Thursday, October 29, 2009

New York By Peer Review - The Oxfam Connection

In New York City there’s Manhattan and there’s Brooklyn. Across the bridge things are much less shiny, but oh so interesting. Rachel lives in Brooklyn. An Oxfam peer recommended by two wonderful women there was never any doubt that Rach would be anything less than a rockstar.

Despite the ankle-deep rain, a foiled cab ride and a minor Subway incident I made my way over to hang out with Rachel, her friend Elyssa and housemate Chris.

Over a few beers, some ridiculously good Little Italian pastry and blue corn chips we talked about the organising Rachel had done, most recently on the Obama campaign, with Mayor Bloomberg (apparently being the Mayor of NY is comparably difficult to being the President) and how that type of experience compares to the grassroots climate movement in Australia.

Undoubtedly those involved with the Obama organising did a great job – but talking to Rachel it became apparent that the stratosphere status and ridiculous fees campaign ‘consultants’ attract may not be worth it. The Obama campaign was heavily resourced, worth millions upon millionsof dollars, controlled and hierarchical – can it really be replicated in a different, social political, media and economic context?

The Obama campaigner price tag question aside, it's good to know that in the US (well the Peoples Republic of NYC) there is an exuberant and progressive energy, beautifully skilled and creative organising going-on. The universal challenge is to ensure that the momentum can be built and good people don’t become frustrated and burnt-out.

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