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Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Veleda

    While not without its useful bits, Grassroots is severely hampered by its assumption that the reader enjoys a significant degree of privilege. Do you need a few thousand dollars to make your project work? Just ask your friends to chip in! Or your mother's friends. What a person is supposed to do if their mother's friends can't spot them $1000, or if they don't have a cousin who works in the mayors office, or an old babysitter on the school board, is not clear. "Work your connections," is good ad While not without its useful bits, Grassroots is severely hampered by its assumption that the reader enjoys a significant degree of privilege. Do you need a few thousand dollars to make your project work? Just ask your friends to chip in! Or your mother's friends. What a person is supposed to do if their mother's friends can't spot them $1000, or if they don't have a cousin who works in the mayors office, or an old babysitter on the school board, is not clear. "Work your connections," is good advice, but this book seems to assume that everyone has influential connections. I very nearly put the book down for good after the authors championed unpaid internships. Apart from the problems inherent in unpaid internships, again it's assumed that the reader can go a semester or year without income. A later chapter claims that the best way to affect environmental change is to buy green products and make individual choices as consumers. The idea that we just need to buy different light bulbs to save the environment is not backed up by facts. What's needed is genuine structural change as to what corporations are allowed to get away with. (I'm not saying don't buy eco-friendly light bulbs. I buy eco-friendly light bulbs! But it's not The Solution, and shouldn't be presented as such.) This seems to come from the same sort of mindset that informs the rest of the book. Very disappointing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reese Lightning

    Written for privileged white college girls, upper middle class and higher. Grassroots my ass.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shinynickel

    I'm glad I waited so long to review this, because now my review is ironic, rather than irritable. I started this book soon after Nov 4th, when I had just found out that Prop8 had passed, when I was desperate to be able to affect something. Baumgardner speaks cheerfully of half-started projects, leads that go nowhere - it drove me nuts, the way she didn't seem to go back an evaluate what had worked and what hadn't. The way she approached things piecemeal, working on whatever problems she encounte I'm glad I waited so long to review this, because now my review is ironic, rather than irritable. I started this book soon after Nov 4th, when I had just found out that Prop8 had passed, when I was desperate to be able to affect something. Baumgardner speaks cheerfully of half-started projects, leads that go nowhere - it drove me nuts, the way she didn't seem to go back an evaluate what had worked and what hadn't. The way she approached things piecemeal, working on whatever problems she encountered, just sort of freestyle trying to address things. When I finished it, it felt like one of the most useless books I had ever read. So random! So journey instead of destination! W.T.F. So the irony is, what with the knots and going to lobby day up at the state capitol and following all the marriage battles online, she's right. You decide to do something, and the things that last are the things that can fit into your life, that might be able sink into other parts of it, here and there, and take hold. You do what you can. And you keep looking for new ways to affect the world, and you do those. Because unless you're willing to sacrifice your work, friendships, and happiness, that's how things have to work. They have to fit in. You have to figure it out on your own, start things that fail, keep the things that survive, keep going. This book is worthwhile exactly because it acknowledges the fits and starts of trying to change things in the midst of an actual life, and because it shares the stories of many activists who have found their own solutions to what they can do - and made their own mistakes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blythe

    This isn't a particularly riveting or fascinating read, but it was inspiring. I found myself reading a page or two and then spending the same amount of time trying to decide if that's something I can do too. It definitely made activism more accessible for me and it inspired me to really think deep about what resources I do have, as well as inspiring me to look at what other resources I might have access to if I drum up enough courage to just ask. This isn't a particularly riveting or fascinating read, but it was inspiring. I found myself reading a page or two and then spending the same amount of time trying to decide if that's something I can do too. It definitely made activism more accessible for me and it inspired me to really think deep about what resources I do have, as well as inspiring me to look at what other resources I might have access to if I drum up enough courage to just ask.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    While this book had some great ideas and was fairly inspiring, it came from a very privileged position. Most of the examples of activism given were from women who were in college, had well-paying professions, or had wealthy/powerful connections. It's a good book if that's the position you're in, but most people don't have these resources. While this book had some great ideas and was fairly inspiring, it came from a very privileged position. Most of the examples of activism given were from women who were in college, had well-paying professions, or had wealthy/powerful connections. It's a good book if that's the position you're in, but most people don't have these resources.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Byers

    Read this after reading "Manifesta" by the same author. Thought it would make a good guide for "getting more involved", but....it was pretty boring repetative and not very helpful in that regard. Read this after reading "Manifesta" by the same author. Thought it would make a good guide for "getting more involved", but....it was pretty boring repetative and not very helpful in that regard.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    This book fails to capture a broader audience however, for white Becky feminism, it's decently well written. If the intended audience was well-to-do, privileged college students/grads then it's a great resource. But as a primer on grassroots activism it lacks a fair amount of inclusivity. This book fails to capture a broader audience however, for white Becky feminism, it's decently well written. If the intended audience was well-to-do, privileged college students/grads then it's a great resource. But as a primer on grassroots activism it lacks a fair amount of inclusivity.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    305.42 BAU "Drawing heavily on individual stories as examples," being the biggest back-cover understatement of all time, about sums up the whole book. This is a great guide for people who haven't give a whole lot of thought about how they can make a difference. There were hardly any "clear guidelines" or "models for activism," unless you count: "do what these folks did!" It was story after vignette of pro-choice, high school gay community, and violence against women awareness, and while those are 305.42 BAU "Drawing heavily on individual stories as examples," being the biggest back-cover understatement of all time, about sums up the whole book. This is a great guide for people who haven't give a whole lot of thought about how they can make a difference. There were hardly any "clear guidelines" or "models for activism," unless you count: "do what these folks did!" It was story after vignette of pro-choice, high school gay community, and violence against women awareness, and while those are all undeniably worthy causes, we've heard about them before. I suppose I didn't find a whole lot of originality in this book. Or maybe it's because I'm even more radical than they are, with my ultra-relaxed-homeschooling, homebirthing-with-an-unlicensed-midwife, toddler-breastfeeding, raw-milk drinking, gentle-discipline, avoid-the-doctor, etc... ways. The closest thing to "clear guidelines" was the list on p. 9-10. Things like Don't Be Afraid to Pick up the Phone, Challenge Assumptions, Don't Believe Everything You Hear, and Align with Complementary Activists. Those are simply common sense. But, I suppose we all need to hear things like that for the first time. Their definition of feminism reads: the movement toward full political, economic and social equality for men and women; with the caveat that your right to make choices should not undermine another's right to make choices, specifically the right to have an abortion. I suppose my definition of feminism centers more around the role of women complementing that of men: different but equal, and equally important, unique for good reason. And my view of feminism doesn't thwart the right to choose, but does not rest on it either. Being a woman is more than that. Call me naive, but I thought "feminist activism" might edge slightly into pregnancy and childbearing rights, parenting with dignity and respect, marriage that works because it's based on mutual respect, and acknowledging the family unit as a decent place for those types of things to flourish. Boy, did I just brand myself! NPC (Not Politically Correct) for sure! lol

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    There are better manuals elsewhere. Billed as a 'A Field Guide for Feminist Activism' this sounded like a rather timely and interesting read. It showed up in some article or post about books to read about activism and luckily my library readily had a copy. However, I'm pretty sure there much be better guides out there.   As other reviews note, there are interesting bits and pieces and might make a great "starter" manual if one is completely unfamiliar with organizing. But it's not without it's pro There are better manuals elsewhere. Billed as a 'A Field Guide for Feminist Activism' this sounded like a rather timely and interesting read. It showed up in some article or post about books to read about activism and luckily my library readily had a copy. However, I'm pretty sure there much be better guides out there.   As other reviews note, there are interesting bits and pieces and might make a great "starter" manual if one is completely unfamiliar with organizing. But it's not without it's problems. Just about every chapter has stories from the two authors about their own personal experiences. Sorry, I don't know who these two authors are and really don't care about their experiences. I fit had been limited to just an introduction or preface that outlined how they were going to explain the next chapters then that might have worked. Otherwise it was information that wasn't really interesting or relevant to me.   And as other reviews note, a lot of the suggestions really require resources that one may not have. It's difficult to survive if you've taken an unpaid internship and have rent to pay (plus food you need to eat, gas/insurance for a car, etc.). It can be hard to know what connections to leverage (or even make those connections in the first place!) to get the resources/face time/etc. to speak with major influencers and networkers. Or how to handle things when you don't necessarily agree with a mission/person/group, etc. but how to listen to their concerns/needs, etc.   It might not be a bad primer for some, but after reading other reviews it confirmed to me that while this might not be a bad starting place but it should not be the only resource one has. It's also been more than 10 years since it was published and could really use an updated version.   Library or cheap bargain buy but if there are other resources out there (such as the internet) then this would absolutely not be my first recommendation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Monabelle Timosa

    This book are for all the people out there who want to bring change. The writers are awesome activists and I like all the stories compiled. Somehow it reflects what is happening right now, a lot of passionate activists and projects... It's goodie (not the most awesome tho) because I learned more about feminism and other resources to read and ponder on. It's probably for me not the best but still a good read because somehow, even though I'm not a professional writer or publisher, I find the book This book are for all the people out there who want to bring change. The writers are awesome activists and I like all the stories compiled. Somehow it reflects what is happening right now, a lot of passionate activists and projects... It's goodie (not the most awesome tho) because I learned more about feminism and other resources to read and ponder on. It's probably for me not the best but still a good read because somehow, even though I'm not a professional writer or publisher, I find the book unorganized and not that persuasive. It is informative though. It boils down to a compilation of stories related to the title "grassroots" wherein they share their struggles in the field. I didn't catch their real aim though and I guess it was lost in the stories or just wasn't emphasized enough. Here's the message I learned: There's a greater challenge ahead and we sometimes don't I need big idealistic plans but to just do what you have to do the best little way you can.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    this is a really fun and quick read. i am a super slow reader and finished it in about two days. there are a lot of great creative suggestions for ways to get involved with feminist activism, and baumgarder and richards are sure to point out that there is much more to activism than protest marches. the authors provide a lot of examples of activism (on both large and small scales) that they have come across since writing manifesta

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caity Bell

    Was exactly what I wanted and expected it to be. The book may not be what everyone is looking for, but definitely serves as a very good introductory to anyone wanting to become involved. I'll admit that I was knowledgable to most of the discussed topics, but it really helped organize my thoughts that were so scattered before into possible action. Very good read if you enjoy the subject matter and anecdotal reads. However I would not recommend going into this as a well seasoned feminist expecting Was exactly what I wanted and expected it to be. The book may not be what everyone is looking for, but definitely serves as a very good introductory to anyone wanting to become involved. I'll admit that I was knowledgable to most of the discussed topics, but it really helped organize my thoughts that were so scattered before into possible action. Very good read if you enjoy the subject matter and anecdotal reads. However I would not recommend going into this as a well seasoned feminist expecting to really hear anything too revolutionary.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book has a lot of good hands-on tips, but I felt a lot of the book didn't apply to me, being Canadian and living in the largest city in the country. I still recommend it, though. (I remember really enjoying the introduction by Winona LaDuke, who was Ralph Nader's VP candidate in 2000. I should look for more stuff by her!) This book has a lot of good hands-on tips, but I felt a lot of the book didn't apply to me, being Canadian and living in the largest city in the country. I still recommend it, though. (I remember really enjoying the introduction by Winona LaDuke, who was Ralph Nader's VP candidate in 2000. I should look for more stuff by her!)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    This book really skips over the theory and history of feminism and hones in on very basic tools we all can use as activists. The index of state and national agencies that women can either utilize or support is right on, basically telling us all to just do something.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't preachy, but at times, it did feel a bit "Rah-rah-rah!" Some of the ideas were quite good. I think that it should be required reading for any women's studies course in high school and maybe even undergrad. I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't preachy, but at times, it did feel a bit "Rah-rah-rah!" Some of the ideas were quite good. I think that it should be required reading for any women's studies course in high school and maybe even undergrad.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie Brock

    Only on the 2nd chapter. Winona LaDuke wrote a nice introduction reminding readers that great things can be accomplished while planning and organizing from your own sticky kitchen table. Amen, sister!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    We read this for my Gender and Women's Studies class. It was an enjoyable and very easy read- I closed the cover with a "warm and fuzzy feeling" about being identified as an activist every day of my life. We read this for my Gender and Women's Studies class. It was an enjoyable and very easy read- I closed the cover with a "warm and fuzzy feeling" about being identified as an activist every day of my life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jill Dunlap

    LOVED this one as well! It has a really good resource section and very hands-on activist tips. I really really recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna Pearce

    I felt this book was much better than Manifesta, if only because it talked about what to do rather than saying "Look, here's a problem". I felt this book was much better than Manifesta, if only because it talked about what to do rather than saying "Look, here's a problem".

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    Informative, motivating and leaves no one with an excuse not to get involved.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a great handbook for simple ways to help support non-profit causes, feminist and beyond. Inspiring and specific - buy it don't borrow it! This is a great handbook for simple ways to help support non-profit causes, feminist and beyond. Inspiring and specific - buy it don't borrow it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    So good and very helpful!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

    Four stars just for giving me a few ideas. It would get less for annoying self-promotion, but I'm feeling generous. Four stars just for giving me a few ideas. It would get less for annoying self-promotion, but I'm feeling generous.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Breanne Sorrells

    I really needed this. Maybe you do as well.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pghgranola

    had a hard time getting into this book. i am a big fan of jennifer's, but this was a rough read for me. had a hard time getting into this book. i am a big fan of jennifer's, but this was a rough read for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Practical, realistic, inspiring. Truly excellent. If I could change any one thing, it might be the overall structure, which seems haphazard sometimes, but overall, it's a real gem. Practical, realistic, inspiring. Truly excellent. If I could change any one thing, it might be the overall structure, which seems haphazard sometimes, but overall, it's a real gem.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ada

    Should have read this in college--of course, it wasn't written yet. Is a great hands-on manual for the budding feminist/activist. Should have read this in college--of course, it wasn't written yet. Is a great hands-on manual for the budding feminist/activist.

  28. 4 out of 5

    missy jean

    Parochial. The most helpful part, for me, was the resource guide.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Breanna Dahl

    This book is full of great advice for all activists, not just feminist ones. Inspiring!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

    I wish I could find a book like this but not so specifically American. Or, maybe more inclusive of Canada?

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