MORE ON ORGANIZING  [HUNTER BEAR  JANUARY 10 2006]  UPDATED WITH, MONSTER SLAYER [HUNTER BEAR  1/29/06]

MONSTER SLAYER [AND ORGANIZING]  HUNTER BEAR  1/29/06

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I still marvel at the great teachers and warriors who funnel a bundle of lessons for the new beginner and the weary who would tackle imperialism. You are the among the great ones. 
Colia L  [Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark]
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 From Edward Pickersgill, who posted this in my section of his large My Town website:
http://www.mytown.ca/ev.php?URL_ID=110523&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201&reload=1138638072
you're always welcome. it's a good thing to have various progressive
writings available in a range of venues. makes it more difficult for the
words to be disappeared.... your words are always good, solid and based in a
history of real organizing. plus, i think, as our combination shots ring of
the side banks you are picking up your stick more frequently..... :-)
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I so enjoyed your discussion on Navajo life, i.e. the birth of the twins, particularly the monster slayer and the remaining monsters , etc. The language is so clear and colorful. Your son, Beba, seems to be following in your footsteps the way he writes and descibes things.
Love and regards to Mrs. Salter  and the rest of the clan .
 
Mary Ann [Mary Ann Hall Winters]

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FROM HUNTER BEAR:

[The legendry of the Navajo, as with any tribal nation, is rich and
enduring.  It was in that context -- that of the Dine' [Dineh] -- that I was
privileged to largely grow up and our ties with that vast Nation remain
extremely close to this very moment.  It was Changing Woman who, impregnated
by the Sun and a waterfall, gave birth to the Hero Twins:  Monster Slayer
and Child of the Water.  In due course, the Twins traveled the Rainbow to
their Father the Sun -- killing many mortal adversaries along the trail.

But several monsters still remain:  Hunger, Poverty, Dirt and Old Age -- and
the Battle, with the Hero Twins much to the fore, continues.]

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Time runs away [it often seems to me] like a jackrabbit -- leaping and
bounding across my native Northern Arizona sage, faster often than the
sometimes pursuing relay teams of young Hopi runners.  Early this morning I
received this note from Buddy [Joseph] Tieger whose address I had finally
retrieved a day or so ago and to whom I had written regarding the untimely
death of our old colleague-in-arms: J.V. Henry.  Buddy, J.V. and I had
initially met each other right at the end of 1963.

We met in a jail cell -- a Southern jail -- always a proper place for real
and aspiring Organizers.  And Buddy wrote today:

"Hi John [Hunter],

Thank you, John, for posting this sad and shocking news.

As it happens, I came across your [Hunterbear] post, seemingly quite by
chance, a few evenings ago, when I was googling people from the
movement years, more or less at random, and thought I'd try to see
what J.V. was up to these days.

I still picture him, of course, at age 23, in blue jeans, and denim
jacket with a SNCC button.

My love to you and Eldri,

Joseph [always Buddy to us]
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As I am known to say, Real Organizing is the most challenging and toughest
work of all. My oldest son, John  [Beba], born in North Carolina, wrote in
part a couple of years ago in the very kind and generous Tribute to me from
a throng of friends over many decades:

"Except for his refusal to be walked on by any boss, my father was never
like Abner Snopes, but like that peculiar family in Faulkner's "Barn
Burning," we were always loading up the wagon with our battered furniture
and moving, moving, moving. We lived in North Carolina, we lived in Vermont;
we lived in Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Seattle, and Rochester, New
York. We lived on the Navajo Nation, we lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Our houses were never too grand, never too squalid. Not much survived the
moves but our family, and, of course, the steady parade of visitors, people
in rags and suits, people coming to see Hunter, people in need-in need of
money, advice, food, sanctuary from the feds, respite from self-destruction;
people with plans, problems, with energy that could benefit from focus."
http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.htm

Beba also recalls, and often, that he and the other children were
consistently warned not to be the ones to answer our home phones -- given
the frequency of hate calls spread over many, many years indeed.

To his apt account, I add only that we have all found the satisfactions of
this "Outlaw Trail" to be enormous.

And to be a Real Organizer is to be an Outlaw.  No other way to cut the pie
than that.  The Universe -- cyber and otherwise -- is full of pretenders
[who may or may not be aware that they are]: fussy and precious ideologues,
big talkers and pie-in-the-skyers, prissy hair-splitters, sometimes folks
who make our three pet rabbits look like a herd of Grizzlies.

And for those of that ilk who write voluminously about organizing with
little or no hard and tedious grassroots experience and thus no savvy, my
disdain for these Effetes is as massive as my literal [and truly
wonderful] Sycamore Canyon southwest of Flagstaff.  And for those writers
who seek ostensibly to produce books about dramatic movements but wind up
merely with things politically sanitized and "safe," I have feelings
bordering on -- if not embracing -- contempt.

If you want to know about Organizing, then go to the Organizers.  Stay away
from Arm Chairs -- and climb The Mountain.  When you top out, you will know
a lot -- and you will also see and then tackle the next great range beyond.

Two years ago, I put my Organizing experiences into a couple of guide-line
posts.  Not a gospel man by any means, I am pleased that they have now been
reprinted many times -- in print and web -- and much passed about.  It's one
of our huge Hunterbear website's most heavily visited pages
http://www.hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm

And, for J.V. Henry -- and another fine fighting soul who preceded him into
the Spirit World by only a few days, Clinton Jencks, we have this page:

CLINTON JENCKS [1918-2005]:  REMEMBRANCE [HUNTER BEAR   12/16/05]  AND THEN,
J.V. HENRY [HUNTER BEAR 1/05/06]
http://www.hunterbear.org/CLINTON%20JENCKS%201918%202005.htm

I should add that, Deep in our Website, where much of our somewhat older
civil rights material is clustered, we have several pages of photos taken in
March 1965 in Bertie [Burr-Tee] County at our historic North Carolina Black
Belt Conference -- attended by over a thousand people from 14 counties and
some other locations in the region.  The photos were among many taken by
J.V. [who also conducted a workshop] -- though, regrettably, none were taken
there of him.  In one of those on our site, you can see Buddy and Ginny
Tieger visiting with our keynote speaker, Ms. Ella J. Baker.  You can also
see Clyde Appleton, now of Tucson and on two of our discussion lists,
leading the singing; we have tough and hardy local leaders, such as Ms.
Willa Johnson [Cofield] and the late Rev. W.M. Steele; we have Nigel Hampton
[with whom I am still in touch] who came from International Chemical Workers
Union to speak on Labor.  And other brave troopers.

Still on the Rainbow, still following the Trail of the Twins to the Sun --
and there are many of us, many indeed, and always many more.  The Monsters
remain and the choice for us all is, Serving our communities -- or Serving
ourselves: the Sun, or the Darkness.

As Ever,

Hunter [Hunter Bear]


HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

See Hunter Gray in the Gem State
http://www.hunterbear.org/hunter_gray_in_the_gem_state.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]



NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:

Our very large and complex Lair of Hunterbear website -- now almost six
years old -- draws at this point around 700 or more hits per day.  Not all
of these by any means are depthy -- but Earthlink data indicates many
involve good time spent in securing specific info, mostly on social justice
topics, as well as general exploration. We  receive several questions per
day and we answer each one. This good question came this morning. Best, H


Dear Mr. Bear,

I came across your site while doing a little nostalgia research.  I was a
student at the U of Dayton (Ohio) and I have a vague memory of meeting Jesse
Jackson at a speech by Saul Alinsky sometime in the late 60's or early 70's.

My question is, Do you know if Jackson and Alinsky ever actually worked
together or had a speaking tour together or is my memory playing tricks on
me again?

I am aware you don't know me from Adam but if you have any insight I would
appreciate it if you could email a short reply.

Kindest Regards
M.
Minneapolis
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Dear M:

Good to hear from you and you have asked a good question.  [Of course, when
you ask a sometime prof a good question, you may get a 45 minute response!]

 The short answer is that their relationship was not close in any sense.
Since Alinsky was primarily based at Chicago and did his initial organizing
in that context, it is safe to say that he influenced Jesse Jackson -- but
only to the extent that he, Alinsky, influenced in one way or another a good
many people over many years.  By the time I got to Chicago in 1969 -- we
were there in the "organizing business" for several years -- there was
certainly no close relationship at all between the two. Jackson's organizing
style was pretty well developed before he arrived, well after Alinsky's
basic work in the city, has always been centered around himself, top down in
nature, very media oriented, and he has consistently played close to the
Cook County Democratic party  [e.g., the Daley Machine] -- frequently if not
consistently on its terms.  The Jackson organizations [Breadbasket, Push]
have been loose and mercurial -- in some respects structural disasters.

Alinsky, a product of Chicago, was always top-down -- but he and his staff
carefully put together complex coalitions. They often used creative
strategies and were usually effective bargainers. In another, but related
context:  When C.T. Vivian, an old friend who I knew very well indeed via
the Southern Movement, came to town in the late '60s and began to push the
construction trades hard on the critical matter of minority hiring, his
approach was essentially mass nonviolent demonstrations, with shrewd and
hard successful bargaining at other levels.  C.T. and his associates, such
as Archie Hargreaves, developed the Urban Training Center, at Chicago,
designed to bring many activists, including clergy, into good causes -- and
provide systematic training. That went pretty well. Neither Jackson nor
Alinsky were involved in that effort.

During our period in Chicago, I directed large scale organizing [mostly
Blacks and many Puerto Ricans and some Chicanos] on the sanguinary
South/Southwest side -- had a great staff of always at least two dozen, some
"professionally" trained and others community people.  Our approach, and
this has always been mine, was grassroots: steady and systematic
block-by-block grassroots organizing and the eventual emergence of bottom-up
multi-block club umbrella organizations. We, and our allied groups
[including the very protective-of-us Disciples Youth "gang"], were always
politically independent.  We were able to organize about 300 block clubs in
two large embracive organizations. [With broad people- organization and
mobilization, we won successes on a number of critical fronts.]

During my period on the South/Southwest Side, 1969-73, Jackson was never
involved at all -- save in one case of a well publicized high school crisis
which our effort had well in hand -- and, in that, a couple of Jackson aides
attempted without success to take things over.  By that time, Saul Alinsky
was moving into his late afternoon, maybe twilight, and was no factor for us
pro or con.  One of his very early efforts, the Back of the Yards
Neighborhood Council, had become nothing more than a Daley appendage [under
its boss, Joe Meegan], and was an adversary of ours.  In fairness to
Alinsky, he had long before denounced the BYNC as a "Frankenstein."

Alinsky and I would have agreed certainly on one key point at least: A good
"professional" organizer works himself/herself out of a job and should
never, in the interests of community organizational self-determination,
pitch camp on a permanent basis.

We never trusted Jackson and still do not.  On the other hand, substantial
differences with the Alinsky approach [grassroots-up as contrasted with
top-down] notwithstanding, there was never any question in our minds of his
sincerity, independence, and courage.  It's worth mentioning that, years
later, I was interviewed for two radio hours by Duke McNeil on organizing
approaches.  McNeil headed The Woodlawn Organization, an Alinsky
ghetto-oriented project.  We spoke of Alinsky many times but neither of us,
as I recall, even bothered to mention Jackson.  Alinsky's Industrial Areas
Foundation has trained many fine people who, using their own specific and
pragmatic organizing techniques, have done much good work in many parts of
the country.

If I have one major regret on the Chicago scene, it is that we all were
never able to connect with the excellent Midwest [Organizing] Academy,
spear-headed by the vigorously committed  and still most active, Heather
Booth.  That very effective grassroots-oriented training program was
initiated, if I recall correctly, about 1973 -- the same year we concluded
our basic work on the South/Southwest side. It is still quite vital. [I did
continue some Chicago involvements for several years, including our Native
American Community Organizational Training Center -- based in the Uptown
section of Chicago -- commuting from the University of Iowa.]  Heather and I
became acquainted a few years ago and I consider her a fine friend and
stalwart colleague in the Save the World Business.

Hope this has been of some help.  Again, good to hear from you and, if more
questions arise, please don't hesitate to get back to me.

In Solidarity, Hunter Bear [Hunter Gray]

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AND THIS EXCERPT FROM A LONG, KIND LETTER BY HEATHER BOOTH:  [1/10/06]

Thanks, Hunter Bear,

I just read your email response to someone asking if Jesse Jackson and Saul Alinsky ever knew each other.  At the end of a lesson about the history of Chicago organizing (always interesting to read your context of these events), I saw your warm comments on your wish for us to have connected in those earlier days.  That wish is certainly mine also.  I would have certainly been richer for it, though am glad to connect with you now through your email commentaries.  Thank you for your generous words.  Coming from you, such an organizer for justice (and I view that as about the finest thing one can say about another person), I am very touched by your comments. . . .

 

Much more to talk about (and I'm sure if we were ever in the same place together there is much more that we would want to discuss), but I thought I would share this with you.  And also send you my great appreciation for all you have done and how you continue to educate and inspire.

 
--Heather
 


HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Check out our big page on the art and practice of Community Organizing
http://www.hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
 

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