- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (January 12, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374528659
- ISBN-13: 978-0374528652
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism 1st Edition
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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."
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“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
Top customer reviews
I do think that their first co-authored book _Manifesta_ was better, but again it did also have that privilege or sense that somehow NY is the center of the universe (rolling my eyes).
For the record, they used to identify as 3rd wave or no wave feminists and are actually too young to really fit under the rubric of 2nd Wave Feminism.
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.
The book is organized primarily by stages of life: high school, college, post-college, 10 or more years post-college, and activism at work. While I found that organization personally useful and reflective of my own life, I know that it is not what happens for a number of other women. So I would have liked to see more explicit discussion of young women who went to work and/or started families after high school who were activists. Lacking that, there's a de facto tacit statement made about who merits attention as an activist (i.e., women who go to college) and who does not (i.e., women who choose other paths). Because this book has the word "feminist" in its title, that's a myth that needs debunking fast!
And though this is easy to say in 2012 about a book written largely in 2003 and 2004, I would have liked to meet some transgender (MtF and FtM) feminist activists. I count several among my friends here in Baltimore, and I think that transgender folks and transgender theory both borrow from and have significant offerings to feminist thought and activism.
The stages of life organization of the book stops basically where Baumgartner and Richards found themselves in their own lives. That's fair; no one wants to read pontificating prose about something the author has no personal experience of. At the same time, I wonder how Grassroots reads to a 45 year old woman, or to a 70 year old woman. I hope to be an activist for decades to come, and I think the authors missed a valuable opportunity to offer a glimpse into the future for us younger women as we look ahead.
I felt the book did a particularly good job of being inherently feminist in important ways. Feminism instructs us all to be mindful of and explicit about our social locations and access to/lack of power; the authors are repeatedly plain about exactly which societal privileges they enjoy, and moments when they have been able to utilize that privilege in the service of those who lacked it. The authors also begin each chapter with personal stories about their own feminist activist experience with the chapter topic, reminding us that our personal stories always bear political potential. Finally, the explicit openness and willingness to mentor evident in the book's closing, wherein readers see a week of Amy's calendar and Jennifer's to-do list so as to see concrete examples of feminist activism as part of a real and whole life, is both dear and useful.
I also read this book as a Master of Social Work Candidate. The authors' belief that everyone can be an activist using the tools available to them, is what social workers call a "strengths-based perspective". Baumgartner and Richards also clearly believe in activism as both a path to and an act of empowerment - a topic which receives much attention in social work literature. Baumgartner's own journey as pro-choice activist is one example, but the book is replete with so many more. Finally, social work can be an activist career, but it sometimes really is not. Thus the chapters about work, describing both activism-as-job-description, and activism on your own time (occasionally even against the entities that pay your wages) are chapters that I suspect I will return to again, for guidance and commiseration. As a graduate student in a field with a checkered history of harm and help to the marginalized, I especially appreciated the stories of women who chose degrees in law and medicine as their paths to deeper activism.
I hope there's an updated Grassroots released on its 10th anniversary in 2015!
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.
I gave my copy of this book to the volunteer coordinator at NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and she loved it and began recommending it to students and others.
Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism