As many of you who read this site know, since the Movement Vision Lab and I left the Center for Community Change in January 2010, I’ve been contemplating the most strategic role that I can play to advance social change in America.
I believe that significant, transformational social change only happens through significant, transformational mass social movements — the kind we’ve had in American history but don’t have today.
And what’s clear is that, among many movement elements missing in the progressive field today, every major social movement in the history of America or anywhere else in the globe has had a robust program of consciousness raising. Whether it was the 40,000+ paid political educators who traveled the Midwest during the Populist Movement to explain why the economy was failing small farmers. Or the Brookwood Labor College the radicalized workers leading to the union movement in the early 1900s and inspired Civil Rights leaders to create the Highlander Center which played a similar role in that movement. Or the feminist consciousness raising groups organized in living rooms across America in the 1970s.
Progressive social movements by their very nature struggle against the dominant ideology and philosophy of the status quo. In order to build an informed and active mass movement, we not only need alternative ideas and analysis — but alternative ideas and analysis that are delivered in a compelling, accessible and popular way.
With this in mind, I present for your feedback a working concept paper on the Movement Vision Lab’s “Center for Popular Popular Education.” Read it. Share it. And then fill this page with comments — your constructive thoughts on the movement analysis within this proposal and the sets of activities proposed as a response. In the Freirian tradition, popular education (let alone a proposal to do popular education) can’t just be a one-way street!
I’ve posted the entire proposal, including the proposed budget, to be as transparent and participatory as possible in developing this plan. In addition to seeking feedback on the concept, I am currently soliciting funding — so if you’re reading this and have feedback you want to share privately OR would like to provide funding (at any level) please contact me.
A final thanks to the organizations that have already endorsed the Center for Popular Popular Education and expressed enthusiasm to work with us going forward. There’s a great field of groups that already do political education in some form and a great field of groups who want to do more. We’re excited to join the mix!