Synopses & Reviews
Community organizers work at their jobs because they are passionate, because they believe that change is possible, and because they enjoy working with people. Although it's not an occupation that leads to great wealth, community organizers can make a living at it. They get salaries, pensions and health insurance. They raise families. They do well by doing good. This book explores the world of community organizing through the voices of real people working in the field, in small towns and city neighborhoods--women and men of different races and economic backgrounds, ranging in age from those in their twenties to those in their sixties. Fourteen in-depth profiles tell the life stories of a cross-section of the diverse people who choose the life of an organizer. Other chapters, focused on issues of organizing, are tapestries of experience woven from the 81 interviews the authors conducted.
Looking for a rewarding, meaningful career? In We Make Change
, community organizers tell their own stories about one of the most adventurous careers available--grassroots organizing for social change. The pay is lousy, the hours are long, but, as these deeply engaging stories show, you won't find better company anywhere.
--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
...very interesting, very entertaining read.
--Colleen Everett, COMM-ORG Papers
New organizers will appreciate the candor that veterans share about the difficulty of spending a lifetime organizing for change; veterans will find relief in the hopefulness that fuels the young organizers profiled in the book.
The most wonderful thing about We Make Change is that it's so much fun to read. It's like a personal tour of America where you get to meet the most engaging, optimistic kind of citizens -- people who love this country's possibilities and are working to fulfill them. It is also a deeply informative portrait of community organizing -- how it works, why it is so important for our future.
--William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
About the Author
Kristin Layng Szakos is the former editor of The Appalachian Reader, a quarterly journal about citizen organizing in Appalachia. Joe Szakos has been the Executive Director of the Virginia Organizing Project since 1994. He was the founding coordinator of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (1981-1993), as well as one of the founders of the Southern Empowerment Project and the Hungarian Environmental Partnership.
Table of Contents
1. What is Community Organizing?
Profile: Brian Johns--A Day in the Life of a New Organizer
Profile: Don Elmer--35 Years and Going Strong
2. Where Organizers Come From: Childhood Memories
Profile: Teresa Erickson--Organizing in the West
3. How I Started Organizing
Profile: Nicholas Graber-Grace--Organizing with ACORN in Florida
Profile: Kelly (Corley) Pokharel--Just Starting Out
4. Why Organize?
Profile: Rhonda Anderson--Organizing for Environmental Justice
5. What Makes a Good Organizer?
Profile: Vivian Chang--Bridging Cultures
6. Changing Lives While Making Change
Profile: Guillermo Quinteros--Urban Organizing in the Northeast
Profile: Jana Adams--Faith in the City
Profile: Scott Douglas--Organizing in the South
7. Achievements and Victories
Profile: Dave Mann--Consulting (Life After Organizing)
8. Disappointments Are Inevitable
Profile: Jerome Scott--Educating a Movement
9. Advice to Aspiring Organizers
Profile: Abigail Singer--A Young Organizer in Appalachia
Profile: Dave Beckwith--Funding Community Organizing
What Organizers Read and Watch
Where Organizers Work
What They're Doing Now