Community Organizing takes off in Orange County

From OCOC press release as printed in News of Orange County:

County-wide grassroots effort will hold Dec. 7 meeting

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 300 leaders from 23 faith-based institutions in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough will gather at 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chapel Hill to launch a new agenda called "One County for All." The Church is located at 300 E. Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill.

The event is viewed as a new model for multi-ethnic interfaith collaboration in Orange County. The Orange County Organizing Committee (OCOC) seeks to bring about change on affordable housing, living wages, environmental justice, education, healthcare, and quality of life for immigrant families.

Orange County clergy and lay leaders from Christian, Jewish and Unitarian religious institutions have been working with the Industrial Areas Foundation (I.A.F.) over the last 3 years to create a broad-based, non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith, citizen-powered organization, rooted in local congregations and other non-profit associations to improve the lives of residents and communities throughout Orange County.

During the event, the assembled leaders of OCOC member institutions, who represent a total constituency of 50,000 people, will lay out an action agenda on affordable housing, living wages, environmental justice, education, healthcare and quality of life for immigrant families. This agenda has been collectively developed through months of organizing within the various faith communities and introduced in a recent series of meetings with leaders from the Town of Carrboro, the Town of Chapel Hill, the Town of Hillsborough and the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Several elected leaders are expected to be in attendance.

The Rev. Mark Davidson, Pastor of The Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill and an OCOC founder, said, "The current economic crisis makes this unified action all the more imperative. Now is the time for our faith communities to stand together and speak with all those whose voices are not heard. Our faith values call us to speak with one voice in solidarity with them."

The Re. Thomas Nixon, Pastor of Saint Paul AME Church, said, "The work that we are doing is part of our duty to participate civically. OCOC, as a broad-based organization of congregations and synagogues, have come together to help residents of Orange County address important issues in a proactive way. The things we have in common are far greater than the things that separate us. This is an exciting opportunity to actively involve diverse Orange County citizens in framing the priorities and future of the area while working publicly with decision-makers to bring our vision into reality."

The Industrial Areas Foundation (I.A.F.), founded in the 1940s by Saul Alinsky, has several affiliate organizations in North Carolina and in 60 metropolitan areas in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. These organizations have trained thousands of leaders for public action at the local, state, and national levels.



I'm adding this to the calendar now, but it's really shame to get such late notice. I wish the Organizing Committee would see the OP community as a resource if not an ally.

I'm sure as OCOC grows and evolves, it will take ample advantage of the resources available through OP.  But, in spite of the name, I think it's fair to say that OCOC is just not that organized yet!  But it's getting there -- look for county meetings on education and health care in the spring.  Jim and I will try to remember to actually say something in advance next time...

It seems the papers know about OCOC doings before I do. If there's a media list, please put OP on it. Or maybe even invite me to a meeting...?You know I am a big fan of the IAF model and a huge supporter of your goals. Rock on.

I did try, but whether OP was intentionally left off or just missed I don't know. 

There always seems to be some implied "gravitas" with "faith" organizing, even though there are huge numbers of people who aren't affiliated with an organized religion. How is this viewed?

We don't keep anyone out (Neighbors for Responsible Growth isn't a faith-based institution for one example), but institutions which join us do need to understand that we are primarily a (multi)faith-based coalition.

.....that god loves and honest skeptic :)

Hey Ruby, you're right of course.  I'll pass the word along to the OCOC staff. (And yes, as an Episcopalian, I'm quite sure that God loves the honest skeptic!)

The next county-wide general meeting of the OCOC will be March 9th. The meeting will start at 6:30 pm with meetings of the 6 interest groups (living wage, affordable housing, immigrant families, healthcare, education, and the environment) and at 8:00 pm there will be a general meeting when the interest groups report back and other business is discussed. We will end promptly at 9 pm. The location is still TBD, but I will post back here when I know.Molly De Marco 

After building
relationships across faith, ethic background and economic status for
almost three years, Orange County Jusitce United In Community Effort (J.U.I.C.E.) is ready to become a permanent
organization. Leaders of the Committee have been patiently putting
together the building blocks of collective power. They focused
on recruiting institutions, raising their own money, traininghundreds
of leaders, identifying priorities and developing a collective agenda.
The committee will become
a permanent organization at a Founding Ceremony scheduled for the night
of Monday October 26, 2009.  Hundreds of leaders from across the County
have pledged to gather to officially launch the organization. The
Founding Ceremony will coincide with an important election time in our
County. All candidates seeking public office in the area will be
invited to attend.Our organization never endorses any of
the candidates, but we always ask the candidates to publicly endorse
our community agenda.  
          Founding Ceremony:

  •     Monday October 26, 2009 at 7:00 PM. United Church of Chapel Hill
    • The Founding is a celebration of our collective commitment for Justice. 
    • The organization will be
      launched by those that want to be Founding Members. Those that have
      completed training will be recognized, and we will unveil our new name
      and agenda.
    • Those seeking elected office will be invited to endorse or speak against our agenda

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