Cover image for Going public
Going public
Gecan, Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xix, 191 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Corporate Subject:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HN90.C6 G43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"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. From bad behavior by Ed Koch to complicated negotiations with Rudy Giuliani, Gecan tells the inside story of how the city really works, and how any organized group of citizens can wield power in seemingly unmovable bureaucracies. Gecan's unwavering vision of the value of public action has roots in a rough childhood in Chicago, where he witnessed extortion by the mob and a tragic fire in his Catholic grade school that left ninety-two children and three nuns dead. 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 Michael Gecan has been an organizer for twenty years. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Author Notes

Michael Gecan has worked as an organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore for more than twenty-five years

Table of Contents

Preface: Why Organize?p. ix
Introductionp. 1
Part I The Habit of Relating
1. All Real Living Is Meetingp. 19
2. The World as It Isp. 33
Part II The Habit of Action
3. Activists on a Manhattan Streetp. 49
4. Introducing Your Larger Selfp. 54
5. Merit Means (Almost) Nothingp. 65
6. Chutzpah Helpsp. 75
7. Ambiguity, Reciprocity, Victoryp. 100
Part III The Habit of Organization
8. The Hard Edges of Effective Organizationp. 129
9. Disorganizing and Reorganizingp. 136
Part IV The Habit of Reflection
10. Three Public Culturesp. 151
11. Fault Lines and Collisionsp. 167
12. The Right Relationshipp. 174
Conclusionp. 176
Acknowledgmentsp. 179
Indexp. 186