I’d like to be Joe Cool here and maintain some kind of restraint trying to channel big whoop publishers and editors, but that’s not me, and all I can say about this issue is: Wow, this is exciting!
We leadoff with Nik Belanger’s piece “Reclaiming Community Organizing in the Obama Era,” which is special enough
but for us is even more special because this is an excerpt from Building Power, Changing Lives: The Story of Virginia Organizing by Ruth Berta and Amanda Leonard Pohl which we have been honored to publish in a collaboration with the great people involved in having steered (pushed, pulled, and driven!) the community organization, Virginia Organizing, through the first twenty years of its history. This piece will coincide with the availability of the book, so don’t miss out on either.
A little further along in this issue, we also have an excerpt from Frank Strier who readers will remember also had a provocative essay and robust set of recommendations on how to protect children’s lives given the ubiquity of guns in the United States (volume 45, number 1). One thing led to another, and Social Policy Press is also going to be rolling out, Frank’s book, Guns and Kids on December 15th as an e-book, so look for special advance offers for Social Policy subscribers.
In between is a great, frank assessment written by Toronto-based environmental organizer, Katie Krelove with Nick Taylor, the filmmaker, detailing the nuts and bolts behind a successful, but challenging process to unite groups into big campaigns across their differences. This is almost a classic case study. And, speaking of case studies, Mike Miller’s interview with Nick Jones, the former boycott director for the famous United Farm Workers grape boycott is a classic as well on not only the nuts and bolts of that campaign but an analysis of the boycott tactic and its applicability. How about changing the pace from the nitty-gritty in Canada and the United States to an intriguing look at how conflict and cooperation work at the
largest level by Professor Moshe ben Asher? Did I mention that we have it all in this issue? Yeah, I guess I did!
If we’re going to win a lot, we have to learn a lot when we lose some, and Larry Cohen, the former president of the Communications Workers of America who wrote about the Fast Track fight on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (volume 45, number 1) provides an activist and campaigner’s ground level analysis of where the fight was lost and how it might be won in the future. Rand Wilson, the communications director for a Massachusetts local of the Service Employees is equally informative in giving a detailed explanation of the hard work of labor supporters for Senator Bernie Sanders in making him the sleeper phenomenon that he has become in the early state of the 2016 campaign for US President in the Democratic
primaries. Switching gears, David Tozzo, head organizer of ACORN Italy provides the same fascinating case study of the tenant rights breakthrough in Italy that provided a bounty for tenants organized to bring landlords out of the black market, and ACORN’s fight in Italy to hold onto the victory, which is the other side of the story when we win some.
Thanks to our partners we also have some great excerpts for some exciting new books in the back of this volume, and frankly they might surprise because they come from some interesting places and take some interesting routes to get to some important understandings of organizations and movements. Hwa Jen-Liu in an excerpt from the fascinating conclusion of her newly published, Leverage of the Weak, looks in detail at the different strategies of labor movements and environmental movements in Taiwan and how they sought to build power through their campaigns. Katie Krelove no doubt
wishes she had read this book before organizing the climate march in Toronto! Professor Kazuyo Tsuchiya provides a fascinating set of comparisons between the organizing of welfare recipients, led by Johnnie Tillmon, later the head of the National Welfare Rights Organizing in the late 60’s and early 70’s and an amazing set of victories that welfare recipients won in Kawasaki, Japan despite their alien status as Koreans also having to demand citizenship entitlements in that country. I don’t think you saw that coming! Hey, big props as well to the University of Minnesota Press for putting these two books out.
Professor Fran Quigley of Indiana University in the last excerpt in this issue does an amazing job of telling the inside story of a hotel organizing campaign during a second election contest in Indianapolis, including looking at the important, but often overlooked, issue of “salts” or in-plant undercover organizers. Speaking of big props, when this book hit my desk from Cornell, I sent a note to colleague, comrade, and frequently invaluable counsel, Bill Quigley of Loyola University Law School in New Orleans and said, essentially, hey, can there be a Quigley in Indiana who is related to you, and, sure enough, Bill got back immediately and said, essentially, he’s not heavy, he’s my brother. Good to stumble on a freedom fighter family like this and share some of the bounty with our readers from the Quigley crew. Just like our usual columnists, Phil Mattera caught us up to date with the development of Data Tracker and some of the tools coming our way in corporate research,
Noorin Ladhini, updated us on the expansion of “Humans of New York,” and John Anderson reminded us that the fight against privatization and neo-liberalism is a global crisis as evidenced by the campaign to stop the gutting of Hydro One in Ontario. I finish off the hit parade with a look at a number of books providing important balance and perspective on the late 60’s, early 70’s welfare rights movement as well as the issues still unsettled and the further attention still needed.
Like I said in the beginning: Wow! Add to that at the finish: Enjoy!