Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lessons in Civic Action from India

Arriving with the birth of 2011 is our newest book The Politics of Collective Advocacy in India by Nandini Deo and Duncan McDuie-Ra. In addition to revealing the amazing diversity and complexity of India’s civil society sector, the authors highlight practical strategies that NGOs and other actors can use for the greatest impact in their work. An excerpt:

Successful collective advocacy—whether by a social movement, an advocacy network, or a loose coalition of civic actors—comes from people, organizing strategy, relationships, and principles.

The attributes of successful involvement of people
• implicit, restricted membership criteria with daily responsibilities for members
• a division of labor based on membership and either mission or activity
• frequent interaction among organization leaders to coordinate mission and strategy

The attributes of a successful organizing strategy
• It is sustained over long periods of time.
• The recruiters become community insiders who relate to recruits as mentors and friends.
• The new activists are free to choose the means by which they contribute.
• The activists and their families are supported by the movement.

The attributes of successful relationship management
• accepting support but not becoming wholly dependent on it
• targeting individual donors who are unlikely to take over the mission
• using a mix of methods to reach individuals

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Musings Before the Holiday Noise

I was listening to Beethoven's Third Symphony, the "Eroica," the other day. The onslaught of chords that begin this symphony has always evoked in me at least two sets of contrasting feelings and impressions. One is a sense of awe in regard to the utter confidence and certitude that these chords display; the other is goose-bumpy fear and wariness of that certitude. As I have grown older and more conversant with the language of music, I have come to be more attentive to the silences between these chords. When I think of these chords in relation to development theory and practice, it now strikes me that development may be seen as a panoply of "chords" each for a time trumpeting certitudes and pieties: modernization, dependency, grassroots participation, neoliberalism, microfinance, etc. And to pursue further the idea of silence, it seems to me that silence is indeed a form of invisibility. I have learned to listen for the silences in Beethoven's symphony. But the silences would not be so deafening were it not for those opening chords! Perhaps when confronted with the "chords" of development theory and practice we should learn to listen for the silences between them?

And I think too of Milton's phrase in Paradise Lost:

No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd onely to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

In this season of wish lists here's mine. I want Kumarian Press to give sound to silence (apologies to Simon and Garfunkel), give light to darkness (apologies to Milton), give development practitioners insights and ideas so that the vital work that they do imparts hope and purpose and does not draw nectar in a sieve (apologies to Blake).

Last, I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and look forward to posting more blog thoughts in 2011. And of course, please do send me your ideas and book projects!

Jim Lance
Editor and Associate Publisher
jlance [at]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dispelling Myths--a message from KP editor Jim Lance

The 13 December issue of The New Yorker has a superb article by John Cassidy on China's "state capitalism" and how it challenges the free market ideologies espoused by many in the United States. Cassidy goes on to show in the article that in spite of the free market rhetoric, the history of capitalism in the US is rampant with examples of state interference in the supposedly efficient operation of the "free" market. As Cassidy concludes, the greatest danger to US economic interests comes not from China, but from the persistent myth in the US of a free market unfettered by interference from the government.

Cassidy's article brought to my mind a book we published in 2009, The Myth of the Free Market, by Mark Martinez. And it struck me that one of the missions of KP is precisely to dispel and disrupt conventional wisdom, the myths and ideologies that often pose as truth or hard fact.

As editor for the press, I am constantly on the alert for authors who question conventional wisdom and received narratives. So for my first blog posting, I am asking a question: what are more myths that require dismantling and examination? Feel free to respond to me personally. I give my contact information below.

I look forward to posting more entries on the KP blog and I look forward to hearing from potential authors!



James Lance, PhD
Editor and Associate Publisher
Kumarian Press, an imprint of Stylus Publishing, LLC
PO Box 185
Williamsburg, MA 01096

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Other Side of Microcredit

Sam Daley-Harris, Director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and author of several Kumarian Press books including More Pathways Out of Poverty, was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi show yesterday about recent scandals in India involving microfinance. He was joined by Center for Global Development Research Fellow David Roodman. Listen to the interview here.

And here's Roodman's take on the Indian Microcredit Crisis:

Perhaps the heedlessly expanding Indian microcredit industry deserved a smackdown. But what matters most is not what is fair to the microcreditors but what is best for the poor. The Indian government has built an impressive 50-year track record failing to meet the financial service needs of the poor. Under the right circumstances the private sector can help fill the gap. The goal should be to reform microfinance, not kill it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Money Wars: Beating up on Beijing?

The United States can talk all it wants about how irresponsible the Chinese are in manipulating their currency. But if the Chinese ever stopped doing it, at the same time that the United States is running a big deficit, the U.S. economy would explode. Right now, the Chinese are saving our bacon -- no one else is willing to do it. Read more...

-- Author John Isbister in an October editorial for Foreign Policy in Focus

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10 Questions With Katie Smith Milway

Katie Smith Milway (The Human Farm; Growing Our Future) has released a new book for children, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough (Kids Can Press, 2010). She spoke with Open Book Toronto about gardening and activism with kids:

I hope my stories will help kids to feel empowered to apply their heads, hands and hearts to any problem to help themselves and others. And I especially hope The Good Garden interests them in combating world hunger — ideas for action are listed at the back of the book. I also hope we see even more school, community and family gardens sprouting up — so kids can identify, if only in a small way, with the billions of poor in our world who live off the land, and so they can experience the satisfaction and nutrition of self-grown produce. Read more...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How billionaires can help the world...or not

Lorenzo Fioramonti (Civicus Global Survey of the State of Civil Society, Vol. 2) provides a dazzling critique the underlying philosophy behind the poverty pledges of high profile "philanthrocapitalists" like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

If we recognize that big business is co-responsible for the state of our economies and social welfare, how can then the Giving Pledge address the injustices its supporters have contributed to creating? Philanthropy is a noble sentiment but it can at best scratch the surface of social problems. Often, unfortunately, it hides or even entrenches the structural injustices in our current economic and financial system: as long as you give something back – the philanthropy creed seems to imply - you can carry on with your life doing ‘business as usual’.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The future of the MDGs – from global poverty to national development?

David Hulme (Just Give Money to the Poor) writes about fighting poverty in a post-MDG world for The Broker. An excerpt:

What has 10 years of the MDGs achieved? On the positive side: one, they reversed the post-Cold War decline in foreign aid; two, they helped promote the understanding that ‘growth is not enough’ and that growth plus basic needs is the minimalist credible strategy (even though it is not enough); three, they helped re-engineer social norms in the UK (anywhere else?) and get the three main political parties to commit to increasing and improving the quality of aid. But, there is also a negative side to these laudable goals, and it is a big negative – they allowed world leaders to make big promises and then carry on with business almost as usual.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New 2011 Stylus Development Catalog

It won't be in mailboxes for another month, but you can get a sneak peek at the new development catalog right here:

With books from CABI, The Commonwealth Secretariat, CSIRO, Earthscan, IDRC, KIT, Kumarian Press, Oxfam, Practical Action, RFF, Trentham, and the World Health Organization.

Friday, August 6, 2010

David Hulme on Word of Mouth

David Hulme was interviewed on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" program last month about Just Give Money to the Poor. Listen here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sam Daley-Harris and TEDx

Kumarian author Sam Daley-Harris (More Pathways Out of Poverty) is founder of RESULTS, a citizen lobby on ending global poverty, and founder of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. In May 2010 he gave a talk at TEDx NJ Libraries titled: “Purpose, Poverty, Pitfalls, and Redemption”:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CMS 16

Next month, The University of Chicago Press is coming out with the 16th edition of its famed (and infamous) Chicago Manual of Style. The 15th edition is a common site on the desktops of many a production editor. Kumarian has been using the guide as its house style for years, so I’ve grown familiar with its innards. It seems intimidating at first glance – the section headers, the tangled citation rules – but it’s proven a comforting authority on many occasions. There are, of course, too many rules to memorize. When an author comes to me with a question about formatting, I usually reach for the orange behemoth and flip through its pages to find the satisfying, solid answer. For word people, who tend to dwell in ambiguity and intuition, the reference provides a helpful frame to stick everything in. Here’s a list of changes to the new edition.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cash Transfers in the Boston Globe

New book Just Give Money to the Poor gets a nod in Sunday's Boston Globe:

"We’re arguing, basically, that poor people are poor because they don’t have money. It’s not that they’re stupid or need education. They actually know what to do with the money,” says Joseph Hanlon, a development expert at England’s Open University and coauthor of a new book on cash transfers entitled “Just Give Money to the Poor.” “You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have boots, and cash transfers are providing boots.”

Read more here.

Projeto Seringueiro and Grassroots Education

We've just uploaded a new video featuring Denis Heyck, author of Schools of the Forest. She talks about why she decided to write a book about the rubber tappers of Acre, Brazil and the activities of their empowering grassroots educational program, Projeto Seringueiro.