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Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism Paperback – December 23, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"[L]ike punk rock, feminism is also based on the idea that you, an average schmo, have the power to take matters into your own hands." In this unquestionably useful, undoubtedly feel-good guide to feminist activism, the authors of Manifesta reveal how women can effect change without being highly experienced (suburban teenagers and investment bankers can do it), morally irreproachable (one can protest Nike's labor practices and still wear its shoes) or dull and unfashionable (Legally Blonde's Elle Woods is an activist—albeit a fictional one). As the Elle Woods reference demonstrates, encouraging activism in the Sex and the City crowd can be straining, but the authors' warm, encouraging tone and examples of everyday people doing good—themselves included—are inspiring. "You don't have to take the world on your shoulders—you just need to take advantage of the opportunities your life provides for creating social justice," they insist. Lauren, a 33-year-old writer at Smart Money, decided to join a lawsuit against her insurance provider for refusing to subsidize birth control; Allison started a feminist group to fight stereotypes at her Santa Barbara high school; Nisha makes queer-friendly films about South Asian women. Profiled along with many others, these women each embody Baumgardner and Richard's eloquently argued claim that "activism should be of you, not outside of you."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“To that nice young woman in Liberty, Missouri, who asked me how she could become a world-changing activist: Read Grassroots!” ―Barbara Ehrenreich

“Have you ever wanted to make a difference but didn't know how? Grassroots is the book you've been waiting for. Using examples drawn from progressive and feminist campaigns all over the country, Veteran activists Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards explain how to organize your friends, your community, and most important, yourself.” ―Katha Pollitt

“A booster shot of inspiration, Grassroots reaches out to activists of all generations. Jennifer and Amy have not only shared the secrets of their and others' success but just as importantly, they've recorded the mistakes they've all made. I related to so much of it--especially the mistakes--and by showing the fits and starts of real life activism, Grassroots will help readers to both sustain their enthusiasm for social justice work and be more effective as a result.” ―Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes

Grassroots contains useful information about how to create change in our communities, and is an inspiring reminder to every day citizens that with the right tools they can transform their communities. This terrific book is an important addition to the field of community organizing.” ―Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation

“For anyone who has ever asked, 'What could I possibly do to make a difference?,' Grassroots proves the short answer is, 'a lot!' My thanks to Baumgardner and Richards for helping keep hope and activism alive with this provocative handbook.” ―Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Manifesta is a breath of fresh air. At last, Gen X takes on feminism and revamps a feminist manifesto for a new era. A jolt, a resource, a timeline, and a challenge, Manifesta is a readable, well-informed, and necessary to any young woman--or man--who craves gender equality.” ―Naomi Wolf on Manifesta

“[The authors] have sorted out the fruits of this wave of feminism--intended and unintended, media mess and truth--for a new generation. With wit and honesty, Manifesta shows us the building blocks of the future of this longest revolution.” ―Gloria Steinem on Manifesta

“Great news from the front--feminism lives! Bold, independent, generous, and cautionary, Manifesta leaves no doubt that for a new generation of women the F-word is not only speakable but shoutable and singable. To learn the tune and catch the beat, read this book.” ―Alix Kates Shulman on Manifesta

Manifesta is another step toward the empowerment of women. If caring about women matters, this book matters.” ―Andrea Dworkin on Manifesta

“A reasoned and passionate call to action and an exciting how-to guide for both burgeoning and seasoned Third Wave feminists.” ―Eleanor J. Bader, Library Journal on Manifesta


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (January 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374528659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374528652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I couldn't disagree more with the negative reviews of this book. For full disclosure, I was the 18 year old feminist from alabama who wrote to amy for help on my auction and my story was included in grassroots. At the time the donations she sent (along with unbelievably supportive emails) were a huge boost to my self esteem and to the feminist club I started at my high school. The momentum her help gave us was major - it made us feel like we were doing something worthwhile in a culture where we were very alienated from ANY sort of feminist community. Now, as a more seasoned activist who has lived and worked in MA and NY, I read Grassroots as hugely necessary precisely because it is accessable to people like me - people who had an idea that they wanted to make an impact but weren't sure where to start or even that it was a good idea. And the book is a identicle version of what Amy gave me all those years ago - a boost of confidence, a "you can do it!",and a ton of ideas with proven, real outcomes of success.

I know that it would have been a gift for me to have had the book around as a kid, but I keep it on my bookshelf as an adult because of all the amazing resources in the appendices' (I'll admit it - I flipped it open and emailed almsot all the NYC based organizations for jobs when I first got here) and for the dose of encouragement and ideas every once in awhile.

As far as I'm concerned, Amy and Jennifer are bona fide activist experts, despite the disparaging, jaded reviews. Not all feminists have to have the same style of activism or writing and what's so great about grassroots is whether you're experienced or not, whether you're up on your bell hooks or judith butler or not, you can use this book.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with a few previous reviewers that if you are already very active in political and social movements, this might be a little watered down for you.

However, if you are interested in becoming involved in a movement, or making even the slightest change in your environment, this is a must-read. The authors use real life examples of how young women used their own talents and resources to make a positive change. Sure, some of the examples/stories do focus on unattainable resources for most of us, but others are easily obtained by any student (such as how to start your own feminist high school elective).

Either way, the authors SUCCESSFULLY show the reader how to begin thinking of your own personal talents and the resources available to you, or to those you know, in order to make a difference. It is not only informative and inspiring, but it is followed by a comprehensive resource list in the back. The resources alone are worth the price of the book.
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Format: Paperback
Though this book has ideas and resources that could be helpful to any feminist I believe the accusation that this book is not helpful because it does not include enough information for "seasoned" activists is unfair. Baumgardner and Richards themselves write that they wrote this book for anyone who has ever wondered "how can I get more involved" and in response to constant questions from people who want to participate in a cause but don't know where to start. This book has many helpful tips but for me was most useful in offering examples of often "common folk" who have taken feminist action. I found these stories both inspiring and thought provoking. They really got me thinking about things I can do to promote change within the framework of my life in ways that I hadn't before when I felt somewhat overwhelmed by a problem that seemed too big. I in no way got the impression that being a hypocrite is ok, but I did get the impression that I don't have to wait until I am "perfect" to become aware and act on ways that I can promote change or help both others and myself. Indeed, these actions could be empowering enough to help me then change some of my less progressive behaviors. I also realized I have accompished some feminist acts in my life that I haven't given myself credit for which encourages me to do even more. The authors do aknowledge their privilege which allows them to use it to help further their work. One concern of mine was that this book perhaps discusses working in and with existing systems for change more so than radically over hauling them, but the authors appeared fully aware of this potential controversy and they embrace feminists of all types. I found this book to be both helpful and inspirational.
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Format: Paperback
I read Grassroots as an antidote to Going Public by Michael Gecan. Gecan's book is useful for people who don't know glitter from gold about organizing. But, it's also very old-school, very hierarchical, and very male. Grassroots is none of those things. Despite being published before the Social Networking Revolution, it still feels current.

The authors major principle of community leadership is that you can be a feminist activist, with the tools you have available to you, and it can be part of your life - now, today, wherever you are. They do this by telling story after story in a reporter-style explanation of how women from various walks of life did things - organized events, actions, organizations, careers, art, and more - that were expressions of feminism-in-action. Some of the actions were all-consuming for several years, like the start of V-Day and the Vagina Monologues as a phenomenon, and others far less so, like a campus feminist group bringing a speaker to campus. But the authors are utterly uninterested in judging any activism more or less useful. What they are interested in is helping feminists, be they female or male, understand that they can be activists, and that if everyone did what they could, when they could, the world would be a very different place.

An element of the book that I particularly like is that they take the organizing potential of youth in high school very seriously and back it up with concrete examples of young women they've met and interviewed. I also sincerely appreciate the chapter on activist art. The authors are forthright about their own and other's failures in activism without creating a pity party. The book is easy to read without oversimplifying complexities in theory or in life.
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