Last month, the Building Movement staff and project team discussed two articles on the connections between neoliberalism, marketization and the current realities of the nonprofit sector. Co-Director Sean Thomas-Bretifeld reflects on what came out of that discussion, how these issues have impacted the nonprofit sector as a whole, and where we can go from here.
Here at Building Movement, we often talk about the importance of devoting time for learning as the first step in the Transformation process of integrating social change values and activities into the work of service agencies. Our Staff and Project Team also focus on learning and reflection in our own work, especially at our semi-annual Project Team meetings. For our meeting later this month, we are reading two articles on Neoliberalism and the Marketization of the Nonprofit Sector. Co-Director Sean Thomas-Breitfeld reflects on the tough critiques and interesting questions raised by the articles. Read more for links and to join in on the discussion!
The City of Detroit has been in the news a lot recently, as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder decided to pass a controversial Emergency Manager law (a similar law was defeated by popular vote in November). The Emergency Manager law gives Michigan state officials the ability to appoint one person to take over almost all of city operations, and eliminates the powers of the publicly-elected City Council. Citing mounting debts and insufficient income, the state government says that Detroit’s dire financial straits necessitate bringing in an Emergency Manager- someone who will have unilateral authority to alter or eliminate collective bargaining agreements, cut city services, and lay off public employees. Since a similar provision went into effect in Pontiac, MI, the emergency manager there has privatized the Department of Public Works, outsourced many public services, and put every city-owned piece of property up for sale. All of this is done without any oversight from publicly elected city officials (though in some cases the mayor of cities with emergency managers remains on board in a consultant role). With so many problems facing the City, is the City Manager law the right response?
Reflections from Sean Thomas-Breitfeld In my first few weeks at the Building Movement Project, I’ve been doing a lot of travel to get up to speed on the work that BMP’s nonprofit partners are doing around the country. Just last week, I was in Washington and spoke with many of our sector’s advocates about the “sequestration” – the mandatory across-the-board federal budget cuts that went into effect on March 1st. For months, advocacy groups and nonprofit associations have been warning nonprofit groups about the impact these harsh cuts will have on low-income people and organizations they go to for support. It’s true that the sign-on letters, human-interest stories, and op-eds were not enough to change the sequester policy and avoid the budget cuts and maybe it is unreasonable to expect the nonprofit sector can suddenly wield enough power to overcome the austerity framework that is limiting the policy discussion in the halls of Congress. The power imbalance that stacks the deck in favor of policies benefiting the rich is hard to overcome. But that is why social movements are so important, and why I believe in our sector’s potential as an engine for social change.
The Building Movement Project is excited to announce the addition of two new members to our Project Team! Dushaw Hockett and Andrea Plaza will begin their tenures on the team this month, though they have already been contributing to Building Movement Project work. Most recently, Andrea has been one of the leaders on a project in New Mexico exploring how service providers and community organizing groups can collaborate for social change. Dushaw has been working with fellow Team member Linda Campbell in Detroit on how to strengthen organizing and leadership.establishing a vibrant black/brown alliance across communities and strengthening leadership in the city.
The Building Movement Project is happy to announce that Sean Thomas-Breitfeld will join the staff as Co-Director starting February 1, 2013. Sean, along with the current director Frances Kunreuther, will be charting the direction for the Project as it continues its work strengthening the role of US nonprofits to advance progressive social change. “I am thrilled that Sean is coming onto the staff to partner with me in running Building Movement,” remarked Frances, “He will be a wonderful contributor bringing new skills and a fresh look at the work ahead.”
There's less than 24 hours until Election Day kicks off tomorrow morning. Since Building Movement Project believes that nonprofit organizations should serve as robust sites of democratic practice, we're encouraging all our nonprofit friends to check out Nonprofit Vote for info on how you can help get members of your community to the polls tomorrow.
As many of you are aware, the East Coast was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy this past weekend and we are still in the midst of recovering. The BMP staff and team are all safe and sound in the wake of the storm, and as of Monday we are back in the office. However, our emails, phones and internet was down for the week following the storm. If you contacted anyone at Building Movement Project between Monday, 10/28 and Friday, 10/2, we have unfortunately been unable to receive those messages and would appreciate it if you could resend anything that still needs addressing. We apologize for the delay in getting back to anyone who has been in touch over the past week, and promise to respond as quickly as possible. Read more to find out about how community organizations are contributing to the relief effort.