Community Organizing: Part One
I have decided to blog about building up a support group with the eventual goal of advocacy for people with mental health needs, like my friend is doing about building a disability community at UGA. Fresh out of the hospital for mental health issues, I couldn't find a self-advocacy group for mental health in DC. I thought about starting an advocacy group straightaway, but thought that seemed a bit hefty to start out with – and made a Facebook support group page instead. It has eight members so far, and we are planning a meetup sometime next week or weekend.
I worry about the culture of tear-down-everything, and I worry about the seeming lack of direction sometimes in various communities. I hear some people talk about destroying things, and in the same breath admit they don't know what they'd build. I also hear some people talk about what dreams they have for change and organizing, and don't have the conceptualization of how to do so yet. Like my friend, I am documenting the building of my group to help give people a framework for maybe building their own group if they want.
Not everyone has the time or energy to build organizations and groups up, and it doesn't always give one the same rush as poking holes in people's arguments on the Internet and “destroying” opponents, but a built from the ground up organization or group can counter common narratives of oppression. It can give people attainable goals to work toward. It sustains community. It is something concrete you can do and know that change is happening, however incremental – and while incremental change might not feel good enough, when combined together, incremental steps form a leap forward.