Subject: Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 15:46:35 +0000 From: Martin Gilbraith (ICA:UK) <>

Hi everyone, I am hoping that colleagues with longer memories might be able to help me with some history please...

The 'big idea' of the UK's new coalition government is Big Society - variously, applauded as empowering the people, and/or derided as a cynical cover for devastating public spending cuts - see

A major initiative within this agenda is a forthcoming Government-funded programme to train and support a cadre of 5,000 Community Organisers, explicitly based on the principles of Saul Alinsky and Paulo Friere - see

I beleive that Friere was an influence on the early development of EI/ICA's methods and approach, and I understand that Alinsky was developing Community Organising in Chicago around the same time as EI/ICA was in Fifth City.

What I would really like to learn more about is to what extent and how did Friere and/or Alinsky influence the develpment of EI/ICA and our methods and approach; and to what extent and how might our methods and approach have influenced the development of Community Organising?

My partner Derek put this same question, more or less, to George Packard several years ago when he was here in the UK just after Derek had taken a course in Faith-based Community Organising through his local Unitarian church - but I don't much remember what he said, and I'd love to have any more specific recollections and (better still) any documents that might be relevant.

I am hoping this might inform how we seek to position ICA:UK in relation to this emerging new agenda, and that I might draft an article (for ICA:UK Network News if not also elsewhere) based on what I receive.

many thanks for any recollections or insights you can offer, best wishes, Martin --

Martin Gilbraith <> connect with me at Chief Executive, ICA:UK registered charity #1090745 & company limited by guarantee #3970365 registered in England & Wales, at 41 Old Birley Street, Manchester M15 5RF tel/fax: 0845 450 0305 or 0161 232 8444 - The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) - a global network of autonomous not-for-profit organisations in 30 countries "concerned with the human factor in world development" IAF Certified Professional Facilitator & Chair The International Association of Facilitators -

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 08:28:02 -0800 (PST) From: R Williams <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To:, Springboard Dialogue <>


There are those who will be able to address your questions much more directly than I, but here's one strand you might pursue. If you Google "Industrial Areas Foundation" (IAF) and go to the Wikipedia page you will find reference to Ernesto Cortes, Jr. as the Alinski protege who took Alinsky's approach from the 1940s and in San Antonio, TX made it a congregation-based process.

Ernesto (Ernie) Cortes went to RS-1 in the late 60s or early 70s and at one time was a part of the San Antonio cadre. When I was in the Houston house I remember him from various meetings in San Antonio. If you could find a way to get in touch with him you might get some answers to your question as far as Alinsky is concerned. I expect what he may be able to share with you ways in which EI/RS-1, etc. influenced his work in deciding to be congregation-based as well as that of IAF in general.

As for Freire, his book Education for Critical Consciousness must have had an influence in our development of imaginal education, not just the course but the process used in our whole educational approach, although we referred more to Kenneth Boulding and The Image. His later book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, although I believe not published at the time, is consistent with, but in some ways clearer than, his earlier book.


Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 10:43:15 -0800 From: Len Hockley <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <> CC: Springboard Dialogue <>

For what it is worth, it has been noted that Alinski was a lecturer a one of the early Academys. Also, he did early work in Detroit where we had his people come and talk with us. As I remember it he was a bit too disestablishment for the likes of us.

I looked up the IAF in Portland (OR) within the last 15yrs were they were still active in parishes. Len

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:13:15 -0700 From: Bill Schlesinger <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: 'Colleague Dialogue' <> CC: 'Springboard Dialogue' <>

The primary difference between our approach and Alinsky's (who did not lecture in any early Academy I remember in the 60's) was methodological, not an establishment/disestablishment orientation. Alinsky's approach depended on a responsive establishment that would not simply shoot organizers. It relied - as did Ghandi's and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s approaches - on the moral values perceived by the establishment system. 'Rub raw the sores of discontent' was intended to energize marginalized communities to a level of dissatisfaction with the 'status quo' that would then provide the emotional strength to make specific demands of the ruling elite, and to expose contradictions of normative value within the ruling elite in order to create open dissension and a change of practice in that elite. That was a basic strategy of the Civil Rights movement.

Our approach - 'locality development' in social service literature - was more focused on organizing available resources within the marginalized community ('Every local community can feed itself') and creating a partnership with identified elements in the wider society. The intent was to develop an approach that did not rely on a specific response from the governing elite ('OK, OK, we'll put a stop sign on the corner').

Bill Schlesinger Project Vida 3607 Rivera Avenue El Paso, TX 79905 (915) 533-7057 x 207 (915) 533-7158 FAX

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 11:32:55 -0800 From: Len Hockley <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <> CC: 'Springboard Dialogue' <>, Bill Schlesinger <>

Hi Bill So much for that piece of folklore! I do remember that dumping a load of garbage on the front lawn of a Chicago councilman was a bit much for us.

One might learn a lot about Alinsky history from the Wikipedia entry on the IAF at:

Please note that credit for moving to a congregation strategy is given to Alinsky's designated successor Ed Chambers. Len

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:31:01 -0600 From: Terry Bergdall <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <>

Last may during work on the Archives, we found a letter from the IAF returning an article, or book (or something), that Joe Slicker had sent to Alinsky. The letter said that Mr Alinsky had appreciated the opportunity to read it.

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:35:35 -0800 From: Len Hockley <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <> CC: 'Springboard Dialogue' <>

There is also a great story (true or not) about Alinsky and King meeting in O'Hare airport just before the housing march.

It seems King was carrying on about how his movement was so "grassroots and unstructured" and Alinsky comes back and says "The only movement without structure is cow shit."


Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 18:17:08 -0500 From: M. George Walters <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: 'Colleague Dialogue' <>

Disestablishment posture and tactics on the part of many, not just Alinsky, was seminal input to our thinking that derived the Trans-establishment posture. Establishment, Disestablishment and Trans-establishment postures and tactics are always options in any given ethical context. No right/wrong or good/bad can be assigned to any of the three. I believe in an ethical context, when analyzing a situation, they are points of identity. When determining action, they elements of choice.

With kindest regards.

M. George Walters

4240 Sandy Shores Dr Lutz, FL 33558 USA Tel: +1 (813) 948-7267 Fax: +1 (813) 333-1787 Mob: +1 (813) 505-9041

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 11:24:58 -0500 From: Janet Sanders <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: <>, <>, Springboard Dialogue <>

In the early 90's some of the movement folks in Omaha, Nebraska joined with the parish movement component of Alinsky's work. Rev Don and Marlene Johnson were quite involved at the time. When I visited my brother in the Omaha area I got updates from the Johnson's. It was influential for several years. Jan

Janet A. Sanders

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 11:41:06 -0800 (PST) From: James Wiegel <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To:,, Springboard Dialogue <> CC: Martin Gilbraith <>

Hi, Martin, a few things to add on . . . the early "story" lodged in my mind is that, whereas, on the south side of Chicago, there was some sense of structure and identity as a community and so mobilizing to get the attention and support of the political structures was an effective approach. On the west side, with the rapid change in population as former east european residents fled to the suburbs and were rapidly replaced by African Americans moving up from the southern states, there was no sense of structure and identity, so what the Institute called "Comprehensive Community Reformulation" was the need.

1. AARP, American Association of Retired Persons, hired John Oyler for a couple of projects over several years. They had invested heavily in training their field staff in community organizing techniques (choose an issue, rally and mobilize people around the issue and put pressure on political leadership / public agencies to respond). They were finding that that approach did not work for every situation. John developed with them a training tool, grounded in ToP and based in ICA's earlier approaches to community development. I think they talked of the one as community organizing and the other as community building. In that instance, community building referred more to developing the capacity of people to do their own development on an ongoing basis. He may still have access to those manuals and tools.

2. John also worked for a number of years in partnership with the Jacobs Family Foundation (now, I think, the Jacobs Center for Non Profit Development) and as part of that, I worked with Raul Jorquera and John in a multi-year review and update of ICA's earlier community development curriculum and approaches which eventually resulted in ICA's Neighborhood Academy program. In the early work with human development projects around the world, ICA put an emphasis on Economic, Social and Human development. We even had educational sections in the early consults on these dimensions of local development. While 5th City had an Economic Guild, an Education Guild, a Style Guild, a Symbol Guild and a Political Guild, during the consults for the first 8 of the 24, the political dimension was not emphasized (part, I think, due to the "facilitative" character of ICA's work, part also due to the necessity and assumption of working with the blessing of political leadership.

Anyway, one tool that was created out of those initial projects was called the Nine Programs Chart which sort of summarized and refined the primary areas of work that kept coming up out of the consults and strategic planning we did with those initial communities. Jacobs Foundation wanted us to take a broader view of the field (among other things, they brought in a couple of people from the Near East Foundation to share their work with PRA in community development -- these were connected with ICA MENA in Cairo as I recall. Theresa Lingafelter went to Boston to do a review of the Dudley Street Initiative which, for a time in the 90's was seen as a significant model for Neighborhood work. One of their initiating efforts had to do with mobilizing the community to stop the illegal dumping of refuse including rotten meat in their neighborhood.

As a part of the research for this neighborhood academy, we redid the 9 programs chart into fifteen, to be more inclusive and also more relevant to work in the US. See attached. In that model, there is a column on Political Development which includes the community's abiliity to organize and bring pressure on government and political leaders to meet their needs called "Community Voice".

Jim Wiegel

401 North Beverly Way, Tolleson, Arizona 85353-2401 +1 623-363-3277 skype: jfredwiegel

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 12:24:18 -0800 From: Len Hockley <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <> CC: Springboard Dialogue <>, Martin Gilbraith <>

Where did the Post Office Project fit in? Last fall we ran into Bert Chamberlin who was a leader it it. Was it Harrison Sims that worked with it?


Original Message -------- Subject: [Dialogue] Alinsky, the disestablishment - Rick Loudermilk? Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 09:08:04 -0500 From: Ken Fisher <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <> CC: Springboard Dialogue <>,

Friends, This my first posting in many years.

Beret gave me the link so that I could ask you all if anyone knew how to connect with Rick Loudermilk.

So it was fun to see the Alinsky Dialogue pop up.

This is my little bit to contribute on this subject. And I suppose, to some extent, within the context of OE, EI and ICA, I was the disestablishment.

While at university in the mid sixties, I was involved with the Student Christian Movement, New Left and the Anti-War Movement, mostly in Canada. In 1964 I was a fund-raiser for SNCC - the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee - tackling voter registration in Mississippi. Some of my friends went there.

As an activist, in the fall of '67(?) I was attending a conference in Moncton, New Brunswick (of all places) and was a workshop leader. Saul was the main speaker and later I was on a panel with him. I had already had RS1 and asked Saul if he knew of EI - Chicago. He was vague.

When moving to Chicago in May of '68, I was surprised at the approach to social change. It was cultural first - not overtly dealing with 'the class struggle'. Indeed, I found little interest about Saul Alinsky or the disestablishment approach. The best light on this is illuminated by George's comment below. EI worked for change through 'symbol is the key' - with a change in community 'possibility' and identity - significant economic and political change could follow. In my limited experience with the Human Development Projects, the need for ICA legitimacy meant that a 'realistic' relationship with the 'establishment' (e.g. the secret service in Korea) meant that we were almost exclusively working under the umbrella of the establishment, not over against it. The change we were espousing was from 'within' - to create a virus of possibility within the Petri dish of the established way of living. Bill says it well.

In my experience, the 'disestablishment' mostly regarded us with suspicion and distain because we were neither rhetorically nor politically active in directly challenging the 'establishment'. This was very problematic in our work in the UK.

I remember calling Fifth City from the Madison House in the early 70s saying that I had just met with Fannie Lou Hamer and that she would be willing to come to Fifth City for a visit and to speak. Those in charge at that time did not know who she was, nor did they seem to know much about voter registration in Mississippi.

On another occasion a mixed racial South African couple, engaged in anti-aparthied activities explored seeking refuge at 3444 Congress Parkway. They were not welcome. Practically speaking, their mission was different than ours.

Rules for Radicals is still happily on my bookshelf. And, since the 60s, I have embraced the 'trans-establishment' posture - hopefully, along with the Communion of Saints.

Grace and peace,

Ken Fisher 613.279.1902 1070 Elizabeth Street Box 75 Sharbot Lake ON K0H 2P0

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] Alinsky, the disestablishment Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 12:52:57 -0500 (EST) From: Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To:

Very interesting conversation re Alinsky/ICA approaches and methods--much appreciated. In much of our local church/community context we take the transestablishment approach. Relative to some community issues we work with the Gamaliel Foundation (Chicago) (and local affiliates)--an offshoot of Alinsky and parallel group to IAF. We also use a community organizing approach with our presbytery's Peru partnership as it relates to dealing with lead contamination issues by the same US-owned/based company in both Missouri and Peru.

Ellie Stock

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] [Springboard] Alinsky & Freire and ICA's approach Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 18:15:40 +0000 (UTC) From: John C. Montgomery <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <>

Gregory F. Pierce has written at least two different books reflecting on congregational based community organizing - Activism that Makes Sense and Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing.

This really is the second chapter in the work begun by Saul Alinsky. I had the privilege in the late 80s before we moved to Atlanta to document this emerging trend. It is a trend that continues until this day.

Alinsky was able to bring political groups, unions, PTAs and churches into "organizations of organizations."

By the time Cortez took over IAF particularly in Texas, in the disenfranchized communities that they were working with were devoid of structure except local congregations - most struggling to survive.

By the time that I was writing several centers for organizing had emerged PICO on the West Coast, Dart in Florida and others. The emerging group in Chicago was of course the Gamelelia (sap) Foundation who had recently hired a young college grad named Obama.

Of course, there are several types of "community organizing." Most people are really arguing for issue organizing. Organizers sell a program like the late ACORN. Church based community organizing is relationship based and never starts with an issue - issues emerge later. The key tactic for the organizer is not some sort of wokshop, but conversations, "one on ones." As concerns emerge that might point to something that constituents would be willing to try to do something, then relationships emerge.

It is interesting that Obama came to understand that both local community organizing (bottom up empowement) and an emphasis on broader community development were complementary.

A side note to my research identified not only the process of activism and empowerment in the community but congregaions who were involved often became vital centers of faithful living.

John C. Montgomery (c) 678-468-4913

Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [Dialogue] Alinsky, the disestablishment Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 10:19:32 -0800 (PST) From: R Williams <> Reply-To: Colleague Dialogue <> To: Colleague Dialogue <>

Many will remember the movie Little Big Man which dramatized, as we saw it, the transestablishment stance. The main character, Jack Crabb, played by Dustin Hoffman, was a white man, raised by Indians, who crossed back and forth across the river from one culture to the other. What we articulated from that is that those in the transestablishment have no place of their own to stand but rather stand with one foot in each the establishment and disestablishment. So the establishment thinks they're disestablishment, and the disestablishment thinks they are establishment. Which are they? Neither and both. Thus, George's earlier statement, that the transestablishment does not disparage either of them and in fact embraces and lives in the tension between them. We always caught flak from people like Alinsky and the IAF, and at the same time from the institutional church and academia because both camps identified us as being with the other.

Just one other thought, and this may be a bit of a stretch. But what if a one-time community organizer became President of the United States and as such, was severely criticized by the left wing of his own party as well as the entirety of the other party. Would that make him transestablishment? Just asking.


-- LenHockley - 22 Jan 2011
Topic revision: r1 - 22 Jan 2011, LenHockley
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