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We should be organizing for these guys

All too often we consider organizing and community organizing limited to the political realm. Sometime between the 70’s and today many of us lost the connection to the personal is political. In my hometown of Lewiston, I got to see an incredible intersection of the personal and the political.

She Doesn’t Like Guthries – is a locally owned business that has been supporting community gatherings, movies, art, and local musicians for over 5 years. They recently had the great idea of expanding their space next door to include a full theater. Using organizing skills of relationships, communications and mass media outreach – Heather and Randy beat their Kickstarter goal for the project. (You can see their kickstarter page and videos here).

They truly exemplified ‘organizing for everyone’ and their campaign got me thinking. Many of us in community organizing don’t see opportunities like this as a chance to strengthen our ties in the community and support a space that in the long run would help us meet our organizing goals. Few of us in Lewiston talk about how Guthrie’s was one of the first community spaces open in the Downtown, and that they supported events and art showings before almost anyone else. Without their seeds of support – would those other projects have taken off? May be… and may be not.

In organizing we often focus on tactics that have a direct connection from A (our activities) to B (the outcome we want) – to truly succeed, sometimes we have to be willing to go outside of our wheelhouse and incest in tactics that will have a more diffuse impact, but that in the long run will support the community relationships and creativity that are the ultimate foundation of our success.

Do you have a story of your community organization connecting their work to arts and culture projects like this? We’d love to feature them here – you can submit them by emailing Nicola.

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