MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations


Observing Twenty Years of
Citizen Action
The Workbook's Special Anniversary Issue

We wanted to celebrate The Workbook's twentieth anniversary, not with a self-congratulatory commemoration of the magazine's illustrious past, but with some substantive, thoughtful assessments of the present and future of citizen action — the subject that has been the driving impulse behind The Workbook since its earliest days. Our "Sources of Information" section has covered citizen action on literally dozens of fronts, from local grassroots battles against toxic pollution by industry to network coalitions "biting the ankles" of government officials to keep them enforcing a few actually good environmental protection laws, to the anti-war, anti-nuclear energy, anti-abuse of natural resources advocacies, to consumer protection, fair housing, health care, and environmental equity issues.

The contributors to this special anniversary issue, who generously gave their time and efforts without recompense beyond the satisfaction of getting the word out, are collectively a very singular reminder of the energy and dedication that citizen action requires, with the generosity of self that characterizes the movement for environmental and social justice in this country and worldwide.

Here are 19 fine essays that offer distinct perspectives and observations by writers long and intimately acquainted with their subjects. Without offering generalizations, patterns of ideas, comparisons, or cumulative assessments, we invite you to simply read and share the experience, insights, and hopes for the future offered here.

Contributors are:

David Walls
A historical review of a 20-year growth of community organizing and its place in America's tradition of citizen protest.
Mark Ritchie
How cooperation between labor and agriculture, urban and rural interests have strengthened the movement for sustainable agriculture in the U.S.
Maria Varela
The path rural communities must take to regain local control over their economy.
Robert D. Bullard
When is a neighborhood not a neighborhood? New tactics to rewrite the history of environmental discrimination
Lori Goodman
The trouble with "accountability" for funding for Native American grassroots organizations.
Will Collette
It will be the same old song in D.C. if we leave it to our "friends" on the inside.
Gale Cincotta
How the first "bank-in" began home mortgage disclosure and the end of redlining
Sam Orr
The struggle for the rights of the "psychiatrically labeled."
Kerry Cooke
Working for peace in Idaho could get you called a Communist.
Don Hancock
What citizens groups have learned about government and about themselves fighting for a say in the disposition of nuclear waste.
David Cortright
How citizen protest – not "peace through strength" – won the cold war.
Dorie Bunting
Some lessons in forming alliances in New Mexico to work for peace and justice.
Jeanne Gauna
Developers and industry see New Mexico as a golden opportunity, but its people end up facing the consequences of depleted and contaminated natural resources. What they're doing to fight back.
Lila Bird
A groundswell of Native American and low-income ethnic communities have organized to protest nuclear waste on Indian lands and other threats.
Dan Bolef
"The corporate structure demands, the state and courts justify, and the regulatory bureaucracy, with its scientific-technocratic patina, rationalizes" the sacrifice of a Pennsylvania community.
Larry Wilson
A Kentucky town in central Appalachia ends a 15-year fight for its right to safe water.
Peter Montague
Citizens' demands have forced a shift in some governments' thinking about risks from toxic pollutants.
Charles Komanoff
Can our economy – and our self-identities – survive without the automobile? Nine ways to wean us from automobile dependence.
Penny Newman
A multi-issue, multi-ethnic women's environmental justice movement is sweeping the globe with a mandate for change.

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