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States, Cultures, and Community Organizing: Two Tales of Two Neighborhoods

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How do differences between the United States and Canadian political systems affect community organizing? We compare case studies of two neighborhoods: the Drouillard Road neighborhood in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; and the Birmingham neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, United States. Toledo and Windsor are similar in important ways, with both heavily dependent on Detroit-based automotive industry, and relatively similar in ethnic and class makeup. The neighborhoods also have similar demographic profiles with a high proportion of Eastern European immigrants and Catholics. Both neighborhoods witnessed threats to their existence in the 1970s, developed an energetic community organizing response to those threats, and then went separate directions. Drouillard Road quickly moved into social services and community development. Birmingham expanded its community organizing across the east side of Toledo, but then was torn apart by internal conflict when it shifted to community development. Our analysis shows that the contrasting paths of the two organizations can be more fully understood in light of national differences in political structure and political culture between Canada and the United States.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Toledo, 2: University of Windsor

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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