Monday, February 23, 2009

Meet a Commuity Organization: The Industrial Areas Foundation

Sorry for the delay. I've been spending the last several days preparing for my return back to the States as I wrap up my Peace Corps service. Today, we continue our exploration into the world of community organizing groups with a look at one of the oldest and most storied groups around: the Industrial Areas Foundation. You can look them up at

Based in Chicago and founded by the legendary Saul Alinsky, the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizes neighborhoods using broad based organizing techniques in order to empower and improve the lives of everyday people. They have over 54 affiliates throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, and England.

The IAF has been around since 1940 and has won major victories to insure affordable housing, jobs, living wage, civil rights, environmental protection, business accountability, education reforms, etc. The IAF is very much the foundation of just about every other organizing organization in the country since many of them use some variation of Saul Alinsky's principles.

If you are interested in getting to the roots of traditional community organizing, the IAF is the first place you should look into. You can contact them at

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meet a Community Organization: Institute for Global Communications

After a brief break from my blog due to meetings here in Bangkok for my job, we will continue with the next installment of Meet a Community Organization. Today, we will examine the Institute for Global Communications. You can locate them at

Based in San Francisco, IGC dedicates itself to bringing advanced communication technologies to grasroots organizations. They maintain four flagship computer networks: PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, and AntiRacismNet. Over 250 non-profits use their hosting services currently.

IGC continues to provide first class information technology service to help community groups advance their work. You can contact IGC at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meet a Commuity Organization: Jewish Organizing Initiative

We will take a look at a more ethnically focused style of organizing today: the Jewish Organizing Initiative. You can find more information about JOI at

The Jewish Organizing Initiative, based in Boston, has been around for ten years and seeks to train young Jewish leaders. They have a fellowship program which recruits young Jewish adults from all over the world to promote this effort. This program consists of a broad network of trainers, mentors, community organizers, and supporters and trains them in Jewish values of dignity and justice for all people. These people work to insure social and economic justice, Jewish learning, training in community organizing skills, and Jewish community building.

JOI focuses on community organizing as a strategy for community building and social change. They believe that community organizing fosters a spirit of shared public responsibility and creates grassroots leaders. Their community organizing program is immersed in Jewish tradition and religion as fellows study Jewish texts and make the connection between Jewish identity and social change.

You can contact the Jewish Organizing Initiative at

Monday, February 9, 2009

Meet a Community Organization: Labor/Community Strategy Center

Quilen's Disclaimer: I do not hold, share, or promote any of the views of the Labor/Community Strategy Center. I am simply introducing you to the community organizations that exist in America.

In today's Meet a Community Organization segment we will look at the Labor/Community Strategy Center. Their home page is

Based in Los Angeles, the Labor/Community Strategy Center is a multiracial think tank/act tank dedicated to bringing international socialist movements to challenge the domination of transnational capital. They promote class based labor organizing, environmental protection, immigrant rights, first class transportation, as well as combating poverty. They also produce multilingual publications about organizing and issues.

Some of the current projects they have include the bus riders union, Ahoranow, clean air, and their radio program Voices from the Frontlines. You can contact Labor/Community Strategy Center at

Friday, February 6, 2009

Meet a Community Organization: National Organizers Alliance

Today we will continue the saga known as Meet a Community Organization with our fifth installment. This time, we will get to know the National Organizers Alliance. NOA can be found at

The National Organizers Alliance, based in Washington D.C., is job central in the community organizing world. They maintain an updated jab bank of community organizing jobs and recently launched the Organizers for America program which is a jobs marketplace for people looking to enter organizing, veteran organizers seeking new challenges, and established community organizations looking to hire new organizers. NOA also activley promotes community organizer employment benefits, pension plan, and other ways to help compensate us.

NOA also runs the presitigious awards program known as the Organizer Respite Awards. These awards honors two of the most outstanding community organizers for the past year. The 2008-2009 recipients were Dorothy Cunningham with Irvington Community Association in Baltimore, and Mary Kay Harris with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) in Providence, Rhode Island.

You can contact NOA at 301-270-0640

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meet a Commuity Organization: National People's Action

Today, we continue our Meet a Community Organization series by taking a look at another storied and dynamic community organizing network: National People's Action. You can go their main website by typing in

Based in Chicago, National People's Action is a diverse community organizing network of 24 community organizations from around the nation attempting to bring social and economic justice to Washington through a proactive agenda. They push national issues such as housing, immigration, worker and tenant rights, healthcare, the environment, and education reform. Some recent victories include helping to get about 80 percent of applied citizenship applications processed before the election and scoring meetings with key officials such as Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke.

They post several videos on their site detailing their work both successes and failures. This is a no frills, bare bones community organizing effort 100 percent focused on the results of their work.

You can reach NPA at 312.243.3035

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Great Plateau: eBay Losing Its Edge

In an effort to help my local high school in Thailand earn a little cash and expose students to e-commerce concepts, we started a small eBay business. However, we quickly realized the major limitations of selling on eBay.

There was a time when you could sell just about anything on eBay and turn a decent profit. Nowadays, however, increased competition and eBay fees, the perception of eBay as a discount market, and international shipping costs has made it very difficult for newbies to sell profitably. Our business never took off because of the language barrier, banking issues, and the flood of Thai style products already being sold on eBay.

It seems that eBay has plateaued and may even be in decline. The big businesses seem to be the ones turning consistent profits as the little merchants who do not have the high positive feedback or the advanced management systems gets pushed aside. In my opinion, all of the effort that now goes into being successful on eBay nowadays is better spent on your own original website. At least then you won't have to pay those excessive eBay fees.

Meet a Commuity Organization: Neighborhoods USA

In our fourth installment of Meet a Community Organization we will take a look at Neighborhoods USA. This national organization can be located online at

Neighborhoods USA is a national organization that seeks to strengthen the neighborhood organizations of America. Founded in 1975, they work to help non-profits, government, and the private sector to share information and resources. Currently, NUSA has over 1,000 member organizations with an annual conference with about 600 to 900 participants. The organization is overseen by a board of 27 directors, headed by Elton Gatewood.

They sponsor awards to honor neighborhood achievements. They give out the Neighborhood of the Year, Best Neighborhood Program, and NUSA Notables awards. In 2008, North Long Beach Community Action Group (Long Beach, CA) won the Neighborhood of the Year award for creating a permanent cultural assets archives within a community redevelopment project. They also have links to neighborhood association development.

In 2008, they made $55,794.42 in total income and their current balance on hand as of October, 2008, is $39,096.99. You can contact NUSA at

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet a Commuity Organization: PICO National Network

In day three of our Meet a Community Organization series, we will take a look at the PICO National Network. They can be found at

Based in Oakland, CA, PICO is a national community organizing network of faith based organizations working to create innovative solutions to problems facing America's communities. Founded in 1972, PICO has successfully increased access to health care, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing, redevelop communities, and keep the wheels of democracy churning. They engage common people through community organizing that has created a leadership legacy of thousands of people throughout the country. PICO allows faith organizations to translate their faith into action by working with over 50 different faith traditions. They have over 1,000 member institutions representing 1 million families across 150 different cities and 17 different states. (They are in AK, AL, CA, CO, FL, KS, LA, MO, NJ, NM, NY, PA, VA, VT, and WY). They also assist 6 organizations in community organizing development in Central America and Rwanda.

Among their issues and campaigns is the New Voices Campaign. This campaign, started in 2004, seeks to bring the voices and values of American families into the national public policy debate. Its an attempt to take the local to the national on issues such as education, immigration, housing, jobs, and health care.

They maintain daily news reports of the media covering their member institutions. Some recent victories include congregations winning $4 million dollars for safety and green job creation and the Queens, NY, congregations winning affordable housing for people who make between $23,000 and $38,000. They also maintain research and training resources on their web page.

PICO also is very candid about their funding sources for a community organizing network. They publish a full list of all their funders on their site ( Some of the notable funders are Ben and Jerry's, the Cititgroup Foundation, and the William Randolf Hearst Foundation.

You can contact PICO at 886-550-7426.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Meet a Commuity Organization: Tenant Net

I continue our journey into the world of community organizations in the US with part two of my daily blog series. Today, we will examine the New York based Tenant Net which can be found online at

Tenant Net is an online resource for tenants who have been evicted. It is made up by a collection of individual tenants and leaders of tenant community organizations. They provide a wide variety of resources mainly for New York state residents, but they also have information on other states as well. It is a one stop shop to learn about tenant's rights, available apartments, rental statistics, attorney's who represent tenants, and provides updates on news that effects tenants.

Tenant Net is not funded by any outside interests. They make money through Google Adsense ads and other sponsored advertisements on their site, but also keep their costs low by having volunteers post material.

You can contact Tenant Net at this web address: