Books on Grassroots Organizing
Rules for Radicals
Saul Alinsky, Vintage Books, 1989
he classic by America's best known organizer, originally published in 1971. This entertaining book provides plus some of the best advice around for groups whose resources are people rather than money.
Organize for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists
Third Edition, Kim Bobo et al, Seven Locks Press, 2001
omprehensive at 421 pages. Probably the best US book for putting the screws on decision-makers. This book is more about winning battles than working with together to build community.
Helping Seniors Mobilize
Beth Mairs, Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre Press, Toronto, 1993.
Helping Seniors Mobilize
is a short manual on general organizing woven together with the story of how a paid community development worker (Mairs) pulled together an isolated and alienated group of seniors in Lawrence Heights, a Metro Toronto neighbourhood consisting solely of subsidized public housing units. Recommended.
The Trajectory of Change: Activist Strategies for Social Transformation
Michael Albert, South End Press, 2002.
Albert is best known for Z Magazine. Here he has assembled a collection of thoughtful articles on ways to overcome various obstacles to social change. On a number of occasions he criticizes activists for adopting methods that are useless or counterproductive. This small, short-winded book is well-worth its modest price.
Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing
Lee Staples, Praeger, New York, 1984.
Roots to Power
is a good text on nuts and bolts organizing. It is especially good on recruiting, strategies and action plans, and dealing with counter-tactics. Top practitioners have contributed special sections on meetings, memberships, coalitions, public relations, negotiating, action ideas, and carrying-out action plans.
Taking Action: Working Together for Positive Change in Your Community
Elizabeth Amer, Self Counsel Press, 1992.
is the most useful book on grassroots organizing in Canada. It is written by a woman with all the necessary credentials; Amer worked for Pollution Probe; organized the battle to save her Toronto Island neighbourhood from the bulldozer, and went on to become a member of Toronto City council. Taking Action
is easy to read, full of examples, and sprinkled with how-to advice not to be found in other books.
Organizing: a Guide for Grassroots Leaders
Si Kahn, McGraw Hill, New York, 1981, Revised 1991.
Kahn's book is easy to read. Chapters are broken into many subsections each of which addresses a particular question such as What makes a good issue? or How do you get people to come to a meeting? You don't need to plow through the whole book to find material relevant to your situation.
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and Power of New Ideas
David Bornstein, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004. A well-written account of Ashoka's approach to social change. Ashoka
identifies social entrepreneurs (people with a vision and the ability to get things done) then finances them so they can pursue their vision. Bornstein provides detailed stories of how this simple approach has lead to large-scale change in many different countries.
The Citizen's Library / Part 3-2
The Citizen's Handbook / Charles Dobson / www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook