Burned Out By the PIRG

A comment from “Eastie”

Want to submit a story of your experience with the PIRG/Fund/Green Corps/whatever PIRG department you worked for?  Email burnedoutbypirg@gmail.com.

Anon, they ARE saying each community is the same. And that’s a huge part of the problem (or rather, “the model”). You’ve swallowed a bit too much of the Kool-aid and exhibit a disturbing amount of the Fund’s trained passive-aggressiveness.

I was a former Environment fellow, sent to start an office in a small Midwestern town during the election and told to register 2,500 black people (yeah CVP and Progressive Future… and Work for Progress and god knows what other name they gave it that particular week). We quickly realized there were only 2,000 people (according to the census polls) in the town who declared themselves ‘African American.’ Most people were either already registered, too young, or felons. The Fund gave no consideration to basic demographics. There had been no prior scouting. Not to mention there were 2 Obama offices (English and Spanish) within a block of us.
When we mentioned this to our RD, we were told to “find more turf.” We had an awkward run-in at Kinkos with the office one town over, who was under the Prog Fut guise (or Work for Progress… I forget which) registering minority and college-aged voters. We’d been canvassing door-to-door in their neighborhoods a day or so earlier. Even better was that our CVP RD and their PIRG RD shared a room in the same office, yet for some reason “Hey, so… you’re in town A because we’re in town B and canvassing your turf?” never came up. We were essentially self-cannibalizing.
When we pointed this out, we were at first told to “be flexible,” “find more turf,” “hire new canvassers/fire the ones that weren’t making quota.” There was probably something about sticking to the rap in there as well. The ordeal was never acknowledged as a huge mistake–which it undoubtedly was.

In the end it was all about the numbers. We hated those nightly conference calls where the Big City rattled off their thousands and the smaller towns were woefully behind their quotas (the one that was breaking even was doing so because they were registering mental patients at the hospital).
Success in the Fund has NOTHING to do with hard work or competence–which is precisely why so many kids walk away from the ordeal so thoroughly disillusioned. Rather, it’s how well you are able to conform–without question–to “the model” and parrot their lofty-sounding rhetoric. There is no room for creativity, compassion, or independent thought. Success with the Fund is brought about by completely giving up the ability to think for yourself. As PIRG anti-progress said: they’re called “bots” for a reason.

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