Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Here goes

I find that my reluctance to blog about my new job puts a damper on blogging in general, because these are the things in my head these days. So I'm going to try to tiptoe respectfully into the fray, with some boundaries, and see what happens.

Basically, in my new job I work for a bunch of people who want to make the world a better and more just place, and have decided they need a part-time staff person to help them do that. They have time and money to put behind this, but they need organizing help. The actual portfolio is quite open. That's one of the first parts of the job - Of all the many ways the world could be made better, which ones do you want to tackle?

It's daunting, because there are a LOT of ways the world could be better. It could run the gamut from environmental stewardship, to feeding and housing people here in our community, to tax policy, to world peace. And everything in between. I don't have an office or a phone or a computer yet, but I've already gotten enthusiastic suggestions regarding fair trade coffee, Native American burial grounds, encircling Green Lake with a ring of peaceful people on the upcoming anniversary of the war, pesticide-free zones, and fundraising for a microfinance program in Central America.

I have been re-reading Saul Alinsky, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Moyer and - for the first time, oddly enough - the writings of Gandhi. How do a group of committed but busy people change the world? What are the necessary conditions? The nuts and bolts? How do you assess the conditions, to know whether it's the time for boycotts or lobbying? How do you nurture ideas and passion to arise from people, yet still harness them with some method and strategy? How do these things take root?

How did it come to pass that middle-class French people began sleeping in tents in the streets of Paris, alongside their homelessness compatriots? How did this swell to such a movement that it brought about a legally enforceable right to housing for the whole country? What tipped the issue, the people, to the point of such momentum? These are the things I think about.

It's going to be an interesting ride.

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