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March 11, 2009

The difference between rhetoric and practice

So many politicians have nailed their colours to the mast of community empowerment only to rip them down when it comes to real delivery. Barak Obama’s first job out of college was as a community worker. In his book ‘In Dreams from my Father’ you get the feeling that this is one politician who really understands what community empowerment can achieve

In Dreams from my Father – Barak Obama,

Barak Obama, the community worker, describes how a delegation – a few inarticulate and dispirited tenants – made the housing department jump – and their sense of elation on the way back on the bus. Obama `gets` community empowerment.

‘‘I changed as a result of that bus trip, in a fundamental way. It was the sort of change that’s important not because it alters your concrete circumstances in some way (wealth, security, fame) but because it hints at what might be possible and therefore spurs you on, beyond the immediate exhilaration, beyond any subsequent disappointments, to retrieve that thing you once, ever so briefly, held in your hand. That bus ride kept me going, I think. Maybe it still does.’’