The 8 Best Books for Neighbourhood Organizing

Submitted by Jim Diers on July 23, 2014 - 4:33pm
Great resources for neighbourhood organizing

The summer is a wonderful time to relax with a good book that will inspire you in the work that you are doing; it can be a time to dream and be rejuvenated.  

Below, find a list of the 8 books I recommend for neighbourhood organizing... Happy reading!


#1 Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

“Divided into ten chapters, each chapter of Rules for Radicals provides a lesson on how a community organizer can accomplish the goal of successfully uniting people into an active organization with the power to effect change on a variety of issues. Though targeted at community organization, these chapters also touch on a myriad of other issues that range from ethics, education, communication, and symbol construction to nonviolence and political philosophy.”

#2 Mike Green, When People Care Enough to Act

“Developed in response to the question “I love ABCD (Asset Based Community Development); what do I do Monday Morning?”--and based on Mike Green & Henry Moore’s highly regarded work as ABCD organizers, consultants and trainers–-these materials support a practical approach to creating community collaborations that work. Enriching each other, the book and the DVD provide clear exposition of ABCD organizing principles and best practices, examples of ABCD organizing in action, learning exercises, worksheets, and reflections from experienced practitioners of ABCD organizing.”

#3 John McKnight and Peter Block, The Abundant Community 

“Each neighborhood has people with the gifts and talents needed to provide for our prosperity and peace of mind - this book suggests how to nurture voluntary, self-organizing structures that will reveal these gifts and allow them to be shared to the greatest mutual benefit. Block and McKnight recommend roles we can assume and actions we can take to reweave the social fabric that has been unraveled by consumerism and its belief that however much we have, it is not enough.”


#4 Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope

“Using the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston's most impoverished neighborhood as a case study, the authors show how effective organizing reinforces neighborhood leadership, encourages grassroots power and leads to successful public-private partnerships and comprehensive community development.” 



#5 Mark Warren, Dry Bones Rattling

“In clear and accessible prose, Mark Warren argues that the key to revitalizing democracy lies in connecting politics to community institutions and the values that sustain them. By doing so, the IAF network builds an organized, multiracial constituency with the power to advance desperately needed social policies. While Americans are most aware of the religious right, Warren documents the growth of progressive faith-based politics in America. He offers a realistic yet hopeful account of how this rising trend can transform the lives of people in our most troubled neighborhoods. Drawing upon six years of original fieldwork, Dry Bones Rattling proposes new answers to the problems of American democracy, community life, race relations, and the urban crisis.”

#6 Joan Minieri and Paul Gestos, Tools for Radical Democracy

“Tools for Radical Democracy is an essential resource for grassroots organizers and leaders, students of activism and advocacy, and anyone trying to increase the civic participation of ordinary people. Authors Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos share stories and tools from their nationally recognized and award-winning work of building a community-led organization, training community leaders, and conducting campaigns that changed public policy and delivered concrete results to tens of thousands of people.”

#7 Gabriel Chanan and Colin Miller, Rethinking Community Practice

“Combining a reexamination of theory with practical tools and approaches, Rethinking Community Practice provides a new framework for community involvement strategies. Gabriel Chanan and Colin Miller show how this innovative but still amorphous movement can become more coherent, both on the ground and in public policy, by reforming community development, building neighborhood partnerships, measuring outcomes objectively, and synthesizing the best innovations of the past three decades. This is an important new perspective for local public service agencies, practitioners working in communities, and academics and students concerned with these fields.”

#8 Jay Walljasper, The Great Neighborhood Book

“The Great Neighborhood Book explains how most struggling communities can be revived, not by vast infusions of cash, not by government, but by the people who live there. The author addresses such challenges as traffic control, crime, comfort and safety, and developing economic vitality. Using a technique called "placemaking"-- the process of transforming public space -- this exciting guide offers inspiring real-life examples that show the magic that happens when individuals take small steps, and motivate others to make change."



Caregiver Program

Today many people are undergoing caregiver programs so as to help the elderly in later stages of their lives. In a caregiver program, the students are taught several topics like safety and abuse, personal hygiene, mental health problems, cognitive impairment etc. The students are also taught how to communicate with the old people so that they can understand their problem and provide them the best solution and treatment.

Great picks and a few more

Hi Jim great choices.  Rues for Radicals is an all time classic.  Happy City is another great book to add and don't forget your own: Neighbour Power - Building Community the Seatle Way

Details on Your Top Choice

Thanks for posting such a great detailed list! I'll be sure to check these out.


What does Rules to Radicals have in terms of content which makes it your top choice?