To the Ballot Box and Beyond: Civic Engagement and Community Organizing in New York City

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The Political Participation Project (P3) is a collaborative, multi-site ethnographic and interview study. This report presents findings from six months of data collection across three field sites in New York City in collaboration with community-based organizations working to address social, economic, and political inequalities. We follow recent scholarship in suggesting that such community-based organizations may successfully engender multiple forms civic engagement, broadly conceived, which lead to participation across a number of settings within and beyond electoral politics.

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Volunteering improves inner character, builds community, cures poverty, and prevents crime. We've all heard this kind of empowerment talk from nonprofit and government-sponsored civic programs. But what do these programs really accomplish? InMaking Volunteers, Nina Eliasoph offers an in-depth, humorous, wrenching, and at times uplifting look inside youth and adult civic programs. She reveals an urgent need for policy reforms in order to improve these organizations and shows that while volunteers learn important lessons, they are not always the lessons that empowerment programs aim to teach.With short-term funding and a dizzy mix of mandates from multiple sponsors, community programs develop a complex web of intimacy, governance, and civic life. Eliasoph describes the at-risk youth volunteers served by such programs, the college-bound volunteers who hope to feel selfless inspiration and plump up their resum s, and what happens when the two groups are expected to bond instantly through short-term projects. She looks at adult "plug-in" volunteers who, working in after-school programs with a limited amount of time, hope to become like beloved aunties to youth. Eliasoph indicates that adult volunteers can provide grassroots support but they can also undermine the family-like warmth created by paid organizers. Exploring contradictions between the democratic rhetoric of empowerment programs and the bureaucratic hurdles that volunteers learn to navigate, the book demonstrates that empowerment projects work best with less precarious funding, more careful planning, and mandatory training, reflection, and long-term commitments from volunteers.Based on participant research inside civic and community organizations,Making Volunteersillustrates what these programs can and cannot achieve, and how to make them more effective.
Citizenship and the Civic Empowerment Gap De Facto Segregated Minority Schools What We Can Do
This article illustrates how elements of praxis within George Spindler's cultural therapy and Paul Willis's cultural production are useful precedents for a praxis-based pedagogy. I argue that combining the praxis elements within cultural therapy and cultural production engenders a third mode of ethnographic praxis that I call “cultural organizing.” The article provides an example of cultural organizing among Latina/o high school students in Tucson, Arizona. [cultural organizing, ethnography, Latina/o students, praxis, pedagogy]
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