Duarte column: The difference Stranahan makes
George Stranahan works the way an icebreaker ship does, advancing strongly in the field of community organization, opening roads that facilitate the work and seeking to improve the quality of public education and social justice in the valley.
Stranahan is the president and emeritus founder of Manaus Fund, a businessman, a brave social fighter but first and foremost a teacher.
His professional career is remarkable for his versatility and success in various fields, especially as a community organizer.
When we first met, he simply said, “Call me Jorge” while handing me a guide of the community organizer, and added, “Read it, I think you will find it interesting.”
George has a passion for reading, especially everything related to educational systems and social justice. His enthusiasm for this topic is so great that he has meticulously given himself the task of collecting the best books and treatises about these themes, and which he preserves in the library of Manaus.
“In a world where nothing seems to be fair, schools should be the one place where we try to be fair,” Stranahan said in an informal chat regarding the visit of Mark Warren, who will be giving a public reading at 5:30 p.m. today at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.
Mark Warren is a professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and author of the book “Transforming Public Education: The need for an educational justice movement.”
“Warren shows how organizing groups build the participation and leadership of parents and students so they can become powerful actors in school improvement efforts,” Stranahan said.
This visit is part of the recent Stranahan’s Manaus Valley Project, which is in the initial phase of becoming a subsidiary of the Industrial Areas Foundation.
A key part of this project has been Joe Rubio, a strong community organizer with the IAF and lead organizer of the Valley Interfaith Project in Phoenix, who has tenaciously worked since two years ago to make this possible.
What is a community organizer? George’s answer was “a great teacher is a good community organizer,” granting credit for this definition to Saul Alinsky, IAF founder.
Another of the activities recently promoted by the Manaus Valley project is the strong work of Julie Goldstein and Janeth Niebla, community organizers who will be knocking on doors. Goldstein will be focused on joining IAF’s efforts and Niebla will be intensifying efforts at community engagement in the Roaring Fork School District.
Stranahan is the type of man determined to tie the bell in the cat’s neck on his fight to establish a culture of community organization in Colorado, respecting equity and social justice. Let’s wait and time will tell.
George never stops, and seems day by day his perseverance is strengthened, tirelessly pursuing his ideals. I like this.
“The struggle is the victory” is one of his favorite quotes, exhorting us to learn the value of respecting ourselves, to be respected for others and not allowing threats from anyone, always honoring the right to raise our voice in the face of injustice.
Stranahan doesn’t believe in charity, he believes in solidarity. He explains that while charity helps in a limited way, solidarity drives and exhorts to strive for continuous improvement.
Solidarity work precisely defines what Patricia Stranahan, George and their family have promoted by implementing philanthropic projects that benefit hundreds of families in this valley. These actions sustain an ecosystem of hope by helping those families productively join the community.
Everything goes and everything stays, but our fate is to pass, to pass making a path as we go, paths over the sea …Traveler, your footprints are the path, and nothing else. Traveler, there is no path. A path is made by walking.”
Those are verses of the poem “Wanderer, there is no path” by Antonio Machado, which Stranahan enjoys and applies in his living and working style.
George has developed a prototype of work worthy of admiration, for his philanthropic work, inspiring tenacity, devotion to education and for having positioned himself as a giant oak that provides shelter and freedom in a continuously changing community.
For his bravery opening roads for others to travel, Stranahan is an exemplary ambassador of social justice in this beautiful corner of the world.
Thanks, George Stranahan, for dignifying your life with your work. God bless you.
Eloisa Duarte of Carbondale is an active volunteer with a degree in communications and a passion for education. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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