base of Black and Latino families fighting together to save our youth, the southeast, and the future of working families in San Francisco. We continue to deepen our roots, grow our base, and win the policy and budget fights that matter most to struggling families. It’s a deeply inspiring place to be and I’m privileged to be able to continue leading the work.

Our sister organization, the Coleman Action Fund for Children (a 501c4) has prioritized the election of a strong District 10 Supervisor who will be accountable to poor and working class families – and especially Black families who’ve been ignored, betrayed, patronized and pushed out for far too long.

There is so much to be outraged about, but no need for despair. I have faith in our people’s ability to organize, fight, and win.

N’Tanya Lee
Executive Director
Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth

To the Editor:

I’ve been reading Beyond Chron for the past six months and think it’s a wonderful online publication. Randy Shaw’s coverage of labor organizing news can’t be beat. However, I am concerned with the choice of photo in the article “NUHW wins landslide victory over SEIU at Kaiser.” The photo is of houses caught in a landslide. In light of the current disaster in Haiti and in general good taste, I would suggest you change the photo to something a bit more appropriate and relevant to the article at hand. Otherwise, a wonderful resource for social justice news!

Jessica Edwards
New York, NY

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San Francisco, CA 94102
415-771-9850 (phone)

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