Community and Environmental Sociology 573: Community Organization and Change

The web address for this syllabus is:

Professor: Randy Stoecker
Office:  Ag Hall 340d
Office Hours: by appointment
Phone:  890-0764

Spring, 2016
M 4:00-5:55pm
224 Ingraham

WELCOME... Community Organization and Change.  This course will focus on the rich history and contemporary practices of the craft called community organizing.  This is the work of the famous Saul Alinsky, the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and more recently people such as Barack Obama.  It is, fundamentally, about oppression and inequality and the struggles for social change that come from them. 

The Syllabus Process

Because this is a course in community organizing, much of the course will be experiential.   That includes the construction of the course itself. This is only the initial syllabus.  During the first course meeting we will have our own "community" meeting where we will develop learning goals and strategies.  We will focus on three topics:

  1. what everyone wants from the course:  our learning goals will come from this
  2. what each person can bring to the course:  our learning strategies will come partly from this
  3. what principles and ethics will govern our interactions as a group: our learning strategies will come partly from this

I will then produce a full written syllabus. Please note that this will not be a free for all.  The focus of the course will be strictly community organizing--how people who are historically excluded from power by discriminatory economic, political, social, and cultural systems can develop their collective abilities to get power.   I will also demand significant reading and writing (typically 60-100 pages a week of reading and 30-50 pages of writing for the semester).  So you need to come prepared to engage in a process that involves real work.

Principles to Guide Our Course

   See the Learn@UW discussion forum at

Resources for Constructing the Course

Besides my own past syllabi at,, and there are a variety of syllabi at


Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos, Tools for Radical Democracy

Ruth Berta and Amanda Leonard Pohl, Building Power, Changing Lives: The Story of Virginia Organizing


Your grade will be based on a simple point system.  You can choose how many points you want to accumulate depending on what grade you want.

1.  Introductory essay (due at the beginning of class on January 25, see week 1 in course calendar for details) -- 10 points (one point off for every day late)

2.  Pre-reflections: 1 point each=12 points  Prereflections should cite readings, and be about 50 words.  They, can be thoughts about the readings or suggestions for class discussion/activities.  They are due Sunday at 3pm before class, -1 point per day late.  Early submissions welcomed. Group submissions are welcomed.

3. Post-reflections:  6 points each=78 points.   Reflections should cite and discuss readings and preferably class, and be about 250 words.  Be specific in what you are reflecting upon--it can help to quote. A reflection is allso not a summary but critical, introspective thought.  For example, you may express disagreement with an author, and then explore where your disagreement comes from, due Thursday at 11:59pm after class -1 point per day late.  Early submissions welcomed.  Group submissions are welcomed.

4.  Personal projects:  these can be any size but think in terms of getting 1 point per hour that you put into it, subject of course to my quality evaluation.  A personal project can be organizing and facilitating part of a class session, writing a paper, participating in a community project, seeking outside training. Due by designated finals period.  Since I will be evaluating your project, I strongly a three-step process.  First, provide me with a project proposal, which we will then negotiate.  Second, provide me with a rough draft or project update to make sure you are doing what we agreed upon.  Third, provide me with your final product, due by the beginning of the designated finals period.  Group projects are welcomed.

5.  Attendance:  -4 points for each absence beyond the first.  You can make up 4 points with two hours of extra reading (from suggested readings) and writing a reflection.  These are due by the designated finals period.

Grades: 93 and up = A, 88-92 = AB, 83-87 = B, 78-82 = BC, 70-78 = C, 60-69 = D, <60 = F  

Grad students add 15 points to this curve


Week 1, Jan. 25:  Introduction and Course Design

In order to have a productive discussion there will be both a reading assignment and a writing assignment due at the beginning of the first class meeting on January 23.  When you do the reading, bring questions, objections, critiques, and reactions to talk about in class.  When you do the writing, do it to contribute to our planning the rest of the course.

Reading Assignment:

Randy Stoecker.  2010.  Has the Fight Gone out of Organizing?  Shelterforce, spring. (read all four pages) .

Chris Valley.  2008.  Alinsky at 100.  Journal of Community Practice vol:16 iss:4 pg:527 -532.

Mike Miller.  2010.  Alinsky for the Left:  The Politics of Community Organizing.  Dissent

Ellen Ryan.  2010.  Whatever Happened to Community Organizing?  COMM-ORG Papers

Gary Delgado.  2009.  Reflections on Movement Building and Community Organizing.  Social Policy Summer2009, Vol. 39 Issue 2, p6-14.

Writing Assignment:

Due no later than the beginning of class on January 23, is a minimum 500 word essay on what you want from the course and what you are able and willing to bring to the course.  Please upload your essay at Learn@UW, using the "assignment" and then "dropbox" link at the top of the site.   The purpose of this assignment is for you to do careful reflection on your interests and your own resources and skills.  It will be worth ten percent of your final grade and will be graded as a serious writing assignment. So put your best thinking and your best writing into it.  I will expect thoughtfulness and detail equal to my example below.  And it needs to be about community organizing.  You may not have had community organizing experiences, but you have other skills and knowledge you can bring to a class on community organizing.  And if you don't want to learn anything about community organizing, then this isn't the right course for you.  You can see my example assignment at the end of the syllabus.


Please also get Saul Alinsky's book, Rules for Radicals. We will read and discuss that the second week, which will buy us time to get the other readings in order after our first class planning session.

Week 2, February 1--The starting point: Saul Alinsky

Reading Assignment:

Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (read entire book)


Saul Alinsky. 1965.  "The War on Poverty-Political Pornography"

Robert Fisher, "Neighborhood Organizing: The Importance of Historical Context"

Three Alinskys? by Peter Szynka, 2002,

Donald Rietzes and Dietrich Rietzes.  1982.   Saul D. Alinsky:  A Neglected Source but Promising Resource. American Sociologist, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p47-56.

Wendy Plotkin. 1996. "Alinsky and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council."

Wendy Plotkin. 1996 "Alinsky's involvement in Woodlawn in Chicago/The Woodlawn Organization."

Understanding Alinsky: Conservative Wine in Radical Bottles; CHARLES F LEVINE. The American Behavioral Scientist (pre-1986). Nov/Dec 1973. Vol. 17, Iss. 2; p. 279 (6 pages)

The influence of Saul Alinsky on the campaign for human development.Full Tba Available  By: ENGEL, LAWRENCE J.. Theological Studies, Dec98, Vol. 59 Issue 4, p636

Hillary Clinton's undergraduate thesis on Saul ALinsky 1969 or try

Interview with Saul ALinsky 1972 (originally in Playboy but now provided on independent sites) or

Week 3, February 8:  The Less Visible Historical Origins of Community Organizing

Reading Assignment:

Ella Baker and Models of Social Change. Charles Payne. 1989. Signs, Vol. 14, No. 4.

Interview with Ella Baker, September 4, 1974.

Dolores Huerta: Woman, Organizer, and Symbol. Richard A. Garcia.


Ella Baker: Free Agent in the Civil Rights Movement. Aprele Elliott. 1996. Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 26, No. 5.

"Neither Bedecked Nor Bebosomed": Lucy Mason, Ella Baker and Women's Leadership and Organizing Strategies in the Struggle for Freedom. Susan Glisson.

Ella Baker. By Lisa Y. Sullivan, Social Policy, Vol.30 no.2, Winter 1999.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement. Barbara Ransby. 2003

A Dolores Huerta Reader. Mario T. García. UNM Press.

Traditional and Nontraditional Patterns of Female Activism in the United Farm Workers of America, 1962 to 1980. Margaret Rose. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, Las Chicanas (1990), pp. 26-32

Cesar Chavez: The Organizer's Tale:

United Farm Workers. The Story of Cesar Chavez.

A Way of Thinking about the History of Community Organizing,

An Internet Guide to Community Organizing,


Week 4 February 15:  allyship, popular education, community-based research


Moving Toward an Inclusive Model of Allyship for Racial Justice, by Viraj S. Patel, 2011,

Fighting racism and the limits of "ally-ship", by Khury Petersen-Smith and Brian Bean, 2015,

JohnHurst, On Popular Education,

Randy Stoecker, The Fundamental Lesson, on Learn@UW at

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapter 8.


Drick Boyd. Under the Radar: Popular Education in North America A White Paper. Available at

Lisa VeneKlasen & Darshana Patel. Citizen Action, Knowledge and Global Economic Power: Intersections of Popular Education, Organizing, and Advocacy.

Stoecker, Randy. 2012. "CBR and the Two Forms of Social Change." Journal of Rural Social Sciences. 27:83-98.

John McNutt. 2000. Organizing Cyberspace: Strategies for Teaching About Community Practice and Technology.  Journal of Community Practice.

Myles Horton and Paulo Freire.  "Editor's Introduction" in We Make the Road by Walking. 

Randy Stoecker. 2005. Research Methods for Community Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Randy Stoecker and Mary Beckman. 2009. Making Higher Education Civic Engagement Matter in the Community.

Randy Stoecker (ed). 1996. Sociology and Social Action--two special issues of Sociological Imagination,

Anne B. Shlay and Gordon Whitman. 2004. Research for Democracy: Linking Community Organizing and Research to Leverage Blight Policy. COMM-ORG,

Lutz Wessels. 2003. Research! Investigating, Organising and Fighting. COMM-ORG, 


WWeek 5, February 22: recruitment/commitment, leadership/turnover/empowerment, meeting management


Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapters 1-5.


Fight the Right Action Kit by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Go to link on "Walking the Talk"  at

Lesbian Avengers' Civil Rights Organizing Project. Out Against The Right:  An Organizing Handbook.  See link to Recruitment

Robert D. Benford and David A. Snow. 2000. Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 pp. 611-639.

Montserrat Baras, Patricia Correa Vila, Juan Rodrguez Teruel. 2013. Comparing Incentives and Party Activism in US and Europe: PSOE, PP and the California Democratic Party. American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting

 Lindsey P. Walker-Estrada. 2004. The Education and Liberation of the Poor in Community Organizing: The Personal Growth and Transformation of Leaders in the Anti-Displacement Project. COMM-ORG papers,

Moshe ben Asher. 2010. Staff Development and Leadership.  COMM-ORG papers.

Community Toolbox, Chapters 13 and 14, Toolkit 6.

ROSC. Starting A Group. Community Organizer's Guide. Retrieved from: 

ROSC. Building A Group. Community Organizer's Guide.

Citizen Participation in Neighborhood Organizations and Its Relationship to Volunteers' Self- and Collective Efficacy and Sense of Community by Ohmer, Mary L.

Overcoming Oligarchy: Culture and Agency in Social Movement Organizations by Paul Osterman


Week 6, February 29: cutting issues/shifting issues/intersectionality, mobilizing vs. organizing (student facilitator Jennifer Webster)


Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapters 7 and 8.

Shel Trapp, Basics Of Organizing, link to: Identifying Issues

Henia Belalia, May 27, 2014, Intersectionality isnt just a win-win; its the only way out, Waging Nonviolence,

Ferguson, Mobilization and Organizing the Resistance by Ajamu Nangwaya, 2012,


Education Policy Blog.  2006. Community Organizing and Urban Education V: Cutting an Issue (Clarity and Passion).

Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization: March, 6, 2007.  USING A FEDERAL ISSUE TO DEVELOP LOCAL POWER.  Contra Costa County, CA Leaders Resist Immigration Raids in their Communiti

The Organizers Forum.  2005.  Bringing Framing to Organizing.

Virginia Organizing Project.  n.d.  Turn Problems into Issues.

Drew Serres, 14 Characteristics of an Intersectional Mass Movement, Organizing Change, no date,

C. Nicole Mason, Leading at the Intersections, Women of Color Policy Network,

Gibrn Rivera, Organizing or Mobilizing July 17, 2012,

Ellen Ryan.  2010.  Whatever Happened to Community Organizing?  COMM-ORG Papers


Week 7, March 7: organizational structures/hierarchy, organizational culture/arts/music, collaborations and coalitions


Jo Freeman.  The Tyranny of Structurelessness.

Community Toolbox.  Chapter 9: Developing an Organizational Structure. and Chapter 16: Group Facilitation.

Marlene Rebori. How to organize and run effective meetings.

Green, J. (2003). When political art mattered. New York Times.

The Emotional and Intellectual Aspects of Protest Music: Implications for Community Organizing Education,  by Lawrence M. Berger

Return of the Protest Song, Salamishah Tillet, Atlantic, 2015,



Overcoming Oligarchy: Culture and Agency in Social Movement Organizations by Paul Osterman 

Black Southern Student Sit-in Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization by Aldon Morris 

"Community, Movement, Organization: The Problem of Identity Convergence in Collective Action" Randy Stoecker. 

"Organizational Structure, Authority and Protest: The Case of Union Organizing in the United States, 1990-2001" Andrew W. Martin.

"Leader-Member Conflict in Protest Organizations: The Case of the Southern Farmers' Alliance" Michael Schwartz; Naomi Rosenthal; Laura Schwartz.

"Neighborhood Strengthening through Community Building" Suzanne M. Singh 

"Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone?" by Dan Goniprow  

Moya-Raggio, E. (1984). Arpilleras: Chilean culture of resistance. Feminist Studies, 10, 277282. See also Agosn, M. (1996). Tapestries of hope, threads of love: The Arpillera movement in Chile, 19741994. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Groundswell Community Mural Project. (2000). Retrieved March 8, 2011, from .

Vicki Carter.  1994. The Singing Heart of Highlander. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development

Garofalo, Reebee, ed. Rockin'the boat: Mass music and mass movements. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992.

11 Great Hip-Hop Protest Songs, Clover Hope | August 19, 2014 in Vibe,

A History of Rap Songs Protesting Police Brutality By Justin Charity, Angel Diaz, David Drake, 2014, Complex,


Week 8, March 14:  targets and power mapping and negotiating, confrontation and conflict tactics


Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapters 9-13.

ACORN.  Tactics of Targets


Community Power Map Guide:

Power Mapping:

Tarrow S. 1998 . Power in Movement . New York : Cambridge University Press . 2nd ed.

Eisinger P . 1973 . The conditions of protest behavior in American cities . American Political Science Review. 81 : 11-28

Moshe ben Asher. 2002. Conflict and cooperation in Macro Theory and Practice

Week 9, March 21: spring break

Week 10, March 28: 4pm-4:55pm, statewide organizing.  The rest of the class time is up to you.


Ruth Berta and Amanda Leonard Pohl, Building Power, Changing Lives: The Story of Virginia Organizing


Mark Warren, Dry Bones Rattling, Princeton University Press

Randy Stoecker, If It Can Happen in Virginia..., Rooflines,

Other statewide community organizing networks:

Organize! Ohio,

Ohio Organizing Collaborative,

SOCM (pronounced "sock 'em"),

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,

Maine People's Alliance,

Alabama Arise,

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment,


Week 11, April 4: reflecting and debriefing, self-care and burnout;  youth and family organizing (Student facilitator, self-care and burnout:  Megan Wendt)

Readings--burnout and self care:

Activist Trauma Support, Sustainable Activism and Avoiding Burnout. (note this is a pdf of a two-sided flyer, so the first page is actually the back page of the flyer and the second page is the front page)

Kim Fellner, Hearts on Fire:  How Do We Keep Them From Burning Out?,

Readings--youth and family organizing

Community Organizing and Family Issues, The COFI Way (read all four sections beginning with Introduction),

Tom Dolan, Brian Christens, and Cynthia Lin, Combining Youth Organizing and Youth Participatory Action Research to Strengthen Student Voice in Education Reform.


Activist Trauma Support Downloads,

Christine Kessen, Living Fully:  Mindfulness Practices for Everyday Life,

Youth-Led Community Organizing, by Melvin Delgado and Lee Staples.


Week 12, April 11: LGBTQ communities, Black communities (incarceration)

Readings, LGBTQ Community Organizing:

Hurricane Sandy, LGBTQ Youth and the Power of Community Organizing, John Blasco, Huffington Post, 

Namaji: Two Spirit Organizing in Montreal, Canada. Fiona Meyercook & Diane Labelle, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services,

Readings, Black Community Organizing around policing and incarceration

Black Lives Matter: The Growth of a New Social Justice Movement, by Herbert G. Ruffin II,,

From Hashtag to Strategy: The Growing Pains of Black Lives Matter, by Bill Fletcher Jr., In These Times,

How Is Black Lives Matter Winning? Waleed Shahid, Dissent,


Balm in Gilead:  Collected Stories from Black Organizers.  2016. New York Foundation.

Alinsky/TWO: 1960s Organizing in an African-American Community, by Wendy Plotkin

Queer Youth Community Organizing, by Angela Brown, BA thesis, 2009.

Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement, PBS,

Week 13, April 18: Latino communities, disability communities

Readings, Latino communities: 

Lydia Gonzalez Arizmendi and Larry Ortiz. Neighborhood and Community Organizing in Colonias: A Case Study in the Development and Use of Promotoras Journal of Community Practice, Volume 12, Issue 1-2, 2004.

Pablo Jasis and Rosario Ordez-Jasis Convivencia to Empowerment: Latino Parent Organizing at La Familia. The High School Journal 88.2 (2004-2005) 32-42.

Readings, disability communities:

 Jean Flatley McGuire. 1994. Organizing From Diversity in the Name of Community: Lessons From the Disability Civil Rights Movement. Policy Studies Journal. Volume 22, Issue 1, pages 112122.

Zach Strassburger. 2012. Disability Law and the Disability Rights Movement for Transpeople. Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 24, No. 2,  

Recommended, Latino communities: 

Laura Saldivar-tanaka, Marianne E. Krasny, Culturing community development, neighborhood open space, and civic agriculture: The case of Latino community gardens in New York City. Agriculture and Human Values, January 2004, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 399-412.

Margaret Rose, Traditional and Nontraditional Patterns of Female Activism in the United Farm Workers of America, 1962 to 1980. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, (1990), pp. 26-32.  

Cesar Chavez, The Organizer's Tale,

Marshall Ganz, Why David Sometimes Wins, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Recommended, disability communities:

The History Behind DPN (Deaf President Now),

 Fabricio E. Balcazara, Christopher B. Keysa & Yolanda Suarez-Balcazara. 2001. Empowering Latinos with Disabilities to Address Issues of Independent Living and Disability Rights: A Capacity-Building Approach. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community. Volume 21, Issue 2, 2001, pages 53-70

 H McCarthy. 2003. The Disability Rights Movement Experiences and Perspectives of Selected Leaders in the Disability Community. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin,

H McCarthy. 2003. The Disability Rights Movement Experiences and Perspectives of Selected Leaders in the Disability Community. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin,


Week 14, April 25: environmental justice organizing, food organizing?, health organizing (Student facilitator, environmental justice:  Francisco Pobar Lay and Heather Wittrock; Student facilitator, health:  Erika Schoenebeck)

Readings, Environmental Justice: 

The Natural Step,

From NIMBY to Civil Rights: The Origins of the Environmental Justice Movement, Eileen Maura McGurty, Environmental History, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 301-323, 

Readings, Health Organizing:

Jason Corburn. Combining community-based research and local knowledge to confront asthma and subsistence-fishing hazards in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2002 Apr; 110(Suppl 2): 241248.

Karen Buhler-Wdkerson. 1993. Bringing Care to the People: Lillian Wald's Legacy to Public Health Nursing.  American Journal of Public Health.

Recommended Readings, Environmental Justice and health organizing:

Creating a Sense of Place in Southwest Madison: An Evidence-Based, Public Health Approach to Community Revitalization, Kim Neuschel and Jessica LeClair, 4-24-2008,

The House on Henry Street, Lillian Wald,

Meredith Minkler and Nina Wallerstein (eds).  Community-Based Participatory Research for Health.  Jossey-Bass.

Madison's Meadowood: Time to Act, Paul Soglin, 8-24-2009,

City dispatches public health nurses to help Meadowood neighbors connect. The Cap Times, 1-30-10.

Public Health Madison & Dane County turns attention to neighborhoods, violence prevention. The Isthmus, 12-15-11.

Southwest Madison Community Organizers.


Week 15, May 2: education organizing, sex worker organizing (Student facilitator, education:  Mary Johnson).

Readings, education organizing: 

 Oakland School Organizing 

 Social Justice High School:

Readings, sex worker organizing:

Kamals Kempadoo, Globalizing Sex Workers Rights.  Canadian Women's Studies. Volume 22,

Jo Doezema, Now You See Her, Now You Dont: Sex Workers at the UN Trafficking Protocol Negotiation. Social and Legal Studies, 2005,


Community Organizing For School Improvement  

The Promise Community Organizing For School Reform  

Chicano Student Walkouts  

New Civil Rights Era

Ambar Basu and Mohan J. Dutta, Participatory Change in a Campaign Led by Sex Workers: Connecting Resistance to Action-Oriented Agency. Qualitative Health Research, 2008.

Deanna Kerrigan et al. Community empowerment among female sex workers is an effective HIV prevention intervention: a systematic review of the peer-reviewed evidence from low-and middle income countries. AIDS and Behavior, 2013,

Finals Period--May 13, 7:25pm. We will not meet during this time unless you organize us to, but all final assignments are due by this time.



Example First Class Writing Assignment

What I Want and What I Bring

Randy Stoecker

I don't exactly know why I became interested in how oppressed peoples organize to build their own power. But from a teenager on that has been my passion. I grew up in a very small and very conservative town in southeast Wisconsin, of rural working class parents.  I watched them scrimp and save and suffer the stress of making ends meet.  There was always food on the table and a roof over our heads, but their lives were preoccupied with the worry of having no job protection, few benefits (not even employer retirement plans), and a consequently uncertain future.  I chafed at the religious and cultural conservatism that surrounded me everywhere except on the TV and an older cousin who was in college just when campus political activism was reaching its nadir in the early 1970s (I didn't graduate high school until 1977).  Why I became so disenchanted with my immediate surroundings and so fascinated with the exciting turmoil beyond I don't know.  But I did.

Since then I have always wanted to find out how people without power can get more control over their own circumstances. That includes poor and working class people, people of color, people of marginalized genders and sexualities, youth, people with disabilities, and others. As a sociologist, I spent a lot of time learning how bad things are. So I am quite convinced that things are very bad indeed. The social structures of race, class, sex, ability, age, and others produce frightening and unjustifiable inequalities. But I get bored with learning how bad things are, and I don't need any more convincing. What I need to learn is how people successfully fight back against those oppressions and inequalities and build the kind of society we all deserve.

It's actually a lot more exciting for me to study how people fight back. First, even when they don't win, it is a lot more inspiring to study people's resistance than just how they got oppressed. And when they do win it's really inspiring. Thankfully, I had the good luck in graduate school to live smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood that fought back against a government-capitalist developer coalition that tried to literally bulldoze them off the map. Not only did they win, but they got to then redevelop their own neighborhood. The folks of the West Bank neighborhood in Minneapolis taught me how to be inspired.

But there are still far too few examples like that neighborhood. So one thing I want is to learn about is more examples, which I know are out there. My idea of a good vacation is to visit a city where there is good organizing going on and hang out with the group for a few days.  I also am trying to collect as many written examples--both successes and failures, as I can. I am especially interested these days in good examples of statewide organizing.  As you may know, here in Wisconsin we are seeing dramatic changes in state policy that are effecting voters' rights, workers' organizing rights, women's rights, nature's rights, and educational rights.  And the little organizing that has occurred following the demonstrations of 2011 has been wholly ineffective.  So one of the books I am assigning for the semester is about Virginia Organizing--a statewide organizing group in the state of Virginia.  They haven't been a complete success either, but I am hoping to learn some lessons from their example.

One of the other questions driving me is why we seem so reluctant to embrace conflict and confrontation.  There seems to be a strong conflict-avoidance trend in community organizing, especially among the "faith-based" community organizing networks, that has reduced a lot of community organizing to a form of lobbying. There are some empirical questions behind this. Has there actually been an historical change in our culture that makes us more conflict avoiding?  Is our avoidance of conflict strategies what is making community organizing less successful?   This connects with my concerns about Wisconsin.  Currently there is very little community organizing occurring in Wisconsin or even Madison.  There are protests.  There is lobbying.  But there is very little power-based community organizing and I need to know why.

Something else I want is to have some fun building and being part of a learning community. What I enjoy most about this class is that it has some aspects of community organizing in its own process. At some point in the course during each of the past two semesters it felt like ownership of the class shifted from me to the students, and that made the class a lot more enjoyable for me.

I can bring a fairly long history of experience in working with such groups. I started learning about community organizing first-hand in that Minneapolis neighborhood in 1983, and formally started doing research with them in 1985. I've been working with them from time to time ever since, along with a wide variety of other groups.

I can't say that I'm an actual community organizer, though I've got a couple of successes under my belt (the most fun was organizing against my previous university when they wanted to replace a park with a parking lot in my neighborhood). But I also haven't just read about and studied what people have done. Instead, I have been involved in supporting community groups' organizing work. So I've mostly provided research support for community organizing groups to help them do their work better, using a method called participatory action research. I've worked with the famous ACORN most closely, but also with a number of unaffiliated neighborhood organizing groups in North America and Australia. I have helped such groups also by facilitating strategic planning and strategy development. I have worked with a southwest Madison community organizing effort,  a neighborhood organizing project in Waukesha, WI. I have worked with an environmental organizing group in Monona, WI. 

Perhaps most importantly for this course, I have learned a lot about teaching by hanging out with community organizers. I've seen community organizers teach people lots of stuff, and I've never once seen them give a lecture. So I've also learned to teach by facilitating, mostly by reading about the work of two people--Myles Horton and Paulo Friere--both of whom developed models of community organizing that integrated community education and community organizing.