Saturday, June 16, 2007

Great New Book on Organzing!

A few weeks ago, I was listening to NPR on my drive home from work. All of a sudden, the announcer mentioned that Hilary Clinton wrote a paper on Saul Alinsky while she was in college and Barack Obama had actually worked as a community organizer in Alinsky's old stomping grounds in Chicago. The announcer then conducted a 15 minute interview with Alinsky's biographer. OK, when was the last time you heard about community organizing as a profession on any of the mass media? This was a pleasant breakthrough.

Speaking of breakthroughs, there is a great new book on the organizing profession that has just been released. I've been reading it this weekend and am certain that I'll be using it in my fall course on "organizing social movements and campaigns." The book is called We Make Change: Community Organizers Talk About What They Do – and Why. It is written by veteran community organizer Joe Szakos and writer/editor Kristin Layng Szakos and the book helps to demystify the little-known profession of community organizing and offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who make changing the world their life’s work. It does this with fourteen in-depth profiles of different organizers as well as drawing on the stories and wisdom of the 81 organizers from across the United States whose voices are represented in chapters like “What is Community Organizing?,” “How I Started Organizing,” “Why Organize?”, “Achievements and Victories,” “Disappointments Are Inevitable,” and “Advice to Aspiring Organizers.” This book is so much more helpful than Saul Alinsky's fifteen minutes of fame on NPR--as lovely as that was.

Here is what other people are saying about We Make Change:

“Looking for a rewarding, meaningful career? In We Make Change, community organizers tell their own stories about one of the most adventurous careers available – grassroots organizing for social change. The pay is lousy, the hours are long, but, as these deeply engaging stories show, you won’t find better company anywhere.”

- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

“The most wonderful thing about We Make Change is that it's so much fun to read. It's like a personal tour of America where you get to meet the most engaging, optimistic kind of citizens -- people who love this country's possibilities and are working to fulfill them. It is also a deeply informative portrait of community organizing -- how it works, why it is so important for our future."

- William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

"We Make Change is an inspiring, optimistic book about the people who are doing the hard, creative work to renew American democracy. It puts a spotlight on community organizers, who are the neglected and hidden heroes that are developing the capacity of ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In these difficult and dark times, this book provides hope for the future of America. It should inspire thousands of people to find their calling in organizing.”

- Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change

Happy reading!

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