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A New Generation of Community Organizers

President Obama has said his time as a community organizer gave him the faith that he should "work at a grassroots level to make change." This weekend, all across the country, members of the 2011 Summer Organizer Program are getting together to learn the power of organizing: how the 2012 campaign is bringing people together and cultivating leadership to create change.

Here in Ohio, that power takes on extra meaning. As State Director Greg Schulz is fond of saying, Ohio is the "tip of the spear"—what happens in Ohio can make the difference between a win or a loss on election night.

Understanding the story of our movement and the importance of community organizing represent an important first lesson for the 2011 class. Driven by the same spirit that says "Yes We Can," organizers demonstrate that people-powered work is the way to create new communities, and our new class of summer organizers are using this spirit as inspiration as they gear up for an exciting summer.

The summer organizers in this room, representing the spectrum of ages and backgrounds that make Ohio great, shared the ways that community organizing has affected their lives. Sally from Maineville talked about growing up in civil rights-era Memphis, Tennessee. Mike from Columbus told us about his father's role in starting up the Teamsters Union. And David from Oxford shared the inspiration he gains from those who advocate for gay rights, and how he's organizing to continue fighting for his rights.

It's these eager voices who will be telling their stories in their communities and building teams all over Ohio to create the organization we need to win. People like Sally, Mike, and David will be knocking on doors, having one-on-one conversations, and talking to their neighbors about getting involved right now to make a difference in this election.

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