I just received a special Christmas gift from Mary Ochs, a good friend who gave me my first job as a community organizer twenty-seven years ago and who was my mentor during my nineteen year organizing career.
It was an older copy of a very small book titled “Axioms For Organizers” by Fred Ross, Sr.
Fred Ross, Sr. was a legendary community organizer. While working for the Industrial Areas Foundation (which I worked for during most of my organizing career) he became Cesar Chavez’s key mentor and advisor. Ross was the author of an extraordinary book that is still available titled Conquering Goliath: Cesar Chavez at the Beginning.
Even though the little book that Mary sent me is long out-of-print, a quick Internet search found that it’s still available on a free online PDF.
The book is directed towards organizers, but all of Fred’s axioms offer important advice to teachers, as well.
I’d encourage you to review the entire PDF, which is very short, and here are a few of my favorites:
Short-Cuts –Short-cuts usually end in detours, which lead to dead ends.
Social Arsonist –A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.
People – It’s the way people are that counts, not the way you’d like them to be.
Organizing Is –Organizing is providing people with the opportunity to become aware of their own capabilities and potential.
Questions –When you are tempted to make a statement, ask a question.
I hope you enjoy my gift!
This is quite a gift-as it allows me to recall my same work in Wilmington, DE right out of college for Wilmington United Neighborhoods (WUN). We received training from Tom Gaudette, certainly someone from the vanguard of IAF.