Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Creative Community Organizing: A Guide For Rabble-Rousers, Activists, and Quiet Lovers of Justice

Kahn, S. (2010). Creative community organizing: A guide for rabble-rousers, activists, and quiet lovers of justice. Berrett-Koehler Store.

Summary: “Creative Community Organizing” is a memoir from former founder of the non-profit Grassroot Leadership, Si Kahn. Aside from being a working musician, Kahn’s experience with community organizing is rooted in the Civil Rights movement, where he first landed in Mississippi during the summer of 1964 to organize black citizens to register to vote. After that historic summer, Kahn’s work covered other historical social movements, working alongside various labor unions in the 1970’s and 80’s to protesting against the existence of for-profit prisons in the last two decades. His book serves as both a memoir and a how to, as Kahn uses his own organizing experience to provide detailed and accessible guidance on how to affect change in your own community. However, his book and ideas are not merely meant for political activist. Kahn states in his introduction that what separates his work and the campaigns he had led was their creativity. Through the book, he is providing innovative structures in which people can collect, meet, and critically think about their community. Those lessons could not only be valuable for any teacher trying to daily mold the hearts and minds of young students, but also for any school looking to actively and positively engage it’s own community. I have not read the entire book, but simply by the introduction and first two chapters, Kahn lives up to that expectation, blending his own rich narrative with practical advice in the organizer’s tool belt found at the end of every chapter.

Quote: “One of the greatest skills an organizer can have is the ability to frame and ask questions in way that make people not only want to answer them, but also think deeply, and in unexpected ways, about what the answers might be… Creativity community organizing can transform us into visionaries, prod us to learn new skills, and encourage us take risks for our and our children’s future.”

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