Good Neighbor Campaigns / Ohio Citizen Action

Axioms for organizers

Fred Ross with a young Cesar Chavez

CLEVELAND – Fred Ross (1910 – 1992) is best known for teaching community organizing to Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and hundreds of United Farm Workers Union organizers.  His life ranged much farther, practicing and teaching organizing to Dust Bowl refugees, former Japanese-American internees, the Jerry Brown for Governor campaign, the United Domestic Workers of America, Chiquita Banana boycotters, and the Nuclear Freeze Campaign, Jobs with Peace, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, and the anti-interventionist Neighbor to Neighbor organization.

In 1989, Neighbor to Neighbor published a short booklet of his axioms. You can choose your own favorites. Here are three of mine:

  • Reminding is the essence of organizing.
  • Usually those who can spare a little time for the cause are actually ready to give it all if only someone would ask them.
  •  A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.

— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action

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