Community organizers rally groups, individuals and resources around issues
-- issues ranging from globalization to homelessness to playground safety.
Whatever the issue, and whether it's global or local, community organizing
is about making the world a better place.
"There are multiple levels of injustice going on across this world and
across this country, and either we can fight against it or sit on the sidelines
and watch it," says Yusef Bunchy Shakur, a community organizer in Detroit.
Organizers knock on doors to canvass for money, new members and signatures
of support. They lobby politicians, appear in the media and organize events
to raise awareness.
Community organizers work for parties and political action groups, community
groups, non-governmental organizations and even the government itself. You
can find them in every community, bringing people together for a common cause.
"The true product of organizing is leadership development, so it's [developing]
citizens that understand how to engage and be effective in public life," says
community organizer Laura Jeffreys.
"That's the real product, so you have to have a certain amount of political
acumen. You have to be able to build relationships... that are built on accountability."
Working hours vary significantly. Evening and weekend work are common.
Resources, both human and financial, are often stretched thin.
"A lot of the time, these [community organizations] have a staff of one
to three people," says Jeffreys. "In my case, it's one (person), so I really
understand how to read and write budgets and operate within them, and raise
money, and all those kinds of things.
Community organizers sometimes work in areas and neighborhoods with questionable
reputations. That means they must also be safety-conscious. They also encounter
the risk of physical harm during rallies.
Another job hazard that organizers can face during rallies or other events
is the possibility of arrest, which may lead to a criminal record.
Community organizers, with their passion and conviction, inspire others
to take action.
"We can make it out of anything or over anything, we just don't know that,
we haven't realized that," says Shakur. "[Knowing] that brings a level of
determination, a level of self-worth, of empowerment and confidence, that
can inspire us to do what's needed to improve our communities."