(Urban and Environmental Policy 310/311)

Peter Dreier
Director, Urban and Environmental Policy Program
Occidental College
Los Angeles, California, USA
Fall 2003

Classes: Tuesday/Thursday, 10-11:25 a.m.
Office: Urban & Environmental Policy Institute
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 3-5 p.m.
and by appointment

Requirements | Grades | Readings | Web Sites | Class Schedule | Journal


"Organizing," writes author Si Kahn, "is people working together to get things done." This course focuses primarily on community organizing efforts by people working together to improve their neighborhoods and cities. Community organizing can focus on a wide variety of issues housing, the environment, public safety, public health and health care, child care, jobs, poverty, discrimination, and many others. We will also focus on union organizing as a compliment to community organizing.

The purpose of the course is to help prepare you to be effective leaders. Some of you may want to become professional organizers, but all of you are ) and will continue to be ) citizens in some community. If you want to be an effective, active citizen who can make a difference in your community, you will need to use the tools of leadership and organization-building.

The course examines the history of community organizing in the United States. It explores the different theories and approaches to effective grassroots organizing. It emphasizes the skills and techniques used to empower people so they can win victories and improve their communities.

Your grade will be based on three things:
  1. Your participation in class. You are expected to do the reading on time, participate in class discussions and exercises, and complete writing assignments on time.

  2. Your participation in a community organization internship. You are expected to be responsible volunteers and complete the tasks assigned to you. You should keep a journal about your internship experiences. The journal will be handed in at the end of the term. To evaluate your internship, I will discuss your work with the supervisor and with you.

  3. A short paper (15 pages) describing and analyzing your internship and the organization you worked with. The paper should draw on the class materials (readings, films, speakers, exercises) as well as your experiences and your journal. The paper should explain what you learned about community organizing ) especially, what are the key elements of effective community organizing and how well the organization met these criteria. Some guidelines for your journal and final paper are attached at the end. A draft of this paper is due Thursday, November 20. The final version is due on Thursday, December 4. I won't accept any late papers.


The course is intended to be a small, participatory seminar. Active student participation is critical to its success. The course involves five ways of learning:

  1. You will read several books and a number of articles about organizing, including several case studies, and discuss them in class.

  2. You will watch several films (including documentaries) and discuss them in class.

  3. You will talk with several guest speakers who have experience as effective organizers.

  4. You will participate in several hands-on exercises.

  5. You will spend about 12-15 hours a week working with a community organization in the Los Angeles area. You should already have picked one of these groups to work with during the entire term. You will attend meetings and public events, work in the office, meet the staff and members, and undertake research that will help the organization achieve its goals.

Much of the course reading will be found in the books listed below. In addition, all readings with an asterisk (*) will found on the Occidental College Library electronic reserves website for this course (UEP 310).

Students should also regularly bring to class articles from newspapers or magazines that relate to the topics discussed in the course.

The following paperback books should be purchased from the Bookstore:

    Si Kahn, Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders, revised edition (Silver Spring, Md.: National Association of Social Workers, [1991], 1982)

    Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall and Steve Max, Organizing for Social Change: A Manual for Activists in the 1990s, third edition (Carson, Calif.: Seven Locks, [2001] 1991)

    Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics (Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, 1990)

    David Reynolds, Taking the High Road: Communities Organize for Economic Change (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2002)

The following required reports and handbooks will be distributed for free in class:

    Agents of Change: A Handbook for Student Labor Activists (AFL-CIO)

    Neal R. Peirce and Carol F. Steinbach, Corrective Capitalism: The Rise of America's Community Development Corporations (New York: Ford Foundation, 1987)

The following paperback books are recommended for basic reference:

    Robert Fisher, Let the People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America, 2nd edition (New York: Twayne Publishers, [1994], 1984)
    This is the best overview of the history of community organizing. It describes various efforts and strategies to organize communities and neighborhoods in this century.

    Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: a pragmatic primer for realistic radicals (New York: Vintage Books, [1989] 1971) and Reveille for Radicals (New York: Vintage Books, [1989], 1946)
    Alinksy was the "father" of community organizing, starting in the 1940s. These two books are the "bibles" of organizing -- the lessons he learned from his decades as an organizer. They are both in paperback, easy to read, and full of great insights, most of which have stood the test of time.

    Gregory  F. Pierce, Activism That Makes Sense: Congregations and Community Organization (Chicago, Ill.: ACTA Publications, [1991], 1984)
    This book discusses the relationship between religious commitment and social activism and describes the role of religious faith in community organizing.

    Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism: media strategies for grassroots organizing (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1991)
    This book is a handbook for grassroots activists about dealing with the media.

    Randy Shaw, The Activist's Handbook: a primer for the 1990s and beyond (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996) and
    Mark S. Homan, Promoting Community Change: making it happen in the real world, second edition ( Pacific Grove, Calif.: Brooks/Cole Publishing, [1999], 1994)
    These are two good handbooks for community organizers about nuts-and-bolts stuff.

    Mark R. Warren, Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001)
    This is case study of effective community organizing around a variety of issues in Texas. It is also an analysis of how community organizing relates to the persistent crisis of American democracy – inequalities of power, participation, and policymaking.

Web Sites
I hope that all of you will become familiar with the World Wide Web as a way to connect to the larger worlds of public policy, advocacy, and organizing. There are thousands of web sites that deal with social issues and thousands of advocacy organizations and political networks that have their own web sites. Here are several key sites with which you should be familiar. I encourage you to bookmark them so you can find them easily.

Moving Ideas:
The Electronic Policy Network

Campaign for America's Future
These sites link with dozens of organizations and publications that deal with public policy issues. They include organizations such as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Economic Policy Institute, Public/Private Ventures, The American Prospect magazine, Center for Law and Social Policy, and others. They include links to issues such as economics and politics, welfare and families, education, civic participation, and health policy.
Community Organizing and Development
This site is a link with hundreds of groups involved in urban community development. If you want to find out what groups are working on different urban issues, this is the site. It also has many articles and reports on urban community development and community organizing.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology

The National Housing Institute

Planners Network

Civic Practices Network


Livable Places
All focus on innovative research and programs that strengthen urban neighborhoods and metropolitan areas. Each site has links to many other resources about particular issues, programs, cities, and metropolitan areas.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has its own web site with information about its programs, policies, data bases, and many links. This site has a great deal of information about housing and urban problems, studies and publications, and available data. You reach can the HUD library, with many reports and publications about cities and housing problems, at this site.
United Students Against Sweatshops

Sweatshop Watch

National Labor Committee
These are three of the leading organizations working to raise awareness about and eliminate sweatshops in the U.S. and overseas.
American Prospect

The Nation

These are two of the most important magazines analyzing American politics from a progressive, grassroots perspective.
Demos - A Network for Ideas and Action

Center for Responsive Politics

Public Campaign

Good Jobs First

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

California Budget Project

Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty in Los Angeles

Tom Paine: Common Sense
These think tanks all provide interesting policy ideas on such issues as tax policy, campaign finance, anti-poverty policy, economic development, citizen participation, housing and homelessness, voting rights, and others.

Moveon.Org: Democracy in Action

Jobs with Justice


Center for Community Change

California Peace Action

ACORN - Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Industrial Areas Foundation

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor

Community Coalition

Communities for a Better Environment

Strategic Action for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Southern California Assn. for Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH)

Liberty Hill Foundation

These websites from various activist organizations reflect much of the best organizing taking place around the U.S. and in L.A.
Campus Talks
In addition to speakers I've invited to our seminar, several prominent activists and thinkers will be speaking on campus this semester. I will let you know about these events and encourage you to attend.



The course will cover the following topics.
Students should have reading assignments completed before the class discussion on the topic.
Readings with an asterisk (*) will be included in a packet for students to purchase.

Economic, Political and Social Power:
Why Organizing Is Difficult And Why It Is Necessary

What is the relationship between organizing and democracy? How do economic, social and political conditions shape what people care about and are willing to organize around? How do the relations of power influence people's options? What values are reflected in community organizing? What's the connection between community organizing and solving large-scale social problems?

Introduction Thursday, August 28
Milltown role-play (handout in class)

Why Do We Organize? Tuesday, September 2
Frederick Douglass quote (Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, first page)
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 2 ("The Fundamentals of Direct Action Organizing")
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 1 ("Organizing")
*Tobar, "Housing Laws No Cure for Slums' Ills" (Los Angeles Times, July 20, 1997)
*Gold, "A School, Factories and Plenty of Fear" (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 27, 1999)
*Rivera, "Staples Center's Displaced Have New Homes and New Worries" (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 9, 1999)
*Bacon-Blood, "Plan to Burn Napalm Protested" (New Orleans Times Picayune, March 11, 1999)
*Greenhouse, "Battle Lines Drawn Over Ergonomic Rules" (New York Times, Nov. 18, 2000) *Greenhouse, "Bush Plan to Avert Work Injuries Seeks Voluntary Steps By Industry" (New York Times, April 6, 2002)
*The Hungry Person Exercise

What Is Economic Power? Thursday, September 4
*C. Wright Mills, quote from Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959)
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 1 (2001 Edition "Introduction"); Ch. 26 ("You Mean You're Not Getting Rich?")
*Sanders, "Whither American Democracy?" (Los Angeles Times, January 16, 1994)
*Domhoff, "Class and Power in America," from G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America: Power and Politics, 4th edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002)
*Samuelson, "Indifferent to Inequality?" (Newsweek, May 7, 2001)
*Birnbaum, "Where America Shops: Wal-Mart" (America@Work, April 2001)
Reynolds, Taking the High Road (Introduction, Chapters 1, 4, and 5)

What is Political Power? Tuesday, September 9
*Reich, "The Bridgestone Tire Controversy," from Robert B. Reich, Locked in the Cabinet (New York: Knopf, 1997)
*Sifry, "How Money in Politics Hurts You" (Dollars & Sense, July/August 2000)
*Wilentz, “A Scandal for Our Time” (American Prospect, Feb. 25, 2002)
*Mandle, “Politics and Corporate Greed” (Democracy Matters, May 1, 2002)
*Huffington, “Capitalism Without Conscience” (syndicated column, July 22, 2002)
*Brooks, “Enron and the Clintonites” (Weekly Standard, January 1, 2002)
*Hagwood and Chen, "Quiet Revolution: Under Bush Regulatory Rollback Has a Major Impact" (Wall Street Journal, Aug 3, 2001)

What is Social Power? Thursday, September 11
*Dreier, "The Vault Comes Out of the Shadows" (Boston Business Journal, Oct. 10, 1983)
*Bellah, "Individualism," from Robert N. Bellah, et. al., Habits of the Heart: individualism and commitment in American life (Berkeley: University of California Press, [1996], 1985)
*Callahan, "Ballot Blocks: What Gets the Poor to the Polls?" (American Prospect, July/August 1998)
*Kretzman, "Building Communities From the Inside Out" (Shelterforce, Sept./Oct. 1995)
*Goodstein, "Harnessing the Force of Faith" (Washington Post, Feb. 6, 1994)
*Verhover, "The New Language of American Labor" (New York Times, June 26, 1999)
*Witt, "We Rarely See Those Who Labor" (Baltimore Sun, Aug. 22, 1999)
*Cleeland, "Corporate Misdeeds a Benefit for Labor?" (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2002)
*Putnam, "The Strange Disappearance of Civic America" (American Prospect, December 1996)
*Schudson, "What If Civic Life Didn't Die?" (American Prospect, March/April 1996)
*Vallely, "Couch-Potato Democracy?" (American Prospect, March/April 1996)

What Can Organizing Achieve? Tuesday, September 16
Reynolds, Taking the High Road (Chapter 6)
*Dreier, “The Struggle for Our Cities” (Social Policy, Summer 1996)
*Dreier and Piven, "Anti-Corporate Insurgency Making Itself Seen, Felt" (Boston Globe, May 21, 2000)
*Dreyfus, "The Turnout Imperative" (American Prospect, July/August 1998)

Film: "Democratic Promise"

What King of Organizing is Going on in LA? Thursday, September 18
*Leibowtiz,, “Committee of One” (Los Angeles Magazine, June 2003)
*Cooper, "The Two Worlds of Los Angeles" (Nation, August 21/28, 2000)
*Candaele and Dreier, "LA's Progressive Mosaic: Beginning to Find Its Voice" (Nation, August 21/28, 2000)
*Meyerson, “LA Story” (American Prospect, July 2/16, 2001)
*Murray, "Cause That Refreshes" (Los Angeles Magazine, August 2001).
Hernandez, "Inside Agitators: The City's Most Effective Activists," "Hall of Fame," and "Activists Turned Elected Officials" (LA Weekly, October2-8, 1998) at
Meyerson, "Introduction” and “A Vision for the City:Roundtable" (LA Weekly, March 9-15, 2001) at

Speaker: Torie Osborn, Liberty Hill Foundation

Getting People Involved: Mobilizing Motivation and Participation

Organizing requires participation. Participation depends on motivating people to take the responsibility to act -- the "iron law" of organizing. Since people have a lot of other things to do in their lives, How do effective organizers and leaders build organizations by getting people to actively participate? How do they avoid the "free rider" problem? (If I can benefit from what an organization does without having to participate, why should I participate?) How do they find out what motivates people? What's the difference between organizing and manipulation? What is the difference between direct action organizing, social work, advocacy, and community development as approaches to solving community problems?

Tuesday, September 23
Rogers, Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics (entire book)

Why Do People Participate? Thursday, September 25
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 4 (Constituencies), Ch. 6 ("Members")
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 10 ("Recruiting")
Beckwith and Lopez, "Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots" (
*Ballenger, "Why People Join" (Community Jobs, April 1981)
*Reed, "Miracle at the Grassroots," from Ralph Reed, Politically incorrect : the emerging faith factor in American politics (Dallas: Word Pub., 1994)
*Anderson, "Fresno Churchgoers Rally for Expansion of Health Insurance" (Fresno Bee, May 4, 2000); Garrett, "Activists Rally in Sacramento for Health Care" (Press Enterprise, May 3, 2000); Bennett, "Activists in Capital to Rally for Uninsured" (Oakland Tribune, May 2, 2000); Ainsworth, "Advocacy Group Transforms Everyday People in Lobbyists" (San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 11, 2001)
*Zinn, "Young Ladies Who Can Picket," from Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: a personal history of our times (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994)
*Reagon, "Songs that Moved the Movement" (Civil Rights Quarterly, Summer 1983)
*Feingold, "Putting Faith in Labor" (Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1998)
*Pensack, "Illinois Tenants' Union" (Shelterforce, September/October 1993)
*Stein, "Multilingual Organizing: Balancing Participation and Access" (Third Force, Sept/Oct 1993)

Case Study: LA Food Security Campaign? Tuesday, September 30
*DiMassa and Hayasaki, “LA Schools Set to Can Soda Sales” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 25, 2002)
*Hayasaki, “Schools to End Soda Sales” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 28, 2002)
Handouts from Healthy School Food Coalition

Speaker: Francesca De La Rosa, Center for Food and Justice; Healthy School Food Coalition

What Keeps People Going When Things Look Bad? Thursday, October 2
*Mosle, "How the Maids Fought Back" (New Yorker, Feb. 26 and March 4, 1996)

Film: "One Day Longer: The Story of the Frontier Strike"

Leaders, Followers, and Organizations

What are the skills and roles of a good organizer? What's the difference between an organizer and a leader? How do you find people to participate in community organizations and actions? How do you help people to become effective, self-confident leaders? How do you divide up responsibilities to maximize people's involvement and skills? How do you keep up morale and enthusiasm among members? How do you keep an organization together that becomes the vehicle for grassroots "empowerment"?

Organizers Organize Organizations Tuesday, October 7
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 3 ("Organizations"), Ch. 4 ("Money")
*Swarts,”What Makes Community Organizing Succeed?” (Snapshots, Jan/Feb 2002)
*Shirley, "Ysleta Elementary School," from Dennis Shirley, Community Organizing for Urban School Reform (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997)
*Chavez and Cardenas, "Group Aims to Improve Schools by Parent Power" (Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2001)
*Cardenas, “Building a Power Base for Better Education” (Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2002)
*Rourke, “Her Calling: To Help Others Find a Voice” (Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2002)

Speaker: Ernesto Cortes, Industrial Areas Foundation

Organizers Find and Develop Leaders Tuesday, October 14
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 2 ("Leaders")
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 11 ("Developing Leadership")
*Hoerr, "Solidaritas at Harvard: Organizing in a Different Voice" (American Prospect, Summer 1993)
*Jarrat, "The Forgotten Heroes of the Montgomery Bus Boycott" (Chicago Tribune, December 1975)
*Cesar Chavez, "The Organizer's Tale" (Ramparts, July 1966)

Thursday, October 16
*Firestone, "Victory for Union At Plant in South Is Labor Milestone" (New York Times, June 25, 1999)
*Belkin, "Showdown at Yazoo Industries" (New York Times Magazine, Jan. 31, 1995)

Film: "Norma Rae"

What Makes a Good Leader? Thursday, October 17
*Alinsky, "Native Leadership" (from Reveille for Radicals)
*Von Hoffman, "Finding and Making Leaders" (Midwest Academy, 1975)
*Freeman, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness" (Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 1970)
*White, "Fall From Grace" (City Limits, August/September 1994)
*Leland, "Savior of the Streets" (Newsweek, June 1, 1998)
*Chacon, "1,000 Work on Community at Interfaith Meeting" (Boston Globe, March 15, 1998); "Q&A with Rev. Daniel Finn and Rev. Frank Kelley" (Boston Globe, March 22, 1998); "An Interfaith Crusade" (Boston Globe, March 19,1998); Ebbert, "Emboldened Interfaith Group Cheered by Housing Gains" (Boston Globe, August 12, 2000)
*Charles Payne, "Men Led, But Women Organized," from Guida West and Rhoda Lois Blumberg, eds., Women and Social Protest (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990)
*Martin Luther King, "The Drum Major Instinct" (1968)

Speaker: Karen Bass, Community Coalition

Taking Action: Campaigns, Strategies, Tactics, and Coalitions

How do you pick the most effective way to mobilize people around issues? How do you design winning issue-oriented campaigns around government policy and corporate conduct? When do you use "direct action", such as confrontation and civil disobedience? How do you lobby effectively? How do you organize an effective rally or demonstration? How do you organize a successful public hearing? How do you run a successful meeting? How do you negotiate with people in power? What's the difference between winning and losing? What is the difference between a "cop out" and a "compromise"?

Case Study: LA Housing Trust Fund Campaign Thursday, October 23
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 8 ("Strategy"), Ch. 10 ("Tactics"), and Ch. 15 ("Coalitions")
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 9 ("Building and Joining Coalitions"), and Ch. 17 ("Working with Religious Organizations")
*Breidenbach, “LA Story” (Shelterforce, March/April 2002)
*Candaele and Dreier, “Housing: An LA Story” (Nation, April 15, 2002)
Fact sheets on Los Angeles housing crisis (handout)

Jan Breidenbach, Southern CA Assn. for Nonprofit Housing

Thinking Strategically Tuesday, October 28
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 4 ("Developing a Strategy"), Ch. 5 ("Guide to Tactics"), Ch. 7 ("Designing Actions"), Ch. 7 (Designing Actions), and Ch. 8 ("Holding Accountability Sessions")
*"A Win for the Working Poor: The Moral Minimum Wage Campaign"
*Lassen and Adamson, "Erasing the Red Line" (from Center for Third World Organizing manual)
*Sabert, "From Moral Majority to Organized Minority: Tactics of the Religious Right" (Christian Century, August 11-18, 1993)
*Dreier and Glasser, "What Went Wrong: The Defeat of California's Single-Payer Health Reform Initiative" (Social Policy, Spring l995)
*Staples, "The Boston Model," from Joan Ecklein, Community Organizers, second edition (New York: Wiley, 1984)
*Cummings and Coogan, "Organizing Communities to Prevent the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors" (Quarterly of Community Health Education, 1992)
*Dreyfuss, "Reform Gets Rolling: Campaign Finance at the Grassroots" (American Prospect, July/August 1999)
*Cleeland, “Farm Workers Urge Davis to Sign Binding Arbitration Bill” (Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2002)
*Jones, “History Echoes As Farm Workers Rally for Bill” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 26, 2002)
*Hirsch, “Ahmanson Ranch Protestors Turn Up the Heat on Sizzler Chairman” (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 1, 2003)
*Barry Rehfeld, "A Suite Victory for Shareholders" (Institutional Investor, July 1998)

Thursday, October 30

Organizing Exercise

Labor Unions, Labor-Community Coalitions, and Labor-Student Coalitions

What is the history of the labor movement in the U.S.? What is the current status of the labor movement? What are the differences and similarities between labor organizing and community organizing? How have labor unions sought to develop allies among religious, community, and student groups? What are some of the key issues that unions organize around?

The Living Wage Movement Tuesday, November 4
Reynolds, Taking the High Road (Chapters 7 and 8)
*Articles on Baltimore "living wage" campaign ("Schmoke threatens," "Wage bill depends," "Wage bill OK'd," "A Living Wage")
*Articles on Los Angeles "living wage" campaign: "Council Approves 'Living Wage' Law for City Contracts" (Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1997); "Council Overrides Veto, Oks Wage Law" (Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1997); "Business Takes a Beating," (LA Business Journal, March 24, 1997)
*Leovy, "Unions Plan to Pressure Universal" (Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1998)
*Murray, "Living Wage Comes of Age" (Nation, July 23/30, 2001)
*Rector, "Interview: Madeline Janis-Aparicio" (Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1998)
*Cardenas, "She's Working Overtime for L.A.'s Living Wage Battle" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 21, 2000)

*Johnson, "Activist Plays Key Role in Passage of Living-Wage Law" (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2001)
Articles on Santa Monica living wage campaign (handout)

Madeline Janis-Aparicio, LA Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

How do Unions Organize? Thursday, November 6
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 16 ("Unions")
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 18 ("Working with Local Unions") and Ch. 19 ("Building Labor-Community Partnership")
*Rohrlich, "Union's Fight with Hotel Reverberates Across LA" (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 5, 1997)
*Moberg, “HERE and Now” (In These Times, August 20, 2001)
*Fine, "Building Community Unions" (Nation, January 1, 2001)
*Leib, "Consumers Had Role in Ending Grocery Strike" (Denver Post, June 30, 1996)
*Greenhouse, "Labor and Clergy Reunite to Help Society's Underdogs" (New York Times, August 18, 1996)
*Kilborn, "Young Organizers Lead Labor's Push" (New York Times, June 3, 1993)
*Candaele and Dreier, "Canadian Beacon" (Nation, Dec. 16, 1996)
*Bernstein, "All's Not Fair in Labor Wars" (Business Week, July 19, 1999)
*Bailey, "Labor Upset Prop. 226 by Focusing on Backers" (Los Angeles Times, June 8, 1998)

Speaker: John Grant, United Food and Commercial Workers Union

Student-Labor Alliances and the Anti-Sweatshop Movement Tuesday, November 11
Agents of Change: A Handbook for Student Labor Activists (handout)
*Featherstone, "The New Student Movement" (Nation, May 15,2000)
*Appelbaum and Dreier, "The Campus Anti-Sweatshop Movement" (American Prospect, September/October 1999)
*Zagier, "Nike Makes Countermove" (Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer, Aug. 10, 1999)
*Gourevitch, "Awakening the Giant: How the Living Wage Movement Can Revive Progressive Politics" (American Prospect, May 30, 2001)
*Van Der Werf, “How Much Should Colleges Pay Their Janitors?”(Chronicle of Higher Education, August 3, 2001)


Sweatshops Wednesday, November 12 (extra session)
Kenney, “The Truth Behind the Tag” (Cooperative Business Journal, July 2002)

Christina Vasquez, UNITE; Chris Mackin, CEO, SweatX

to Team X garment factory

Identifying Problems/Choosing Issues

How do you learn about your community and neighborhood? How do you identify what the "problems" are? What's the difference between a "problem" and an "issue"? How do you decide what issues to work on? What are "winnable" issues? Who are your friends and your enemies? How do you find allies?

Thursday, November 13
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 3 ("Choosing an Issue")
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 5 ("Issues")
*Warren and Warren, "How to Diagnose a Neighborhood" (The Neighborhood Organizer's Handbook, 1977)
Articles on ACORN's campaigns (handout)

Speaker: Amy Schur, ACORN

Tuesday, November 18
*Lopez, "Fewer Fire Inspections Conducted in Inner City" (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 8, 1993)
*Renwick, "Fed-Up Tenants Take Over" (Los Angeles Times, Aug, 15, 1994)
*Stein, "Taking the MTA for a Ride" (Third Force, July/August 1995)
*Bobitaille, "Voting Rights Activists Seek Spanish Materials" (San Jose Mercury News, July 24, 1993)
*Mozingo, "Residents Want Action After Fatal Accident on Figueroa" (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 18, 1998)
*Monmaney, "Cuts Hamper Anti-Smoking Bid, Study Says" (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 9, 1998)
*Holmes, "Huge Bank Mergers Worry Consumer Groups" (New York Times, April 19,1998)
*Bustillo and Morain, "Panel Backs Raise in State Minimum Wage" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 18, 2000)
*Stewart, “Homeless Advocates Sue LA Over Downtown Plan” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 21, 2002)

Issue Exercise

Action Research, Intelligence Gathering, and Communication

How do grassroots organizations use information to help them win victories? How and where do they get that information? What's the difference between "research" and "intelligence gathering"? How do you do research about an issue? How do you do research about the political, economic, and civic "power structure"? How do you interview people? How do grassroots organizations communicate their message? What are the different audiences for their message? How do they get the mass media to pay attention?

Thursday, November 20
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 9 ("Research")
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 20 ("Tactical Investigations")
*Frammolino, "The Bolshevik Who Beat Belmont" (Los Angeles Times Magazine, January 7, 2001)
*Rosenbaum, “Little-Known Crusader Plays a Big Role in Tax Debate” (New York Times, May 21, 2001)
*Sarasohn, ”Taking Back the Initiative” (Nation, June 18, 2001

Film: “HERE’s Los Angeles” (8-minute video)

Speaker: David Koff, HERE, Local 11

Tueday, November 25
"Internet Guide to Power Structure Research" (University of Oregon). Spend half an hour looking at this site:
*Hospital campaign exercise (from Center for Third World Organizing manual)
*Obstetler and Kazis, "Corporate Campaigns," from Gary Cohen and John O'Connor, Fighting Toxics: a manual for protecting your family community, and workplace (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1990)
*Crowther, "How to Research Companies," from College Placement Council
*AFL-CIO, Food & Allied Service Trades Dept., Manual of Corporate Investigation
*Kristof, “CEOs Paid 70% More...” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 26, 2002)
*Richman and Kawano, "Neighborhood Information is Not Just for Experts" (Shelterforce, Sept./October 2000)
*Vasquez, "Sulfuric Acid Leak Exposes Ignorance" (Oakland Tribune, June 29, 1993) and "Richmond Residents Air Concerns" (Oakland Tribune, August 15, 1993)
*Dreier, "Rent-a-Politician Exposed" (Shelterforce, 1981)
*Samuels and Glantz, "The Politics of Local Tobacco Control" (Journal of the American Medical Association, October 16, 1991)
*Seelye, "Lobbyists Are the Loudest in the Health Care Debate" (New York Times, Aug. 16,1994)

Tuesday, December 2
Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Ch. 14 ("Using the Media")
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 12 ("Communication") and Ch. 13 ("Media")
*Candaele, "Teamsters Go For Public's Heart" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 17, 1997)
*Ryan, "What's Newsworthy" and "Pegs, Leads, and Bites" (from Ryan, Prime Time Activism)
*”Nonprofits and the Press: How Nonprofits Can Make the News” (Aspen Institute, June 1999)
*Deterline,"Strategic Publicity and Media Activism" (Extra!, Sept./Oct.1997)
*Model press advisory and model press release (from Fighting Toxics)

Wednesday, December 3 (extra session)
*Fine, "An Organizer's Checklist for Coalition Building," from Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello, eds., Building Bridges: the emerging grassroots coalition of labor and community (New York City: Monthly Review Press, 1990)

Coalition exercise

Thursday, December 4
Kahn, Organizing, Ch. 17 ("Politics")
*Rath, "Grassroots: The Next Generation: BUILD and the Groups It's Inspired Remake Baltimore Politics from the Ground Up" (City Paper, June 15, 1999)
*Bolz, "Can Seattle's Renters Put Judy Nicastro in the Hot Seat?" (Shelterforce, May/June 1999)
* Feit, "Seattle's Pragmatic Populist" (The Stranger.Com, January 25-31, 2001)
*Shearer, "How the Progressives Won in Santa Monica" (Social Policy, Winter 1982)
*Gills, "Chicago Politics and Community Development," from Pierre Clavel and Wim Wiewel, eds., Harold Washington and the Neighborhoods: progressive city government in Chicago, 1983-1987 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991)
*Kelleher and Talbott, "The People Shall Rule" (Shelterforce, Nov./December 2000)
*Simmons, “Labor and the LEAP: Political Coalition Experiences in Connecticut” (Working USA, Summer 2000)
*Kest, "Gaining Ground by Holding Back" (Shelterforce, March/April 1997)
*Dreier and Pitcoff, "I'm a Tenant and I Vote: New Yorkers Find Victory in Rent Struggle" (Shelterforce, July/August 1997)
*Walljasper, "Burlington, Northern Light" (Nation, May 19, 1997)
*Dreier, "Ray Flynn's Legacy: American Cities and the Progressive Agenda" (National Civic Review, Fall 1993)
*Adamson, "Clearing the Air" and "Registering for a Change," from Politics Unusual (1996)

Speaker: Sharon Delugach, Veteran organizer, former chief-of-staff for LA City Councilperson Jackie Goldberg, and current staffperson for City Councilperson Martin Ludlow

Journal/Final Paper
Urban & Environmental Policy 310/311

As part of this course, you should keep a journal. Your journal should record your internship activities. You should take notes on your observations and impressions about the people, the organization, the community, and issues you are dealing with. You should record your own activities -- including the highlights and problems.

Each student in this course is required to write a short paper (15 pages) describing and analyzing your internship and the organization you worked with. The paper should draw on the class materials (readings, films, speakers, exercises) as well as your experiences and your journal. The paper should explain what you learned about community organizing ) especially, what are the key elements of effective community organizing and how well the organization met these criteria.

Your final paper should aim to be objective. That means you should view the organization from a variety of angles and perspectives -- not simply the perspective of your supervisor. You should look at the organization from the perspective of the staff, the board, constituents, allies, targets, and others. Then you can come to your own conclusion based on having an "outsider's" view of the organization. In order to write this paper, in other words, you will need to talk to people besides your intern supervisor. Your analysis of the organization's strengths and weaknesses should be based on the criteria we have discussed and read about in class. To help you think about these issues, I will put on the course website a chapter called “Getting to Know the Placement Site” from the book The Successful Internship: Transformation and Empowerment in Experiential Learning by H. Frederick Sweitzer and Mary A. King (second edition, Thompson-Brooks/Cole Publishers, 2004). Please read this chapter within the first two weeks of your internship.

The final paper should include an evaluation of the organization and of your internship. Topics should include (but aren't limited to) the following:

  • The history of the organization. How it was started and by whom? Why was it started? How and why it has changed since its beginning? What are the organization's missions and goals?

  • How is the organization organized? Discuss its budget, staff, board, and sources of funds. Who runs the organization? How does the way it is organized reflected its missions and goals? How does the way it is funded influence what it does?

  • How does the organization decide what issues to get involved with? What is the group's overall strategy? How does it decide on strategy and tactics?

  • What is the organization's constituency? How does it determine what its constituency is?

  • How does the organization deals with such matters as leadership, recruiting and maintaining members, maintaining morale, fundraising, research, and the media?

  • What impact does involvement in the organization have on the people -- staff, leaders, members?

  • Discuss how your internship fit into the organization's overall activities. Discuss the specific role(s) you played in the organization. Evaluate the pros and cons of your internship.

  • Discuss the overall strengths and weaknesses of the organization. Be sure to clarify what criteria you are using.

Syllabus prepared 13 November 2003 for H-Urban Teaching Center.

Syllabus copyright 2003 Peter Dreier. All rights reserved.
Permission to copy and use under "fair use" in education is granted,
provided proper credit is given.

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