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Consensus Organizing:  A Community Development Workbook
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Consensus Organizing: A Community Development Workbook
A Comprehensive Guide to Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Community Change Initiatives

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October 2008 | 432 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"The world is changing rapidly and the practice of community organizing needs to change with it. Representing both an homage to, and a departure from the "alinsky traditions" of organizing, Consensus Organizing offers techniques that are specifically designed for urban and rural communities struggling to succeed in the global economy and the information age. Ohmer and DeMasi are experienced organizers who offer a relentlessly thorough examination of the process of bringing diverse communities together to make change and to bridge the ethnic and economic divisions that keep many communities from succeeding."

—Bill Traynor Executive Director, Lawrence CommunityWorks Inc.

A person doesn't have to be a consensus organizer to think like one. Consensus Organizing: A Community Development Workbook—A Comprehensive Guide to Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Community Change Initiatives helps students and practitioners begin to think like consensus organizers and incorporate this way of strategic thinking into their lives and their work. Through a wide range of exercises, role-play activities, case scenarios, and discussion questions, this workbook presents the conceptual framework for consensus organizing and provides a practical and experiential approach to understanding and applying consensus organizing to address a range of issues. This workbook is designed to be used by itself or along with Mike Eichler's text Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest (SAGE, 2007).

Key Features and Benefits

  • Provides a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a community analysis of both internal and external neighborhood resources
  • Brings consensus organizing to life through case studies based on the real-life experiences of the authors
  • Offers field exercises that engage the reader in applying and practicing consensus organizing
  • Provides practical tools that community organizers and practitioners can use in their daily work
  • Includes a sample job description, work plan, monitoring report, and field report for hiring and supervising consensus organizers
  • Presents tools for describing and evaluating consensus organizing and community-level interventions

Accompanying Website
Instructors and students have access to the many activities and cases on the accompanying website at http://www.sagepub.com/ohmerstudy/.


 
SECTION ONE: CONSENSUS ORGANIZING IN CONTEXT
Introduction to Section one

 
 
1. Approaches to Community Organizing and Their Relationship to Consensus Organizing
Community, Civic Engagement, and Social Capital

 
Community Organizing Approaches

 
Defining Consensus Organizing and Comparing it with Other Approaches

 
The Conceptual Model for Consensus Organizing

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
2. How the Economic, Political, and Social Context Influences Low-Income Communities and Community Organizing
Why Context is important to Community Organizing

 
Overall Economic, Political, and Social Trends and their Influence on Low-income Communities

 
How Can Community Organizers Respond To These Trends

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
3. Understanding and Applying the Strategic Principles of Consensus Organizing
The Strategic Principles of Consensus Organizing

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
SECTION TWO: WHAT DOES A CONSENSUS ORGANIZER DO?
Introduction to Section Two

 
 
4. The Process of Consensus Organizing
Community Organizing Versus Community Outreach

 
The Consensus Organizing Process

 
Basic Steps in the Consensus Organizing Process

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: The Jamestown Neighborhood

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
5. The Role of the Consensus Organizer
Characteristics of a Consensus Organizer

 
Fundamental Attitudes and Competencies of Consensus Organizers

 
Roles for Consensus Organizers

 
Tools for the Organizer and Supervisor to Monitor Progress

 
Raising Resources for Community Organizing Work

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
Field Exercises

 
Web Resources

 
Suggested Reading

 
 
SECTION THREE: THE COMMUNITY ANALYSIS IN CONSENSUS ORGANIZING
Introduction to Section Three: The Community Analysis: Building Trust, Relationships, and Strategies for Positive Community Change

 
How does a Community Analysis differ from other types of Community Studies?

 
Why do a Community Analysis?

 
What are the Expected Outcomes of the Community Analysis

 
What is the Consensus Organizer's Role in conducting a Community Analysis?

 
Engaging the "Community" in the Community Analysis: Getting your Foot in the Door

 
Discussion Questions

 
Role Play Exercise

 
 
6. Step One in the Community Analysis: Understanding Neighborhoods - Their History and Current Conditions
Overall Purpose of Step One of the community analysis

 
Gathering Information about the Community

 
Strategic Questions for Step One

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: Step One of the Community Analysis: Palm Beach County Development Team

 
In-Class Exercise: Getting Started on Step One of the Community Analysis

 
Field Exercise

 
 
7. Step Two in the Community Analysis: Understanding and Engaging Individuals from Internal Community Resources
Purpose of the Internal Community Analysis

 
Strategic Questions for the Analysis of Internal Community Resources

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
In-Class Exercise: Getting Started on Step Two of the Community Analysis

 
Field Exercise

 
 
8. Step Three in the Community Analysis: Understanding and Engaging Individuals from External Community Resources
Purpose of the Analysis of External Community Resources

 
Identifying the Self-Interest of External Community Resources

 
Using the Analysis to Engage Members of the External Power Structure

 
Strategic Questions for the External community analysis

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
In-Class Exercise: Getting Started on Step Three of the community analysis

 
Field Exercise

 
 
SECTION FOUR: WRAP-UP: THE COMMUNITY ANALYSIS - TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
Potential "Red Flags" in the Community Analysis

 
Writing up your Results from the Community Analysis

 
Case Study Exercises

 
Discussion Questions

 
Role Play Exercises

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
SECTION FOUR: CONSENSUS ORGANIZING STRATEGIES AND TACTICS: BUILDING ON THE COMMUNITY ANALYSIS TO FACILITATE PARTNERSHIPS AND EFFECT CHANGE
 
9. Building Personal Relationships by Identifying and Harnessing Mutual Self-Interest
Understanding Self-Interest

 
Identifying and Harnessing Self-Interest inside the Neighborhood

 
Identifying and Harnessing Self-Interest outside the Neighborhood

 
Relationships and Social Capital

 
Strategies for Harnessing Mutual Self-Interest

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: The UJIMA Network, Dayton, Ohio

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
10. Power Matters: Understanding and Using Power to Build Partnerships
The Consensus Organizing View of Power Compared to Conflict Approaches

 
How do Consensus Organizers Grow Power?

 
Strategies and Tactics to Facilitate Power

 
Case Illustration: Sharing Power in Las Vegas

 
Summary

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: Lawrence Community Works, Lawrence, Massachusetts

 
Field Exercise

 
Web Resources

 
 
SECTION FIVE: BUILDING A FUTURE FOR CONSENSUS ORGANIZING
 
11. Seeding Civic Participation through Youth Organizing
Introduction: Youth as Community Assets

 
Do Young People care about the community

 
Case Illustration: Bridging the Divide: Engaging Youth in Community Work

 
Practical Consensus Organizing Strategies to Engage Youth

 
Consensus Organizing: Examples of Youth Organizing Initiatives

 
University Programs Engaging Youth in Civic Action

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: Y.O.! - Youth Organizers! Williamsburg, New York

 
Field Exercises

 
Web Resources

 
 
12. Applying Consensus Organizing to Other Fields
Introduction

 
Important Assumptions of a Consensus Organizing Approach

 
Designing programs like a Consensus Organizer

 
Thinking like a Consensus Organizer

 
Introducing Consensus Organizing into your Organization

 
Final Thoughts

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercises

 
Field Exercises

 
Web Resources

 
 
SECTION SIX: STRATEGIES EVALUATING CONSENSUS ORGANIZING AND COMMUNITY LEVEL INTERVENTIONS
 
13. Designing an Evaluation of a Consensus Organizing Intervention
Why are Evidence-based Practice and Program Evaluation Important?

 
Approaches to Evaluation and Research Compatible with Consensus Organizing

 
Basic Elements of Program Evaluation

 
Summary

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise on Program Evaluation: Kansas City Building Blocks Program

 
Field Exercises

 
Web Resources

 
 
14. Evaluating Consensus Organizing as a Community Level Intervention
Comprehensive Community Initiatives and Consensus Organizing

 
Strategies for Evaluating Consensus Organizing as a Community Level Intervention

 
Summary

 
Discussion Questions

 
Case Study Exercise: The Evaluation of the Urban Health Initiative: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

 
Field Exercises

 
Web Resources

 
Foreword

 

Supplements

"The world is changing rapidly and the practice of Community Organizing needs to change with it. Representing both an homage to, and a departure from the "alinsky traditions" of organizing, Consensus Organizing offers techniques that are specifically designed for urban and rural communities struggling to succeed in the global economy and the information age. Ohmer and DeMasi are experienced organizers who offer a relentlessly thorough examination of the process of bringing diverse communities together to make change and to bridge the ethnic and economic divisions that keep many communities from succeeding."

Bill Traynor, Executive Director
Lawrence CommunityWorks Inc.

"The case studies and class activities are excellent. The concise summary of consensus organizing would be useful."

Gary Paul Green
University of Wisconsin-Madison
American Sociological Association

"Mary Ohmer and Karen DeMasi have carefully (and possibly lovingly) written a book that can be used as a workbook and/or a resource in both the classroom and for staff trainings, and with some adjustments, in community settings to enhance resident capacity and skills."

Patricia W. Murphy
University of Pittsburgh

It does what it says in the title in that it is a comprehensive guide. Once again it has an American context which means a degree of transaltion is needed especially around a local government context. However the principles remain appropriate and useful.

Mr Bren Cook
Social Care, Runshaw Adult College
June 23, 2015

This book in a very detailed manner presents a practical approach to organize consensus. However, it requires the reader to have quite a bit of basic knowledge of community development.

Mr Andrzej Klimczuk
Collegium of Socio-Economics, Warsaw School of Economics
January 19, 2015

The material in this book was beyond the scope of the course I was teaching.

Ms Ana Collins
Business Dept, waterford college of further education
August 15, 2013

This workbook allows students to complement lecture with hands-on practical experience through discussion questions, case studies, and field exercise. The book is a great addition to traditional classroom lecture.

Dr Lason Hines
School Of Architecture, Prairie View A & M University
August 27, 2012

This is an excellent blend of theory and practice which will be a valuable resource for trainee community development workers on our programmes.
It is a particularly useful book for the UK context as it illuminates approaches to practice which are currently being developed through the government's Big Society initiatives

Mr Dave Beck
Dept of Adult and Continuing Education, Glasgow University
March 31, 2011

It will likely be adopted for Fall, 2010 Thanks!

Dr Richard Knopf
Sch Of Comm Resources Develop, Arizona State University - Tempe
January 12, 2010

I like the consensus approach presented here and feel the book introduces substantive ideas in a very accessible manner.

Dr Annalisa Raymer
Public Policy & Community Service, Emory and Henry College
November 20, 2009
Key features
  • Presentation of consensus organizing
  • Frameworks for understanding and applying consensus organizing
  • Numerous case studies
  • Numerous exercises to enhance student involvement in community organizing  

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