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Fishing for Local Power – Episode 25 of the Building Local Power Podcast

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Jul 27, 2017 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/fishing-for-local-power-episode-25-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

This week’s episode of Building Local Power is a great conversation with a close ally and friend of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, sits down with hosts Christopher Mitchell and Stacy Mitchell to talk about the growing privatization of the fishing industry, how she organizes her fishing community, and the damage that large-scale fishing does to the environment and her local economy.

Full transcript is available here.

This conversation offers a great on-the-ground perspective on what privatization looks like and how it harms local groups and small-scale operations.

“The players that want to privatize the ocean, and consolidate the fishing industry, sometimes are the same players we’re fighting in other parts of our social justice movements, but for some reason, we’ve not transferred that knowledge and the strategies we’ve used in other movements, to the ocean work.” says Niaz Dorry of her work in organizing around these issues. “We just decided that doing very basic things, like eating fish that’s on the green list, or buying certified seafood, we’ve done our part. That’s not enough. Those were good steps forward. We know too much about what’s happened in the rest of our society, and we know too much about what’s happened in the fishing industry, to stop there.”

Play

Here are some reading recommendations from our guest, Niaz Dorry:

From Mother Jones’ March/April 2017 Issue: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/codfather-carlos-rafael-fish-fraud-catchshares/.

Purchase NAMA’s book “Sharing the Ocean” from their website: http://www.namanet.org/sharing-ocean.

Purchase Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” from his website, here: http://gladwell.com/david-and-goliath/.

Get caught up with the latest work from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on fighting monopoly power and privatization and other economic sectors:

The Perils of Privatization – Episode 9 of the Building Local Power Podcast

When It Comes to Public Services, Government Knows Best

The Public Good Newsfeed – December 1, 2016: The Perils of Privatization

View the full transcript of the podcast, below.If you missed our previous episodes make sure to bookmark our Building Local Power Podcast Homepage. Please give us a review and rating on iTunes or wherever you subscribe to podcasts.

Full Transcript of Podcast:

Stacy Mitchell: Hello, and welcome to Building Local Power. I’m Stacy Mitchell. I’m Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the organization behind this podcast, and I’m excited to have Niaz Dorry, on the show today.

Niaz is Coordinating Director of The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, or NAMA, which works to advance the rights of small scale fishing communities, as a means of protecting global marine biodiversity. For this work, Time Magazine named Niaz a Hero for the Planet.

I’m also joined by my colleague here at ILSR, Chris Mitchell, who regular listeners are familiar with, as our usual host. Chris runs our broadband program, and just because he gets a pained look on his face if I don’t say it, we’re not related. Hey, Chris.

Christopher Mitchell: Howdy. Thank you.
Stacy Mitchell: Before we get started, a reminder, to please subscribe to this podcast and rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts. Each review helps us reach a wider audience, so thank you. Now, let’s get started. Niaz, welcome to the show.
Niaz Dorry: Thank you, Stacy. Nice to be here.
Stacy Mitchell: I want to start with the name of your organization, because some people heard Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, and I’m sure they’re immediately picturing the Pacific Northwest, but you’re using ocean geography.
Niaz Dorry: That’s right. We’re looking at things from the ocean’s perspective. It does make people pause, and I get the question of, “Are you based in Seattle?” Probably more often, than not. It gives us an opportunity to really explain about how, if we’re leaving with issues affecting the ocean, we need to look at things from the ocean’s perspective.

Having said that, we are considering changing our name, because our reach has grown beyond the region of the Northwest Atlantic, and we’re finding ourselves, over the past eight years in particular, working nationally and internationally, more and more. So, we’re playing around with keeping the acronym, but changing the words in the actual name. So, if anybody has any great ideas, we’re all ears.

Stacy Mitchell: That sounds great. Well, I’m sure our listeners will pipe in, and send along some. When I first heard you speak, one of the things you said that was so eye opening to me is, who fishes matters. That’s a phrase you guys use a lot in your work. Who fishes matters. I think most people don’t really know, necessarily, where the fish they eat comes from, and I’m wondering if you could just talk a little bit about, what you mean by that.
Niaz Dorry: The concept that who catches our fish, actually is a matter of ecological economics and social importance, really dawned on me early on, when I began working on fisheries issues, in 1994. It was when I attended a policy making meeting in New England, and a representative from an environmental organization, that had a seat at the panel said, “A dead fish, is a dead fish. It doesn’t matter who caught it, and who killed it.” That was said so that the rest of the group would recognize that issues like, corporations buying up fishing rights, consolidating the fishing industry, where we fish, how we fish, what kind of gear we employ. None of that really matters, because a dead fish is a dead fish, and all we need to do is set an absolute number of how much of any species we want to take out of the ocean, and everything else will work itself out.

When I heard that, that a dead fish is a dead fish, and it doesn’t matter who killed it. It really pondered up a lot of images in my mind, and the first thing that popped in my head is, that’s like telling me a dead pig, is a dead pig, and it doesn’t matter who raised it, who killed it, what kind of life it had, and then where it ends up in the food system when it’s actually killed. That doesn’t matter.

How much the farmer gets paid. That doesn’t matter. All that really matters is they don’t exceed throwing a million pigs. We don’t care how that happens, and we’ve learned, since agribusiness took over family farms, that actually, that really matters. Who the farmer is really matters. Ethics they bring, the social values they bring, the contract they have with their community, and what that means to them.

All of that really matters, and it could be a matter of whether we do these actions in the most sustainable fashion, however you want to define sustainable, and for us, it’s much more complex than what we hear in the mainstream, translation of that word. It all really matters. So, that to me got translated onto the water, and I realized that, who kills the fish, actually matters a lot more than I was told.

Stacy Mitchell: You mentioned that the fisheries are becoming more consolidated. Can you talk a little bit about how people should even think about- I think most people have some picture of agriculture, as you mentioned, and how that works, but talk a little bit about what’s happening with small scale fishers, and what the changes that we’ve seen in the last decade or two have been.
Niaz Dorry: The image that I want people to keep in mind, as I talk about this, is not just a consolidation that happened in agriculture, but it’s the kind of privatization and consolidation and corporate takeover that happened in finance, and housing, and healthcare, and education, and telecommunications, all aspects of our social infrastructure, we have essentially said, “Well, we can’t solve this problem, so we’re gonna privatize it, let the industry consolidate, and let the best man or woman win, and nothing else really matters, as long as we can get what we want, the cheapest and most, so-called, efficient way possible.”

The same argument, this market driven, those who owned things will take better care of it approach, was introduced to the fishing industry in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, and the idea was, we don’t seem to be able to manage the fish, and since it doesn’t matter who kills it, then let’s just consolidate and privatize the rights to fish. The people who have the means, will buy up the rights to fish, and in doing so, introduce efficiencies into the market, and that will achieve the level of sustainability that we’re looking for. The first fishery that was privatized under this scenario was, the Orange Roughy Fishery, in New Zealand.

Those who may have had Orange Roughy may have also heard about some of the controversy around it. That fishery became rapidly consolidated, after it was privatized, and one of the biggest losers was some of the folks in the Maori community. From there, the second fishery was actually in the U.S. If you eat commercial clam chowder, you have eaten the most consolidated, privatized part of the fishing industry, which is the Surfclam Ocean Quahog industry, in the Mid-Atlantic region. That fishery was rapidly consolidated. That was in the early 90’s. To the point where, today most of the rights are owned by three banks, and most of the rights are controlled by Thai Union.

From there, it has spiraled into this narrative, that the only way to solve the ocean’s problem is privatization, and they have pushed this agenda into all fisheries. A little bit of Naomi Klein’s story about the Shock Doctrine, really comes true here, where crisis after crisis is either, manufactured or it’s status heightened, in order to present these opportunities, as the only solution, even if the communities are working on an alternative one.

Here in New England, we warned against consolidation of, what is known as the Groundfish Complex, the most troubled species, cod, haddock, that we read about every day, and we warned lessons learned from other fisheries, where corruption and Wall Street are taking over fisheries, community fishing rights being taken way are ecological, goals being undermined in the process, and all of that was ignored as they literally pushed through a consolidation policy, here in 2010.

The poster child for all of our concerns, taking real life, is a gentleman by the name of Carlos Rafael, self identifies as the Codfather, who threw the consolidation of the scallop fishery and the groundfish stocks, gained a lot of power, became one of the biggest fleet owners, and permit owners in New England. A little bit over a year ago, he was arrested in the IRS sting, and accused of all the things we warned against, and then some. He plead guilty to all of them and his sentencing is pending, but he is just one example of those who have seen the rights to fish, becoming the next place where their prospecting is focused on, and they’re becoming absentee landlords of fishing operations around the country and around the globe, at the expense of the fish, and the fishing communities that are access to real seafood.

Christopher Mitchell: Niaz, I’m curious if you can tell us, just in brief, what are some of the impacts of the consolidation, in the absentee ownership? Because I think we inherently distrust those sorts of things, but it’s worth reminding people what happens when we have that kind of action.
Niaz Dorry: When we have absentee landlords, if you will, in the fishing industry, or in any industry, where the person who’s making the decision, or the entity that’s making the decision, isn’t really connected to the implications of that decision on the ground. When the owner of the quota is looking at the seafood market, for instance, and saying, “The price of cod is high today. I have a lot of quota in cod. I want the boats to go out and catch that fish.” A lot of things get compromised in that process. What if that boat can’t go out, because of weather conditions? What if they can’t go out, because their family is sick?

There’s a number of different scenarios, where suddenly the captain of the boat cannot make decisions, about how they run their business. They have to go by what the company, and I’m using air quotes for company, demands of them, and that company in this case, is the owner of the quota or the permit, that they have had to lease the rights from, in order to be able to fish. It really reminds me a lot of what the chicken farmers, that are highlighted in the book, and is still under contract, that was recently released by Rule Advancement Foundation International, are going through with companies like Tyson, and Purdue, and others, who are controlling every aspect of their business, except the parts that are really important to the farmer, and that is one of the scenarios that plays itself out.

There’s also the fact that, a lot of the entities that enter into this picture, enter under the skies, that we’re going to introduce efficiencies into this industry, and again, because they’re not on the ground seeing the implications of their definition of efficiency, which usually is, high volume, low value, extraction strategies, they don’t see that the adequate definition of efficiency, translates into focusing on a monoculture approach to fisheries, which means fishermen are gonna go out there and only try to catch one species, that constantly ends up getting in trouble, because that’s what the quota owners want them to do. That’s just two examples of how consolidation, and this absent person or company, who drives your decisions can impact, not only your business, but also the health of the ocean in this case.

Christopher Mitchell: One of the things that I find interesting is that, although consolidation allows, I think, that industry to move very rapidly, and too rapidly in fact. Your organization, The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, I think, a slogan you use is, Working at the Speed of Trust. I’m really intrigued by that. What is that all about?
Niaz Dorry: Working at the Speed of Trust, is what we learned from The Movement for Black Lives. Our facilitator, who helps us with our strategic planning process, Ora Gradski, when we were having one of our meetings, and she heard about, both our concerns on how we work, and as we were struggling with some issues, she said, “Well, you guys, the thing that you’re doing is working at the speed of trust.” Which not everybody has the patience for, and the level of intentionality, that comes with slowing down to that scale of trust building, the kind of organizing approach.

We’re living in a society that we demand rapid action, and we constantly are creating situations, that lead to problems, a few days, a few months, a few years down the line, sometimes a few seconds down the line. So, for us, it’s really been important to slow down, build the level of trust with the fishing communities work with, with the allies we work with, and really dive deeply into the issues that are presented to us, so that we don’t rush into false solutions, like privatization, that end up being a problem a few years down the line. Because once something is in the atmosphere, it’s almost hard to unring a bell.

So, we really want to make sure that when we do ring the bell, that we’ve done it intentionally, and we’ve done it with a lot of power behind it, with intentional organizing the voices of those most effective. We feel like it’s the only way we can go fast, is if we slow down. It’s challenging, but for us, it’s at the core of how we feel we have to operate. There’s a lot of the fishermen we work.

They’ve had a lot of organizations over the past few decades, who have come in and said, “We’re gonna work you with you on this. We’re gonna do this. We’re gonna do that.” There’s been a lot of promises, that have either not been fulfilled, or have led them down the path that we now find ourselves with the privatization and consolidation policies. We don’t want them to make hasty decisions. We don’t want to come with the savior mentality, that we’ve got the solution that you guys all need to live by, because it hasn’t worked for them before. So, if we’re intentional, then that really encourages them to be intentional, to ask questions, to challenge us, to work with us, and by doing so, we build a level of trust that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Stacy Mitchell: Some of the big environmental groups, that have backed things like catch shares, which I think is a version of the kind of privatization that you’re talking about. They tend to express this view that, well, fishermen just naturally want to destroy the environment basically. They’ll fish as much as they can, and they don’t really care about the future.

So, if we allow this consolidation, we’ll have just fewer entities that we have to regulate, and we can basically use a big government, kind of management process, with big consolidated industries, and that will be the best thing for the environment. You’ve really championed this idea that fishermen are central to environmental sustainability, and I wonder if you could talk about, what’s your vision of what the future of caring and managing our fisheries should look like, and what’s the role of fishers?

Niaz Dorry: Well, first I should start by saying, fishermen are in the monotypic group of people, any more than the environmental community is. There have been a couple of environmental organizations that have really pushed for catch shares and privatization, and there was a time when I use to apologetically just skim over this conversation, but I feel like it’s my responsibility at this point to … It’s part of our strategy of speaking truth to power, and really letting people know, who are those who are championed in this sort of policy.

But in this case, Environmental Defense Department has been really the leading player in pushing for privatization and consolidation policies, known as catch shares. What was even further disturbing, is a couple of years ago, Professor Seth Macinko, from the University of Rhode Island, a resource economist, did some digging, and come to find out that, in fact, the Koch brothers and their various foundations have funded this push for privatization and consolidation of the fishing industry.

Then there are people of the environmental community, and the environmental organizations that don’t support these sort of policies, but have tendency to not want to challenge ourselves within our own community, is what makes people be silent, and not call each other out, but in fact that’s what we ask the industries to do. We’re constantly, whether it’s in the Toxics Movement, in the Forestry Movement, in Fisheries Movement, we’re asking people, we’re asking the companies, set yourselves apart.

Let people know that you think they’re friendly, and you have a different approach. With the fishing industry, that’s what we encourage the fishermen to do, because as I mentioned, they’re not a monolithic group of people. There are those in the fishing industry that are simply concerned, only about the bottom line, and making a killing, and then there are people in the fishing industry who see fishing as a way of life, and are really just pretty happy making a living. Unfortunately, with policies like catch shares, they have been forced to lower themselves to the lowest common denominator, and policies like catch shares, and the preceding policies that have all focused on rewarding volume over value, have really made all those fishermen, that I meet on a daily basis, who don’t fit into that narrative, that all fishermen care about is just killing everything in their path, and greed is rampant.

Those fishermen don’t get spoken about. We don’t see them. We don’t hear them. They’re the marginalized part of the fishing industry, and that’s the part of the fishing industry that we focus on, and that we work with. Unfortunately, with the advance of catch share, there’s been a lot of fear, a lot of intimidation, economic intimidation and black mail. People are told, if you speak up, we’re not going to lease you quota. People are bullied on the water when they speak up, in ways that make them feel unsafe.

As a result, we don’t hear them as often, and we feel it’s our responsibility to be their voice, when we are called upon, and to speak on their behalf, when we’re given permission to, because this is a world where we’re making assumptions, and drawing big broad brush images of populations, including the fishing industry, but there’s truly a difference between people who fish, and people who extract seafood, and it’s our responsibility to bring those that are in the margins, and help them fill the page.

Stacy Mitchell: It’s really interesting, and so similar to some of the dynamics that we see in a lot of the other sectors that we cover, where you have sort of have these big Monopoly players, that are really manipulating the terms that other businesses have to play under, and in ways that have this overall, kind of destructive effect on communities, and economies.

I just want to go back to this question, of what is the solution look like? Are there places or models that we can point to? What’s your vision of how we can have healthy fishing communities, as well as a sustainable industry? What does that actually look like?

Niaz Dorry: Our mission for what the future of the fishing industry could look like, has really been pulled from the fishermen that we work with. But for me personally, the vision really became clear when I began working on this stuff about 25 years ago, when I saw examples of alternative ways of managing fisheries in other parts of the world, as well as, in some parts of the U.S. where people were focused on insuring that the boats with the right scale of operation were fishing in parts of the ocean, where the scale matched the scale of their fishing operation.

For example, that’s an important factor that many communities have really been trying to work on. But then again, we come back to what I said much earlier, which is when you are told scale doesn’t matter, and where you fish doesn’t matter, all these other alternatives don’t really matter. They don’t get explored to their fullest extent. Let’s talk about New England.

For example, there were alternatives that were introduced for New England’s groundfish complex, that included managing within areas, based on the kind of gear fishermen used, the days that they go fishing, the kind of approach they take in terms of whether they fish in shore or off shore, based on the scale of their operation, and we also had created alternative markets that really encouraged fishermen to bring the diversity of fishes that they catch, while they are fishing, because it doesn’t magically happen that they only come home with cod, so that they could actually have a market for their entire catch, and not have to throw overboard, the stuff that they get paid 10 cents a pound for, and only keep the stuff that they get paid $6.00 a pound for, let’s say.

Those policies strategies of, where you fish, how you fish, when you fish, and who you give permission to fish, were all ignored, and never explored. I hear proponents of catchers saying, “Well, we don’t have any proof that any of the other alternatives work.” But they have also been the same people, who have rejected exploring all these other alternatives. They have nothing to compare it to, and the examples that we have to compare it to, they consider them, “Oh, those are just … ” People in Japan, that’s just a native community over there. That’s Down East Maine.”

There’s always an excuse to ignore the alternatives, that people are exploring. In New England, what we asked for was, “Okay, if you’re gonna pass catch shares, let’s at least fix it.” Our vision was, you can fix it by capping how much anyone entity can own. They refused to do that. You can fix it by making sure you set aside some part of the quarter, so that young fishermen can enter the fishery, because with privatization, suddenly permits have become multi-million dollar properties. Suddenly fishing rights are more expensive than fishermen can afford, so young fishermen can’t enter the business. They ignored that recommendation.

We suggested that the vision of fishermen was that those with bigger boats that have a lot more quota should fish further off shore, so that the grounds in the near shore areas that are often spawning areas and sanctuaries don’t get impacted by the large boats that now have no boundaries. They ignored that vision, and that recommendation. In the end all they wanted to do, was privatize the fishery, and let the industry sort of manage itself.

Even Alan Greenspan admitted that, that wasn’t the right strategy, and that he was wrong. Yet we can’t get that kind of admission from NOAA and the Fishery Service, when it comes to their consolidation policies here. We sent a letter to Congress laying out four points of our vision, including limitations on accumulation and concentration, including setting aside access to fisheries for young fishermen, which actually Seth Moulton has championed recently.

Our recommendation also included recognizing that fish, seafood, is part of our food system. In fact, the only thing we eat that actually has the word food in it, so we should apply lessons learned, and policies that have been working on the land food side, and to seafood side, so that we can make sure that our food system isn’t compromised in the midst of all these bad decisions.

We also made a recommendation that when we manage fisheries, we take into account, impact of non-fishing activities, such as, oil drilling, seismic testing, deforestation, dumping of chemicals into waters, agricultural run-off. All of those are part of the bigger vision, that we have been putting forth for a number of years. At the regional level, they have gotten ignored in favor of privatization. At the national level, we have an opportunity in the current reauthorization, of the U.S. Fisheries Legislation, known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, or we would like to call it The Fish Bill, in order to move some of these elements of the vision forward.

Christopher Mitchell: Niaz, I want to make a presumption. Something I’m somewhat good at, just going off on, perhaps a too big of an assumption. What I know about fishing is largely formed by stereotypes. Largely, in the Atlantic. Largely, white male, very conservative type folks, I would imagine.

Talking with you, I get the distinct impression you’re a woman. You’ve been discussing lessons you’ve learned from Black Lives Matter. I’m just curious what kind of lessons you might offer people, for someone who’s working with communities, where you could easily be ignored, or attacked even?

Niaz Dorry: The first thing, as I said earlier, is not monolithic group of people. Our Board President is a sixth generation fisherman, who happens to be a woman. We work with many fishermen around the country, and around the globe, who are not your white New England image of the fishing industry, that most people have.

Some of the communities we work with are indigenous communities, and both here in the U.S., and around the globe. One of our main partners is in a national organization called The World Forum of Fisher People, that represents probably a billion people or more in coastal communities primarily in the southern cone. It’s important for people to first recognize that, that image that you see … The guy behind the wheel in Gorton’s logo, is not the fishing industry. It’s part of the fishing industry, but it’s not the fishing industry.

For all those who don’t look like that, don’t speak like that, don’t pray like that guy or don’t live like that guy, they are a part of the marginalized population in the fishing industry. Whether because they’re young, because they’re women, because black fishermen, because they’re immigrant fishermen, or because they happen to live in a country that is not white, European descent. They exist, and they are struggling because the models that are being introduced in their communities, like catch shares, don’t fit their culture, don’t fit who they are, and often, these models come in and inherently end up replacing those who are part of the fabric of the community, with those who look like the guy behind the wheel on the Gorton’s logo.

Christopher Mitchell: I think that’s a really good and needed reminder of, as you said multiple times, that fishing is not a monolith. What I’d really like to just focus on with the question, I think is, is there are any lessons that you can offer to others, who might not be involved in fishing, in terms of, when you are trying to organize around some of those folks who do fit the stereotype? I’m curious, ’cause I’m guessing that you aren’t just organizing people who are already of like mind?
Niaz Dorry: I was given a piece of advice when I first moved to Gloucester, by the Town Historian, Joe Garland, and his advice to me was, don’t get pigeon holed in Gloucester. That was really important to me, because it allowed me to bring the same organizing strategies that I use to use in the Toxics campaign, where I worked with green peas to fight toxic waste incinerators, and to fisheries, and when we do that kind of organizing, it often means you’re working across multiple communities, multiple populations.

People who don’t often agree with each other, and you are being patient working at the speed of trust, to hear all the different voices, and to make sure that ultimately the goals of the community are met. Before it use to be that the incinerator doesn’t get built, for instance, and the fishing is that so we have fisheries that can sustain communities, the ocean, and our diets. That takes a level of discipline, that we see in other movements, but we have ignored.

For some reason we’ve ignored, in the Oceans Movement, and to me, it doesn’t surprise me, because when I was first asked to work on fisheries issues, all I thought about were some of the bumper sticker messages, some of the very generalized approaches to ocean conservation work. Sort of, save the whales, stop fishermen from doing acts. It was just this very generalized approaches, and I thought, that’s not a world that I can organize in. How do you organize whales? How do you organize fishermen, that apparently are all my enemy?

It took me, taking a step away from what I was being told, at even challenging some existing strategies, to be able to do this work, and to see that this is just like fighting an incinerator. This is about global movement of capital. In the case of the incinerator, the people, the air, the water, was in the way. In the case of the ocean, the whale, and the fish, and the fishing communities are in the way.

The players that want to privatize the ocean, and consolidate the fishing industry, sometimes are the same players we’re fighting in other parts of our social justice movements, but for some reason, we’ve not transferred that knowledge and the strategies we’ve used in other movements, to the ocean work. We just decided that doing very basic things, like eating fish that’s on the green list, or buying certified seafood, we’ve done our part. That’s not enough. Those were good steps forward. We know too much about what’s happened in the rest of our society, and we know too much about what’s happened in the fishing industry, to stop there. We have to go deeper, and my advice to people is that, we are organizing creatively, we’re challenging power creatively, in other parts of the social movements. Let’s do the same on the water.

Stacy Mitchell: Niaz, thank you so much for being on the show. This has really been a terrific conversation, and so informative. I want to just end by asking you something we often ask our guests, which is, do you have a reading recommendation? It can be anything.
Niaz Dorry: Well first, thanks for having me on the show.

The reading recommendation, I have two, if that’s okay. One, is of course, our own book, Sharing The Ocean, which is a challenge to the concept of privatization consolidation, and lays out a lot of the history, that I ran through during our conversation. So, I encourage folks to check that out.

The other book, that was given to me a couple years ago, David and Goliath. The reason I mention that, is because I find our work to match the description of those that are raised up in David and Goliath, and I was reminded as I was reading it on the train across country, of a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, Northern Exposure, that the guy who was the radio host said, “It’s not what you fling, it’s how you fling it.” I feel that, that’s really the story of those characters, and those individuals, and in David and Goliath, and even the story of David. He flung it the right way, and I think that’s the challenge to us, as organizers, and to the entire movement.

It doesn’t matter what you’re flinging. It’s how you fling it.

Stacy Mitchell: That’s great.
Christopher Mitchell: That’s David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m guessing there’s a few books by that title. It’s a wonderful book, and I think it’s a great recommendation. One of the lessons, of course, is that David was not as much of an underdog as people think, and it’s worth noting that, when we organize locally, we really can have major impacts, and we should not be surprised when we do.
Niaz Dorry: That’s exactly right. I think we underestimate our own power, and partially because the current narrative and the current systems, make us feel that we are powerless, and I think David’s character, prove that he was none of that. You were just made to believe that he was, and it’s our job to believe we are otherwise.
Stacy Mitchell: People should check out NAMA’s website, which is namanet.org and we’ll post that link on the show page for this episode.

So, you can find links to what we discussed today, by going to our website, ILSR.org and clicking on the show page for this episode, and while you’re there, you can sign up for one of our newsletters, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and once again, please help us out by rating this podcast, and sharing it with your friends.

Also, a thank you for our theme music. It’s Funk Interlude, by Dysfunction Al.

For the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, I’m Stacy Mitchell. Join us again in two weeks, for the next episode of Building Local Power. 

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Audio Credit: Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL Ft: Fourstones – Scomber (Bonus Track). Copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

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