Last time I organized for a good cause, it was 1982 and I was in 11th grade. I was appointed the meager office of community service leader in student government. I organized only four events over 6 months (Arthritis foundation fund raiser, Cancer awareness smoke out, Goodwill warehouse volunteer run, and weekly nursing home cheer-board game/card play dates). And then I gave up. My close friends came and supported the events, but other than that most 16yr olds at that time in those days lacked my pathetic idealism or interest in anything other than teenage fun. Since then, the only things I have organized have been college team projects and anything I have lead in my career for the Benjamins. So as I read the below email from Barak, you can imagine my itchy guilt. So now I am too busy with my own life - single mom of a 4yr old, 8 months pregnant, and busy as hell working as a private consultant in a demanding career...taking care of me and mine. No community service in me. Justifying it all with cynicism that none of my efforts would make a difference. Oh I almost got sucked into 911 or Katrina volunteering, but I was assured by friends and family that it would be futile...or maybe that was me telling them that. Oh well. Anyhoo, read Barak's email...I hope someday I will do some good.
When I was a young man, I was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and the idea of people working at a grassroots level to bring about change.
I got my chance on the South Side of Chicago, as a community organizer, and it was the transformative experience of my career.
It allowed me to put my values to work and to see that real change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, when ordinary people come together around a common purpose.
The experience changed the course of my life -- and I want to share that kind of opportunity with you.
That's why we're introducing a program that's going to train a new generation of leaders -- not only to help us win this election, but to help strengthen our democracy in communities across the country.
If you apply and are selected, you'll be trained in the basic organizing principles that this campaign and our movement for change are built on. You will be assigned to a community where you'll organize supporters. Assignments will begin in June, and you'll be required to work a minimum of six weeks over the summer.
This program is designed to give you real world organizing experience that will have a concrete impact on this election.
Apply to be an Obama Organizing Fellow and put progressive values to work in the real world:
If you can't take the time away from work or your family that's required for the fellowship program, you can still get involved.
Reach out to someone you know who may be interested in this program, and let them know we could use their help:
House an Organizing Fellow -- If you have a spare room, you can help by offering housing to an Organizing Fellow near their training or near their eventual assignment. We haven't set locations for all of the trainings and assignments, but if you sign up, our staff will be in touch as the campaign grows:
Support this program by making a donation to this campaign:
Being a community organizer wasn't easy, but it was the most valuable education I ever received. It taught me that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Organizing changed my life, and I hope it changes yours.