Social Change Leadership Practices:Unleashing Potential
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
One of the ways in which human potential is unleashed is by facilitating a process for people to unpack the forces behind their current state of existence and to help them imagine a different reality of which they are authors.
This is exemplified through the work of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), which coordinates day laborer organizations across the country and opposes anti-discriminatory anti-day laborer public policies.
At NDLON, the purpose of learning is not merely to accumulate knowledge or skills, but to use those to leverage power. As Oscar Paredes emphasizes, "We're not interested in armed revolution. Our revolution is through education."
NDLON uses an exercise called the power pyramid where people identify the different actors that in some way influence what happens to day laborers. Through this exercise, NDLON engages immigrants in re-imagining the concept of leadership. They go through a series of questions in which day laborers are asked: Who is a leader? Is a politician a leader? Is a day laborer a leader? Often, the day laborers will identify a politician as a leader but not one of them, so organizers facilitate an analysis to unpack those assumptions. By the end of the conversation, day laborers see that they are all capable of being leaders, hence building trust in their own capacity.
When Workers Take the Lead: Leadership Development at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
By Nik Theodore
This ethnography looks at the ways in which a network of organizations that safeguard workers' and immigrants' rights engages in a collective enterprise to build and maintain leadership among workers and organizers, develop a critical consciousness among the day labor workforce, and unite day laborers as a force for social change. An essential concept for NDLON members is that of "dirigente popular" ("popular leader"), an organic leadership embodied both in individuals and the collective that embraces democratic principles, especially regarding the right of those affected by decisions to participate in making those decisions.
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