Politicall Savvy: The rise of community organizing

The New York Times has a new story up this week about the surge in popularity of community organizing jobs. It seems our generation is taking to community organizing — and community service — in larger numbers than previous generations.

A job that has not been all that alluring to college graduates is in resurgence, according to leading community organizers and educators. Once thought of as a destination for lefty radicals committed to living lives of low pay, frustration and bitter burnout, community organizing is now seen by many young people an exciting career.

With their jobs, students envision helping communities address urgent issues — economics or the environment, education or social justice — while developing leadership skills. And these jobs, students say, can actually lead to … well, you know.

“Community organizing has become cool,” said Marshall Ganz, who dropped out of Harvard in 1964 to join the civil rights movement in Mississippi and spent 16 years with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Of course, a tough economy helps attract people to professions they might not have otherwise considered, as does a crusading time when Wall Street has become a symbol of greed, arrogance and irresponsibility.

Surprised? I’m not. I myself have been considering community organizing, community service, and activist organizations as I search for jobs post-graduation. I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking for a job that will get me a sweet six-figure salary and a comfortable apartment in the Lower East Side of New York. I’m looking for something that will allow me to make a difference. I think in today’s rapidly changingh world, what with our deteriorating economy and all, money is becoming less important as people realize that markets are unstable and money is not constant. What’s becoming more important to many young people is finding work that is fulfilling and rewarding.

What do you think? Would you consider community organizing?


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