Now, Community Organizing always begins around self-interest and ends in collaborations. Self-Interests don’t have to be the same, they just have to be going in the same direction. Often, just going in the same direction allows folks to share a vehicle together. It is this sharing and collaboration where we find our strength.

Discovering your self-interest means finding out what matters to you. Who are you? What is important to you? Most people think that self-interest is selfish and private—doing only what is good for you. Not true, however, it isn't selfless, either (that is where you do something only for others) What self-interest actually means is doing what is good for you and for others, at the same time.

In fact, the word "interest" comes from the Latin phrase meaning "to be among." Self Interest always has to do with what you're working for in a group of people. Making the distinction between self-interest and selfishness allows people to tie their specific interests to the needs of the larger community and to larger problems and issues. Citizen politics is built by each person working for what they believe in concert with others. But first, each person has to figure out what that is.

Do you know who you are? Some people imagine their identity to be like a suitcase. They believe that you are born empty and unconnected. And as you go from place to place on your way to adulthood, the suitcase gets filled with things. When the suitcase is full, you have become who you are—yourself.

Self-interest is more like a tree, it grows, changes, and is constantly transformed by the outside world. Discovering who you are and how you relate to others can be exciting, joyful, painful, and difficult. We all have stories about ourselves that help to explain why we are who we are.
When you and your team decide to jump into public life, you will have to agree on a problem you want to work on. You'll need to take everyone's self-interest into account—that's not an easy thing to do. Here are some tips.

Seeing Other People's Self-interest

When was the first time you noticed you were different? Or, when was the first time you remember seeing different people? How did it feel to be different? Was it scary, awkward, difficult?

Living a public life is about working with differences—different people, viewpoints and ideas. It can be difficult, but it can also be exciting and fun. Most important, the many differences that exist in public life can be a rich source of solutions to many of the complex problems we face.
If you try to solve problems by working only with people who are like you, it is a little like starting a band with four drummers—it limits the tunes you can play. Working with differences is like creating an entire orchestra that is versatile enough to play pop, jazz, classical, or rap.

To act effectively in public requires learning to listen and learning to see other people's self-interest. And it means learning that differences can give answers to some very difficult problems. When people discuss their ideas together and develop actions based on many points of view, they tap into a collective "wisdom" that is greater than any one person acting alone. Whoa! Do you agree with this description of being in public? Do you think that diversity is a strength when solving problems? Or does it create more problems than it's worth? Why?

Remember, earlier I said, Community Organizing is a process of events and engagement. So the key is for this organization to recognize what types of events do we host that helps us get support for our vision. Right now that vision incorporates a couple of programs, and administrative campaign and an organizing campaign. Both with the intent and purpose to roll out another organizing campaign in August. The August campaign is the biggest organizing campaign of the year. This campaign has the potential to create committees for each school level, High School, Middle School, and Elementary, and possibly committees at each grade level. Think of an organization that had a committee structure that was looking out for parents and students at each grade level. Think about that? Every time you change grades, there would be a support team to tell you what to look for, what the teachers are like, who to support and how to support the teachers that instruct your children. The number one priority is developing an organization that can support parents and families through collaboration and mentoring.