It's Time for the Left to Ask "What Are We For?"

Jaffe, Sarah; Poblet, Maria
Date Written:  2017-04-27
Publisher:  Truthout
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20667

Sarah Jaffe interviewed Maria Poblet. Maria Poblet has been working in base building and community organizing in the Bay Area for 18 years, building Causa Justa Just Cause, a democratically held grassroots organization where she is currently transitioning out of the role of executive director.



It has been a few months since the election and inauguration. What has it been like? Have you been bringing in a lot of new people? Have people been showing up and saying, "What can we do here? Maria, tell us what to do here?"

A lot of people and organizations who sort of believe that things were generally working turned around in this moment and said, "Wait a minute. It doesn't seem like things are working, and you guys have been saying this, this whole time. So, what should I do?" It is a very interesting moment. Part of what we did in response was to, with a lot of other organizations, help start Bay Resistance which is -- I think now we are 50 organizations building a network of individuals who aren't part of our base. They aren't service workers in SEIU. They aren't Black and Latino families fighting displacement at Causa Justa. They aren't Asians fighting pollution in Richmond that are in the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. They are people that haven't joined organizations before and they want to take action now.

We built this text loop, this mobilization machine, turned all those people out, and now we are trying to figure out how that connects to long-term strategy. How do those folks start to get connected to the strategy that has been developing at the grassroots, and how do they influence the strategy, as well? They have a different position to play in the game.

And, when you think about it from a movement-building perspective, the question isn't, "Do I have a role?" The question is "What role?" Most of us haven't been trained to answer that. We have been trained to do one piece of the project and not look at the project as a whole. That is what is keeping us back when you think about being drivers of a really revolutionary change. It is looking at the whole picture, which most of us haven't been trained to do.

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