Synopses & Reviews
Have activists taken the bumper-sticker adage "Think Globally, Act Locally" too literally? Randy Shaw argues that they have, with destructive consequences for America. Since the 1970s, activist participation in national struggles has steadily given way to a nearly exclusive focus on local issues. America's political and corporate elite has succeeded in controlling the national agenda, while their adversariesand#151;the citizen activists and organizations who spent decades building federal programs to reflect the country's progressive idealsand#151;increasingly bypass national fights. The result has been not only the dismantling of hard-won federal programs but also the sabotaging of local agendas and community instituions by decisions made in the national arena.
Shaw urges activists and their organizations to implement a "new national activism" by channeling energy from closely knit local groups into broader causes. Such activism enables locally oriented activists to shape America's future and work on national fights without traveling to Washington, D.C., but instead working in their own backyards. Focusing on the David and Goliath struggle between Nike and grassroots activists critical of the company's overseas labor practices, Shaw shows how national activism can rewrite the supposedly ironclad rules of the global economy by ensuring fair wages and decent living standards for workers at home and abroad. Similarly, the recent struggles for stronger clean air standards and new federal budget priorities demonstrate the potential grassroots national activism to overcome the corporate and moneyed interests that increasingly dictate America's future.
Reclaiming America's final section describes how community-based nonprofit organizations, the media, and the Internet are critical resources for building national activism. Shaw declares that community-based groups can and must combine their service work with national grassroots advocacy. He also describes how activists can use public relations to win attention in today's sprawling media environment, and he details the movement-building potential of e-mail. All these resources are essential for activists and their organizations to reclaim America's progressive ideals.
"Randy Shaw provides the definitive account of the historic national campaign to reform Nike's labor practices. Reclaiming America
is a must read for everyone seeking to achieve greater social and economic fairness in the 21st Century."and#151;Medea Benjamin, Co-Director, Global Exchange
"Reclaiming America is an outstanding and innovative work that provides new understanding of events and patterns in American society. Shaw's activist-oriented analysis of methods of effective mobilization campaigns is unique and extremely important for scholars and practitioners alike."and#151;Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia
"Reclaiming America is a must read for anyone who wants to impact the national agenda. By taking a close look at recent victories against sweatshops and for clean air, Randy Shaw urges us to think bigand#151;and win through national agitation against the Great American Consumer machine."and#151;Jim Hightower, author of There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos
"Reclaiming America refutes the myth of campus apathy and shows how student activists play a vital role in national policy fights. Shaw's account of the successful Clean Air Act campaign led by the PIRGs and Sierra Club is enormously valuable in depicting how grassroots activism can still overcome big money in the national arena."and#151;Gene Karpinsky, Executive Director, U.S. PIRG
"In an era when the nonprofit sector is bearing dramatically increased reponsibility for meeting human needs, Reclaiming America is essential reading. Randy Shaw challenges community based organizations to connect their good works with national policy discussions. Shaw demonstrates how acting nationally is a necessary part of local advocacy and service work. Anyone who works in the nonprofit sector or cares about it must read this book."and#151;Mary Beth Pudup, University of California, Santa Cruz
About the Author
Randy Shaw is Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, located in San Francisco, California, and author of The Activist's Handbook (California, 1996).
Table of Contents
Part One: Reclaiming America outside the Electoral Process: National Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns and the Movement for a Living Wage
1. Just Don't Buy It: Challenging Nike and the Rules of the Global Economy
2. From Challenging American Sweatshops to a Movement for a Global Living Wage
Part Two: Reclaiming America through the Political Process: National Environmental Activism and the Pentagon Redirection Campaign
3. The New National Environmental Activism
4. The Pentagon: Reclaiming America by Giving Peace a Chance
Part Three: Resources for National Activism: Community-Based Organizations, the Media, and the Internet
5. Community-Based Nonprofit Organizations: From Demobilizers to Agents of Change
6. The Media: Mobilizing through the Echo Effect
7. The Internet: Mobilizing in Cyberspace