This Could Be the Start of Something Big

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For nearly two decades, progressives have been dismayed by the steady rise of the right in U.S. politics. Often lost in the gloom and doom about American politics is a striking and sometimes underanalyzed phenomenon: the resurgence of progressive politics and movements at a local level. Across the country, urban coalitions, including labor, faith groups, and community-based organizations, have come together to support living wage laws and fight for transit policies that can move the needle on issues of working ...

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Overview

For nearly two decades, progressives have been dismayed by the steady rise of the right in U.S. politics. Often lost in the gloom and doom about American politics is a striking and sometimes underanalyzed phenomenon: the resurgence of progressive politics and movements at a local level. Across the country, urban coalitions, including labor, faith groups, and community-based organizations, have come together to support living wage laws and fight for transit policies that can move the needle on issues of working poverty. Just as striking as the rise of this progressive resurgence has been its reception among unlikely allies. In places as diverse as Chicago, Atlanta, and San Jose, the usual business resistance to pro-equity policies has changed, particularly when it comes to issues like affordable housing and more efficient transportation systems. To see this change and its possibilities requires that we recognize a new thread running through many local efforts: a perspective and politics that emphasizes "regional equity."

Manuel Pastor Jr., Chris Benner, and Martha Matsuoka offer their analysis with an eye toward evaluating what has and has not worked in various campaigns to achieve regional equity. The authors show how momentum is building as new policies addressing regional infrastructure, housing, and workforce development bring together business and community groups who share a common desire to see their city and region succeed. Drawing on a wealth of case studies as well as their own experience in the field, Pastor, Benner, and Matsuoka point out the promise and pitfalls of this new approach, concluding that what they term social movement regionalism might offer an important contribution to the revitalization of progressive politics in America.

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Editorial Reviews

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"Economic justice has long been the core goal of community organizing. In the past decade, often below the radar screen of national politics, effective movements have emerged within neighborhoods and, more importantly, at the regional level. This Could Be The Start of Something Big provides a vivid account of some of these efforts and is an important contribution to new thinking about progressive politics."—Paul Osterman, NTU Professor of Human Resources and Management, MIT Sloan School

"I know of no comparable work that so integrates the many topics covered here—the regional equity movement is in the authors' debt. This Could Be the Start of Something Big is for students, scholars, activists, policymakers, political leaders, and foundation officers who say they want to expand opportunities in this country. Manuel Pastor Jr., Chris Benner, and Martha Matsuoka have done a highly praiseworthy amount of fact gathering and documentation and analysis of recent and current social action. The work speaks to our country's newly born sense of potential for progressive change, in that the authors meticulously depict the emergence of disparate grassroots action initiatives that they point to as part of 'a quiet groundswell of new coalitions, policies, and models that seem to stress equity, inclusion, and opportunity, and that could be the basis of a new national politics.'"—James O. Gibson, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy

"This Could Be the Start of Something Big is an excellent book about the very important topics of regionalism and community organizing, and their intersection in the form of 'social movement regionalism.' Drawing on their extensive experiences with regionalist organizations, the authors insightfully analyze the history and present status of this movement, and explore whether and how it can be part of a larger transformative progressive social movement. This book is a very good example of engaged scholarship.The authors are clear and appropriately unapologetic about their support for social movement regionalism, while developing a critical sociological analysis of it. They have produced a work that should be of great interest to a wide audience."—Robert Kleidman, Cleveland State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801447211
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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