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Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective Paperback – October 19, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Ultimately, Black Flags and Windmills is about envisioning a better world and trusting ourselves to believe that our dreams actually contain the paths to make it happen, not as voters, not as consumers, but as participants in a spontaneous, horizontal democracy that looks different everywhere but meets the needs of the people where they are." —The Indypendent (December 29, 2011)

"Black Flags and Windmills is an incredible book about a group of dedicated men and women who, faced with challenges from all sides of the United States government, built an oasis in a desert." —Razorcake (March 2012)

"When we read Black Flags and Windmills, we get a sense of heroic narrative—the tradition of black liberation, third world revolution, anarchist organizing—but we can understand this only in the context of a politics of friendship, a constant feeling of giving and understanding." —www.EarthFirstNews.wordpress.com

About the Author

scott crow is an anarchist activist, a community organizer, a writer, and the founder of social justice groups and education projects throughout Texas and the south, including Common Ground Collective, Dirty South Earth First!, the North Texas Coalition for a Just Peace, Radical Encuentro Camp, and UPROAR (United People Resisting Oppression and Racism). He has also trained and organized for many grassroots organizations, including ACORN,  Forest Ethics, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and The Ruckus Society, and is currently collaborating on a number of sustainable cooperative projects. He lives in Austin, Texas. Kathleen Cleaver is a senior lecturer in law at Emory University and was the spokesperson and first female member of the Black Panther Party's decision-making body. She is the author of Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party, and We Want Freedom. She lives in Atlanta.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: PM Press (October 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604860774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604860771
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Black Flags and Windmills is scott crow's first-person account of his experiences as one of the leaders of a volunteer group that assembled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in an effort to directly help people and make a difference on the scene in Algiers. It is a harrowing narrative, and crow (the author uses all lower case letters in his name) does an excellent job of conveying all the many emotions that he went through, as he became aware that a friend of his (a fellow activist for peace and civil rights) was among the many cut off from help in that section of the NOLA area. He takes the reader along for the ride as he experiences everything from compassion, fear, hesitation, heartbreak, feelings of helplessness, and then on through the fear to courage borne of outrage and righteous indignation, with the end result being effective, direct action.

Along the way, crow interweaves into his text a personal memoir that recounts the twists and turns of his life that led a lower-middle class kid who came of age in a dismal, intellectually stultified suburb of Dallas, TX during the Reagan 80 to eventually land with both feet in a sort of compassionate, collectivist socio-political movement that crow describes as "'little a' anarchism". The author does a fair job of painting this picture for a general audience. (While I come from a similar socio-economic background to crow's, I was largely unaware of the various activist and peace movements simmering right under my nose all these years).
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Format: Paperback
This book tells the story of the exhilarating first months of Common Ground Relief, an organization that formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to provide relief to the residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, in defiance of the bumbling government and non-profit bureaucracies that couldn't bear to step out from behind their desks and conventional wisdom to help desperate people out of the flood waters. It is a story of hope amid tragedy, as Common Ground succeeded in doing what FEMA and the Red Cross could not (at least on a localized scale in the Algiers neighborhood) with nothing more than a handful of volunteers, some donated bicycles and communications equipment, and a tremendous amount of courage, creativity, and perseverance.

Crow traces the history of experiences, ideas, and philosophies that brought him to New Orleans and led him to help co-found Common Ground. His narrative is fast-paced and engaging, and some of his stories of the days and weeks after the storm are intensely dramatic and truly riveting. The narrative is intermixed with a dose of political theory that is well-grounded and very accessible. Some of the analysis stops short of blowing my mind or lifting me out of my seat to yell "amen!" and many of the bigger questions and lessons are left in the subtext for readers to extract themselves, rather than being made explicit and direct. But, with Occupy Wall St. capturing much of the country's imagination in response to seemingly permanent economic and social crisis, Black Flags and Windmills offers valuable insights, questions, and lessons about where we have been, where we might think about going, and ways we might get there. It challenges us to act big and dream bigger, because our lives depend on it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
even in the face of the most base, humanly reprehensible, conditions, we always have a choice. making the 'right' choice is painfully challenging at the worst of times and liberating at the best. Scott Crow faces impossible decisions and makes mistakes but stands with integrity and proves 'WE' don't need 'THEM' to save us, protect us, guard us, rule us.
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