[COMM-ORG] query: Advice wanted on book project on Community Organizing

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Sep 15 20:20:33 CDT 2010

  [ed: please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Peter's 

From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>


Oxford University Press has asked me to write a book on Community 
Organizing for its “What Everyone Needs to Know” series. I would 
appreciate your suggestions about what should be included in the book.

This is not intended to be a “how-to” book on organizing. There are 
already many good ones available.

Likewise, this is going to be an in-depth case study of a particular 
organizing group, or several groups, or of a particular organizing 
campaign. There are already excellent books like this. Many of you have 
written these “how-to” and case study books.

Instead, the audience for the book is the wider reading public who may 
be curious to learn more about Community Organizing. The publisher 
believes, and I agree, that having a former community organizer as 
President has piqued the curiosity of many Americans about this 
little-known but important job and the broader strategy of community 
organizing. Sarah Palin’s nasty attack on community organizers, at the 
GOP convention in 2008, also triggered more interest in the topic, as 
did the unfortunate controversy over ACORN.

So this book in intended to be about the lay-of-the-land – what 
community organizing is, who does it, how is it done, what has it 
accomplished, what are the different “schools” of and approaches to 
community organizing, what is its history (ie who was Saul Alinsky?), 
how has it changed, what are the major community organizing groups, how 
does it relate to other movements, and so on. The writing will not be in 
“academic” prose but in straightforward English. The book will be 
published in paperback.

So far, Oxford University Press has published books about Food Politics, 
Health Care Reform, Social Entrepreneurship, Animal Rights, Cuba, Islam, 
Kosovo, and Burma/Myanmar, with more titles forthcoming. The books are 
all written in a question-and-answer format.

So…I’m interested in your ideas about what questions the book should 
deal with and what topics you think the book should address. If you were 
trying to explain what Community Organizing is to a friend who knew 
nothing about it, what would you want them to know. I’ll be writing this 
book with David Moberg (a veteran reporter for The Nation, In These 
Times, and other progressive publications, who has a PhD in 
anthropology). We want to know what you think and we’ll acknowledge your 
help in the book. Please send your suggestions to me at: dreier at oxy.edu.

Many thanks.

Peter Dreier


Peter Dreier

E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics

Chair, Urban & Environmental Policy Program

Occidental College

1600 Campus Road

Los Angeles, CA 90041

Phone: (323) 259-2913

Website: http://employees.oxy.edu/dreier

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis 
remain neutral" - Dante

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