3 out of 5 stars
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Catalysts for Local Control is a statewide volunteer organization of elected officials and regular citizens in California. Their goal is to provide affordable housing solutions while also respecting the safety and comfort of the community's homeowners. This is accomplished by providing people with the skills necessary to actively participate in government processes that help them achieve this. Raymond G. Lorber, an active member of this group, wrote "A History of Catalysts for Local Control," which details the events that led up to the formation of this noble assembly, as well as the goals they strive for and their successes.
Susan Kirsch founded Catalysts for Local Control, and I appreciated the book's recognition of her contributions. Her zeal for a better community around her was evident, and it is certainly something to emulate. Although it began as the "Nix the Nine Organization" in response to nine housing bills in 2020, it has grown into something much larger, with a selfless goal and very committed members. Finding like-minded people who share your goals fosters a strong commitment to achieving those goals. As a result, seven of those bills were repealed, which was a significant victory.
This book did an excellent job of detailing the history of this group. Aside from explaining how it was created, the book details the catalysts' activities over time. It gave a brief overview of their annual goals and obstacles. It was clear that they never let setbacks prevent them from achieving their goals, with the main impediment being the legislature's misinterpretation of the constitution in relation to population density and housing bills. It showed how this was handled formally, with respect for the opposition but also with a strong voice to be heard. This emphasizes the value of experience and lessons learned from its leaders, who in turn pass on this knowledge. Addressing these issues was done well, never making the book feel bloated or overwhelming with information. The multiple appendices for reference helped this process a lot.
This book, however, is not without flaws. I did not really understand what the book was about until later, when I got to learn about their yearly activities. I believe it would have benefited from a much clearer introduction. A clear definition of the catalysts' activities over time would have also aided comprehension, as the book appeared disorganized without it. Town hall meetings, for example, were listed with dates and attendees, but I was left wondering what prompted the meetings and what was discussed. These minor details contributed to a fragmented understanding that I could not shake.
Finally, this book could benefit from a proper editing team, as I discovered some sloppy errors. As a result of these factors, I give this book three out of five. It conveys an admirable message about the power of unity, but the shortcomings mentioned above detract from its enjoyment. It would be an excellent source of inspiration for community activists and those who want to see more considerate legislative laws enacted by the government in their community.
A History of Catalysts for Local Control
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