In the small-scale practical work in neighborhoods, the question arises again and again, how political is it? Do all efforts for local improvements – e.g. for more public places of communication, traffic calming or more cleanliness on sidewalks – have a, especially sustainable, political dimension? Or are they not rather important but merely selective actions on everyday problems? And: What role does the personal dimension of the organizing leaders play in this? How important is the transformation of each individual in the organizing process?
We explored these and other questions together with about 100 participants in our online symposium „How political is community organizing?“ on April the 16th and 17th , 2021.
For Friday afternoon we were able to win three experts for exciting inputs:
Joe Szakos (Virginia Organizing) gave a keynote address on the topic from a U.S. perspective, based on his many years of experience as an organizer and former executive director of the nationally active Virginia Organizing.
Prof. Dr. Roland Roth (Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences) looked back across the pond and focused on the political profile of German civil society.
Claudine Nierth (spokeswoman of the federal board of Mehr Demokratie e.V.) finally addressed the question of whether and to what extent citizens‘ councils and referendums can be regarded as a (new) form of political opinion-forming.
After external input, Saturday morning was devoted to internal reassurance. Following a short introduction by Bernadette Sebály (you can find the contribution here on Youtube),
We discussed in four working groups, based on their own practice, the political aspects of community organizing with regard to concrete implementation possibilities, chances and challenges, but also with regard to possible limits. Our guests were:
- Hester Butterfield (Jane Addams Zentrum e.V., Munich)
- Alima Matko (Styria vitalis, Graz)
- Dr. Peter Szynka (Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts)
- Guido Vogel-Latz (district association „Malstatt – gemeinsam stark e.V.“, Saarbrücken)
You can download the conference program in german here.