Missing Class Book Tour Appreciations

It takes a village to promote a book

        – a message from Betsy Leondar-Wright

So many people have asked me how I was able to do such a fabulous book tour (32 events in 17 cities so far). “Who organized it?,” they ask, expecting that I’m going to name some massive PR firm.

The actual answer is that a whole team rolled up their sleeves in early 2014 and began to ask, ask, and ask. Intern-extraordinaire Emma Israel, Class Action’s fearless Outreach Director Anne Phillips, and I asked potential event sponsors and venues. My persuasive spouse, book publicist Gail Leondar-Wright, asked radio producers. Cornell University Press publicist Jen Longley asked bookstores. Usually we were calling people we knew, but Emma spent a solid month cold-calling social justice organizations in towns where Class Action had few contacts.

On the road, I was given gracious home hospitality by Liz Oppenheimer and Jeanne Burns, Lee and Tom Israel, Susan Saxe and Moon Smith, Felicia Mednick, Jason Franklin, Linda Stout and Angela Barth with support from Lisa Wilson, Michele Fazio and Alan Preston.

Talks were sponsored by the Community Church of Boston, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Porter Square Books, the New England Transition & Resilience network, the AFL-CIO Book Club, Marsha Reeves Jews of the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, Pendle Hill; Malaprops, Regulator, Modern Times and Elliott Bay bookstores; and the Wisconsin Book Festival (thanks to John Quinlan for proposing Missing Class to that event). Jack Metzgar organized an “Author Meets Readers” panel at the How Class Works conference of the Working-Class Studies Association.

Workshops were organized, hosted and/or sponsored by Third Sector New England, Quynh Nguyen of the Center on Policy Initiatives, the First Unitarian Church of San Diego, the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice of San Diego County, the San Diego Organizing Project and the Labor Studies Program at San Diego City College, Barb Jensen, Adj Marshall, Eleonore Wesserle of Line Break Media, Liz Oppenheimer and Jeanne Burns, Betsy Raasch-Gilman, Erika Thorne, the Minneapolis and Seattle chapters of Resource Generation, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Busboys and Poets, Teaching for Change, the Institute for Policy Studies, the National Writers Union NYC chapter, the Highlander Center, Dismantling Racism Works, Gita Gulati-Partee and OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Compasspoint, Real Change, the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance, the Social Justice Fund NW, and the Working-Class Student Union. Class Action had two 10th birthday/book launch parties at the JP Forum and Jones Library in Amherst, with Chuck Collins, Anne Phillips and Jenny Ladd acting as MC’s.

Over a dozen donors made special contributions to Class Action’s Activist Class Cultures project, enabling us to extend the reach of the book’s ideas, and in particular ensuring that low-income Appalachian activists were able to come to the weekend retreat at the Highlander Center.

I did 45 radio interviews and two TV interviews, thanks to Gail’s pitching. Book publicist Peter Bermudes interviewed me as videographer Judy Faust filmed and then edited.

Experienced popular educators helped me develop the workshops based on the book. Erika Thorne of Training for Change helped me create exercises and visual aids for each topic. Six Class Action trainers and friends gave me feedback at pilot workshops, and eight took part in video-chat Training of Trainers sessions to learn to lead the new modules. I was fortunate to be able to co-facilitate some workshops with Shane Lloyd, Adj Marshall, Christopher McMullen, Steve Lew, Alan Preston, and Anita Garcia Morales. So far Alan, Anita, Liz Padgett and Anne Phillips have co-facilitated workshops based on Missing Class without me, extending the reach of the content beyond where one person can take them.

It has truly been a team effort to bring new ideas about activist class cultures to a nationwide movement. I feel so grateful to have such a far-flung network of kindred spirits committed to social justice.