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"Construyendo La Nación: Community Building Campaign"

El Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida (PNLRU) Campaign is designed to bring a real sense of Unity to the Chicana Mexicana and Chicano Mexicano community. The point is to put into practical application the idea of social change involving people's lives through relationship building. Building a sense of community is in line with the ideas and principles of La Raza Unida. It is also in line with the rhetoric which many organizations put out that they are for "unity."
PNLRU feels that it is important that we challenge ourselves to work on where it is difficult to unite with people from our own communities. Also, even though Unity from within our nationality is important to the change of society, so are alliances with people outside of our community. The challenge of this Campaign is to build a community around yourself, with you as the center, whether it is all Chicana and Chicano or of many nationalities; make yourself center.
Working with your community is extremely fulfilling. It is a smart decision to choose it. Assisting people to have their lives go well, however, is not an easy task. We get frustrated. We feel awkward and think we are not wanted around. It can be hard to get close and have their situations remind us of the difficult parts of our lives.
We are choosing to be allies and our jobs can feel overwhelming. There are many things to get done; fundraising, readings, dinner and laundry. Many other organizers and activists have their own expectations of us. All of this can pull us away from why we began working for change in the first place, people themselves.
Why worry about relationships? Successful programs and organizations work because of people's relationships. Not the "good ol' boy network" of the past, but relationships based on human values for today.
So, What can we do? Learn how to laugh with people. Laughter is a release of fear and tension. People feel better if they have had a good laugh.

Learn from others.

If we take time to listen to what people around us are saying, we will learn things everyday. Most people in the world have been led to believe that they are not intelligent, go against this false idea.

Value people's ideas.

Seek people's input. Each person has her or his own unique perspective and life experiences. People know a great deal, especially how they want the world to be.

Never believe that people don't have opinions.

It might take ten times asking, but when people are given information, time to think and the expectation of respect you'll get some good ideas back.

Go to where they hang out.

Most people have to interact in places where they are not in control of the situation. People listen better when they are comfortable and in control. Whether it is a bar or a church take the step of reaching out.

Speak to people with respect.

Always speak to people with complete respect. Most of us have been and continue to be spoken to in disrespectful ways. Model respect.

Allow people to feel discouraged.

People must figure things out for themselves. If we can be there for people they will be able to figure things out, encourage people being in control. We all need a place to talk about how frustrated we are with the world without someone trying to convince us that everything is "going to be all right."

Appreciate people and be open.

Simple appreciation makes a big difference. It might feel like you are being corny, but take the risk. People will trust you when you are yourself, not acting "tough" or pretending to care (when you don't). People aware of oppression will need to take the bigger risks in relationships, this is a part of leadership.

One-on-one relationships.

Which ever way you can spend time alone with someone is worthwhile. We don't, and they don't, have the pressure of being in a group. Some of us will feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. Admit it and go on, this is another part of leadership.

Consistent and committed.

Try to be there when you say you will. Trust will not develop when you don't show up. Even if the other person "flakes out" be there. Usually a person not showing up has little to do with you. Many people have been told so often that they are not important and they believe it after awhile. Don't give up!!!

This is the general idea. Can you make any suggestions? Let us know what you think!!!

© 1996-8 Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida - Nuevo México