by scott crow
2014, second edition
First edition named one of the “Top 5 Reads“ by The Progressive
When both levees and governments failed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the anarchist-inspired Common Ground Collective was created to fill the void. With the motto of “Solidarity Not Charity,” they worked to create power from below—building autonomous projects, programs, and spaces of self-sufficiency like health clinics and neighborhood assemblies, while also supporting communities defending themselves from white militias and police brutality, illegal home demolitions, and evictions.
Black Flags and Windmills—equal parts memoir, history, and organizing philosophy—vividly intertwines Common Ground cofounder scott crow’s experiences and ideas with Katrina’s reality, illustrating how people can build local grassroots power for collective liberation. It is a story of resisting indifference, rebuilding hope amid collapse, and struggling against the grain to create better worlds.
The expanded second edition includes up-to-date interviews and discussions between crow and some of today’s most articulate and influential activists and organizers on topics ranging from grassroots disaster relief efforts (both economic and environmental); dealing with infiltration, interrogation, and surveillance from the State; and a new photo section that vividly portrays scott’s experiences as an anarchist, activist, and movement organizer in today’s world.
“scott crow’s trenchant memoir of grassroots organizing is an important contribution to a history of movements that far too often goes untold.”
—Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!
“This revised and expanded edition weaves scott crow’s frontline experiences with a resilient, honest discussion of grassroots political movement-building.“
—Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege
“It is a brilliant, detailed, and humble book written with total frankness and at the same time a revolutionary poet’s passion. It makes the reader feel that we too, with our emergency heart as our guide, can do anything; we only need to begin.“
—Marina Sitrin, author of Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina
“This book is a key document in that real and a remarkable story of an activist’s personal and philosophical evolution.“
—Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
“This is a compelling tale for our times.“
—Bill Ayers, author of Fugitive Days
“The story of the Common Ground Collective is that of one of the greatest triumphs of democratic self-organization in American history.”
—David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years
“Can anarchism actually work? Yes, as a matter of fact. scott crow’s lucid first-hand account is a story that simply must be told. This book should be read as widely as possible.”
—Ward Churchill, author of Acts of Rebellion
“… crow is a puppetmaster involved in direct action.”
—Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
About scott crow:
scott crow is an Austin, TX–based anarchist community organizer, writer, and trainer who began working on anti-apartheid, international political prisoner and animal rights issues in the mid-1980s. He is the co-founder and co-organizer of several social justice groups and education projects throughout Texas and the South including Common Ground Collective (with Malik Rahim), Radical Encuentro Camp, UPROAR (United People Resisting Oppression and Racism), Dirty South Earth First!, and North Texas Coalition for a Just Peace. He has trained and organized for Greenpeace, Ruckus Society, Rainforest Action Network, ACORN, Forest Ethics, and Ralph Nader, and many smaller grassroots groups. He is currently collaborating on sustainable, democratic, economic mutual aid projects within Austin.
About Kathleen Cleaver (Foreword):
Kathleen Cleaver served as the spokesperson and was the first female member of the Black Panther Party’s decision-making body. She is a senior lecturer in law at Emory University and the author of Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party.
About John P. Clark (Foreword):
John P. Clark is an eco-communitarian anarchist theorist and activist. He lives and works in New Orleans, where his family has been for twelve generations. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, most recently The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism (Continuum Books).