Listen, Organize, Act! Community Organizing & Democratic Politics
The Listen, Organize, Act podcast focuses on the history and contemporary practice of community organizing and democratic politics. Alongside this specific focus are two others: the first is to explore how organizing connects democracy and religion, particularly at a local, congregational level; the second is to examine how organizing embodies a distinctive vision and practice of democratic politics. The name of the podcast reflects these concerns, particularly the last one. Through a series of conversations with folk who live and breathe the work of organizing, this series looks at democracy as not first and foremost about a system of government, or set of laws, or an ideology but as rooted in three things. The first is a commitment to listen to others different to oneself because their experience, their story, who they are as a person matters. Listening honors fundamental premises of democracy, as it marks a way of respecting the dignity of each individual, the importance of dialogue as against killing and coercion as means of resolving conflicts, and that people should have a say in decisions that affect them and be able to shape their living and working conditions. The second is that democracy does not just happen, it needs organizing. And if it is to be democratic, it needs people organizing between themselves to determine their living and working conditions. If ordinary people don’t get organized then they are subject to others acting on them and their living and working conditions being determined by systems and structures controlled by others who either won’t listen to them, don’t have their interests at heart, or are actively hostile, wanting them silenced or disenfranchised. And finally, democracy lives or dies by shared action. Listening and organizing generate the means of coming together, but at a certain point people must act together to move the world as it is towards becoming a more just and generous one in which all may flourish. Community organizing as a form of democratic politics embodies these three elements. It begins with listening and has a particular set of practices for organizing people and for generating shared action toward common ends. Each episode is a stand alone discussion, but when listened to together, the episodes build on each other, with the series as a whole being a foundational course in the meaning, purpose and mechanics of how to do community organizing.