There is a group of people whose sense of what we can do together is abundant. They are known as community organizers. Their specialty is connecting people who want to make the world more just, equal, accessible and inclusive. They are active during the pandemic. They are essential for the recovery.
Community organizers unify. They draw the extraordinary out of just about everyone.
Community organizing is an aptitude as old as the hills. It’s never been a profession. It’s hard to teach but it’s in everyone’s nature.
Community organizers prefer the background. But the fruits of their labour are everywhere. They are the people behind the abolition of slavery (Thomas Clarkson); hospice care (Cicely Saunders); civil rights (Martin Luther King Jr.) successive waves of feminism (Adelaide Hoodless, Betty Friedan); safe injection sites (Ann Livingston); seed reclamation (Vandana Shiva); Idle No More (Nina Wilson, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon, Pamela Palmater); and climate justice (Jason Mogus).
I profile several community organizers in my new book The Power of Disability:
- Barb Goode, people first organizer, plain language champion and successful campaigner to end the sterilization of women and men with developmental disabilities.
- Geoff McMurchy who postponed his artistic career to mobilize against physical barriers and obstacles.
- Alice Wong the accidental activist and force behind Crip the Vote. “You don’t have to march to be in the resistance,” she says.
- DJ Savarese who is determined to emancipate 750,000 North Americans with autism who do not speak. “Inclusion shouldn’t be a lottery,” he says.
The list of these mostly unknown legends is endless.
Speaking of community organizers, John McKnight and Peter Block are two of the best. John has influenced generations of community organizers including Barrack Obama. Peter’s book Community: The Structure of Belonging is a bible to community organizers. John and Peter host a regular webinar based on Abundant Community the book they wrote together. They’ve invited me to have an hour conversation with them. It’s this Monday April 27th at 1:00 eastern. I’m gobsmacked to use a high falutin community organizer’s term. Register here.