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Why Organizations Matter

Taken from: The Barefoot Collective. (2009). The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organizations and Social Change. Cape Town: Community Development Resource Association. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from www.barefootguide.org

Organizations matter. They make it possible for us to pool the strengths we have as individual human beings to achieve things that we could not do alone. They enable us to collectively mobilize our individual powers to face our human challenges with greater possibility.

At this point in our history, humanity faces significant and urgent choices and decisions. The people making these choices and decisions are those who have the power of organization behind them, be they governments with bureaucracies, be they businesspeople with corporate empires or be they ordinary people with local organizations and social movements behind them.

When ordinary people are able to create, link and strengthen their own organizations, and through them to voice and act out what they think, feel and want, they acquire more power over the choices and decisions that affect their lives. For people living in poverty and without basic rights, organization makes a different future possible. In building organizations, one shapes the world.


Seeing what is there, supporting what is possible
Local organizations begin small, often becoming more than originally intended, like the organization of the women gardeners above. Support from the outside, from funders, non-governmental organizations, activists or government workers can help, but the will of people to develop their own organizations does not need to be imported, only unblocked and supported. Indeed attempts to import models of organization or projects from the outside (usually westernized managerial forms) have proven more likely to kill local initiatives and fail for lack of ownership.

The fact that people, under the direst of circumstances, are able to pull themselves together and organize themselves is a celebration of the fact that the impulse to develop and organize is inborn.


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