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Books on Community Organizing


This page has books on organizing. The books on this page are selected for their utility is helping people organize in their neighborhoods and communities; I may not agree with all of the perspectives of the authors, but the book selection offers a diverse points of view on the subject.

Taking Back our Neighborhoods: Building communities that work, Mary Wachter, Cynthia Tinsley. A step-by-step plan for creating a more pleasant, less violent neighborhood. Order this book today!

Sustainable Community Development: Principles and concepts. Chris Maser. Present a community-directed process of development based on human values, active learning, shared communication and cooperation. Order this book today!

The Careless Society: Community and its Counterfeits, John McKnight. Considers how the efforts of "experts" may in fact be destroying neighborhoods; celebrates the ability of neighborhoods to heal from within. Focuses on four "counterfeiting" aspects of society: professionalism, medicine, human service systems, and the criminal justice system. Has reflections on Christian service and its transformation into carelessness. Order this book today!

Going Local: Creating self-reliant communities in a global age, Michael Shuman. Many communities are handing out corporate welfare to encourage businesses to relocate to their areas. Presents positive alternatives: (1) invest in locally-owned businesses like credit unions, cooperatives, community land trusts, municipally owned utilities, small worker-owned firms, community development corporations, local share-holder owned firms; (2) focus on import-replacing rather than export-led, i.e. reduce dependence on distant sources of energy, water, food, and basic materials; (3) eliminate many subsidies and change tax and trade laws. A challenge to conservative and liberals alike. I have ordered this one myself. Order this book today!

The Triumphs of Joseph: How today's community healers are reviving our streets and neighborhoods. Robert L. Woodson, Sr. A story of moral regeneration through religious-based grassroots groups emphasizing self-help. The author is founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. This one is in my personal library, and I've had a hard time deciding if this should be here or on the Spirituality page. I don't necessarily agree with everything here, but there is more truth than anything else. Order this book today!

Restorers of Hope: Reaching the poor in your community with church-based ministries that work, Amy Sherman. Another one from my personal library with some valuable stuff. Notes the importance of both spiritual and temporal redemption, the existence of both structures of sin and personal responsibility, and how involvement at the level of the street and neighborhood is essential. Order this book today!

50 Ways to a Safer World: Everyday actions you can take to prevent violence in neighborhoods, schools, and communities, Barrie Levy and Patricia Occhiuzzo Giggans. Accessible and easy to understand, practical actions. Order this book today!

From Holy Power to Holy Profits: the Black Church and Community Economic Development, Dr. Walter Malone. Order this book today!

From Mondragon to America: Experiments in Community Economic Development, Gregory MacLeod. The Mondragon cooperatives of the Basque region of Spain grow out of the teaching of the social justice doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. In the 1950s, five people joined together in a cooperative to make paraffin stoves in a garage. Today, the Mondragon cooperatives have more than 30,000 owner-employees in over 100 different enterprises, doing everything from manufacturing machine tools to distributing groceries. Order this book today!

Freedom, Justice, and Hope: Toward a strategy for the poor and the oppressed. Marvin Olasky et al., I believe this book is rather controversial in some circles, because its emphasis is on what the poor can do for themselves and on the obstacles that exist to the poor helping other poor people. Order this book today!

Restoring At-Risk Communities: doing it together and doing it right, John Perkins, editor. This one is in my personal library; in-depth, how-to, profiles 14 urban ministry professionals. Order this book today!

Building a Better World: Developing communities of hope in troubled times. Dave Andrews. Indexed with keywords Roman Catholicism, city planning, urban development, community. It's on my personal order list. Order this book today!

Organizing the South Bronx (Suny Series, the New Inequalities). Jim Rooney, Nathan Glazer. A study of the process by which the residents of an impoverished urban neighborhood were educated and organized to fight the city government for vacant land and build low-cost, owner-occupied housing. Such organizing, mainly working through traditional churches, is rapidly growing in the US and has close relatives in Latin America. Pricey, but very interesting. Order this book today!

A Time to Heal: John Perkins, community development, and racial reconciliation, by Stephen Berk. A detailed narrative of the life of this renowned African American community development pioneer. Order this book today!

Economic Empowerment through the Church: A blueprint for progressive community development, Gregory Reed, Eric Lincoln. A complete blueprint for community development economic empowerment for the church. Order this book today!

Organizing for Social Change: A manual for activists in the 1990s, Kim Bobo, et al. A comprehensive manual for grassroots organizers working for social, political, environmental, and economic change at the local, state, and national level. Order this book today!

The Activist's Handbook: A primer for the 1990s and beyond, Randy Shaw. A true handbook, has detailed examples of action in a wide variety of areas - crime prevention, affordable housing, ecology, and etc. Analyzes campaigns that succeeded and some that failed. Order this book today!

Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing, Linda Stout, Howard Zinn. Uses an organizing model with seven principles: focus on social change, work across lines of race and class, diversity of outreach and training, linking local and national issues, developing personal empowerment and organizational power, flexibility to meet changing circumstances. Intriguing. Order this book today!

Building Communities from the Inside Out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community's assets, John Kretzmann and John McKnight. Studies successful community-building initiatives in hundreds of US neighborhoods. Asset-based development. Order this book today!

Activism That Makes Sense: Congregations and community organization. This one isn't available yet, it can be ordered and will be shipped when it is received from the publisher (or you can wait for me to put a note here that it is available; it's one that I'm waiting on). Order this book today!

Working Together Against World Hunger (Library of Social Activism). Order this book today!

Working Together Against School Violence (Library of Social Activism) . Considers the causes of violence and possible ways for young people to take action. Order this book today!

Working Together Against Homelessness (Library of Social Activism). Briefly considers causes and controversies surrounding hopelessness, but concentrates on practical aspects of helping homeless shelters. Order this book today!

Working Together Against Gang Violence (Library of Social Activism), Margi Trapani. Unites young adults in activism against gang violence. Order this book today!

Working Together Against Crime (Library of Social Activism), Victor Adint. Examines the problem of crime, why people commit crimes, and ways that teens can get involved in crime prevention to make their communities safer. Order this book today

Placemaking: the Art and Practice of Building Communities, Linda Schneekloth, advice for designers regarding the human requirements of place-making. Order this book today!

Generation React: Activism for Beginners, Danny Seo. Oriented towards young people, by the founder of an environmental organization, covers publicity, fund-raising, organizing. Order this book today!

Enough is Enough: the Hellraisers' Guide to Community Activism, Diane Maceachern. Order this book today!

Planting and Growing Urban Churches: From dream to reality, Harvie Conn. From a Protestant perspective, discusses "church planting" in cities, with examples of successful urban efforts. Order this book today!

Streets of Hope: The fall and rise of an urban neighborhood, Peter Medoff, Holly Sklar. Order this book today!

Social Innovation in the City: New enterprises for community development. Richard Rosenbloom, Robin Marris. Order this book today!

Empowerment: The politics of alternative development, John Friedmann. Order this book today!

Funding Sources for Community and Economic Development 1998: A guide to current sources for local programs and projects. Newly revised and updated, provides easy access to more than 2400 funding sources. Order this book today!

From Redlining to Reinvestment: Community responses to urban disinvestment (Conflict in Urban and Regional Development, Gregory Squires (editor). A pricey book, but discusses the efforts of 300 hundred community-based organizations to promote reinvestment in communities. Order this book today!

Called to Lead: Leadership development in a small community context: Leader's manual. Order this book today!

Community Building: what makes it work, a review of factors influencing successful community building. Paul Mattessich, Barbara Monsey. Discusses 28 factors that are keys to successful community building. Order this book today!

Reclaiming Capital: Democratic initiatives and community development. Christopher and Hazel Dayton Gunn. Order this book today!

Organizing for Power and Empowerment (Empowering the Powerless: A social work), Jacqueline Mondros, Scott Wilson. Order this book today! (Hardcover edition) Order this book today!

Roots to Power: A manual for grassroots organizing, Lee Staples. Rebuild your neighborhood, develop good jobs, improve schools, prepare for emergencies, or whatever else you need to do with the ideas and suggestions in this manual. Order this book today!

Neither Urban Jungle nor Urban Village: women, families, and community development (Sara Stoutland). Order this book today!

Let the People Decide: Neighborhood organizing in America (Social Movements Past and Present), Robert Fisher. Updated and revised, studies the period 1886 to the 1980s. Order this book today!

Fight Back: How you and your neighbors can take action to improve your community, Dennis King. An investigative reporter takes would-be community activists through the basic steps. Order this book today! (Available January 1999)

Community Organizing: Building social capital as a development strategy. Social capital are ideas and structures that support good things -- a diverse collection, it could also be referred to as citizenship, civic virtue, things like showing up for work on time, giving a good days work for a good days pay, etc. Order this book today!

Community Organizing and Development, Herbert and Irene Rubin. Order this book today!

Community Impact: Creating grass roots change, William Berkowitz. Order this book today!

Community Organization and Social Administration: Advances, trends, emerging principles. Terry Mizrahi, John Morrison (editor). Documents the 2nd International Conference on Human Services Information Technology Applications in 1991. Order this book today!

Promoting Community Change: Making it happen in the Real World, Mark Homan. Order this book today!

50 Simple Things You Can Do to Build Community. Not yet available, but may be worth looking at when it is. Order this book today!

After Alinsky: Community organizing in Illinois, Peg Knoepfle (editor). Order this book today!

Breaking New Ground: community-based development organizations. (State policies for community development, #5). Order this book today!

Defending Community: The struggle for alternative redevelopment in Cedar-Riverside (Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development series). Order this book today!

Community Organizing. Specht, Torczyner, Brager. Order this book today!

Community Organizations in Latin America. Juan Carlos Navarro, editor. Published by the Centers for Research in Applied Economics, examines role of community organizations in reducing poverty in Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Chile. Order this book today!

Community Organizing and Community Building for Health, Meredith Minkler, editor. Order this book today!

Community, Culture, and Economic Development; the social roots of local action (Suny Series, Democracy in American Politics), Meredith Ramsay. Order this book today!

Community Builders: A tale of neighborhood mobilization in two cities (Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development, Gordana Rabrenovic, Order this book today!

Capital and Communities in Black and White: Intersections of race, class, and uneven development, Gregory Squires, argues that government policies have supported and increased inequality in the US. Order this book today!

Common Purpose: Strengthening families and neighborhoods to rebuild America. Lisbeth Schorr. Examines the problems of expanding a successful local project to a wider area, considers aspects of successful small programs that can be replicated. Comes from a neither left or right but rather pragmatic view. Order this book today!

Grassroots Leaders for a New Economy: How civic entrepreneurs are building prosperous communities. Three of the founders of Joint Venture (a regional alliance dedicated to improving the economy and quality of life in their community) outline their processes of civic entrepreneurship. Order this book today!

Beyond Charity: The call to Christian community development, John Perkins. The urban poor are oppressed, observes Perkins, but not always in ways normally thought. Order this book today!

Altars in the Street: A neighborhood fights to survive, Melody Chavis. Chronicles community-level social action and spiritual development in Lorin, an interracial neighborhood on Berkeley's south side plagued by drugs and crime, from the viewpoint of a mother raising children. Order this book today!

Action Planning for Cities: A guide to community practice, Nabeel Hamdi, Reinhard Goethert. Proposes an alternative approach and practical guide to planning which is grounded in community needs with immediate objectives. Order this book today!

Creating Community Anywhere: Finding support and connection in a fragmented world, Shaffer, Anundsen, Peck. How to organize and grow groups that play, work, learn, and celebrate together across geography, age, and other boundaries. Order this book today!

A Tradition That Has No Name, nurturing the development of people, families, and communities, Belenky, Bondd, Weinstock, Field. Four women report projects that uphold "women's ways of knowing". Order this book today!

The Community of the Future (Drucker Foundation Future Series), Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, editors. Hesselbeim is president of the Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, and aims for "greater understanding of community in all its many forms." Order this book today!

Metropolitics: A regional agenda for community and stability, Myron Orfield. Looks at old geographies and new alliances in Minneapolis, considers destructive land use policies and the problems of the old paradigms of city policy. Order this book today!

Rebuilding the Inner City: A history of neighborhood initiatives to address poverty in the United States, Robert Halpern. Chronicles the efforts of geographically defined organizations to shape the course of life in US cities throughout the 20th century. Order this book today!

Awakening: The Upside of Y2k, Judy Laddon, Tom Atlee, Larry Shook (editors). If you only buy one book on the y2k issue, get this one. Written to appeal to a broad ecumenical audience, this book shows how Y2k can be the genesis of a better way of living and being on this planet. I highly recommend this book. It provides much food for thought and many ideas for action. Order this book today!

Rules for Radicals: A practical primer for realistic radicals, by Saul Alinsky. If you can only buy one book on community organizing, get this one. I have this in my library and have used its principles many times over the past 15 years or so. He writes from an viewpoint of left ideology (but non-marxist), yet his action principles transcend narrow sectarian politics and can, with proper adaptation and consideration of the real world situation you are in, be used in many different contexts, for both faith-based and secular organizing activities. Not for the faint of heart, but for those who are ready to go to work. The style is easy to read, you may be surprised at some of his conclusions. One of my favorite lines is: Don't try to organize an Orthodox Jewish community while eating a ham sandwich. Read this book and you will understand more about the success of groups as divergent as the "religious right" and neighborhood community development groups. Order this book today!


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