Hi I’m Amy Dubin-thanks so much to Chris Wojda for pulling this together! How exciting we’re here tonight along with 100 other cities around the world. It makes me feel like we’re part of a much bigger community of people who like talks in this format.
According to Wikipedia: Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. A core goal of community organizing is to generate power for the organization. Early on, from 1880 forward, most community organizing was centered around urban areas for a better standard of living and working.And then, in the 20s,30s and 40s Prior to WW1, much of the community organizing was towards national, rather than local issues.
Generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing. He came up with new tools that helped anti-war protesters organize in the 60’s.. He wasn’t a hidden hero in his time, but maybe he is now. The changes that his ideas, published in ‘Rules for Radicals’ absolutely shaped a culture and a generation. We’re at a different place now, but we still grapple with the idea of community and who are the heroes who make ours run?
Robert Putnam in his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, finds that a community’s well-being is dependent on the quality of relationships among the citizens of that community. This is, what he calls, ‘Social Capital’. We are a part of many communities, for example, I’m part of the tech, creative, business communities, but also North Portland, where I live. And Portland in General. And now a community of public speakers. But who are these people doing all this organizing of each community? They’re public leaders. They’re people like Chris.
Not always appetizing DangerousJust popular choices, and those with substance don’t stand a chanceCan’t make a difference,It takes a personality type that I just don’t have
But it’s important for us to take a stand, when it’s needed to show others that we care. It doesn’t have to be for major social justice, it could just be for a hobby like knitting. Or soccer. Or world of warcraft. . Before I get all preachy here, there’s value in understanding what it means to have a strong community.
Leaders have simply recognized a need for a cohesive way to bring together like-minded people and have done so on their own accord. Community and Communication are related for a reason. When we communicate effectively, we can create community. It’s possible for us to separate ourselves out of it for exactly the same reason. A group of people who all believe the same thing might just agree on an idea, but what makes it a community is when there is communication about that idea and someone does something about it.
Portland does have a lot of strong community support for certain issues-remember fluoride in the water a few months ago? The Portland community got out and spoke their mind. There was a sense that people were thinking about this place and what kind of life do they want here in this city for themselves and their families. Together, there was an overwhelming opinion. Organizing in the community had and can have a lot of cool effects like.
Time, money, suburbanization and effect of so much ‘Digital Living’, not to mention the generational change has contributed to a decline of social capital. What if there were a way to reverse this? What if your community needs or wants your help?
You are part of a neighborhood, city, region, nation and part of the world. Your voice matters, and maybe in ways you don’t even realize. How can you foster a better sense of community and unleash your own hidden hero? What if DaVinci just didn’t feel like drawing…etc. Being hidden also doesn’t mean that you’re not doing anything, it’s that you’re doing things no one knows you’re doing and can’t understand. If this is the case for you, it may not always be.
Being hidden is okay for awhile and it’s okay to stay hidden. But a hidden hero seems such a shame to hide. How to find those who are like minded if not already easily visible? How can they find you? Why should they?
Find a cause, a hobby, an idea…or anything else where a group of people might relate to you and if you can’t find it, start a group on Yahoo, Google, Linkedin or meetup.com and decide ahead of time what you might like to get out of it. Jobs in this changing economy is all about who you know…so the more people you know, the better right? And if you’re involved in a community already, it just makes the whole process easier.
Whatever it is you’re into, even If it’s making clothes for your cats, dressing them up and taking them to international cat fashion-shows, make sure that you’re participating in opportunities to connect with others of like-mind. Diversity is important and without your contribution, we-as a society lose out.
Yes, it may be more or less difficult to join or organize a whole new meetup. Mine is $19/month. Joining is Free. Most of my events are free. You can always spend more time and more money, but the starting point doesn’t have to be that difficult.
By joining a group, you can expand your social circle instantly without having try. Joining a community, whether online or in person means participating to whatever degree you’re able to. Sociocultural voyeurism isn’t terribly rewarding if what you’re really after is the sense of place we talked about. Joining with other like-minded people is what we, as historically tribal people need to feel a sense of belonging. So even if you are shy, socially awkward or whatever, you do indeed have a sphere of influence. It’s okay to grow it slowly or quickly, but recognize that it’s there. It’s feeling like you have a network of people to reach out to who can share help, ideas and make meaningful connections with.
Some of this city’s hidden heroes are people who tirelessly organize community events for the benefit of all, with the ‘bigger picture’ in mind. Those who want to make sure you have a happy life here, a connected life. Those that want to make sure you have a network and can get the most out of it because they see the value in making it so for you, whether you take advantage of all that they offer or not. This is why I suggested earlier that you too might be a hidden hero. Maybe you might see the value in contributing to making our city even better by sharing your skills.
As in the connection with the outside world we have tonight at Global PechaKucha night.
Thank you so much for listening and, in case you’re wondering how I spend all my free time, check out two of my favorite organizations serving the creative community, aiga and meetup.com.
Amy Dubin: Hidden Heroes: Community Leaders
Early Community Organizers
Around 1880, most of the
community organizing was
done to improve quality of
life and working conditions
or maintenance of religious
Newspaper Boys on strike
Organization can bring
about powerful change.
Sometimes change isn’t
sometimes it is.
Groups can evolve to
reflect the needs of
those they serve.Saul Alinsky
So, what is Community?
Community is social capital.
Portland is a very wealthy city because
We have a great number of communities,
which are fairly well
organized, to boot.
Some people belong
To many communities!
Public leaders are just that
People who lead the public in relevant discussions
People who lead in the public eye
Leaders can be motivated by more than ego and
fame, they can be (and often are) people wanting to
They want to communicate new ideas and help
educate, and thus shape, the nature of their
It’s important because it’s the way we know that
someone is listening and that they care.
Taking a stand
MLK Harvey Milk
Community is meaningful
There are contributions by more than just
Community members are able and willing
to communicate their needs.
Those needs are responded to with
Benefits of meaningful
• Increase in educational opportunities for all
• Increased sense of belonging
• Stronger sense of geographic place
• Intention around one’s life and actions
• New forms of communication
• Safety net
Challenges to ‘Community’
• Digital Living
• Generational Changes
We were hidden heroes at one time.
Angela DavisGloria Steinem
It’s all about relationships
• There may not be anyone else capable
• I might not feel strongly about a subject but do
about the resulting relationships
• How to find those who are like minded if not
already easily visible? Then look wherever it makes
sense to look and don’t stop until you’ve got
someone that ‘gets it’, or until you find a group that
Difficulty, Time and Cost
Low Medium High
Organizers are a bit special
• Event Organizers
• Sports Organizations
• Hobby Organizers
• Cultural Influencers
Heroism just means serving
others, and it seems valuable to
recognize those in your life who do
things for you or who are always
doing for other people and consider
that they are giving way more than
just their time.
We’ve come a long way
In our society, organizers can focus attention on
things that even less than 100 years ago would
have been impossible, paving the way for a whole
new type of hidden hero, those that operate solely
in the digital world. Writing blog posts, creating
media and other forms of information that
contribute to our sense of global community.
Partnership Chair for AIGA (aigaportland.org)