Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

by Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards

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From the authors of Manifesta, an activism handbook that illustrates how to truly make the personal political.

Grassroots is an activism handbook for social justice. Aimed at everyone from students to professionals, stay-at-home moms to artists, Grassroots answers the perennial question: What can I do? Whether you are concerned about the

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From the authors of Manifesta, an activism handbook that illustrates how to truly make the personal political.

Grassroots is an activism handbook for social justice. Aimed at everyone from students to professionals, stay-at-home moms to artists, Grassroots answers the perennial question: What can I do? Whether you are concerned about the environment, human rights violations in Tibet, campus sexual assault policies, sweatshop labor, gay marriage, or the ongoing repercussions from 9-11, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards believe that we all have something to offer in the fight against injustice. Based on the authors' own experiences, and the stories of both the large number of activists they work with as well as the countless everyday people they have encountered over the years, Grassroots encourages people to move beyond the "generic three" (check writing, calling congresspeople, and volunteering) and make a difference with clear guidelines and models for activism. The authors draw heavily on individual stories as examples, inspiring readers to recognize the tools right in front of them--be it the office copier or the family living room--in order to make change. Activism is accessible to all, and Grassroots shows how anyone, no matter how much or little time they have to offer, can create a world that more clearly reflects their values.

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Editorial Reviews

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." Agent, Jill Grinberg. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This book starts with the comforting presumption that one need not be a vegan, tree-hugging, 'round-the-clock meeting-goer to be an activist. Instead, Baumgardner and Richards (coauthors, Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future) offer anyone interested in improving the world small but significant ways to effect social change. Regardless of one's area of interest-whether it's assuring access to abortion, stopping rape, helping welfare recipients, or legalizing gay marriage-the authors detail ways to formulate campaigns and set tangible goals. Multiple examples flesh out abstract theories, and a comprehensive appendix provides novices with the contacts they'll need to test the waters. While Baumgardner and Richards do not adequately address risks that all organizers should consider before diving in-from being questioned by authorities to arrest or incarceration-their recognition that everyone can do something is refreshing. What's more, their definition of feminism is so inclusive it's bound to resonate: "Feminism is the movement toward full political, economic, and social equality for men and women." Would-be agitators, look no further for the sass, savvy, and skills you'll need to begin. Highly recommended.-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Instructive anecdotes, garnered from the authors' own experiences and those of women they've known, illustrate some successful tactics of feminist activists. As they did in Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (2000), Baumgardner and Richards address women in their 20s and 30s who make up what is known as feminism's "Third Wave." The present work is designed to provide specific, useful answers to their questions, many originally voiced to Richards's online "Ask Amy" column. The first chapter describes the authors' attempt in 2002 to reinstate New York City's recycling program: the steps they took, the mistakes they made, and the take-home lessons they learned from the experience. Subsequent chapters address, in order, high-school students, college students, women just out of school, and working women. Each begins with personal essays by the authors, usually written individually but sometimes jointly, in which they place themselves back in the milieu of the target audience. These are followed by stories about feminist activists in that demographic, describing the ways they've worked to bring about social change and the advice they have for others who want to do likewise. A chapter on the link between creating art and transforming culture has a fascinating account of how Eve Ensler created The Vagina Monologues in 1996 and, with the help of many others, turned the play into an amazingly successful and durable tool for raising awareness and money for feminist causes. (There were 629 productions in 2004 alone.) Many would-be feminist activists will probably be most reassured by the final chapter's message-activism should be of you, not outside of you-and by its examples of smallforms of activism in daily life. An appendix provides a substantial chapter-by-chapter resource guide listing helpful publications, organizations, Web sites, checklists, and action plans. Less a field guide than an extended advice column, full of encouraging and friendly words. Agent: Jill Grinberg/Anderson Grinberg Literary Management

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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