This two-part episode discusses the work of Saul Alinsky, the “dean of community organizing” and the different traditions and influences that shaped his democratic vision. The key texts discussed are his two books: “Reveille for Radicals” published in 1946, and his more well known latter book, “Rules for Radicals,” written in 1971. In this second part of the episode I to talk to Mike Miller. Mike started out in politics as part of the early stirrings of the student movement at UC Berkeley. From there he got involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), doing work in Mississippi but mostly organizing support for SNCC on the West Coast. That led him to working with Cesar Chavez as part of the Farmworker Movement. Coming off of all of that he ends up as a community organizer based in San Francisco, his home town, but organizing in different locations around the US for many decades until his retirement. His move from SNCC to organizing in the Bay Area was catalyzed by meeting Saul Alinsky who recruited him to work for the Industrial Areas Foundation for a while. I talk to Mike about his relationship with Alinsky and what he thinks was Alinsky’s understanding of democracy. Towards the end, Mike reflects on the different pathways organizing took after Alinsky died. Along the way, he draws some contrasts between the different kinds of organizing he has been involved in over the years.
Mike Miller was a leader in the pre-1960s birth of the student movement at UC Berkeley, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field secretary, and director of a community organizing project initiated by Saul Alinsky. He has been a lead organizer, consultant, mentor and workshop leader in the field of community organizing over many decades. He has taught community organizing, social welfare, and urban politics at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Notre Dame, Lone Mountain, San Francisco State, University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee, and Hayward State. He has also written extensively on the subject and related matters in numerous magazines and journal articles. His books include “A Community Organizer's Tale: People and Power in San Francisco—the 1964 to 1972 story of the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO),” and most recently, a co-edited volume entitled “People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky.” He currently directs the ORGANIZE Training Center: www.organizetrainingcenter.org