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Lessons Learned

Stories from a Lifetime of Organizing
Arnie Graf

Product Description


First Place, Faithful Citizenship/Religious Freedom, 2021 Catholic Press Association Book Awards


Arnie Graf has worked around the United States and in other countries to organize city, county, and metropolitan-wide non-partisan, institutionally based organizations that knit together multi-faith congregations, synagogues, mosques, and temples with local unions and various civic organizations and not-for-profit associations to amass enough power to both challenge and engage the corporate and political leaders in the communities in which they are based. At their best, they have forced changed laws and redirected large sums of money from the private sector and city, county, and state governments to address decades of neglected geographic areas and intractable problems. In this insightful and enjoyable memoir, Graf tells five substantive stories from his work in San Antonio, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, and London that illustrate the “universal principles” of organizing developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), including power, self-interest, relational meetings, no permanent allies or enemies, breaking problems into issues, action in the reaction, the positives of tension, training and evaluation, and the necessity of people and their institutions to demand real respect and recognition rather than grudging tolerance in the public arena.

“Arnie Graf has proven, in wildly different settings, across more than four decades, that he is one of the truly brightest stars of organizing—a world class listener, a keen spotter of leadership talent, a subtle and deep trainer, and someone who is fearless and relentless in the arena of public action. If you want to understand how organizing is done at the highest level by a pro's pro, this is the book.” — Mike Gecan, author of Going Public and People’s Institutions in Decline

About the author

Arnie Graf was an organizer and supervisor with the Industrial Areas Foundation from 1971-1978 and 1980-2016. He served as its co-executive director from 2010-2012. Graf and his wife, Lucille, are the parents of four adult children and have six grandchildren. The couple now live in Ellicott City, Maryland, where Graf continues to write and mentor organizers and leaders.

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  1. Learn from the best 5 Star Review

    Posted by on Nov 10th 2020

    Arnie Graf has translated a wealth organizing experience into a narrative language that informs, inspires and challenges. Anyone interested in building power to make change will find rich reward in the reading.

  2. great stories 5 Star Review

    Posted by on Nov 1st 2020

    Excellent stories of the power of organized people and how we can make change.

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