Activist says if you want change, know the system

Steve Graham – The Aquinian

Community organizer Joel Berg told an audience at St. Thomas last week that the best way to invoke change in society is to understand how the system works.

On Friday morning, The Rural Social Justice Center for Research hosted Berg, a former employee of the Clinton administration’s Department of Agriculture, and current executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger.

He gave a lecture called Community Organization in the Media.

Berg opened the lecture with a reference to last year’s presidential election, stating that Barack Obama was the candidate who had a clearer message than his counterpart, making it easier for people to relate to him.

Berg also noted that this has been true for the past several elections.

He said the common person doesn’t seem to realize that they do have power to influence change.

Over the course of the lecture, Berg covered a number of tips for getting a message out.

One example is to know how the system works, in order to get through to the right people to get a message across.

Berg mentioned a New York man who contacted a state senator at the federal level about getting a pothole fixed, something that’s a municipal issue.

Apparently, the man thought he was contacting someone at the bottom level of government.

After the lecture, when asked for any additional comment, Berg said that Canada shouldn’t make the same mistakes the U.S. has made in the past.

“The government shouldn’t scale back social safety netting (such as employment protection),” he said, “and think that underfunded, non-profit groups will fix the problem.”

Berg gave two lectures at St. Thomas last week.

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