Organizing for Community Controlled Development: Renewing Civil Society

SAGE Publications

Author +
Patricia Watkins Murphy, James V. Cunningham

Year: 2003

This book is both important and timely. Written by practitioners who are also academics, the book combines solid research, observation and practical experience that speak forcefully to the need for both local place-based development and greater citizen involvement. The examples they give of successful local efforts to renew neighborhoods demonstrate that change is possible and that resources are available for such purposes. Patricia W. Murphy and James V. Cunningham have provided a roadmap for rebuilding many of our communities and for strengthening the foundations of our democracy.”

– Pablo Eisenberg, Georgetown Public Policy Institute

“It is a worthy book, with probably the best collection of resources anywhere for those trying to combine organizing and development.”

-Shelterforce Magazine

Organizing for Community Controlled Development is about renewing and revitalizing local living places through shared grassroots work focused on stimulating racial unity, civic vigor, and economic fairness. It proposes a detailed model for understanding the communities we call home and for guiding residents and their allies to strengthen local assets, reduce distress, and make and control needed social, political, and economic plans for change. This book’s coast-to-coast and beyond set of down-to-earth case studies aims at helping readers understand what are effective and what are ineffective methods for tackling renewal.

Key Features

  • Cases and their assessments: These offer ways that small communities across the globe today can honor diversity and civic responsibility and build programs that promote and facilitate year-around participation, while maintaining fruitful links to the governments, businesses, foundations and other institutions that can provide essential resources for change
  • “How to” chapters: These chapters contain detailed, tested techniques for recruiting, planning, fundraising, communicating, leadership growth, and other skills and processes that are part of the book’s model which combines community organizing and community economic development.
  • Suggestions on how and why authentic renewal groups can lay claim to resources adequate to carry out quality programs and projects with lasting impact: Throughout, the authors propose how organizing, planning, and implementation activities can be carried out with widespread inclusion of residents and other parties of interest, thereby insuring authenticity, ownership and support.
  • Technical chapters on making a long-range plan for a renewal organization: Making a plan for a small community and all its interests is covered from building social strength, securing adequate resources, building a community’s financial assets, and creating affordable housing, to transforming a local shopping area, and boosting workforce development.

Intended Audience: The book was written for students who aspire to work as community organizers, and all those who practice organizing and community development whether as volunteers or professionals.


  • Chapter 1 – Introduction
  • Chapter 2 – The Potency of Community Power
  • Chapter 3 – Community Development Corporations and the Resurgence of Organizing
  • Chapter 4 – The Small Community
  • Chapter 5 – Community Organizing: Principal Tool for Change and Reform
  • Chapter 6 – Participation: Lifeblood of Renewal
  • Chapter 7 – Aliquippa: A Small Community on the Front Line
  • Chapter 8 – Forging an Organizational Plan
  • Chapter 9 – Unity in Creating a Comprehensive Community Plan
  • Chapter 10 – Maximizing Social Strength
  • Chapter 11 – Tapping Essential Resources
  • Chapter 12 – Capital Formation: Building Community Financial Assets
  • Chapter 13 – Neighborhood Preservation Through Affordable Housing
  • Chapter 14 – Business District Renewal: Transforming Your Shopping Area
  • Chapter 15 – Workforce Development: Strengthening the Economic Base of the Small Community
  • Chapter 16 – Organizing for Community Controlled Development and the Promise of Coalition Politics