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Inspiring "fear and loathing" in politicians, building diverse coalitions, and harnessing the media, the courts, and the electoral process to one's cause are only some of the key tactics Shaw advocates and explains. Central to all social-change activism, Shaw shows, is being proactive: rather than simply reacting to right-wing proposals, activists must develop an agenda and focus their resources on achieving it.
The Activist's Handbook details the impact of specific strategies on campaigns across the country: battles over homelessness, the environment, AIDS policies, neighborhood preservation, and school reform among others. Though activist groups can have widely different aims, similar tactics are shown to produce success.
Further, the book offers a sophisticated analysis of the American power structure by someone on the front lines. In showing how people can and must make a difference at both local and national levels, this is an indispensable guide not only for activists, but for everyone interested in the future of progressive politics in America.
"The anti-incinerator coalition blasted the mayor's decision. On the eve of the city council vote, activists brought nearly 800 children-Hasidic, Latino, and African-American-to City Hall to urge the council to reject the mayor's plan to build new incinerators. Rabbi Niederman of the UJO told the crowd that 'just because we are poor does not mean our children must breathe air made poisonous by garbage-burning incinerators.' Luis Garden Acosta of El Puente focused on the pathbreaking coalition that had been formed between the often-warring groups, noting that 'in our common air we have found common ground.'"
1. Don't Respond, Strategize
2. Elected Officials: Inspiring Fear and Loathing
3. Coalition Activism: Rounding Up the Unusual Suspects
4. Ballot Initiatives: The Rules of the Game
5. The Media: winning More Than Coverage
6. Lawyers: Allies or Obstacles to Social Change?
7. Direct Action: ACTing UP and Sitting In
8. Getting Started: Agenda Setting and Action Plans
9. Conclusion: Activism for the Twenty-First Century