One of these elders passed along a copy of a little booklet assembled from the sayings of one of the people who had inspired him -- Axioms for Organizers by Fred Ross Sr., the legendary mentor to Cesar Chavez. A downloadable version is available at the link. The aphoristic contents are full of tips and truths. Here are a few samples that particularly strike me:
All true and all very much what I've experienced the work of organizing to be about.
I am reminded that organizing purists disdain electoral campaigns precisely because too many of them violate their notion of true organizing. An election is not about setting hopes ablaze or unleashing the untapped potential rabble-rousers inside many of us. Elections are about wide, shallow, time-limited mobilization that harnesses the power implicit, if underutilized, in voting. But people who successfully use the electoral arena to break new ground are building on a foundation of social mobilization that came out of past organizing.
One of my friends and mentors likes to quote another United Farm Workers Union stalwart, the Rev. Jim Drake, on this:
That seems to be true. Times and seasons flow back and forth between periods of deep organizing that changes people and sets them on new trajectories and moments of simply turning out (turning up?) that actualize the potential energy that organizing assembled. We need both.