Acting in Concert
El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido! (A people, united, will never be defeated!)
DIRECT ACTION CHANT
How can we bring together a community to change the status quo? Think struggle. Think engagement. Think stories. Those who seek to strengthen the power of people, social connections, and community capacity 1 frequently operate from one of three distinct (though often overlapping) traditions: (a) organization and mobilization, (b) coordination and participation, and (c) innovation, narration, and liberation. 2 It is not suggested that there are only three. Changing society is never easy, but this chapter will describe ways to mobilize community within each tradition, whether the focus is on a problem, place, or program. The idea is to provide pictures of what is happening at the level of the street.
INTERVENTION: AN EXAMPLE
Before explicating three traditional ways that community members are being connected with each other, we provide an account of abuse, neglect and depersonalization in a group home. This story illustrates why social workers must know how to act in concert with others to protect service users.
In the social service world, those concerned about fairness and accountability play the role of caring critics, often intervening when others have not served the community well. Communal responsibility must substitute for individual responsibility in those cases, such as group homes for teenagers or the physically and mentally challenged, where abuse and death can occur (Levy, 2002a, 2002b, 2000c; Schwartz, 1992, Chapter 5). Professionals who monitor such homes must research the government oversight structure and the private contractor network to determine who is making, or deferring, decisions and how to best access and influence them. In Box 14.1, a newspaper reporter 3 documents what can happen when a service delivery system and a vulnerable group exist in isolation.