Building on the lessons of early labor leaders, civil rights volunteers, and political activists, Jim Diers has developed his own models and successful strategies for community development. Neighbor Power chronicles his involvement with Seattle’s communities. This book not only gives hope that participatory democracy is possible, but it offers practical applications and invaluable lessons for ordinary, caring citizens who want to make a difference. It also provides government officials with inspiring stories and proven programs to help them embrace citizen activists as true partners.
Diers’s experience is extensive. He began as a community organizer in 1976, then moved on to help establish and staff a system of consumer-elected medical center councils. This led him to Seattle city government, where he served under three mayors as the first director of the Department of Neighborhoods, recognized as the national leader in such efforts.
In the 1990s, Jim Diers helped Seattle neighborhoods face challenges ranging from gang violence to urban growth. The Neighborhood Matching Fund grew to support over 400 community self-help projects each year while a community-driven planning process involved 30,000 people. Diers provides evidence that productive community life is thriving, not just in Seattle, Washington, but in towns and cities across the globe. Both practical and inspiring, Neighbor Power offers real-life examples of how to build active, creative neighborhoods and enjoy the rich results of community empowerment.