Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Community organizing in rural areas - The rural face of the United States

Organizing in rural areas requires different tactics from the organizer compared to the urban context. Acquaintances may live in close vicinity to one another or in the same neighborhood and relationships may easily overlap. There is a great chance that the decision-makers and the members of the local chapter often meet in everyday life (in the supermarket, in church, in community events, in the neighborhood), or they may nurture personal relationships, which gives a particular character to campaigning and confrontation. Furthermore, the issues will sooner or later go beyond the local context and will require the targeting of decision-makers both at a county and a state level.

During the summer I am going to visit eight community organizations working in rural areas. Based on the interviews and the field work with their organizers, and by learning about the aims, possibilities and limits of the organizations, I am hoping to collect and share a variety of community organizing techniques in this blog.

In the upcoming 11 weeks you can read about community organizing in rural areas and at the same time, explore the diverse face of the rural U.S. through the work of the following organizations:

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (Kentucky)
KFTC was established in 1981 (under the name of Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition). The primary aim of the organization was the taxation of coal companies which had been exploiting the residents of the state and the local farmers. KFTC since then has formed chapters in 13 counties, and the organization took up further economic justice issues, as well as environmental and other social justice issues.

Agricultural Missions (Kentucky)
Agricultural Missions mobilizes and generates power for local farmers to fight for food justice and for a more just food system. The organization steps up efforts against rural poverty in cooperation with local communities such as Amish farmers.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa)
Iowa CCI was established in 1975. It kicked off with fighting for local issues at a neighborhood level, and then in the 1980s, it successfully unified both rural and urban groups behind statewide issues.

Indigenous Environmental Network (Minnesota)
IEN is a grassroots alliance of local North American Indian tribes (dakota, arikara, mandan, hidatsa, ojibwe). The organization first and foremost deals with environmental issues in the spirit of traditional teachings and respecting the natural law.

Northern Plains Resource Council (Montana)
NPRC established the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) in 1979 in a joint effort with citizen groups in North Dakota and Wyoming to enhance cross-state cooperation. The organization has mostly environmental and agricultural issues on its agenda.

United Vision For Idaho (Idaho)
UVI was established in 1995 with the aim of spreading progressive and leftist ideas and to unify local groups in Idaho.

Rural Organizing Project (Oregon)
ROP was established in 1993 with the alliance of more than 40 human rights groups to offset an anti-gay, conservative Christian social movement and to protect progressive values. Since then the organization has put economic justice and immigration issues on its agenda.

PCUN Oregon's Farmworker Union (Oregon)
PCUN is a union of farmworkers, reforestation and nursery workers. It was founded in 1985 by 80 farmworkers and the organization has more than 5,000 members, 98 per cent of which are Mexican and Central American immigrants. PCUN is Oregon's largest Latino organization.

Besides learning about new rural community organizing techniques, my aim is also to explore a variety of campaign strategies in terms of social issues which translate to a Hungarian or Central European context and also increase my knowledge of how these organizations balance between local and statewide campaigns.

Read it in Hungarian.

1 comment:

  1. Jacksonville Illinois Citizens for ward based electoral model of their school board. Citizens organized to form a citizens ballot initiative and PAC to attempt to bring representation to poor and minority areas of town.