As the new presidential administration comes into power, basic assumptions about the role of government in assisting the most marginalized have been thrown into question. Regardless of your political affiliation, social workers should be deeply concerned about proposed changes to social service programs and the government agencies that administer them.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on social workers to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to the anti-social work agenda that is being put forward by the new administration. But how do we actually proceed?
#MacroSW is introducing a organizing chat series to educate social workers on the important role they play in resisting cuts to services and advancing social justice in their communities by teaching basic community organizing skills that will move social workers from an online space to real world action.
In the first chat of the series, we will discuss the concept of power–who has it, what structures support it, but also how to build our own to confront injustice. For most of us, power does not come naturally. We have all been disadvantaged in some way by a lack of power–through economic oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism or based on some other characteristic. Therefore learning to want power can be challenging. But social workers also have a unique relationship to power. We may experience personal oppression from society while working at institutions that uphold traditional power structures.
To take a closer look at these concepts, we will discuss the following questions:
How do you define power and how do you know it when you see it?
Who has power in our society and why?
What role does social work play in maintaining or challenging current power structures?
How can advocates for justice build power to challenge inequality
What new or existing opportunities do you see for yourself to build power?
Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.
As we celebrated our last day of summer this Labor Day weekend, let’s not forget the true intention of the holiday is to recognize the labor movement and its workers. In this spirit let’s talk about how a conversation among like-minded people becomes a social change movement. There isn’t a straightforward path to creating a movement but our profession is full of stellar examples and social workers who have taken an idea or a wish and turned it into an actionable cause. Join us for the #MacroSW chat on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 9 pm EST (6 pm Pacific) to discuss moving from conversation to action.
Advocacy happens every day in big and small ways and in communities across the country. We don’t have to look far for examples. Consider the 10 NASW chapters who are collectively advocating to keep their decision-making power and the recent unveiling of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s mental health agenda which in this election year we can play an active role to shape this policy. There are many other tangible change initiatives social workers can participate in. We can look to history too, such as the labor, civil rights, and women’s movement, and appreciate that monumental change is possible.
This chat is to follow up on our July post conversation to action, in the wake of the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the sniper attack on Dallas police, which encouraged people to share advocacy activities happening in communities in our crowdsourcing document to curate a list of places where you could share your social work expertise.
On this chat, we’ll discuss things happening right now, as well as pay homage to our profession’s history of moving conversations to advocacy work. Social injustice has not only outraged us but motivated organizing efforts. Social workers have artful weaved a “feet on the ground” approach with theory and are skilled at collaboration to guide community organizing work.
For this chat, we’ll discuss the following questions.
What was the tipping point that pushed you to work on a cause or issue?
How has social media played a key role in your activism?
Share tactics which have helped you or your organization solve a community problem?
What issues are you currently working on and where do you need additional help in your community?
Share events or initiatives where social workers can be involved in a cause. Also, add to our crowdsourcing Google doc so we can Tweet about them later!
#MacroSW is a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. The chats are held weekly on Twitter every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST). Click here for a list of chat partners. For information about how to participate in the #MacroSW chat, view our FAQs. For chat schedule and chat archives check out: http://macrosw.com
The shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the sniper attack on Dallas police is stirring racial tensions and left us saddened, grieving and questioning how we move forward to create more just and safe communities. We are loudly saying enough is enough across social media and in quiet conversations with friends, family and colleagues. We’re tired of condolence statements and outraged by the little or no action by elected officials and leaders in our communities.
Social workers are uniquely equipped and want to constructively solve these challenging problems and create real solutions. After all, it’s in our DNA to act, advocate and heal, whether it’s through smarter gun control, access to mental health treatment or legislation, political participation and policy work. We will tackle inequities still prevalent, unacknowledged and exploited for political purposes. Many right now are fighting the good fight, and we’re ready to roll-up our sleeves to do more but how, when and where we can jump in is a big question for some of us.
Our #MacroSW group will direct our activities to engage our vast network of social workers who are ready to go beyond conversation to action and plug into current advocacy activities happening in communities. We will be sharing on @OfficialMacroSW about events, letter writing campaigns, or policy initiatives that need our support and participation. Also you can:
Join and contribute to this Google document which will curate an ongoing list of events, activities, petitions, rally dates, etc. on a national and local level in which you can actively participate in to make a difference. This crowdsourcing effort will create a robust listing of places you can plug into and apply your social work expertise.
Got an idea for chat for us to discuss an advocacy effort? Contact us by direct message on @OfficialMacroSW, comment here or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know so we can schedule time in our weekly chats and offer our platform to curate the best ideas and research to help your cause.
Post on the #MacroSW hashtag anytime to continue to collaborate and have conversations. Please share resources and ideas.
Check out the new public list, Stop the Violence, on @OfficialMacroSW that curates a collection of resources, organizations and individuals who are also taking action.
It will take all of us in big and small ways to change our country’s current path, and as social workers, we will do what we have always done, give people who can’t speak or act for themselves a voice.