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Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7909-6
480 pages
July 2007, Jossey-Bass
Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community (0787979090) cover image


Tools for Radical Democracy is an essential resource for grassroots organizers and leaders, students of activism and advocacy, and anyone trying to increase the civic participation of ordinary people. Authors Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos share stories and tools from their nationally recognized and award-winning work of building a community-led organization, training community leaders, and conducting campaigns that changed public policy and delivered concrete results to tens of thousands of people. This how-to manual includes: 


·        In-depth analysis of how to launch and win a campaign

·        Tools and guidelines for training people to lead their own campaigns and organizations

·        Insights for using technology effectively, building more powerful alliances, and engaging in the social justice movement  


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Table of Contents


Preface: Why We Believe in Organizing and Building Power.

The Authors.

Introduction: The Power of Participation.

The Story of Community Voices Heard.


1. Taking It On: Starting to Build Power.

2. Powering Up.


3. Recruiting Constituents for Collective Action.

4. Involving Members in Building Their Own Organization.

5. Developing Leaders from All Walks of Life.

6. Uploading Technology.


7. Identifying the Right Issue.

8. Researching the Politics of an Issue.

9. Developing a Winning Strategy.

10. Planning a Comprehensive Campaign.

11. Implementing an Effective Campaign.

12. Running Kick-A** Actions!

13. Evaluating a Campaign from Beginning to End.


14. Forging Partnerships for Power.

15. Moving from Self-Interest to Social Change.

Conclusion: Putting Your Principles into Practice.


A. Organizing Lingo.

B. Raising Money for Organizing.

C. Power in the Voting Booth: Electoral Organizing.

D. Training Tips.

E. Approaches to Addressing Community Problems.

F. Creating a Legal Community Power-Building Organization.

G. For More Information.

H. The Phases and Steps of a Campaign: An Annotated Case Example.


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Author Information

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos are cofounders of Community Voices Heard, a leading social justice organization in New York City and the United States. They are experienced organizers, trainers, university lecturers, and recipients of the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World Award.

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"if you're looking for a practical how-to guide to building community power without a lot of excursions into the ins and outs of fundraising, Tools is just the ticket." (Philanthropy News Digest, 03/04/08)

" It is well-organized and easy to use." (CharityVillage.com, 10/29/2007)

"…it is refreshing to see a book that focuses downward- at the community level- and outward- at social movements." (Nonprofit Online News, 09/05/2007)

"The authors offer a guide to involving and organizing others -- especially the most marginalized members of society -- in a social-justice movement. Throughout the book are examples of meeting agendas, campaign plans, surveys to determine the key issues that are important to local residents, lists of desired qualities in community-organizing leaders, and other resources that can serve as templates." --Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 10, 2008

This book provides the nuts and bolts for how people and communities that start on the margins can move to center stage. Tools for Radical Democracy shines the spotlight on what works, and will help spark the next generation of social change movements. To be sure, our country is in dire need of such techniques.”—Andy Stern, president, Service Employees International Union, CTW, CLC

“This manual is an organizer’s organizer. I hope many people will put this to use.”—Heather Booth, founder and president, Midwest Academy

“This book is ‘the secret’ for building collective power for long-term social change.”

—Nat Chioke Williams, executive director, Hill Snowdon Foundation

“Minieri and Getsos provide real-world examples of how ordinary people can become leaders who effect positive change. This book will be required reading for our staff and recommended reading for all our members.”—Janet S. Keating, codirector, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

“Students, scholars, and social activists alike will find something to their tastes in this how-to guide for rebuilding democracy from the ground up.”Joaquin Herranz Jr., assistant professor, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington

Tools for Radical Democracy is for all people who feel themselves closed out by the decisions that affect their lives. Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos bring their solid experience in building a cooperative and forceful voice to the story of a community out and acting powerfully.”—Colin Greer, president, The New World Foundation

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Related Websites / Extra

Tools for Radical DemocracyLearn how to organize for power in your community! Read an excerpt, learn more about the authors, and see what others are saying about Tools for Radical Democracy.
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