Confessions of a connection junkie, or why I plan to spend a Saturday online

November 5, 2014 in Global Gatherings by Karen Olson

joinme1-squareMy growth as what I would call a conscious leader during Marshall Ganz’s Leadership, Organizing and Action (LOA) course in 2012 provided me with understanding that enriches my organizing practice and connections with others in all facets of my life today. I can trace a straight line from the application of my LOA learnings to the opening of so many doors in my life. The course brought a new level of intentionality and a new depth of understanding, a new vocabulary even, to the organizing I had been doing formally or informally all my life, from creating an Amnesty International correspondence group or launching a get-out-the-youth-vote effort in high school, to founding Women’s Bridge, an international group of women organizers and supporters of Russian civil society in Moscow, just a few years ago.

In 2013, I attended LCN’s first online Global Gathering, which led me directly to participate in a Learning Circle, in which we continued to delve into organizing theory and practice in a small group of organizers. Both of these experiences brought me back to the purposefulness and analytical rigor that I had developed during the LOA course. Accessing that depth of practice allows me to re-frame and re-focus my organizing in ways that open more doors. For instance, as I sat observing civil society participation in a UN treaty body meeting in Geneva a few weeks ago, I had an aha moment about an organizing campaign just waiting for me to launch it, one that builds on the experience I have gained organizing in the disability rights community in Moscow, only this time, the constituency will be on a national scale and the tactics and strategy will play out on an international scale. I am very inspired to launch this campaign, but it never would have occurred to me that there was a nascent organizing campaign in the wings were it not for the return to the building blocks of organizing that the Learning Circle and Global Gathering provided to me.

Building bridges across languages and cultures is not new to me as an American who has lived abroad more than half my life, and who has spent time working as an interpreter. What is new and refreshing to me is seeing how I can apply my organizing skills in so many different arenas, in other words, which will be familiar to all – continuing truly to take responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty. Returning my focus to organizing theory, sharing organizing stories and experiences with others – these keep my eyes and my heart open to all of the organizing work that is out there to do. I hope you will be similarly inspired by this year’s Global Gathering!