Sister Maribeth Larkin, a community organiser and trainer based in the USA, with decades of experience, talks to us about what community organising training is all about.
An interview with Sister Maribeth Larkin, Community Organiser & Trainer.
Sr Maribeth Larkin, a community organiser and trainer based with the Industrial Areas Foundation, USA, offers a few words based on her decades of experience.
She talks to us about what community organising training is all about
If you’re curious about training with the Queensland Community Alliance leaders and organisers you can book in now for these scheduled events.
Why should I do community organising training?
It will help with figuring out how to exercise power.
How to change the outcomes in civil society around pressures people feel and deal with every day.
What can people expect to get out of training?
Training is really about people coming to terms with our responsibilities as public persons, to be actors in civil society and to build relationships, public relationships, with people who we don’t normally work with or deal with. To share the power that we have and see, what we can do to change the outcomes for issues in our communities.
Is training for everyone?
It’s all based on appetite. So if you see yourself as someone with an appetite for learning, how to be more effective person in public life, how to build better relationships with people with whom you don’t normally have an opportunity to work with and deal with... That appetite will lead you in this direction.
Are the skills transferable to other areas of your life?
In my experience being a strong public person and being clear about our role in public life is pretty universal. Unfortunately society often specialise those that they see have the right to participate in public life and other are on the margins or left to their own devices.
So this is a very intentional strategy to give people access to thinking about how they want to grow and develop their capacity to participate and to be taken seriously in our society.
How is this different from other work training that i do?
It is very intenitally about helping people undersand power and in our tradtiion power is th eabillty to actand i i a capacity we all have. We’re born with it. We often have sterotyped power for ourselves becaie we’ve seen it excersiseed in ways that are manipualative or disrepsectufl of one another.
Power to me is exercised for the good or for the bad in relationship to one another. We’re trying to, first all respect our capacity and ability to act. We want to respected and understand the power that our institutions have. Churches, schools, trade unions, community groups and bring that power together.
To build enough trust so that we can actually exercise power around the things that we actually care about. Better conditions for everybody in society. Strong education, strong healthcare, strong values around work and the opportunities of work and the importance of respectful and dignified work for all of us.
We work on a variety of issues. We work on a variety of issues. We don't just stick to one or be unilateral about that. We develop our capacity to look around and see in our communities where we have enough understanding and experience and power to effect change.
So this can be around public transport, it can be around education for children, it can be around healthcare, taking care of our elders, taking care of those with special health needs and it can be about the kind of workforce training that we offer so that people can feel capable and confident in their exercise of work.
It’s all about developing those relationships that allows us to hold one another accountable.
Is this training suitable for shy or introverted people? Can anyone learn these skills?
I am actually a very shy person. I am actually an introvert by personality but i also know that i want to grow and develop my capacity to change.
I’ve learned over my experience with both training and developing relationships with lots of people that have entered into this process that we can learn and we can grow, we can change and life’s about that.
You don’t stop learning when you stop going to school you stop learning when you stop being curious about how do i want to be different in my relationships with others. What do i care about, how do i want my caring for others and for the wider community to grow and how can i understand that the power that i have can be joined with others and we can actually make some important changes.
About Sister Maribeth Larkin
Sister Maribeth Larkin, SSS is a Roman Catholic Woman Religious, a vowed member of the Sisters of Social Service of Los Angeles. In 1976, while doing parish- based social work at Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles, she began participating as a leader with the United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO), a local organization affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation. She attended IAF national training in Texas in 1976 and in Chicago in 1978. She was hired as an organizer with UNO in 1978, and has been organizing with IAF ever since in LA, New York, Texas and now the IAF Northwest.
In Texas, she helped develop a statewide network of strong church and congregation-based organizations like Dallas Area Interfaith, EPISO in El Paso, and COPS in San Antonio. In LA, she helped lead a strategy to consolidate the four IAF affiliated organizations into a new metropolitan-wide organization, One LA/IAF.
In her organizing work, Sister Maribeth assists institutional leaders from churches, synagogues, schools and unions in learning how to develop relational power and engage in a process of practical democracy. She teaches ordinary people how to shape and influence public policy around issues including education reform, increasing wages and benefits, and health care availability.
She has served on the National Staff of the IAF in the US, and regularly assists with IAF national and regional trainings.
In addition to her organizing work, in 2005 through 2010, Sister Maribeth was an elected member of the General Council of the Sisters of Social Service (the governing board of her religious congregation).