Community Organizer's Tale: People and Power in San Francisco

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More About This Textbook


The Rise and Fall of the multi-issue Mission Coalition Organization is recounted in A Community Organizer's Tale, a richly detailed story of people power set in San Francisco's predominantly Latino Mission District. Employing strategies inspired by community organizer Saul Alinsky and the Deep South civil rights movement, the organization defeated urban renewal, negotiated jobs for the unemployed, and protected low-income tenants from exorbitant rents until it was ultimately weakened by federal "Model Cities" funding. Embodying the concept, recently returned to the public eye by its proponent Barack Obama, that "change comes from below" and combining colorful stories, lessons on organizing for social and economic justice, public policy analysis, a keen eye for American politics, and reflection on democratic theory, this is a thoughtful and hopeful antidote to cynicism, apathy, and powerlessness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597141185
  • Publisher: Heyday Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: My Road to the Mission District xv

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction 1

The Setting 5

Saul Alinsky and the Organizing Tradition 10

Urban Renewal 19

The Mission Council on Redevelopment 28

Lessons from MCOR 33

After Urban Renewal's Defeat 39

The Lay of the Land 48

Founding the Mission Coalition Organization 55

MCO Birth Pains 68

The Shape of People Power: MCO's Formal Structure 75

The Organizer's Role 80

Growing Pains 87

Action: Building People Power 93

Building People Power in the Mission 106

MCO and the Media 116

MCO and Model Cities 119

Photographs 133

Action: Tenant Organizing and the Housing Committee 141

Action: Jobs and Employment 148

A Closer Look at MCO's Political Makeup 158

Nationalism 168

Core Ideas 178

MCO and Model Cities, Round Two 189

Urban Planning 196

The Question of Allies 201

Redefining "Radical" 206

MCO Loses Momentum 210

In Victory Lies Defeat 219

The "Crippled Programs Syndrome" 228

Model Cities: The Debate Continues 231

MCO in Light of Current Community Organizing Practice and Theory 237

Who Pays for People Power? 245

Politics and Vision 252

Epilogue: Whither the Mission 261

Appendix A Teaching Political Theory 267

Appendix B Member Organizations of the MCO 273

Appendix C 1970 Elected and Appointed Steering Committee of the MCO 279

Appendix D The People Who Made MCO 283

Index 285

About the Author 295

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