Don’t forget: there’s an on-line petition to sign.
In Spring 2017, New Albany, Indiana Mayor Jeff Gahan announced his intention to demolish more than half of the town’s public housing stock. Apart from vague promises of housing vouchers, residents have been told almost nothing about the plan or what will become of them. Sign the petition: No demolition without a plan to replace!
Learn more about Hoosier Action in this interview from July.
Organizing in the Heartland: Indiana Group Builds Working-Class Momentum, by Sarah Jaffe (Truthout)
Today we bring you a conversation with Jesse Alexander Myerson, an organizer with Hoosier Action who hosts an Indiana-based podcast called From the Heartland about people who are organizing in the interior of the country and in places where leftists aren’t normally thought of as being.
Just a snippet.
Telling these stories is an important part of this kind of organizing, but you can also end up with people thinking that just telling a sad story is going to be enough to move their senator and then wondering why that doesn’t work. I would love for you to talk a little bit more about the way this storytelling does and doesn’t fit into your organizing strategy.
It is definitely integral. As you imply, it is not sufficient unto itself, but basically, the essence of the organizing we are doing is relational. The idea is that any organizing that takes place absent the building and deepening of relationships between people is going to be basically facile. It is one thing if you can get 12 people in a room to talk to us and it is another thing if you get 400 and that 400 really only comes when people have deepened their relationships with one another.
A lot of this organizing is based on having long one-on-one discussions with people, what their lives are like, what they are interested in, what they are concerned about, what they are afraid of, what they are angry about, what they are hopeful for and growing relationships that way. That is both on the doors and ideally in follow-ups after people get knocked or called. Those stories are important in the actual day-to-day organizing, talking to people and letting them know who you are and finding out who they are. As a kind of public expression, really what we hope to do is to mobilize people with that, but ultimately that mobilization should turn into becoming a dues-paying member, coming to monthly member meetings, joining a team and taking on work. That can be going and knocking on doors, it can be doing data entry, it can be helping to promote issues or taking on a shift at the farmers market or at a county fair, flyering or taking petitions, but ideally it is not a high temperature sort of organizing such as you and I saw at Occupy Wall Street where it is lots of marches, lots of heat, lots of intensity.
Really, that emotional heat is being channeled into really well-functioning systems that people can take on discrete amounts of work that make sense with their working lives and their family lives, but that they can see serving to proliferate the organization.