For most of my adult life, I've been involved in community-building and
development. I've been an
"organizer", a director of social and economic justice
organizations and director of a grant-making foundation.
moving to Japan, I was employed by the City of Seattle's Department of
Neighborhoods' Matching Fund Program as a program officer and as
trainer of neighborhood leaders.
Recently, I've frequently traveled
India to study community development in a less-developed country. Japanese college students
go along for part of the time on each
Our India study first focused on efforts by the Akshaya
Project of Kerala State's IT Mission to bring Information Technology
literacy to every household in the southern Indian state of
In 2005 we expanded our fieldwork to include a
study of community initiated efforts to develop the fishing village of Kovalam in Tamil
Nadu. In 2007, in the Kottai colony of Kovalam, we helped build a
playground for children. In 2008, we
initiated a project to build eco-san toilets
Tsunami Relief Camps in
India: The 2005 fieldwork program in India also took the
students to several Tamil Nadu coastal villages devastated by the December 26,
2004 tsunami. We made a video of the tsunami relief camps to show at a benefit
concert organized by the students. You can view it here.
The Columbia City
Revitalization Story: One of the more interesting projects I
was involved with was the "revitalization" of the Columbia City
neighborhood in Seattle. I lived in the neighborhood for about 10
years. Many of the lessons learned about "do-it-yourself"
community development are recorded in this story.
Neighborhood Matching Fund and Civic Life in Seattle: The
Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund program is an innovative partnership
between city government and neighborhood organizations. In the first 12
years of the program 700 different neighborhood organizations received
"grants" ranging from a few -hundred dollars to several-thousands of
dollars to undertake 1,500 neighborhood initiated projects. This paper,
in PDF format, explores how the Matching Fund program leads to an involved
Movement Shakes Up Japan: In the
immediate aftermath of the 1995 earthquake that devastated Kobe, government
dithered while non-profit organizations of citizens moved into action.
Volunteers pulled victims from the ruins and provided water, food and shelter
to the refugees. Finally recognizing the importance of NPOs to
civic life, the Diet enacted legislation creating a legal framework for
citizen-based non-profits in 1998.
This article was written in 2001 while I still worked for Seattle's
Department of Neighborhoods. It seems newly relevant in the aftermath of
Tools for Neighborhood Organizers
Tools for Neighborhood Organizers is a series of workbooks I authored
for Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods. The booklets are based on my
two decades of experience as a community organizer. To open and read,
you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on you computer.