Community Organizing

Perhaps the most famous community organizer was our 44th President, Barrack Obama.  While most community organizers do not become President, they can make a big difference in their community – no matter the size.

Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other or share some common problem come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest.  Community organizers generally believe that significant change often involves conflict or social struggle in order to generate power for the powerless. The goal of community organizing is to create enough power for a community so that it will influence key decision-makers (e.g. elected officials) on a range of issues over time. This can get community-organizing groups a place at the table before important decisions are made.  Community organizing is different than activism in that it has a coherent strategy for making specific social change, whereas activists often engage in unorganized social protest without a specific plan for achieving their goal –  or, in some cases, even knowing what their goal is.

There is no direct career path to being a community organizer.  Having a bachelor’s degree from a humanities program is helpful so one has a deep and detailed understanding of issues and the ability to problem solve and critically analyze an issue from all perspectives.  Most community organizers are volunteers or interns with individual political campaigns, political parties or grassroots organizations first.  It does not take any specific job training to become a community organizer, just a passion for an issue or issues, a strong understanding of that issue and the ability to advocate and argue for your group’s position.  Strong organizational and communication skills are a must.  The ability to fundraise may also be helpful.  As long as people feel underserved or ignored, there will always be a need for community organizers.