Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Growth

There's a good vibe going on at the Southside Worker Center as of late. Not to oversimplify 10 months of activity, but by and large thus far at the Center I have failed more than I have succeeded. Or we all have? If you define it that way. What I mean is that we have started many projects only to see them dwindle into non-existence. This is not true for all cases. Right now we have a community garden that is fully funded by outside grants. We new business cards, marketing flyers, more efficient day-to-day operations, a database of employers/employees, and a new series of leadership/community organizing classes. The latter, most successful project is the reason for this post. However, this opening paragraph is here to create a backdrop that shows just how successful it is. All of the projects that have dwindled have done so for the same reason: lack of interest. We started an English class in October that had a devoted following, for three classes. Laura, a volunteer that is a student at the U of A, started computer classes three months ago. They are no more. Along with the help of another friend of the Center, I mapped out Tucson's business environment and potential sectors of business, and made connections at the Tucson Hispanic of Commerce. With this new info I organized a group of interested workers to pass out flyers targeting these areas. We went out four times, and the same people never came twice.
These classes are different. Under the community organizing leadership of Raúl Álcaraz, an experienced Chicano activist, this series of six classes designed to inspire the community consciousness and unity of small, community-rooted group of workers at the Center has bloomed into a devoted cadre of new awareness and hope. The series was entitled "Defiendese Para Defender Su Comunidad" (Defend Yourself To Defend Your Community). These classes ranged from immigration history to an analysis of political power in Arizona that is powered by the ever mighty dollar of business enterprise such as the private prison system Corrections Corporation of America. The potential of this group of men is now being realized as they continue to meet and plan together towards future classes and community and political involvement. Things in the parking lot remain virtually the same aside from a new sign we are putting up and the materialization of a more advanced database system we are now using. But, what I see in this uprising group is a glimpse of the dream of mine and many others at the Center long before me: to see these talented and able men empower themselves by taking ownership of their action, previous inaction and their community. I'll keep posting updates, but keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we at the Center attempt to get behind these workers and push with all our might.


Jacob Owens
Tucson, AZ

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