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Practice Stories from the Field

Vol. 14 No. 2

Community Organizing Practices in Academia: A Model, and Stories of Partnerships

  • Maria Avila
June 8, 2010


This article describes a model of civic engagement based on four key community organizing practices, created at Occidental College and implemented since 2001. The foundations of this model do not include confrontation, mass mobilization, or demonstrations—tactics commonly associated with the term community organizing. This model, instead, utilizes community organizing practices that can help bring about long-term social and cultural transformation through a slow, reciprocal, relational process. The model was created in response to an issue the author has encountered throughout nine years working within the academy: the lack of reciprocity of interest, skills, and resources in creating long-term partnerships between academia and communities. The narrative format of the article includes stories from a faculty member and a community partner who have played roles in building this model.