Michael Gecan is retiring as Co-Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation this month. All accolades coming his way will be richly deserved. His career has been a model of how to build and sustain broad based power organizations. Mike has been an organization builder, innovator, risk taker, and thought leader for over four decades.
While best known for his work with East Brooklyn Congregations (and the sparkling success of Nehemiah Housing in NYC), his mentoring of talented leaders and organizers, his strategic brilliance applied to multiple political fights over decades, his talent for expression through the written word, his (cold) anger, humor and patience put him in the top rung of change agents in the USA and abroad.
See DF's page devoted to Michael Gecan's Books.
BOOK OF THE WEEK:
From the Washington Post:
One person who recognizes this disparity is Mike Gecan, senior organizer at Metro Industrial Areas Foundation based in Chicago. In something of a unique social experiment, Gecan is attempting to address obstacles faced by populations who are disadvantaged by residing in far-off areas of the map. Opinion piece here.
EBR Metro Council approves first industrial tax break since adopting ITEP-related guidelines. Advocate story here.
Massive Win for Working People: Nevada Governor Signs Bill Giving Over 20,000 State Employees Collective Bargaining Rights
"THIS IS A HISTORIC DAY FOR STATE EMPLOYEES AND ALL NEVADANS, AS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS WILL MEAN A VOICE ON THE JOB TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CHANGES."
Common Dreams story by Jake Johnson here.
Angry seniors today raise hell against a mayor who a year ago made them a promise to build $500 million in new affordable senior housing, then turned his back and flew to Iowa to sell his brand of progressivism on the national market.
We echo the frustration of the men and women of East Brooklyn Congregations and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation as today, at the end of their ropes, they call for Mayor de Blasio to “step up or step down."
NY Daily News Editorial
Volkswagen was wooed to Chattanooga in 2008 with a $554 million subsidy package from the state and local governments.
It was the largest taxpayer handout ever given to a foreign-owned automaker up to that moment, and remains the largest subsidy deal in Tennessee history. The deal came free of any job or investment requirements.
“The only commitment that was made to the state was to keep the plant nonunion. It wasn’t to be safe or pay well or provide a great work environment,” said maintenance worker Gary Swafford. “It’s flabbergasting.”
Full story in Labor Notes here.
"Franklin D. Roosevelt is reported to have said about the need for a specific policy initiative, "Okay, you've convinced me. Now go out there and organize and create a constituency to make me do it." I fear that too many progressives are still caught up in the "convincing," when what we need now is the constituency-and people who are willing to think hard about how to create, sustain, and energize that constituency." More from still timely piece in Boston Review.
Together Louisiana just beat back an attempt at legislative subterfuge to undermine local control over industrial tax exemptions.
Senator Bodi White tried to use the conference committee process to throw out the ENTIRE CONTENT of a resolution he sponsored, replacing it, whole cloth, with the language of a bill to undermine local control over industrial tax exemptions that had been defeated 5 TIMES this session already.
The trickery passed the Senate unanimously, with no one, it seems, catching what was going on. It was set for a House floor vote Thursday afternoon.
Rep. Ted James caught the dirty trick and alerted Together Louisiana.
TLA sent out an action alert at 2:37pm. And here's what happened next:
"The grand challenge that Arendt gave herself was the retrieval of the words most associated with politics—and therefore the words most ravaged through centuries of overuse and distortion."
Read the smart, timely piece here.
Over the course of my organizing career with IAF that spanned forty years I can’t recall a strategic idea worth pursuing or a tactic worth implementing that didn’t derive from relational meetings. My recollections in many cases include the exact moment when the spark occurred: The ashen face of a parent in Las Vegas describing the pimping of her child for sex; the tight jaw of a woman despondent over the number of children running loose after school in her neighborhood; the depression of a man whose year of government funded “job training” ended with no job in sight; an immigrant describing his ordeal crossing the border.
“Power before program” is one of IAF Co-Director Ernie Cortes’ signature organizing mantras. Implicit in his exhortation is adoption of IAF’s methodological innovations - first and foremost relational meetings, one to one, that are practices for building power. Strategic, tactical and methodological innovations circle back on one another in a virtuous circle. Where the power of IAF citizen organizations is successfully exercised, business as usual is disrupted as public space opens for more citizen leaders to impact public life with fresh initiatives, energy and action. Troubled democracies everywhere need more of this. Their survival may depend on it.