Cultural Organizing Tool

Watch the Videos

What is the Zilphia Horton Cultural Residency Project?
New Orleans People Organized for Power Project
Key Stages of the Cultural Organizing Residency
Challenges, Reflections, and Lessons Learned

New Orleans People Organized for Power Project

Post Katrina, New Orleans has changed drastically and black leadership, in particular, is not what it used to be:it’s diminished quite significantly. It was deliberately weakened post:Katrina, whether it was through the firing of thousands of union teachers, which made up the largest black middle class population in the city that were homeowners and those people were out of jobs and were either forced to leave the city, or take other jobs, and were replaced by mostly white, young TFA teachers, so that’s just one example of how the storm was used as an opportunity to change the demographics of the city. So organizing in that situation is not just about the challenge of organizing in a city whose infrastructure was destroyed, but also in which the demographic has changed significantly.
– Kiyoko McCrae (Junebug Productions)

Much of Highlander’s early history starts in the labor movement and it is through strategic partnership with SEIU 21 LA that relationship are being rebuilt and the fight for worker justice is strengthened. This partnership is also happening on the backdrop of a city still in recovery from the devastating affects of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Isaac, the increasing privatization and of public schools, and the mechanisms of Disaster Capitalism.

We meet the administrative staff and union members of SEIU 21 LA who are in the midst of a Participatory Action Research Project lead by Chief of Staff, Jayeesha Dutta. The goal of the PAR Project is to create better working conditions for both students and services workers inside of the New Orleans independent school district by (1) elevating the voices of workers and students, (2) developing and dispersing surveys to students and workers (3) synthesize findings and present recommendations to city officials, (4) and gathering widespread community support through partnership and good old grassroots organizing.

During this section of the learning tool we explore:

  • The rebuilding SEIU 21 LA was like post Hurricane Katrina.
  • Meet key union organizers, staff, and members
  • What is the State of the Schools PAR Project?
  • Define Participatory Action Research and what it looks like on the ground
  • Provide an example of what at 28 day Cultural Organizing Residency looks like and highlight how the residency is a learning exchange
  • Learn about parade culture in New Orleans and why this particular cultural and artistic expression was used to amplify the State of the Schools PAR Project
  • 3.13.13 2nd Line for Social Justice
    – City Official Commitment
    – Debrief
    – Exiting Community

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Photo Gallery