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Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World Paperback – January 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Long Haul Press (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977151808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977151806
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michael Jacoby Brown distills more than 30 years of organizing into his book, which every aspiring and veteran activist should own. This book is strongly recommended."  —Library Journal



'At a time when national power is held by the wealthy classes, there is an urgent need, if democracy is to survive, for people to organize in their own communities. For this, Michael Brown is a superb guide. His book is full of thoughtful, practical advice for community organizers, and indeed for anyone who wants to participate at the grass roots in making ours a more just society."  —Howard Zinn, author, A People’s History of the United States


"Clearly relevant to precinct organizing and political campaigns."  —Michael S. Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts


"Covers all the organizing principles and methods and also breaks out 25 specific written exercises people can do."  —Social Policy


"This no-nonsense, user-friendly guidebook is replete with sound organizing advice . . . the book's nicely illustrated, jargon-free, pragmatic, and skilled pedagogical format makes it a wonderful textbook for teaching community organizing."  —Journal of Community Practice


"A practical, much-needed skills-building manual for a wide range of readers. Beginners will find a broad guide to the work. Veterans will find critical points of reflection, evaluation and re-orientation."  —National Organizers Alliance Ark Magazine

About the Author

Michael Jacoby Brown has more than 30 years of experience building community organizations. He has trained hundreds of individuals involved with a variety of nongovernmental organizations who have proceeded to build groups focused on social change. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

More About the Author

About the Author

Michael Jacoby Brown has worked as a community organizer for over 30 years. He has recruited and trained hundreds of volunteers and professional community organizers, conducted dozens of workshops, worked as a staff organizer for several community organizations, and started some organizations himself. He has worked with unions, fighting for better wages and working conditions for fire fighters, garbage collectors, and public school teachers. He also has worked as a community activist, fighting for fair utility rates, fair taxes, better schools, and many other issues.

He started out in community organizing as a volunteer, while working as a teacher and construction worker. In 1978 he got his first job as a paid community organizer, for the Vermont Alliance. Since then, Brown has organized mobile home tenants, low-income renters, and low- and middle-income people around a wide range of issues. He has knocked on thousands of doors, sat in thousands of kitchens, and consumed gallons of coffee and Kool-Aid. He has organized hundreds of community meetings in dozens of church basements and storefronts to build organizations with volunteers from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Brown has worked with and for dozens of health, political, labor, and religious organizations, including the Vermont Alliance, Massachusetts Fair Share, the Jobs with Peace Campaign, and B'nai B'rith. He mostly had fun and learned a lot throughout it all. He also has made thousands of mistakes, sometimes over and over again, until he finally learned not to make those same mistakes. One motive for writing this book is a desire to help others avoid the same mistakes he made.

In addition to decades of on-the-job training, Brown also has studied organizational development and behavior. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In his work and in his writing, he has tried to bridge the academic world of theory and the daily reality of practice at the community level.

Brown also has served as an elected official (in Rutland County, Vermont) and as the founder and editor of the Rutland Voice, a community newspaper. In 1998 he founded the Jewish Organizing Initiative, where he has raised and leveraged several million dollars to train dozens of young people as community organizers. He is now the Director of MICAH (see: www.MICAHMA.ORG), The Metropolitan Interfaith Congregations Acting for Hope, in Metrowest Massachusetts, which is part of the National PICO Network. (see: www.piconetwork.org) He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, is married, and has two children.




Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I highly recomend this one.
Amazon Customer
This is a practical resource idea book for those interested in starting or strengthening a community organization or nonprofit.
Amazon Customer
"Building Powerful Community Organizations" demands engagement by the reader.
Brian L Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Author Michael Jacoby Brown has created a book with very detailed information on how to organize, create, and lead a community organization. In it he clearly explains all the steps necessary to create an effective organization that can resolve problems. The various areas discussed include the theory of how a group should work, the chemistry involved, the seven basic steps for building an organization, developing a mission statement, goals, and objectives, designing the organization to last, recruiting others, mobilizing, raising money and taking action. Throughout the book are case studies and exercises to help you not only understand how it all works but also to help you work through developing your organization correctly. If you want to change the world and know you need help to do it then you will appreciate this book. Building Powerful Community Organizations is easily the best book on the market today on this subject.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter R. Lee on July 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for hospitals, foundations, public health agencies and people working on any form of community improvement. Michael has documented his learnings with stories and tools that can equip those willing to learn to build powerful community organization, as the title says. There are lots of various community organizing guides but this one mixes stories and tools in an easy to read, nicely laid out style. His wisdom comes from years of community organizing and translates here into practical, easy to access advice. This is the best handbook I have seen in a long time! The author makes himself available with info on how to reach him as well as a website with blog that makes him more than a distant author; he is approachable and willing to extend his teachings beyond the pages of his book. Not may authors do this.
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Format: Paperback
Written by Michael Jacoby Brown, who has more than thirty years' experience in building community organizations, Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World is a handy step-by-step guide to creating, strengthening, and revitalizing grass-roots organizations for bringing about social change to solve problems in the community or workplace. From how to effectively recruit (learning to "listen not sell", when short or long visits are appropriate, and how to turn success into momentum) to how to mobilize resources and raise money to the steps for setting change into motion and more, Building Powerful Community Organizations walks the reader through the necessary skills and processes while warning against common obstacles and pitfalls. Enthusiastically recommended for anyone looking to harness communal effort and make a lasting difference.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian L Smith on October 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
With great insight and honesty Michael Jacoby Brown has drawn on his extensive experience to produce a practical and inspiring resource. This book is a must for anyone wishing to organize a group to work for social change or anyone who is part of a community organization which needs to rejuvenate or rediscover its purpose. It is beautiful in its simplicity, addressing its issues in a way everyone can understand, and broad in its scope, addressing every aspect involved in successful community organizing. "Building Powerful Community Organizations" demands engagement by the reader. It contains exercises and the reader gains best value from the book by engaging in the exercises at the point they are presented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carl LaFong on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books available for people who are interested in the nitty-gritty work of building genuine communities. Author Michael Brown provides the reader with not just a theory of community organizations, but also lays out the steps to be followed in order to create the building blocks of what he calls "powerful community organizations." Lots of excellent case studies illustrate each of the steps. It is a good follow-up to the book Counterfeit Community: The Exploitation of Our Longings for Connectedness which warns us about the dangers of pseudo communities, so-called communities that lack the kinds of relationships that Brown is building. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book! The exercises really force you to think and clarify the who, what, why and how of yourself and the group you are creating or trying to improve. I highly recomend this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grissel on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've read this book and I am convinced that the reviews above are fake. Not only does this book provide no useful information, it takes fundamental ideas such as choosing a name for your organization and exhausts the topic over pages and pages to create the illusion of a thoroughly researched piece of work. The only audience I would imagine to benefit from reading this is that of high school or middle school students wanting to begin a club. Even then, the entire book could be shortened to a short essay once the 10,000 unecessary example are taken out.
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