Interview with Holly Near - Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change with Susan Erenrich

Grassroots.jpgAvailable From Emerald Publishing and the International Leadership Association
Throughout history artists have led grassroots movements of protest, resistance, and liberation. They created dangerously, sometimes becoming martyrs for the cause. Their efforts kindled a fire, aroused the imagination and rallied the troops culminating in real transformational change.This volume explores the intersection of grassroots leadership and the arts for social change by accentuating the many victories artists have won for humanity. History has shown that these imaginative movers and shakers are a force with which to be reckoned with. Through this volume, we hope readers will vicariously experience the work of these brave figures, reflect on their commitments and achievements, and continue to dream a better world full of possibility. Purchase on Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

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The Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner

A Conversation With Singer-Songwriter, Cultural Activist & BLB Author Holly Near

By Susan J. Erenrich and Holly Near

Susan J. ErenrichSusan (Susie) J. Erenrich is a social movement history documentarian. She uses the arts for social change to tell stories about transformational leadership, resilience, and societal shifts as a result of mobilization efforts by ordinary citizens. Susie holds a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University and is the founder/executive director of the Cultural Center for Social Change. She has more than four decades of experience in nonprofit/arts administration, civic engagement, community service, and community organizing and has taught at universities, public schools, and community-based programs for at-risk, low-income populations. Currently a professor at American University, she is the editor of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: An Anthology of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change (a volume in ILA's BLB series).  She is the producer/host of Wasn't That A Time: Stories & Songs That Moved The Nation, a live community radio broadcast on WERA.FM. Listen on-demand or live every Friday from 1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern time.

Holly Near

Holly Near has been a strong voice for integrity, justice and peace for almost five decades. Influenced by social change movements around the globe, she writes and sings songs that look at the world through the lens of feminism, anti-racism and peace. Born in rural northern California, Holly has a powerful performance style that rings true whether on the stage at Carnegie Hall or a make-shift platform in war-torn El Salvador. To learn more about Holly, please visit

Dear Friends,

On July 9, 2018, Holly Near, one of our BLB authors, joined me for an informal chat at WERA.FM in Arlington, VA. We covered a variety of topics including: grassroots leadership, cultural activism, people power, community and movement building, topical songs, the Broadway musical Hair, the Vietnam War, the shootings at Kent State University, the Women’s Song Movement, Holly’s relationship with Ronnie Gilbert, and a host of other matters.

I hope you enjoy this three-part listening experience. It is a rare glimpse into the life of a pioneer in women’s music, who has been on the front lines of social change for approximately fifty years. For folks not familiar with Holly, you are in for a real treat. Our conversation is interspersed with songs that she recorded throughout her career.  The show is sponsored, in part, by Busboys and Poets - a community gathering space for social change. 

Part 1: A Conversation With Singer/Cultural
Activist Holly Near
Part 2: A Conversation With Singer/Cultural
Activist Holly Near
Part 3: A Conversation With Singer/Cultural
Activist Holly Near