new book: models of community organizing

colist at colist at
Mon Jan 26 21:13:23 CST 2004

[ed:  thanks to Doug for continuing the discussion begun by Kris' book 
announcement.  And nice to see we are getting noticed.  :-) ]

From: DougRHess at

Hello and happy new year (both of them) to all. I have not read Kris's 
book yet, but have ordered it as I have an interest it the topics she 
seems to raise from the description she sent. Regarding Shannah's 
comment: I think it is an excellent question since the title "women-
centered" organizing implies that their are different kinds of organizing 
that may be defined based on wedges that exist (either essentially or 
socially) among us. Thus, there would be a need for women-, race-, 
gay-, disability- (each one of them) organizing, etc., etc., etc. To me this 
seems a bit unwieldy. Rather, I would say there is organizing, period. 
Now, different communities and staffers in the same organization 
ALWAYS organize somewhat differently (no matter what they tell 
novices).  In addition, other forms of social interventions that are also 
meant to be grassroots oriented may do important things and have 
much to offer organizing. Often they are incorporated more, and 
sometimes less, into organizing drives and campaigns. However, I 
would not call them organizing. This is not meant to over privilege the 
word organizing, rather to keep the discussion clean and sharp. For 
instance, (what I see as) community building maybe emphasized as a 
prelude to (what I see as) organizing by some 
groups/organizers/cultures/funders more than others. That doesn't 
mean that this is a newly found way of organizing, just a different mix of 
it with other forms of social change. I am hoping this makes some sort 
of sadly brief review of some of my thoughts on this is in my 
1999 working paper on the comm-org page. (Trivial note: my working 
paper was recently cited in a paper in Stanford Law Review and some 
papers in German, thus revealing the ever-growing 
readship/popularity/influence of comm-org).  

Doug Hess
Ph.D. Student, 
School of Public Policy & Administration,
George Washington University

Home address: 
2114 N St., NW Apt. 23
Washington, DC 20037
(cell 202-276-4807)

> From: "Carol McCullough" <cmccullough at>
> I received the email (through comm.-org included in the
> attachment below) RE: your book and want to congratulate you.  It
> sounds like a wonderful and useful publication.
> I also wanted to let you know that the workers at Powell's
> continue to be involved in a contract dispute.  I would like to
> suggest that you talk with them (the Local 5 ph # is
> 503-228-5047) about whether you should be promoting the Powell's
> website (my last communication with them indicated that they
> would prefer that people boycott and call CEO Ann Smith at
> 503-228-4651 x226 stating that they are doing so).
> If it is ok to buy, customers should be made aware that if they
> enter the Powell's website through, the
> workers will receive 10% of the profits of the sale.  We devised
> this as a form of profit sharing in the last contract.
> For more information, you can go to  Thanks
> for your time and attention.
> Carol McCullough (former Powell's worker)
> Carol McCullough
> Neighborhood Organizer
> Neighborhoods Resource Center
> P.O. Box 100941
> Nashville, TN 37224-0941
> Phone: (615) 782-8212 x28
> Fax: (615)782-8213
> cmccullough at
> ******************************
> From: "Shannah Kurland" <shannah_k at>
> I'm just curious when and by whom it was decided that those five
> models
> >power-based,
> >community-building, civic, women-centered, and transformative.
> are the "dominant" ones.  Interesting that none of those official
> names refer to race or migrant status identities, indigenous
> origins (or lack there-of) or political beliefs/values.  Guess
> I'll have to stay a little more up on the literature.
> > [ed:  congratulations to Kris on the publication of her book.]
> > 
> > From: "Kristina Smock" <k-smock at>
> > 
> > I am pleased to announce the publication of my book on models
> > of community organizing, Democracy in Action: Community
> > Organizing and Urban Change (Columbia University Press,
> > December 2003). Here's a brief summary from the book's back
> > cover: In cities across the United States, grassroots
> > organizations are working to revitalize popular participation
> > in disenfranchised communities by bringing ordinary people into
> > public life. By engaging local residents in collective action
> > to achieve common goals, community organizing expands the
> > democratic process and enables people to create strong
> > communities that serve their needs. 
> > 
> > This book examines the techniques these organizations use to
> > achieve their goals. Through the stories of ten organizations
> > working in economically and racially diverse urban
> > neighborhoods (in Chicago and Portland, Oregon) Democracy in
> > Action explores the strengths and limitations of the five
> > dominant models of community organizing in use today:
> > power-based, community-building, civic, women-centered, and
> > transformative. Based on original empirical research, the book
> > combines in-depth analysis with invaluable lessons for
> > practitioners. 
> > 
> > "Democracy in Action is both a splendid critical analysis of
> > the value and power of community organizing and a practical
> > guide to the efficacy of various models of community
> > organizing. Invaluable for a broad audience concerned with
> > grassroots civic renewal." - Robert Fisher, author of Let the
> > People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America
> > 
> > Contents:
> > Chapter 1: Popular Democracy and Urban Change    
> > Chapter 2: Models of Community Organizing: An Overview   
> > Chapter 3: Building Individual Capacity: Developing Local
> > Leaders
> > 
> > Chapter 4: Building Community Capacity: Networks and Social
> > Capital    Chapter 5: Building a Community Governance Structure
> >    Chapter 6: Diagnosing and Framing the Community's Problems  
> > Chapter 7: Taking Action: Strategies and Outcomes    Chapter 8:
> > Widening the Scope: Organizing for Broader Social Change  
> > Chapter 9: Conclusion: Lessons Learned    Democracy in Action:
> > Community Organizing and Urban Change can be ordered from the
> > publisher (Columbia University Press), from online booksellers
> > like and, and is also available at
> > bookstores.
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