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isting ills were disappointed by the meetings. Others, however, understood that the meetings had three specific objectives: to educate the entire city about the social and economic conditions in South El Paso; to make the city aware that federal funds were available for use in alleviating these conditions; and to bring into the seminars city, state, and federal officials who would discuss the problems of South El Paso with the citizens of that area. ‘Don’t Mourn aOrganize!’ Austin With the new slogan of “Don’t mourn for AmericaOrganize!,” many of the nation’s young people who have been concerned with inequality in this society are becoming committed to the position that, in order to bring about meaningful democratic change, they must begin to work seriously with and for the people in the communities on those issues which concern the block or the neighborhood. Such a process which develops grassroots leadership and cooperation was initiated in Austin this past summer by a group of college age persons under the anspices -of the American Friends Service Committee. , Dedicated to the idea that real democracy is based on the local people’s ‘capability to make the decisions that will affect their lives, these students have been working in the low-income eastern section of the city encouraging residents to get . together to help themselves mirk out Solu tions to their common .problems. . These young community workers recog . nize that such self help, that “lifting one self up by one’s bootstraps,” requir -ei t ce t ,nsiderable power. And to people tr&attlor i ially denied full participation iri ‘the, economic or political system, locally cOntroiled community action, independen:tt, governmental or agency dictatW represents the necessary means to p64.rOr t . By encouraging communication amon neighbors; identification of leaders, ‘and 1001 decision making, the AFSC group:haseen the eastside community in,worked begin to set its own goals and plan a program to use its collective power to gain these ends. Realizing that they could only lay the groundwork for community development, the AFSC participants believe that they can point to significant changes that occurred during their eight weeks in the area. On the community level groups have been meeting to discuss problems that had never been dealt with in an organized manner. In a predominantly MexicanAmerican section, people are coming together regularly to plan ways to get the owners or the proper governmental agency to clean up two junkyards which are breeding places for rats and snakes, hangouts for undesirables, and dangerous attractions for children as well as being neighborhood eyesores. Originally, neighbors had been afraid to get together’ in The Writer is from Illinois and worked this past summer in the community organizing project conducted by the American Friends Service Committee in Austin. The AFSC has a number of such projects under way throughout the nation. one another’s homes to discuss this issue. Some women expressed fear that the managers of the junkyards might speak to their husbands’ bosses in order to get them fired in retaliation. But as this problem . became clearer, it began to be discussed over back yard fences, in grocery stores, and eventually in a series of informal meetings in people’s homeS. Finally, ,a group of women, led by a local minister, mustered the courage to go to the junkyard owners to present them with a yetition of the grievances, signed by most of. the resident neighbors. When this David Robinson confrontation failed to produce results, the people formed a permanent neighborhood improvement organization and began to make plans to go to city council with a list of complaints against the junkyard operations. AT THE SAME time, there has been visible dexielopment on the individual,as, well as the community level. People who had been apathetic and fearful about dealing with issues are now speaking out iMmeetings fand are willing to spend their time and energy working with neighbors to aet results. One, lady who, because of frittfailon, and fearbad said at first that she had learned to live with the junkyards has now become one of the leaders of the ‘people’s action to get these hazaids cleaned, fenced,, and lighted. In another area of the AFSC project community, Mexican-Americans came together to discuss ihe shortage and inaccessibility of recreational facilities. Not only were playgrounds located far away and on the other side of railroad tracks, the expressway, or busy streets, but also they were not properly equipped for children between the ages of five and twelve. One mother took her children to a playground and found that the only equipment was a sand box. “If my kids want to play in the dirt,” she said, “they can go to the middle of our street, which is unpaved.” Meeting in front yards, neighbors considered and investigated a number of alternative ways to solve the problem. Through this discussion the people focused their considerations and evolved a plan of action. The first step was to circulate a petition asking for city aid and a survey to find but the number and ages of children in the neighborhood. Second, the group decided to contact various civic and service organiiations to get some playground equipment’. Next, they appointed a corn mittee to approach the owners of vacant lots in the area to get their permission to locate a playground on the land. And finally the people agreed that, once they had taken the initiative by gathering the information and commitments, they would then speak to the park and recreation staff and board asking that programming and supervision be provided. While the MeXican-Americans of that section were organizing around the issue of recreation, the Negro residents were meeting to find ways to get a large vacant but wooded lot cleaned. This lot had become a dumping place for garbage and debris and, therefore, was a health and safety hazard. At the same time, resident home owners felt that the condition of the lot threatened their property values. After both the Negro and the MexicanAmerican groups had defined what they felt to be their self-interests, an agreement was reached between the two which would allow both to gain their ends more effectively. In return for the Negro group’s support for recreational facilities, the Mexican-Americans agreed to to locate the playground, on the vacant lot which the Negroes wanted cleaned. In this way a working relationship was effected. As fears of joint action were overcome and working together began to bring results, peciple began to introduce other problems, such a slum housing and job opportunities, which were discussed. As a Negro leader summarized at the conclusion of an integrated meeting, “Even if we fail to get everything we are working for, at least we are thinking and working as one community.” There has also been individual development. People who had felt powerless and unable to change the conditions of their lives were now going from door to door with the petition explaining to their neighbors what has to be done and inviting them to participate. At the same time, individuals are dealing with their apprehensions about interracial cooperation and are working out their own accommodations to the problems of living in an integrated neighborhood. 0 NE OF THE most important changes in the neighborhood during the past summer has been the increased communication. The area within which the AFSC participants concentrated their efforts is bounded by East Avenue, 1st Street, Comal Street, and 11th Street. Inside this area there had been minimal grassroots communication and cooperation about common problems. Reasons October 13, 1967 3