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The Big Answer


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Going Public: An Inside Story of Disrupting Politics as Usual

a book by Michael Gecan

(our site's book review)

“The inside story of an extraordinary politics you probably didn’t know existed—ordinary Americans getting together and acquiring real power for themselves.” —William Greider, national correspondent, The Nation

A New York city neighborhood once called “the beginning of the end of civilization” is where Michael Gecan starts. Hired by residents to help them save their community, he and local leaders spend more than a decade wrestling New York politicians in an impassioned effort against all odds that brings in five thousand new homes.

In his inspiring story of the will to claim the full benefits of citizenship, Gecan offers unforgettable lessons that every American should know: What is the best way to talk to politicians? What resources do all communities need to create change? What kinds of public actions really work?

“If you want to know how ordinary Americans accomplished extraordinary things—built affordable homes, created effective schools, won living wages—then the story and the strategy reside in this remarkable book. Going Public is at once pragmatic and profound.” —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church

Gecan provides inspiring tales of successful working relationships with politicians, union members, cops, not-for-profit leaders, and leaders in churches. Average people can make a meaningful difference through organizing and discipline and through giving credit when it is deserved, and through bringing accountability when needed. In fact, the victories in this book were achieved by the working poor themselves, not social workers or politicians or community organizers. Going Public is about power; not the kind hoarded at City Hall or hidden in corporate boardrooms, but the power that can be generated in every city neighborhood, sprawling suburb, or rural town. This book is a rallying cry for those dissatisfied with the status quo and a warning to the establishment.

The victories in this book were achieved by the working poor themselves, not social workers or politicians or community organizers—corruption often leads to orgies of defaults and repossessions, and then abandonments
The victories in this book were achieved by the working poor themselves, not social workers or politicians or community organizers—corruption often leads to orgies of defaults and repossessions, and then abandonments

This book is about how to fight against the established patterns of injustice and corruption and gang activity in cities, and how to bring accountability using public actions, organization, and courage. The worsening deterioration, crime, arson, and abandonment can only continue if we look to "authorities" to fix things—authorities who prefer seat warming to actually doing their jobs. "Power can come from the habit of building new public relationships," says Gecan. Citizen activists accepted tension, conflict, and confrontation as facts of life and the prices of progress. "It may be that the very habit of building public relationships is part of the human constitution of a vital democracy. The absence of these relationships creates great gaps in our society—where alienated people become more detached, where lost and damaged people spin further out of control."

"Gecan, though, goes beyond storytelling to provide a virtual manual for creating a community organization that can get the powers that be in a city to do the right thing for the public. This is not a book about how we ought to deal with the powers and needs in our world; it is about how to do so effectively. Gecan argues that successful organizers recognize three primary public cultures in today's world: the market culture, the bureaucratic culture and the relational culture. The relational culture provides the context and paradigm for community organizers. In that culture people build relationships, see needs, develop a response and go into action. Leaders in the relational culture accept that their ability to effect change depends largely on the number and quality of relationships they can develop." (Source: Going Public: An Inside Story of Disrupting Politics as Usual by Mike Smith in ethicsdaily.com)

In Reveille for Radicals, community organizers sometimes seem like the vanguard that will awaken community members to their shared interests in challenging various establishment organizations and practices. (Source: Lawyers and the Power of Community: The Story of South Ardmore, 2009, Corey S. Shdaimah, The John Marshall Law Review)

In Going Public: An Inside Story of Disrupting Politics as Usual, Michael Gecan brings his deep knowledge of Chicago’s blighted neighborhoods, bloated bureaucracy, and venal political machine to bear on a thoroughgoing and nationwide critique. This book by Northeast IAF Regional Director Michael Gecan describes the IAF’s organizing philosophy and the tools utilized in the IAF’s considerable successes in New York and the surrounding area.

The big unanswered question Gecan leaves us with once we're done reading the book is are cities as full of corrupion now as they were as when he was young? Are they better or worse? We know that politics and media have gotten worse, but what about city politics and bureaucracies? Of course, in today's compromised climate of truthiness, fake news, and unaccountability, even if someone studied this issue and reported on it, the corrupt would dismiss it as fake news, the knowledgeable would doubt its objectivity since the media and the scientists are in bed with the corporatocracy, and the ignorant would believe only the words of those in power to whom "fake news" has become the new mantra. Truth—we miss you dearly! See Democracy—an American Delusion and Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics.

Are lies, misinformation, truthiness and fake news going to give information itself such a bad name that the untruth/terd will taint the entire bowl of information/punch?
Are lies, misinformation, truthiness and fake news going to give information itself such a bad name that the untruth/terd will taint the entire bowl of information/punch?


The public has experienced so many years of misinformation and propaganda from shadow government controlled mainstream media that this new onslaught of fake news is too much to handle—they're choking on misinformation
The public has experienced so many years of misinformation and propaganda from shadow government controlled mainstream media that this new onslaught of fake news is too much to handle—they're choking on misinformation