RESOURCES

Understanding power and building our capacity

As the fallout of the pandemic sets in, it will be necessary to strengthen our civic immune systems and build our capacity as effective partners in our communities. To do this, we'll need to understand power and how to resist forces that undermine our common life. This is what authentic community organising aims to achieve.

This video learning series was produced by our friends at MetroIAF (the Industrial Areas Foundation, USA) and the Common Good Foundation (UK) to strengthen their own practice. We're delighted to have their permission to share this with you. Please send any feedback to info@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk.

You will find pre-readings provided as pdf downloads [click on the italic pink links].

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Session 1: THE FEATURES OF THE NEW POLITICAL ERA (23/4/20)

Speaker: Lord Maurice Glasman. Pre-reading: The coronavirus crisis has sounded the death knell for liberal globalisation by Lord Glasman in The New Statesman. 


Session 2: THE COMMODIFICATION OF LAND AND LABOUR (30/4/20)

Speaker: Leo Penta. Pre-reading: The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time by Karl Polanyi. Please Read: Chapters 4 & 6 and the Foreword by Joseph Stiglitz. For those with more time and interest, Leo would also recommend all of Part II (chaps 3-10) + chap. 21. Purchase Kindle version here.


Session 3: CASE STUDY: THE AUTO WORKERS STRIKE of the 1930s (7/5/20)

Speakers: Jonathan Lange and Ben Gordon. Pre-reading: download Chapter 6 of John L Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography by Saul Alinsky or the e-Book can be purchased here.


Session 4: CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING on WORK (14/5/20)

Speaker: Kathleen O'Toole. Pre-reading: Pope John Paul II's Encyclical on Work: Laborum Exercens - please read PART I: INTRODUCTION and then PART IV: THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS to the END (Section 16 - end). Also please read: What Work Is a poem by Phillip Levine.


Session 5: CONTRACT OR POLITICAL BIRTHRIGHT? How to ground power in commonality (21/5/20)

Speakers: Leo Penta and Maurice Glasman. Pre-reading: Chapter 8: Contract and Birthright in The Presence of the Past: Essays on the State and the Constitution by Sheldon S Wolin.


Session 6: FIVE ORGANISERS' PERSONAL REFLECTIONS (28/5/20)

Reflections on the previous five sessions with community organisers: Amy Vruno, Dean Deida, Rev Lionel Edmunds, Sami Atris and Tanushree Isaacman. No pre-readings.


Session 7: ARENDT I: THE POLITICS OF ACTION (4/6/20)

Speaker: Leo Penta. Reflections: Rev Dr Carletta Allen and Lina Jamoul. Pre-reading: Hannah Arendt's Essay On Violence. This work was written in 1969 against the backdrop of the student revolution and urban unrest of 1968 as part of a debate about the role of violence in protest movements. It has lost none of its relevance for today.  

To get to know Hannah Arendt as a person, it is very worthwhile to watch the famous interview with her on German TV. Günter Gaus, the interviewer, called it “The best conversation that I ever had.” View video here:  (German with English subtitles). You can find a summary video of her thinking here.

You can also listen to a 30 minute 'BBC Great Lives' radio profile of Hannah Arendt here. 


Session 8:  ARENDT  II: HUMAN AGENCY  (11/6/20)

Speaker: Leo Penta. Pre-reading: a selection from Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition. Please read Chap. I, Section 1: Vita Activa and the Human Condition; Chap. II, Section 7:  The Public Realm: The Common; Chap. V; Section 24: The Disclosure of the Agent in Speech and Action; Section 28: Power and the Space of Appearance; Section 30: The Labor Movement.


Session 9: ABOUT POLITICS (18/6/20)

Speaker: Lord Maurice Glasman. Pre-reading: the first chapter from Bernard Crick's book In Defence of Politics. We encourage you to purchase the whole book. 


Session 10: THE PROPHETIC IMAGINATION (25/6/20)

Speaker: Leo Penta. Pre-reading: chapters 1 and 7 of The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann, who uses the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to contrast the "royal conscious" of the dominant culture with what he terms "prophetic criticizing" and "prophetic energizing" and applies his analysis to the practice of ministry.  The e-book can be purchased here.

Video coming soon.

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With sincere thanks to