Everybody wants to be the vanguard

I kib­itzed a bit of online spill-over of an argu­ment between anar­chists, Occu­piers, activists, & sundry inter­est­ed par­ties regard­ing orga­niz­ing & protest­ing around the 2016 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Cleve­land. The dis­cus­sion was about orga­niz­ing & activist method­olo­gies & the argu­ment (whose prove­nance is in dis­pute) was about “diver­si­ty of tac­tics” which, as far as I can tell, is just spin for “we’ll join y’all if all y’all let us do what­ev­er we want”, which defeats the pur­pose of orga­niz­ing in the first place.

I don’t real­ly have any thoughts worth voic­ing about the specifics of that argument/discussion, but it got me think­ing.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past decade I’ve spent involv­ing myself in var­i­ous civic orga­niz­ing ini­tia­tives is that most peo­ple want to do some­thing big and flashy that will get them rec­og­nized. Every­body wants to be the van­guard.

I’ve also learned that the van­guard gets wiped out first.

The thing that no one wants to do is the leg­work. You can have a badass army, but if you don’t have com­pe­tent folks bring­ing bread and cheese and water in on trucks, your sol­diers get turned into sausage.

There’s noth­ing flashy about the work of being a Con­gress-crit­ter. They’re all sausage-mak­ers. The pow­er lies in the will­ing­ness to do the tedious prepa­ra­tion and unsung heavy lift­ing to achieve your goal, what­ev­er it may be. That’s the way it works with any great process. That’s the great test of com­mit­ment. Peo­ple who show up to do the bor­ing shit are the ones you want around, because they know how to make sausage.

There will be plen­ty of peo­ple com­ing in to town to protest the 2016 RNC, and even more folks com­ing to par­tic­i­pate in it. The folks in Cleve­land prepar­ing to protest might con­sid­er (if they haven’t already, like I said, I’m only tan­gen­tial­ly aware of their dis­cus­sion) whether they’d rather be 1 of numer­ous unco­or­di­nat­ed & ques­tion­ably trust­wor­thy van­guards, or the unsung ground crew that keeps it all togeth­er.

Beer and Grassroots Activism

I was at Edison’s last night meet­ing with some neigh­bor­hood folks about a pos­si­ble syn­er­gy between the lar­val Tremont Civil­i­ty Project and a pos­si­ble men­tor­ing pro­gram to bring togeth­er new res­i­dents, long-time res­i­dents and even longer-time res­i­dents. I also got pret­ty drunk.

Rogue Brewery’s Dead Guy Ale

This ale was mod­er­ate­ly hop­py with a thick grain and fruity hints, per­fect for a fall after­noon or sum­mer evening.

North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russ­ian Impe­r­i­al Stout

This impe­r­i­al stout deserves being named for a man with an eleven inch penis that was wor­shipped as a fer­til­i­ty charm. A strong rooty front note fades into a hint of anise and some sort of wood fla­vor. The fin­ish is almost too smooth, with­out the lin­ger­ing stout fla­vor I’m used to. This might be because it was bot­tled. 9% by vol­ume. I don’t real­ly know what I’m talk­ing about here if you hadn’t already noticed.

Fly­ing Dog Brewery’s Pale Ale

Now that it is morn­ing and I’m sober, I actu­al­ly think I’ve had this before. I can’t real­ly review it because I think it act­ed as a palate cleanser after the Old Rasputin. I remem­ber that it was about as hop­py as Dog­fish Head 60 minute IPA.

Pal­ma Lou­ca

This Brazil­ian Pilsen­er was the sur­prise of the night. I don’t real­ly like pilsen­ers, but my habit at Edison’s is to always try a beer I’ve nev­er had before. I believe this is now my favorite south of the bor­der beer. It beats out Paci­fi­co, Dos Equis, and Coro­na in terms of fla­vor and refresh­ment. And it didn’t even have a lime in it.

Round VII — Third Night of Interviews

I swung on up to Ohio City last night for some sushi from Kimo’s before going to the last night of inter­views for this round of Neigh­bor­hood Con­nec­tions Grant-mak­ing. Kimo’s was closed again. The third time in a row this has hap­pened to me. I know he does the sushi for the Indi­ans, and that its a big account for him, but it is a has­sle to get there and find out he is closed. I guess I’ll have to start call­ing first. Maybe he could use a web­site to keep folks informed? Instead I went to Heck’s again. I’d last been there over a year ago with Patrick in our quest for the best burg­er in Cleve­land. I wasn’t impressed with their burg­er then, and I wasn’t impressed with the pas­ta dish I got last night. The food was good enough, but I can and have made bet­ter at home.

The six inter­views we had last night switched back and forth between sports/exercise pro­grams and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the same prob­lem we’ve had in the past also came through with sev­er­al of these groups. Most or all of the mon­ey would go to pay them­selves or their busi­ness. I’m sor­ry, but if you request $5000 and all of that mon­ey is going to pay for mem­ber­ships to the busi­ness you own you aren’t going to get the mon­ey. Sim­i­lar­ly, if you request $5000 and all of that mon­ey is being split between the work­ers at the busi­ness while claim­ing their hours as in-kind con­tri­bu­tions, you’re not going to get the mon­ey. I think that is one of the pos­i­tives hav­ing com­mu­ni­ty activists as the grant-mak­ing com­mit­tee. We know all of the tricks peo­ple will use to make a buck. I won­der what it says for the Cleve­land econ­o­my that small busi­ness­es are so des­per­ate for patron­age or cash that they’ll cre­ate one-off pro­grams and hope the fund­ing source doesn’t look too close­ly at their appli­ca­tion.

Round VII — Second Night of Interviews

Last evening was the sec­ond night of inter­views for the sev­enth round of Neigh­bor­hood Con­nec­tions grant-mak­ing. We had six inter­views on the sched­ule, but one can­celled due to ill­ness. The oth­er inter­vie­wees pre­sent­ed on beau­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams, safe­ty pro­grams, and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams.

One thing that I’ve start­ed to notice, from attend­ing the Tremont Strate­gic Invest­ment meet­ing last week, sit­ting through these grant inter­views, and just talk­ing to peo­ple around the city is a dis­tinct fear of youth. Time after time I hear peo­ple com­plain that chil­dren and youth are play­ing in the streets and that peo­ple don’t feel safe going out­doors because of this. Their answer is always “get the kids off the street and into super­vised activ­i­ties and edu­cate them about what­ev­er we think they ought to know.” The sense I get is that they don’t think chil­dren should play in the streets. This makes no sense to me. Chil­dren every­where have always played in the streets. This is not the prob­lem.

The prob­lem is that adults are afraid of chil­dren they do not know. Espe­cial­ly in an urban set­ting, it appears that, to them, unsu­per­vised chil­dren play­ing in a neigh­bor­hood equals crime. These folks all want to do some­thing about it, or actu­al­ly, they want to tell oth­er peo­ple what they should do about it. “We need a rec-cen­ter;” “The police should keep them from rid­ing their bikes all over;” “Our seniors are afraid to go out­doors.” Bless them for their good inten­tions, but do they ever think to ask the youth what they want? No. They’re too afraid to go out­doors and talk to them. They want struc­tured envi­ron­ments with specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed youth and a cur­ricu­lum that usu­al­ly doesn’t address the real needs of the youth.

The eight of us who went from Cleve­land to Nashville ear­li­er this year all came away with this same real­iza­tion. Youth are min­is­tered to imper­son­al­ly, insti­tu­tion­al­ized instruc­tion always seems to be the answer offered instead of actu­al rela­tion­ship build­ing, com­mu­ni­ty build­ing, neigh­bor­hood build­ing organ­ic inter­ac­tion. The more I learn about the com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions and grass­roots efforts in Cleve­land, the more I become con­vinced that there needs to be a net­work­ing group that con­nects dif­fer­ent groups work­ing on the same projects, offers advice, tech­ni­cal assis­tance and pro­gram infor­ma­tion that might be unknown to those groups and acts as a whet­stone for their mis­sion and ideas. A sort of net­work­ing clear­ing­house of insti­tu­tion­al­ized knowl­edge that seeks out the groups that need the assis­tance.

That is sort of what I’m involved in with the 2007 Cleve­land Lead­er­ship Sum­mit [includ­ing focus­ing on youth involve­ment], but that is only a one off thing and not the tar­get­ed sus­tain­able orga­ni­za­tion I have in mind.

Round VII — First Night of Interviews

The first night of inter­views for Round VII of the Neigh­bor­hood Con­nec­tions grant pro­gram was last night. I didn’t have to haul ass out to Mt. Pleas­ant this time, since my group was meet­ing at St. Ignatius. We were sup­plied with cof­fee and tea which was great since I was fight­ing some sinus stuff. We had six inter­views to cov­er in three hours, from stray ani­mal care to beau­ti­fi­ca­tion to school read­ing pro­grams. One fledg­ling block club had a grant writ­ten for beau­ti­fi­ca­tion, but the per­son who wrote the grant from Clark Metro Devel­op­ment, didn’t show up to the inter­view, and the woman who came in his place had nev­er seen the grant and had no idea what it was about.

I felt sor­ry for her because it was obvi­ous that her block club had start­ed some­thing good that wasn’t being served by the CDC. One of the oth­er mem­bers of my com­mit­tee want­ed to call the per­son who wrote the grant and give him the what for. The grant was hand-writ­ten and dashed off in about ten min­utes. Typ­i­cal­ly we choose to inter­view this kind of grant because it indi­cates that the peo­ple apply­ing for it are first-time grant-seek­ers and tru­ly grass­roots. That explains our sur­prise and indig­na­tion when we real­ized that an employ­ee of a com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion had writ­ten it. The rea­sons Clark Metro has lost its fund­ing are becom­ing self-evi­dent.

Anoth­er grant was for a good project but the funds being request­ed, all $5000 are essen­tial­ly going to a mid­dle-man non-prof­it that has been back­ing the same pro­gram city-wide and apply­ing to NC under the guise of PTAs from dif­fer­ent schools. They’ve received fund­ing from NC at least 4 times, which could be up to $20k in fund­ing that they’ve gar­nered from us using engaged par­ents and teach­ers as a proxy. This non-prof­it gets all the mon­ey and the par­ents and teach­ers do all the work as vol­un­teers. The tough part is that if we don’t fund it, the pro­gram dies at those schools. So who gets hurt? The chil­dren of course. At the next meet­ing of the full com­mit­tee we’re def­i­nite­ly going to be dis­cussing this type of disin­gen­u­ous­ness.

I tried to stop at Dave’s because we got out at a 8:45, but they were locked up tight, despite their store hours until 9. So instead of get­ting bananas and some oranges, I stopped at Tremont Con­ve­nience and got pota­to chips and ore­os. I got home, popped a Sudafed, and my nose slow­ly stopped run­ning. This is com­mu­ni­ty meet­ing week for me. Tues­day was a Tremont Strate­gic Invest­ment meet­ing [anoth­er 3 hour tour], yes­ter­day was grant inter­views and tonight is the Auburn Block Club meet­ing and ice cream social.

Fall Grant-Making

The Neigh­bor­hood Con­nec­tions grant-mak­ing com­mit­tee met again last night to start the fall round of grant dis­cern­ment. We had deli­cious food from Luchita’s. This round only had about 60% the num­ber of pro­pos­als com­pared to the spring round. This is, appar­ent­ly, typ­i­cal. But it means that you have a bet­ter chance of being fund­ed if you apply for a grant in August.

I’m review­ing pro­pos­als from Clark-Metro, Detroit-Shore­way and Old Brook­lyn this time ’round. The grants were good for the most part, we only culled three from our group, one had a cou­ple hun­dred thou­sand in fund­ing already, so they got the axe even though the project was a good idea.