Saturday, September 6, 2008

Obama, The Little Organizer that Could.

The Nation
Obama's Community Roots
By David Moberg
April 3, 2007


"As a presidential candidate, he frequently refers to his community organizing, asking supporters to treat his campaign as a social movement in which he is just "an imperfect vessel of your hopes and dreams."

"He was more comfortable in dialogue with people. But challenging power was not an issue for him. Lack of civility was."

Interviews with people who worked with him during that time elicited few complaints--virtually everyone described him in glowing terms, including dedicated, hard-working, dependable, intelligent, inspiring, a good listener, confident but self-effacing. They expressed admiration for him as an organizer who trained strong community leaders while keeping himself in the background and as a strategist who could turn general problems into specific, winnable issues."

"One day a resident at Altgeld Gardens, a geographically isolated public housing project surrounded by waste sites, brought a notice about planned removal of asbestos from the project manager's office. Obama organized the community to find out if there was asbestos in their apartments. They persisted as officials lied and delayed, then took a bus--with far fewer people than Obama had anticipated--to challenge authorities downtown. Ultimately, the city was forced to test all the apartments and eventually begin cleaning them up.

In his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Obama writes that the bus trip changed him in a fundamental way, "because it hints at what might be possible and therefore spurs you on.... That bus ride kept me going, I think. Maybe it still does."

"Now the Rev. Alvin Love, whom Obama recruited to DCP, looks at his candidacy and says, "Everything I see reflects that community organizing experience. I see the consensus-building, his connection to people and listening to their needs and trying to find common ground. I think at his heart Barack is a community organizer. I think what he's doing now is that. It's just a larger community to be organized."

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