Undoing Silence: Tools for Social Change Writing: Louise Dunlap
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Undoing the Silence accomplishes what other books on writing do not: it links our writing to our beliefs, our activism, our voice.

Dunlap begins one of the early chapters in the book by observing that "most people will do just about anything but sit down to write, even though all of us have powerful voices somewhere inside." Citing her own experience in the Free Speech Movement, she reflects, "in that atmosphere of heightened awareness, we found strength to say what was hard, even painful—to think and articulate in ways that would stand up to scrutiny. Every person became eloquent. This was democracy.

The stories in this book not only show us new ways to unearth the power of our own experience; they connect the writing struggles of peace activists in California, labor organizers in South Africa, and community organizers in Boston with the changes these activists are trying to make in the world. So, although the book is very much about the personal writing struggles of activists from many social justice organizations, Louise provides us with a context, a reason, for them to duel with the silencing ghosts of their past.

The book's writing tools include freewriting techniques, strategies for reaching our intended audience, an innovative exercise for feedback, and tactics for rethinking, editing and rewriting our free flowing drafts—all effective tools to improve our writing. But for me, the exploration of the writing process was most valuable. Louise opened up a whole new arena by giving me a way to think about my own writing process. As a researcher and occasional journalist I write all the time. My goals were to produce analytical pieces that were "on deadline" and relatively easy to follow. Sometimes the writing flowed and sometimes it didn't, but I never gave the process much thought. It was magic. It was painful. It was both.

In the beginning of the book, Dunlap cites a South African activist who observes that, "We do not yet feel free to write what we think—and that means we aren't even thinking it fully. Undoing the Silence helps us delve into our psyches to explore our true feelings about a subject so that we can feel free enough to write what we think. It also teaches us how to analyze our own writing process so that we can recognize the power of our own voice.

— Review by Gary Delgado, Emeritus Director of Applied Research Center in Oakland CA and a founder of the Center for Third World Organizing

Louise Dunlap •
October 20, 2008