ECON
HISTORY

Brief history and current practice of Community Organizing in the United Stated

Community organizing began in the United States in 1938 with the work of Saul Alinsky. It grew rather slowly in its first twenty to thirty years, but then grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s. Thousands of community organizations currently exist, many of which are linked together through networks capable of providing training, consulting, and the opportunity to work together on common themes at a city-wide, regional, and national level. Community organizing became even better known in the United States during the 2008 presidential campaign when the then candidate Barack Obama often spoke of his experiences as a community organizer in Chicago for three years following his university studies. Community organizing in the United States is financially supported by a growing number of foundations which recognize that investing in citizens' participation often provides greater results than investing in charity projects. A typical community organization in the United States also raises 8a significant part of its own budget for staff, leadership training, and office expenses through membership dues and fundraising activities. Almost all community organizations are incorporated as non-profit organizations (NGOs) with a written constitution which states its guiding values, as well as, its procedures for electing leadership and making decisions in a democratic fashion. Numerous books have been written and websites established which share the history, successes, and best practices of community organizing in the United States.

Brief history of Community Organizing in Europe

Community organizing has existed in Europe for approximately twenty years. Early examples include the formation of the German Forum Community Organizing (FOCO), established after university students compared American community organizing to German forms of group social work, and the formation of the Slovak Center for Community Organizing (CKO) which initially received funding from the National Democratic Institute and others who wished to support democratic practices in Central and Eastern Europe. In the past five years community organizing has been rapidly expanding in Central, Eastern, and Western European countries, successfully winning neighbourhood infrastructure improvements, better garbage collection, more activities for young people, more green space, etc. Their efforts have been supported by groups like the European Community Organizing Network (ECON), training and consulting visits by American community organizers, and exchanges among European community organizers and volunteers to learn from each other. The community organizing model has shown itself to be flexible in adapting to different cultural and institutional contexts.

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