Community Organizers, Bringing Change Straight to Washington

FIRM's parent organization, the Center for Community Change is bringing the people's agenda straight to the folks on Capitol Hill. Every week during Obama's first 100 Days in office, we are bringing community organizers and leaders from across the country to make lobby visits and discuss important policies with lawmakers. capitol-building-picture

Today, the Washington Post featured an article on these visits and on the sea change that Community Organizers are not only witnessing, but CREATING in our country.

Organizers have borne their messages to Washington before, of course, but never quite like this. The effort started more than a year ago with a "community values" forum in Iowa attended by presidential candidates. Then came a meeting of 2,500 in Washington in December that drew incoming Obama administration officials: "I am here representing somebody who began his career as one of you," senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the group.

Now comes the 100-day strategy, in which during each of the first 14 weeks of the administration, 10 organizers from 10 groups from across the country make calls on the Hill. They craft their advocacy to fit with the news of the week.

This is truly a groundbreaking move for Community Organizers, who are seeing a place at the table under "Organizer in Chief" Obama.

"I don't think anyone realizes how hard and fast this pendulum has swung back," said Gabe Gonzalez, director of the center's Campaign for Community Values. "President Obama, from our perspective, is a symptom, not a cause. There's a fundamental shift in America."

And it is this fundamental shift that is opening the door for policies that include people of color, poor people, women and immigrants. Community Organizers are working to ensure that those historically in the margins are a central part of the new America.