Friday, May 4, 2012

Fr. John Baumann, S.J. And Some PICO History

Fr. John Baumann, S.J. on a panel discussion
Around 1970 several national networks began to coalesce and develop systematic and distinctive approaches to community organizing. These include the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), ACORN, Citizen Action, National People's Action, PICO, DART, and the Gamaliel Foundation. Each was indebted, in greater or lesser degree, to Alinsky and his early organizing programs in Chicago through IAF. Many influential organizers, including Tom Gaudette and Fred Ross, Sr., developed their characteristic approaches based on experience with Alinsky's projects. With IAF support Ross founded the Community Service Organization in California in 1949, enlisting talented young organizers Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta to develop a network of organizations in Mexican American communities, and later worked with them in the United Farm Workers union. Although Alinsky and many others have argued that community organizing is a discipline distinct from wider social movements, his early projects drew energy and inspiration from such movements: Chicago's Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council was established in 1939 during the Packinghouse Workers organizing drive, and civil rights activities energized such 1960s projects as The Woodlawn Organization in Chicago and FIGHT in Rochester. Methodical training of community organizers can be dated from 1969, when Midas Muffler founder Gordon Sherman gave Alinsky a sizable grant. As IAF executive director, Edward Chambers continued the program following Alinsky's death in 1972, setting training at the heart of IAF's expanded organizing activity, centered on broad-based organizations, built around religious congregations and parishes and often including civic associations and labor unions. IAF's most successful projects have been based in Texas, where Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) in San Antonio helped elect Henry Cisneros as the city's first Hispanic mayor. As IAF state director, Ernesto Cortes, Jr. built a powerful network of six affiliates, collectively known as Texas Interfaith; he is now the IAF southwest regional organizer. IAF's East Brooklyn Congregations set up Nehemiah Homes to build 2,100 low-cost houses and became a model for federal housing assistance. Baltimore's BUILD has tackled education, jobs, and housing. IAF presently has 57 affiliates in 21 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The IAF model of organizing religious congregations into powerful local and regional networks has been taken up by three other groups -- PICO, Gamaliel, and DART -- most of whose leaders got their start with IAF. 
PICO was founded in 1972 by John Baumann, S.J. as the Pacific Institute for Community Organization, headquartered in Oakland, California. As it expanded from the West Coast, PICO characterized its acronym as standing for People Improving Communities through Organizing. In 2005 it renamed itself the PICO National Network, emphasizing the autonomy of its affiliated organizations, and its role developing national strategy, training, and consultation. PICO works to "increase access to health care, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing, redevelop communities, and revitalize democracy." 
Recently PICO has been developing a strategy of consolidating power in metropolitan areas, and exploring a state-wide effort to influence public policy on children's health in California as well as having an impact on such national issues as immigration reform. In 2008 PICO has 50 local and regional affiliates, representing 150 cities in 17 states, with 1000 member institutions claiming to represent a million people.
Link (here) to David Walls full a paper.
Read the paper entitled, "Problems With PICO" (here)

No comments: