The Activist’s Handbook is a hard-hitting guide to winning social change in the 1990s. Randy Shaw, attorney and longtime activist for urban issues, shows how positive change can still be accomplished despite an increasingly grim political order, if activists employ the strategies set forth in this desperately needed primer.
Randy Shaw director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic critiques and applauds activism in San Francisco and speaks of his new book “The Activists Handbook”.
Have activists taken the bumper-sticker adage “Think Globally, Act Locally” too literally? Randy Shaw argues that they have, with destructive consequences for America. Since the 1970s, activist participation in national struggles has steadily given way to a nearly exclusive focus on local issues. America’s political and corporate elite has succeeded in controlling the national agenda, while their adversaries—the citizen activists and organizations who spent decades building federal programs to reflect the country’s progressive ideals—increasingly bypass national fights. The result has been not only the dismantling of hard-won federal programs but also the sabotaging of local agendas and community instituions by decisions made in the national arena.
Shaw urges activists and their organizations to implement a “new national activism” by channeling energy from closely knit local groups into broader causes. Such activism enables locally oriented activists to shape America’s future and work on national fights without traveling to Washington, D.C., but instead working in their own backyards. Focusing on the David and Goliath struggle between Nike and grassroots activists critical of the company’s overseas labor practices, Shaw shows how national activism can rewrite the supposedly ironclad rules of the global economy by ensuring fair wages and decent living standards for workers at home and abroad. Similarly, the recent struggles for stronger clean air standards and new federal budget priorities demonstrate the potential grassroots national activism to overcome the corporate and moneyed interests that increasingly dictate America’s future.
Cesar Chavez is the most prominent Latino in United States history books, and much has been written about Chavez and the United Farm Worker’s heyday in the 1960s and ’70s. But left untold has been their ongoing impact on 21st century social justice movements. Beyond the Fields unearths this legacy, and describes how Chavez and the UFW’s imprint can be found in the modern reshaping of the American labor movement, the building of Latino political power, the transformation of Los Angeles and California politics, the fight for environmental justice, and the burgeoning national movement for immigrant rights. Many of the ideas, tactics, and strategies that Chavez and the UFW initiated or revived—including the boycott, the fast, clergy-labor partnerships and door-to-door voter outreach—are now so commonplace that their roots in the farmworkers’ movement is forgotten.
This powerful book also describes how the UFW became the era’s leading incubator of young activist talent, creating a generation of skilled alumni who went on to play critical roles in progressive campaigns. UFW volunteers and staff were dedicated to furthering economic justice, and many devoted their post-UFW lives working for social change. When Barack Obama adopted “Yes We Can” as his 2008 campaign theme, he confirmed that the spirit of “Si Se Puede” has never been stronger, and that it still provides the clearest roadmap for achieving greater social and economic justice in the United States.
America once had many Tenderloin neighborhoods. Today, San Francisco’s Tenderloin is the last. Surrounded by Union Square’s posh retailers to the north, upscale Hayes Valley to the west and the Twitter/Mid-Market tech scene and affluent SOMA to the south, San Francisco’s Tenderloin remains a primarily low-income, ethnically diverse neighborhood in a city of vast wealth. How has it survived?
Randy Shaw answers this question in his long awaited new book, The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco.
Generation Priced Out is a call to action on one of the most talked-about issues of our time: how skyrocketing rents and home values are pricing the working and middle classes out of urban America. Randy Shaw tells the powerful stories of tenants, politicians, homeowner groups, developers, and activists in over a dozen cities impacted by the national housing crisis. From San Francisco to New York, Seattle to Denver, and Los Angeles to Austin, Generation Priced Out challenges progressive cities to reverse rising economic and racial inequality.
Shaw exposes how boomer homeowners restrict millennials’ access to housing in big cities, a generational divide that increasingly dominates city politics. Shaw also demonstrates that neighborhood gentrification is not inevitable and presents proven measures for cities to preserve and expand their working- and middle-class populations and achieve more equitable and inclusive outcomes. Generation Priced Out is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of urban America.