The Citizens Handbook
Books on Working with Others

Dry Bones Rattling: Community building to revitalize American democracy
Mark Warren, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001.
The best book about the Industrial Areas Foundation and its methods. Known for community organizing in cooperation with churches, the IAF has developed sophisticated techniques for identifying, training and developing large numbers of community leaders. This site has a summary of IAF practices.

Non-violent Communication: A Language of Life.
Harold Rosenberg, 2003
Rosenberg's four part process is a technique for preventing anger, resentment and conflict. Ury (below) says, "This is one of the most useful books you will ever read".

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher & William Ury, Penguin, 1983.
Fisher and Ury's best-seller on conflict resolution has been translated into eighteen languages. The authors show how conflict can be quite healthy if you can separate the people from the problem, and focus on interests rather than on positions. When unexpressed interests are identified, the parties involved can usually create options that will benefit everyone.

The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action
Stephen Denning, 2001
Denning shows how to win people over by telling stories instead of making arguments. Storytelling has become important technique for progressives.

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time
Susan Scott, 2002
Scott presents a set of practices to make conversations authentic and productive.

Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities
Adam Kahane, 2004
A great book. Kahane extracts useful principles from his international experience working with groups of people who at the outset do not trust one another.

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems
Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, 2007
A giant 732 page compendium of group processes. Each comes with a 'how-to", how long it will take, how many people can be accommodated, and when it will be useful.

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster
Rebecca Solnit, 2009
Chosen as the best book of the year by seven differnt newspapers. Solnit tells detailed stories of how people came together to help one another after disasters in San Francisco, Halifax, Mexico City, New York and New Orleans.

When Everyone's a Volunteer: The Effective Functioning of All-Volunteer Groups
Ivan Sheier, Energize Inc, Philadelphia, PA, 1992.
Here is a booklet for those who have become queasy riding the roller-coaster of an all-volunteer group. It is written by an expert on building organizations with volunteer support. Sheier covers goal setting, distributing work, getting members, working with no money, and co-operating with others. He also details a collection of group exercises, and networking schemes.

The Different Drum
M.Scott Peck, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1987.
Peck argues any group can form itself into a community if it goes through three stages. In two day workshops, trainers at his non-profit Institute for Community Encouragement take groups through these stages. In the first stage, Pseudocommunity, everyone tries to be extremely pleasant and avoid disagreement. In the second stage, Chaos, people argue and struggle in various ways to heal or convert one another. In the third stage, Emptiness, people stop acting like they had it all together and begin to share their own defeats, failures, sins and inadequacies. According to Peck, if a group can move through Emptiness, it can achieve community.

Building Communities from the Inside Out
John Kretzmann & John McKnight, Centre for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evaston, Illinois, 1993.
The authors argue we can bring communities back to life if we focus on local assets rather than on local needs. By beginning every community development process with a needs assessment, we unwittingly make people needy and dependent. Kretzmann and McKnight say we have to stop seeing the glass as half empty and begin to see it as half full. We need to identify, then build on, strengths latent in the community.
Most of the book consists of hundreds of one-sentence examples of what happens when these and other fragments of community begin working in partnership with one another. The stories show how local seniors, disabled persons, welfare recipients, and local artists can work with institutions, the private sector and associations. They also show how institutions such as schools, parks, libraries, community colleges, police, and hospitals can work in partnership with one another. McKnight is a legend amongst those involved in community development. For a copy of Building Communities form the Inside Out call the Center for Urban Affairs at 708-491-3518.

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The Troublemaker's Teaparty is an updated and expanded print version of The Citizen's Handbook. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.