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Listen, Organize, Act! Community Organizing & Democratic Politics

News & Politics Podcasts

The Listen, Organize, Act podcast focuses on the history and contemporary practice of community organizing and democratic politics. Alongside this specific focus are two others: the first is to explore how organizing connects democracy and religion, particularly at a local, congregational level; the second is to examine how organizing embodies a distinctive vision and practice of democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns, particularly the last one. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, this series looks at democracy as not first and foremost about a system of government, or set of laws, or an ideology but as rooted in three things. The first is a commitment to listen to others different to oneself because their experience, their story, who they are as a person matters. Listening honors fundamental premises of democracy, as it marks a way of respecting the dignity of each individual, the importance of dialogue as against killing and coercion as means of resolving conflicts, and that people should have a say in decisions that affect them and be able to shape their living and working conditions. The second is that democracy does not just happen, it needs organizing. And if it is to be democratic, it needs people organizing between themselves to determine their living and working conditions. If ordinary people don’t get organized then they are subject to others acting on them and their living and working conditions being determined by systems and structures controlled by others who either won’t listen to them, don’t have their interests at heart, or are actively hostile, wanting them silenced or disenfranchised. And finally, democracy lives or dies by shared action. Listening and organizing generate the means of coming together, but at a certain point people must act together to move the world as it is towards becoming a more just and generous one in which all may flourish. Community organizing as a form of democratic politics embodies these three elements. It begins with listening and has a particular set of practices for organizing people and for generating shared action toward common ends. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other, with the series as a whole being a foundational course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing.

The Listen, Organize, Act podcast focuses on the history and contemporary practice of community organizing and democratic politics. Alongside this specific focus are two others: the first is to explore how organizing connects democracy and religion, particularly at a local, congregational level; the second is to examine how organizing embodies a distinctive vision and practice of democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns, particularly the last one. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, this series looks at democracy as not first and foremost about a system of government, or set of laws, or an ideology but as rooted in three things. The first is a commitment to listen to others different to oneself because their experience, their story, who they are as a person matters. Listening honors fundamental premises of democracy, as it marks a way of respecting the dignity of each individual, the importance of dialogue as against killing and coercion as means of resolving conflicts, and that people should have a say in decisions that affect them and be able to shape their living and working conditions. The second is that democracy does not just happen, it needs organizing. And if it is to be democratic, it needs people organizing between themselves to determine their living and working conditions. If ordinary people don’t get organized then they are subject to others acting on them and their living and working conditions being determined by systems and structures controlled by others who either won’t listen to them, don’t have their interests at heart, or are actively hostile, wanting them silenced or disenfranchised. And finally, democracy lives or dies by shared action. Listening and organizing generate the means of coming together, but at a certain point people must act together to move the world as it is towards becoming a more just and generous one in which all may flourish. Community organizing as a form of democratic politics embodies these three elements. It begins with listening and has a particular set of practices for organizing people and for generating shared action toward common ends. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other, with the series as a whole being a foundational course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing.

Location:

United States

Description:

The Listen, Organize, Act podcast focuses on the history and contemporary practice of community organizing and democratic politics. Alongside this specific focus are two others: the first is to explore how organizing connects democracy and religion, particularly at a local, congregational level; the second is to examine how organizing embodies a distinctive vision and practice of democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns, particularly the last one. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, this series looks at democracy as not first and foremost about a system of government, or set of laws, or an ideology but as rooted in three things. The first is a commitment to listen to others different to oneself because their experience, their story, who they are as a person matters. Listening honors fundamental premises of democracy, as it marks a way of respecting the dignity of each individual, the importance of dialogue as against killing and coercion as means of resolving conflicts, and that people should have a say in decisions that affect them and be able to shape their living and working conditions. The second is that democracy does not just happen, it needs organizing. And if it is to be democratic, it needs people organizing between themselves to determine their living and working conditions. If ordinary people don’t get organized then they are subject to others acting on them and their living and working conditions being determined by systems and structures controlled by others who either won’t listen to them, don’t have their interests at heart, or are actively hostile, wanting them silenced or disenfranchised. And finally, democracy lives or dies by shared action. Listening and organizing generate the means of coming together, but at a certain point people must act together to move the world as it is towards becoming a more just and generous one in which all may flourish. Community organizing as a form of democratic politics embodies these three elements. It begins with listening and has a particular set of practices for organizing people and for generating shared action toward common ends. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other, with the series as a whole being a foundational course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing.

Language:

English


Episodes

Introduction to Season 2

7/7/2022
A brief introduction to the new season of the Listen, Organize, Act! Podcast. This season explores the people, texts, and ideas that organizers have turned to again and again to inspire shared action and explain the meaning, purpose, and character of democratic politics. I start the series with an episode on the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides. A passage from his book The History of the Peloponnesian War is constantly used to teach about the relationship between power and politics. And...

Duration:00:02:25

Ep 11: Campaigns as Public Action

5/5/2021
This episode discusses the process of identifying an issue, developing a campaign to address that issue, and the kinds of public action a successful campaign involves. How organizing develops and conducts campaigns is different to how many other kinds of campaign are run, whether that be an election campaign or an advertising campaign. To discuss with me the distinctive approach to campaigns and how they constitute a form of public action that not only wins change, but also builds up a...

Duration:01:14:18

Ep. 10: Strategy, Tactics, & Direct Action

4/22/2021
This episode examines the ways organizing develops a strategy to bring about change, the kinds of tactics used to achieve change, and the different kinds of democratic action involved in moving from the world as it is towards a more just and generous one. To ground the discussion it focuses on the initiation, development, and success of a campaign run by Common Ground in Milwaukee which addressed the foreclosure crisis there in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis. This serves as a case...

Duration:01:12:04

Ep.9: Organized Money II: Economic Democracy & the Solidarity Economy

4/14/2021
This episode focuses on is how to organize money so that it fosters the flourishing of where we live and work through generating different kinds of institutions and ways of building wealth in a community to those that dominate the existing economy. Alternative, more democratic forms of economic production and investment and ways of structuring work and ownership are needed to address economic inequality, issues of racial equity, and the need for environmentally attuned forms of business. To...

Duration:01:06:15

Ep.8: Organized Money I: Money Power & Fundraising

4/7/2021
This episode discusses the positive and negative ways money and politics connect and the means to organize money through politics so it serves human flourishing. Democratic politics has always involved a struggle to ensure money serves people rather than people serving money. The paradox is that, to do so, democratic politics necessities not just organizing people, but also organizing, or better, re-organizing money. The conversation in this episode about organizing money has two sides to...

Duration:01:01:51

Ep.7: Popular Education: Organizing Knowledge & Learning to be Political

3/30/2021
This episode focuses on popular education, discussing what it is and why it’s key to good democratic organizing with Ernesto Cortes, Jr. Alongside organized money, organized people, and organized action, building power to effect change requires organized knowledge. Organized knowledge generates the frameworks of analysis and understanding through which to re-narrate and reimagine the world, destabilizing the dominant scripts and ideas that legitimate oppression. But rather than be driven by...

Duration:00:44:46

Ep.6: Institutions: Why They're Vital for Democratic Politics

3/25/2021
Building on the previous episodes on power and leadership, in this episode I examine the place of institutions in organizing, discussing what is an institution, what makes for a healthy institution, how and why institutions are central to the kind of place-based, relationally driven democratic politics organizing undertakes, and why without them the individual is left naked before the power of the market and the state. Also reflected on is a key rule of organizing, which is that all...

Duration:01:01:09

Ep.5: Leadership, But Not As You Know It

3/16/2021
This episode discusses the nature and purpose of leadership in organizing, how it is defined and understood, who are leaders, the difference between leaders and organizers, and what their respective roles are in the shared work of organizing. The understanding and practice of leadership in organizing is very different to that put forward in most leadership training programs, institutes, and business schools. It is counter cultural and embodies a deep wisdom about leadership that can be...

Duration:01:02:43

Ep.4: The Ability to Act: Power Over and Power With

3/9/2021
This episode discusses power, defined simply as the ability to act. It focuses on the relationship between power and democratic politics, the distinction between "power over" or unilateral power and "power with" or relational power, and questions such as who has power, how should it be analyzed, is anyone really powerless, the nature of self-interest, and how does organizing build power to effect change. Guests Robert Hoo is the Lead Organizer and Executive Director for One LA-IAF. He has...

Duration:01:09:22

Ep.3: The Other Basic Tool of Organizing: House Meetings

3/2/2021
In this episode I examine the second key tool organizing uses for listening, building relationships, and effecting change: the house meeting. As a form of democratic politics that begins with listening and is attentive to the experience, conditions, and stories of people where they live and work, organizing needs practices for listening well. Along with the one-to-one discussed in the previous episode, the house meeting is just such a practice and the other basic tool of community...

Duration:01:01:39

Ep. 2: The Basic Tool of Organizing: The One to One or Relational Meeting

2/14/2021
This episode discusses why and how listening is the beginning point of democratic organizing and the role of the one-to-one or relational meeting in that work. The first part is a discussion with Lina Jamoul about what is a one to one, what it involves, and how it differs from other ways of engaging with people in democratic politics. In the second part I talk to Arnie Graf to reflect further on some of the tensions and issues that arise in doing one-to-one’s. Guests: Lina Jamoul is...

Duration:00:52:44

Ep.1: What is Community Organizing? And Why is it Needed?

2/14/2021
In this, the first episode, I talk to Keisha Krumm and Mike Gecan about what is community organizing, what it involves, and why it matters. Community organizing can also be referred to as broad-based organizing, institution-based organizing, faith-based organizing, or neighborhood organizing. Keisha and Mike prefer just to talk about organizing as the work of enabling people to come together to build power to effect democratic change where they live and work. As you will hear, boundaries...

Duration:01:04:54