Debra Fricano is from Little Neck, NY and attended Brandeis University. As a Chicago Corps member, she is a Community Organizer at Lakeview Action Coalition, which is an organization acting to sustain racial and economic diversity in the Chicago communities of Lakeview and North Center and to build bridges between community members.
In the community organizing world, we are told that there are two kinds of power – money power and people power. We often have to spend a lot of time and energy fundraising, applying for grants and soliciting donors, to barely make a dent in accessing money power. Instead, we pride ourselves on our leadership development, on strategic actions, and on our web of relationships – people power. The People, united in shared values, strive to hold corporations/politicians/”the system” accountable to serving the interests of the community.
Okay, so what does this ACTUALLY look like? This year, Chicago politics are truly windy, as Mayor Daley, who has been in office for the past 22 years, is stepping down. There is a vacancy in the most powerful position in one of the most influential cities in the country, and democracy can finally take root. Within the past two months, 27 community based nonprofit organizations formed a coalition called New Chicago 2011. A relatively small group of like-minded individuals collaborated to plan a Town Hall Mayoral Candidates Forum for December 14th where we would ask the top six candidates about the things that we care about. Our platform of shared social justice issues was: affordable housing, jobs and economic development, education, violence prevention, financial accountability, and human rights. Each group of the coalition committed to bringing out one-hundred community members. The candidates in attendance, who received the most, or more than 35,000 nomination signatures were: Gery Chico, Danny Davis, Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun, James Meeks, and Patricia Watkins. The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs was gracious enough to give the AVODAH Corps members tickets to come see the event. Continue reading