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Bridging the Class Divide: And Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing 1st Edition

17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442043090
ISBN-10: 0807043095
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Where literature on community organizing circulates, the often contrarian views of the working-class founder of North Carolina's Piedmont Peace Project (PPP) are likely to draw attention. Stout, now executive director of the Peace Development Fund in Massachusetts, had often found herself--as a native southern woman with a high-school education in the early '80s peace movement--closed out of functions like public speaking. PPP, formed by and for working-class and poor people (predominantly women and African Americans), has developed its own organizing model based on seven principles: focusing on social change; working across lines of race and class; including indigenous leaders and organizers; encouraging diversity through ongoing outreach and training; linking local and national issues; developing and maintaining personal empowerment while working for organizational power; and staying flexible to adapt to participants' needs and leadership styles. Stout describes the "invisible walls" --of language, assumed knowledge, logistics, meeting format and structure--that middle-class organizations often unintentionally erect and suggests mutually respectful ways citizens can work together for social and economic justice. Mary Carroll

About the Author

Linda Stout grew up in poverty in rural North Carolina and went on to found one of this country's most successful and innovative grassroots organizations, the Piedmont Peace Project. Working for peace, jobs, health care, and basic social services in North Carolina's conservative Piedmont region, the project has attracted national attention for its success in drawing leadership from within a working-class community, actively encouraging diversity, and empowering people who have never had a voice in policy decisions to speak up for their own interests

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (February 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807043095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807043097
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Linda Stout, director of Spirit in Action, has been a grassroots organizer and activist for three decades. A thirteenth-generation Quaker born to a tenant-farming family, Linda founded a successful grassroots organization in 1984, in a conservative region of North Carolina.

PPP worked successfully to forge extraordinary alliances across race and class lines and won major public policy changes. Linda's awards include a Public Policy Fellowship from Harvard University, Honorary Doctorate for Allegheny College, and the Freedom Fighter Award of the Equal Rights Congress. Her story was featured in Stud Terkel's book, "Hope Dies Last" and she is the author of Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing, published by Beacon Press.

Her second book, Collective Visioning: How Groups Can Work Together to Create a Just and Sustainable World (available for pre-order at reduced price) will be released from Berrett Koehler (May 2011).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is a moving personal story that shows how ordinary people can make a difference. It exemplifies the statement of Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Told in simple language, the story has profound insight into the way social class limits opportunities of working class people and how social class prejudice hurts. There are many practical insights about how people can organize effectively to make a better world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Leondar Wright on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Bridging the Class Divide is one of the best books in the world on organizing for social change. By telling her own story, Linda Stout makes it clear what the obstacles are for low-income people to work for a better world, and what the obstacles are for forming mixed-class coalitions, and how those obstacles can be overcome.
This is not just my own individual opinion. I assigned this book as one of 8 books in a graduate course for environmental advocates, and at the end of the course I asked the students what learnings they would carry with them into their working life the most, and 7 out of 11 students named Linda Stout's key points.
-- Betsy Leondar-Wright
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rocky Citro on March 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
anyone interested in reading a real example of significant, practical social change should read this book (along with jennifer gordon's suburban sweatshops). really, really excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PPABike on July 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book truly is an awe inspiring read!! It really should become standard reading for every kind of institution and grassroots organization. The story itself is very moving and makes you feel for and with the author. There are many great lessons to apply to ones life and service and the inspiring words to make you get up and use them. I have brought this book up many times when discussing positive change that is going on in the world and shared my copy with several people and am going to buy another copy as a present for a friend. You will not be able to put the book down until you have read it all the way through!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Halliday on April 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Linda's personal account of her journey to becoming one of the most thoughtful political organizers in our nation is both inspiring and provocative. Her writing style is simple and compelling. Her reflections on growing up poor, and organizing for power with poor people is a 101 in Social Activism that should be read by anyone who has ever yearned to change the world. Linda continues her work to this day, striving to knit together a stronger, more cohesive and effective social change movement. That she's also blessed with real writing talent is a gift to us all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Cushing on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a great book because it has vivid stories that make the work of Linda Stout and Piedmont Peace Project come alive. Along with enjoying these stories, all those who want to create a better world will glean practical advice on how to make their visions a reality.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Adair on April 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Bridging the Class Divide is a "must read" for anyone with an interest in community organizing at any level. Not only is Linda Stout's personal story riveting, but the book also provides concrete steps for how to go about galvanizing groups and individuals. Stout has a great way of reaching out to everyone, not just people who do this full-time, but anyone who wants to make a difference in their community. It is at once inspiring and practical. I read it when it was first published and have referred to it many times since then. My 14-year old recently began bringing together kids to organize around school issues, and I passed it along to him. And if you're not interested in organizing, Stout's personal journey is inspiring all on its own.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Felice Yeskel on May 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you care about helping to create a better world, this book will help. Class divisions are one of the most insidious, though least discussed, problems impacting our ability to effectively build movements for change. In an accessible style, with great stories, Linda Stout shares her years of organizing wisdom and makes it clear just what it takes to build effective cross-class alliances.

As the Executive Director of Class Action, [...] I have recommended Bridging the Class Divide many times. It is a useful resource for activists and non-activists alike.

Felice Yeksel
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