Wednesday, January 16, 2008

GCCWP Meets with LA ACORN: Partnership Strengthened

During this past week, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (GCCWP) met twice with one of its most important allies, Louisiana ACORN. This working relationship began last January, when Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton met with Stephen Bradberry at Xavier University in a VERY EARLY morning meeting.

On their last day in New Orleans as a part of Louisiana Winter 1, Stephen suggested that the two groups meet at 7 am at Xavier. Scott ML being the 24/7 organizer that he is, said sure.....the 30 students were less enthusiastic.....1 student woke up for the meeting! But this was a very important meeting, as the two groups began discussing how they could work together to enact the GCCWP.

Scott and Stephen continued to talk on the phone throughout the past year. Importantly, Stephen came to San Jose State University to speak to 70 students in September, where he witnessed the power of the student movement at SJSU. He also gave an incredibly inspiring talk.

Then, Scott and Stephen, along with Jeffrey Buchanan from the RFK Center for Human Rights, Jonathan Rhodes from Chicago-Kent School of Law, and Brenda Muniz who is ACORN's Legislative Director, went to the Hill together to discuss with members of Congress the GCCWP. This trip was very productive, as we garnered the support of Charlie Melancon from south Louisiana and Gene Taylor from south Mississippi.

In the beginning of our Louisiana Winter 2 trip, Stephen and Tanya Harris, Lead Organizer for New Orleans ACORN, met with the students in ACORN's new center in the Lower Ninth Ward to discuss the social conditions of that community. Tanya talked about how Brad Pitt's project is building 150 houses on one end of the Lower 9, while ACORN is taking the lead to build 150 houses on the other side, with the hope of sparking development throughout the community. Stephen talked about the importance of the GCCWP as a pilot project for the rest of the country.

At the end of our 8 days in New Orleans as part of Louisiana Winter 2, Stephen met with the students for a national phone call with other community-based organizations to discuss strategy about how to mobilize Gulf Coast communities to support HR 4048. The students had a chance to see first-hand how organizing works within a major community-based organization, and how it works collaboratively with others to further our common goal.

Before the phone call, Stephen discussed the depth of his commitment to the GCCWP, and the passing of the bill. Students left the meeting energized about having such a powerful ally as Stephen Bradberry and LA ACORN. In fact, they have begun to BELIEVE that with allies like Stephen, that it will be possible to achieve our collective goal.

Stay tuned....this relationship between the GCCWP and LA ACORN continues to flourish, and the result just might well be the passing of HR 4048, and a new direction for our country.


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