Kahn states that his book is for the “rabble-rousers, activists and quiet lovers of justice.” I would consider myself as the “quiet lover of justice” however, I have a notion to do more. During my volunteer experience in Buffalo, NY, I joined and remained part of community organizing groups and coalitions, the Erie County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, VOICE Buffalo, and People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo. In these organizations, I attended general meetings and public meeting events, signed petitions, joined public rallies and rallies in NY State capital, and volunteered services at fundraising events. While participating in these community organizing groups, I observed the organizers’ leadership and techniques in increasing the levels of personal and collective power, and how that allowed for change in the community.
Reading Si Kahn’s Creative Community Organizing, reminded me of my volunteer experience in community organizing groups. In this book, Kahn tells stories to illustrate what it means to be an organizer and to help readers answer the question he is often asked, “So do you think I should become an organizer?” Through his narratives and reflections about life as an organizer, Kahn illustrates the way he addressed inequity and power dynamics, his process of accountability to his organization, and the challenges he faced as an organizer.
As a public health worker, I envision myself within the context of community organizing in a nonprofit organization setting. Community organizing in such a setting would require tactics that focus on empowerment to address inequity, community-based participatory research to evaluate the organizing process and address power dynamics related to differences, and an open discussion with constituents about accountability.
Kahn stated that organizers “work strategically to help people challenge and change injustice. (Kahn, Si. Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-rousers, Activists, and Quiet Lovers of Justice. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Inc. Copyright 2010.)” My vision of being an organizer involves using empowerment as a tool to address inequities. In order for people to challenge and change injustice, they must believe they are capable of making their own choices and have much to offer in shaping the society. Empowerment is the realization of one’s abilities and the expansion of self-confidence. Empowering constituents emphasizes leadership development, transparency, consensus-building, and equality.
With empowerment, comes the ability to create social change. When individuals and communities are given more self-confidence and self-esteem, they are able to envision a different and better future, giving them the inner strength to organize around issues. Traditionally, leadership responsibilities are usually assigned to a few people, but in an empowering environment, each constituent has the capacity to be a leader. Teaching leadership...