The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition has a tradition of broad-based, membership driven, social justice community organizing. We build power through relational organizing and issue campaigns that recruit and train individual and institutional members, energize institutions, win concrete victories that improve material conditions for community members, change public and private policies that affect the Northwest Bronx, and alter the relations of power.
We believe that grassroots leaders are essential to a healthy democracy that is on the road to equity and social justice. Harry C. Boyte puts it this way: “Yet the public problems we face today are increasingly of the variety that can no longer be solved unless we revive the practical arts that are taught in community organizing…..They are simply too complex and multifaceted to be solved unless we learn how to tap local community wisdom, community assets, and civic networks.” Michael Jacoby Brown, recent author of Building Powerful Community Organizations looks at it from the perspective developed by Kurt Lewin, the first theoretician of group dynamics. Brown says, “Lewin discovered that those closest to any change must be involved in the change in order for the change to be effective…If we did not need the active involvement of those closest to the problem, then good policies or the dissemination of good ideas alone would achieve the improvements we seek. They do not.”
As the tempo, tension and stakes rise over the next two years on the national political landscape, there is a clear danger that the vitality that grassroots leaders bring to progressive politics will be lost as the progressive movement builds and consolidates power. Without grassroots people at the table, we may lose the compassionate witness, bottom up creativity, and accountability that is needed to craft policy solutions that make sense for working families and people of color in America.