Community organizing book recs
November 10, 2016 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Looking for history, how-tos and biographies on community organizing, especially with a feminist bent.

I'd like book recommendations on community organizing, especially (but not limited to) feminist organizing. These can be history books or how-to books or biographies - just something to give me some guidance. Thanks!
posted by Zosia Blue to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately it's not particularly feminist, but my favorite historical work about political organizing is Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild. It's a history of the British anti-slavery movement, arguably the first grass-roots, democratic political organizing effort in the sense that we define those terms today. The British abolitionists first defined tactics like the mass petition, the consumer boycott, and even the celebrity endorsement, that are still familiar to any activist today.
posted by firechicago at 7:19 AM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine recommended Rules for Radicals and, judging from the height of page 20, it seems promising. Here's a really suboptimal version.
posted by fmg at 7:20 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Story of Jane: The Legendary Feminist Underground Abortion Service. I read this history a few years ago, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it the past couple of days. It's the story of their organization and what they accomplished and how, and it's clear-eyed about what's heartening & what's disheartening about feminist organizing (and about their own shortcomings re: race, if briefly). I see there will be an ebook version published in December, but if you want an ebook version now, Open Library has a copy available to borrow (and that's the version I read, and I remember it being readable without many scan errors).
posted by mixedmetaphors at 8:01 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will recommend that you read up on:

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Promoting birth control was illegal in her era.

Susan B. Anthony, who worked tirelessly to get the vote for women, which did not happen in her lifetime.

Jane Jacobs, who according to Wikipedia:
...was well known for organizing grassroots efforts to protect existing neighborhoods from "slum clearance" – and particularly for her opposition to Robert Moses in his plans to overhaul her neighborhood, Greenwich Village. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have passed directly through SoHo and Little Italy, and was arrested in 1968 for inciting a crowd at a public hearing on the project.
posted by Michele in California at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2016

Saw this today on Book Riot:
Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism
posted by lyssabee at 2:31 PM on November 10, 2016

For me and many other organizers I know, our "textbook" has always been "Organizing for Social Change," which is a very practical manual based on the Midwest Academy model.

I'm excited to read Rules for Revolutionaries, which is coming out next week, by the people who developed Bernie's extremely effective organizing program, which took a lot of the decentralized spirit of movements like Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter and applied it to a political campaign.

I would really suggest going to a Camp Wellstone training if you can. They typically have tracks for both electoral and issue campaign organizing and are a great way to get familiar with the basics of organizing. They also have a great resource center on their website that is just full of really good primers.
posted by lunasol at 5:29 PM on November 10, 2016

Oh and as for biographies, The Feminist Memoir Project is a great oral history of second wave feminism, and Love Canal by Lois Gibbs is also excellent.
posted by lunasol at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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