Hands down the best thing about my book writing experience is reconnecting literally and spiritually with so many folks I met over my 76 years of life on earth.
I had lost touch with two great friends from my college years - Eddy McCaul and Tim Stutzman. Chalk it up to the passage of time and inattention. Both were from Hyde Park, Chicago. Eddy was goalie on the Earlham soccer team varsity. A great one. Among other things we had basketball obsessions in common. And Tim introduced me to strategic borrowing of bicycles which enabled wild night time rides into downtown Richmond, Indiana where Earlham is located.
I just forwarded to both of them copies of Sometimes David Wins. I hope they read it (and review it on Amazon if so inclined). Yes, I'm very curious about their reactions.
For me, that included skills that were foreign to my parents - like shop. The principle (Grace Rotzel) wrote in 1934:
“The shop is the center of the school. Working with tools furnishes one of the best disciplines a school can offer. Up to this point in a child’s life, his discipline has come almost always from some person emotionally close to him. With things like tools, he is free to impose his own discipline. He wants the result, or frequently, in a very young child, he merely wants the satisfaction of the act of sawing and hammering. In any case, the desire to make things is so general in children that they are willing to go through much hard work to reach their ends. This is discipline.”
Of course, I'm always looking for evidence that the main argument of my new book is right on but, holy smokes, EBC/Rev Brawley/IAF have a story to tell and retell that is drop-dead amazing even to someone like myself steeped in decades of citizen organizing work. Like David v. Goliath, the Nehemiah story just doesn't get old. In fact, as the years pass, it just gets better.
Yes, Sometimes David Wins big!
In addition to being one of Tucson's top musicians, Gary is a writer/Substack blogger of wide repute:
Tales From the Homestead
On This Labour Day
The Slingshot Effect
"I’m just finishing reading Frank C. Pierson’s book Sometimes David Wins: Organizing to Overcome “Fated Outcomes”. Frank has been living in Oracle, Arizona for several years, and his wife Kaz (Mary Ellen Kazda) and I share a birthday, but until I read his book I had little to no idea what a journey he’s been on. We have been casual acquaintances for many years so learning about his background as a community organizer along with the astonishing amount of dedicated work to bring about positive change in Tucson (and all of Arizona) is stunning...
...Change doesn’t happen using potions and wishes. It’s about community-minded humanists like Frank Pierson who put in the hard work of making change.
I highly recommend this book for any of you who want to get involved in making changes against ‘Fated Outcomes’ in your community."
Read Gary's impressive full review HERE.
Now that I know how arduous the pathway from concept to publication is I better have a damn good reason for starting on another one.
Oracle, AZ figured importantly in a couple of chapters in Sometimes David Wins. They're pretty good chapters advancing the David v. Goliath narrative and maybe that's enough. Sure, the story of the town is compelling in and for itself but I'm not a historian and writing history isn't my thing. So what would be at the narrative center of a book about Oracle?
Here's an angle I'm trying out: Small towns, and Oracle in particular, sink or swim with the vitality of voluntary institutions that local residents invent for themselves. How they do or do not survive/thrive the cross currents driving civic breakdown across the country is a promising subject to explore. The question is how to build and sustain viable local institutions in our anti-institutional world?
So what does leadership look like in these troubled times? Where are the skills needed to fashion institutions that work in a culture that is broadly clueless and dismissive? Where and how are these habits and practices learned?
F**k the "soul of America"? How about the soul of Oracle and places like it? A bit more down to earth don't you think? And what does this have to do with the hemmorage of national political conflictual bullshit pumped out by politicos, economic magnates and religious pontificators. And what do they know about how real communities work anyway?
For myself I'm not interested in broad theory, abstractions and summations. Stories about people and people's actions are the order of my day. For myself that's where leadership comes alive.
Maybe Oracle is a good place to tell some of these stories and even wrestle a bit with what the future might look like in the process.