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December 3, 2009
My Neighborhood Jobs Summit (satire)
When I heard that the President was encouraging average citizens like me to host their own local Jobs Summit, I was jazzed.
So like the President, having a bit of experience in the community organizing venue myownself, I knew the first task was to design an event agenda.
Here’s what I came up with:
Opening: I introduce the concept of a Neighborhood Jobs Summit (NJS) and link it to the one going on in the White House hosted by our President.
Self-Introductions: Each attendee stands (one at a time, of course) to introduce him/herself and say (1) what their last job was; (2) why they lost their job; (3) and how they’re coping in the meantime. They start by saying, “Hi, I’m ___ and I’m unemployed.” (This self-introduction thing is a classic time-eating formality for community organizers, even though people often know each other.) No “shout-outs” will be necessary since there are no attending dignitaries.
Transition: At the close of the self-introductions, I say something encouraging like, “Soon the recovery will kick in full force and there will be jobs aplenty for everyone. And, let’s not forget that it’s Bush’s fault that we’re in the fix we’re in.” Breakout group assignments come next.
Small Group Breakout: The attendees check the information packet they received at the door (containing donation cards to the DNC, White House press releases on the Big Jobs Summit in DC, and contact numbers for the local unemployment office, Department of Labor, etc. – a full-service resource packet) to learn their small group assignment. Since there are only four likely attendees from the neighborhood, they’ll break into two group of two (aka pairs) where they’ll share ideas. Sharing is good. Plus, small group discussion always feels like progress.
In their small groups they’ll discuss: (1) What are my best ideas for finding a job? (2) What are some ideas that others (actually, the “other” in this case) might have overlooked in finding work? (3) How am I networking? The group’s recorder puts all the findings on flipchart paper for the report-back session that follows.
Report Back Session: The scribe from each group displays their flipchart paper and tells the entire group (in this case, the other group of two people) what their group discussed. Spirited open-discussion follows prompted by me, the trained community organizer.
Consolidate & Summarize: I, as the event coordinator, have roamed around and observed the small groups, listening for opportunities to brilliantly summarize what was discussed. I summarize now.
Documenting Findings: Each attendee writes down on a form (found in their information packet) the most important new idea about jobs they learned at this Neighborhood Job Summit (NJS), just one of the many tens-of-thousands happening through the nation.
Close & Refreshments: I close by thanking all for their participation. Refreshments in the form of beer and munchies are served while a movie of the famous “Ice bowl” NFL Championship Game between the Packers and Cowboys is shown. (It was the lure, along with the free beer, to get attendees.)
Post-Event: I email the session’s findings and ideas to the White House as requested by the President.
Well, that was the plan, anyway. But, as someone once wrote (here for the first time), the best laid plans of mice and community organizers often go astray.
The four folks I expected to attend called and asked if they could just come for the beer and the movie. Then three cancelled, and the fourth was a no-show.