Citizen Advocacy: Promise & Reality [PDF]

John O’Brien

Citizen Advocacy (CA) may be a Red Squirrel

John O’Brien – Aug. 2013

At a Georgia Citizen Advocacy conference in 2013, John surveyed the declining future of CA. Like the red squirrels, overwhelmed by more powerful forces – they are dwindling. The analysis is without blame, but a search to understand.

Since 1976: A different world & the same CA*

As whole, CA may not have moved beyond a set of recurring issues: e.g. numbers remain small & rationals for slow growth remain stable; dependency on state P&A funds continues; impact on service delivery remains rare & reasons remain the same.

*These changes are not, in themselves, reasons to reject faithful & consistent adherence to CA principles. They may however, go a ways toward explaining the red squirrel phenomenon. Though we did not explore this explicitly, it may also be that the Parsonian functionalism that Wolfensberger draws on, with its somewhat mechanistic background metaphors for social organization, makes a poor container for the tragic and ironic action involved in the day to day practice of CA.