This is the municipalist moment.
This is the municipalist moment. The movement to gain democratic control of cities and towns is ascendant from Los Angeles to Barcelona to Jackson, Mississippi. People are crafting municipalist platforms, reclaiming the right to the city, and self-organizing as rebel cities.
The goals of the Municipalism Learning Series are threefold:
- To introduce a radical municipalist framework to a broad audience in North America
- To present case studies of municipalist projects
- To create a space for municipalist organizers to share translocal strategies and tactics
Our launch panel was on May Day 2022. We had over 1,000 participants and three watch parties in Los Angeles, New York City, and Northern California. The second panel focused on municipalism and labor. Future topics include indigenous municipalism, popular assemblies, and just transition.
We will convene the 2023 Municipalism Cohort Fellowship, a 12-week online program that presents radical municipalist theory and practice to grassroots organizers active in local and regional movement building, beginning on September 16th 2023 and ending December 2nd.
We are a project of Solidarity Research Center, a nonprofit organization that builds solidarity economy ecosystems using data science, story-based strategy, and action research. Solidarity Research Center works at the intersection of racial justice and solidarity economies. Los Angeles for All is our experiment to build a municipalist movement in the City of Angels.
Illustration by Caroline Woolard.
We have a stellar team of movement builders, municipalist thinkers and practitioners, community and worker organizers, popular educators, critical researchers, narrative strategists, curriculum designers, and social practice artists working on our three offerings: the Cohort Fellowship, Public Panels, and the Resource Directory. Mentors support the Cohort Fellows.
Organizing Project:Common Ground Collective
George Ygarza is a first-generation popular educator, organic scholar and militant researcher. He has been navigating professional and deprofessionalized spaces since 2010. Before becoming a certified Middle School History teacher, George spent five years as a substitute teacher in the post-industrial city in which he was born. George translated the lessons he learned as a public-school teacher into community organizing, spending a number of years mobilizing around immigrant rights, housing issues, and police abolition among others. George has written about housing and police abolition across various mediums while also deepening his work in the public humanities. He is currently a member of the political education committee in his local BLM chapter where he works on consciousness-raising and organizing peoples assemblies centered around the right to the city. He has previously worked as a visiting assistant professor in Critical Global Studies at Pitzer College and currently holds a postdoc position at the University of Pennsylvania.
Organizing Project:Paterson People's Assembly
Gilda has led numerous economic projects and organizations, is a co-founder of the L.A. Co-op Lab, and has taught community economic development at UCLA for over 30 years. She was a founding director of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, of Communities for Accountable Reinvestment, and of the Economic Development Unit of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She is a co-founder of the national Right to the City Alliance and presently represents the L.A. Co-op Lab on the Board of the Seed Commons Financial cooperative.
Harsha Walia is a Punjabi Sikh writer and organizer based in Vancouver, unceded Indigenous Coast Salish territories. She has been an unpaid, grassroots organizer in migrant justice, anti-capitalist, feminist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial movements for the past two decades, including through collectives and coalitions such as No One Is Illegal, Defenders of the Land, and Anti-Capitalist Convergence. Her day gig is in an anti-violence service provider organization supporting survivors of gender-based violence. She is the award-winning author of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (2021) and Undoing Border Imperialism (2013), and co-author of Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration as well as Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
James Tracy is a Bay Area native and community organizer. He has 30 years of experience in the politics of housing, economic justice, and social movements. James co-founded the Eviction Defense Network in 1992 which used direct action to stop evictions. He’s been a member of other coalitions, including the Coalition on Homelessness, Mission Agenda, and Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition. In 2004, James co-founded the San Francisco Community Land Trust. He now serves as Vice-President on the Board for the Bay Area Community Land Trust. James is the co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Interracial Solidarity in 1960s-70s New Left Organizing (Melville House, 2012) and No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements (City Lights, 2020). He is the author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars (AK Press, 2014). His articles have appeared in Shelterforce, Race Poverty and the Environment, the Italian-American Review, Contemporary Justice Review, and Punk Planet. He is the Chair of Labor and Community Studies Department at City College of San Francisco.
Jordan Packer is an educator, urban designer, and data analyst based in Brooklyn, NY. She recently received her M.S. in design and urban ecologies from Parsons School of Design, where she studied land use activism. Previously, Jordan received her B.A. in sociology and urban studies and planning from the University of California, San Diego. Jordan now teaches Information Visualization at Parsons, volunteers at Interference Archive, and conducts counter-mapping pop-up events across Brooklyn.
Kali Akuno is co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a network of worker cooperatives and community-led programs that sustain and grow a democratic, just and sustainable economy in Jackson, MS. Among these programs is the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust, which allows community members to collectively steward the land and creates opportunities for affordable property ownership.
Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus in this role was supporting cooperative development, the introduction of eco-friendly and carbon reduction methods of operation, and the promotion of human rights and international relations for the city.
Kali is co-editor of “Jackson Rising: the Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, MS,” and the author of numerous articles and pamphlets including the Jackson-Kush Plan: the Struggle for Black Self-Determination and Economic Democracy,” “Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era,” “Operation Ghetto Storm: Every 28 Hours report,” and “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense”.
Kazembe Balagun is a native New Yorker who has worked for over two decades in public engagement for social, racial, and ecological justice. His work is centered in building spaces for dialogue and education for community development across multiple disciplines. He worked as the Education Director for the Brecht Forum, a progressive arts and cultural center (2008-2013) organizing over 250 forums per year. Recently, he served as the project manager for the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung New York Office, where he focused on racial justice and the right to the city. He appeared and organized programs at Metrograph, Goethe Institute, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Weeksville Heritage Center, and the Black Archives (Amsterdam).
Lisa learned the value of solidarity growing up in a union family and has spent more than 30 years as a strategic campaigner, organizer, communicator and movement builder with low wage workers and communities of color across the U.S.
She has led a combination of union and community organizing, politics, policy and communications at the national AFL-CIO, UFCW, SEIU, a state labor federation, local unions, and with building trades unions. She’s had the opportunity to found a worker center, organize healthcare workers into unions, lead community garden projects, negotiate for community benefits agreements, fundraise for poor and working class lesbian mutual aid, set up citizenship clinics and sign up undocumented workers for healthcare. She’s helping to grow the solidarity economy regionally as part of the Oregon New Economy Project.
She finds her greatest joy in imagining and helping to create powerful communities of workers and community-based leaders working together for racial, economic and gender justice. Also, in stewarding the land by learning to grow native plants and navigating life with her partner, teen stepdaughter, two old dogs and a cat.
Marina Sitrin is a professor of sociology at Binghamton University. She holds a PhD in Global Sociology from SUNY Stony Brook and a JD in International Women’s Human Rights from CUNY Law School.
Marina’s scholarly work is part of a continuum, reflecting over 20 years of study and direct engagement in social movements and diverse forms of resistance. Specifically looking at new forms of social organization, such as autogestión, horizontalidad, prefigurative politics, abolitionism and affective social relationship, she challenges us in the social sciences to rethink our understandings of social movements, inviting us to think in terms of societies in movement. Marina’s forthcoming book with the University of California Press argues that there is a new phenomenon occurring around the globe that is both revolutionary in the day-to-day sense of the word and without precedent with regard to consistency of form, politics, scope, and scale. The book covers over 20 regions in 12 countries and three autonomous zones, reflecting two decades of research and engagement.
Currently, Marina is working on a book project reflecting over a decade of experiences in alternative conceptions of justice using alternative adjudication frameworks, reflecting processes of addressing harm outside formal state and punishment structures. Regions covered include, Argentina; Cherán, Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico; Rojava and the United States.
Mariyah Jahangiri (she / her) is a first-generation Pakistani network and movement builder and cultural organizer that has spent the past 7 years leading campaigns for Just Transition, abolition, food sovereignty, housing justice, undocumented workers’ organizing, reproductive justice, Palestinian liberation as well as involved in mutual aid projects, across more than 15 geographies.
As a co-founder of the grassroots BIPOC youth-led collective Survival Bloc and a co-leader with the Climate Mobilization Project as well as other grassroots networks, Mariyah’s work is focused on building climate survival programs across the country rooted in learning from and building out projects for disaster collectivism and skill building around collective survival, community care and somatic transformation, and land-based struggles. Mariyah is passionate about honoring the renewal and protection of our ecological and spiritual attunement, and liberating peoples attention to ancestral wisdoms beyond our current political imaginations constrained by late-stage capitalism. She is currently working alongside dozens of local movement groups across the country to evolve their vision and strategy, and use this time of accelerating ecological crisis to build an aligned “movement of movements.”
Organizing Project:Survival Bloc, Climate Mobilization Project
Mason Herson-Hord is the program director of the Institute for Social Ecology and an organizer and writer in Detroit, MI. He is a co-founder of the Symbiosis federation and was previously lead organizer of the Motor City Freedom Riders. His work, focusing primarily on movement-building and ecological philosophy, has been published by The Next System Project, In These Times, The Ecologist, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Socialist Forum, ROAR Magazine, and The Journal of World-Systems Research.
Michelle Mascarenhas (she/they) is a Senior Fellow of Movement Alignment at Taproot Earth. Michelle has worked for the last 25 years building movement vehicles for frontline communities to move a shared vision and strategy. They recently transitioned out of their position as National Director of Campaigns at the Sierra Club after serving on the Movement Generation (MG) staff collective from 2008-2021.
As an MG collective member, Michelle played critical roles in MG’s Just Transition curriculum development and training, strategic planning and organizational development, and funder engagement. In that capacity, she has conducted workshops and retreats for thousands of people internationally including grassroots leaders, people in the philanthropic sector including people with wealth, government officials, students, and more. She was a founding co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and helped to launch Reinvest in Our Power which works to reinvest stolen wealth into community controlled economic transition. On behalf of MG, they also worked closely with the New Economy Coalition and CJA to co-found the Reclaim Our Power Utility Justice Campaign to demand a safe, reliable, community-and-worker-owned energy system that benefits all Californians, especially the people most harmed by PG&E. She has also served as a strategic advisor and trainer to EDGE Funders Alliance and Justice Funders.
In the 1990s, Michelle helped cultivate the farm-to-school movement and was instrumental in setting up some of the first farm-to-school programs in the country, including the launch of the National Farm to School Initiative with seven capacity building centers. Michelle is a Kellogg Food Policy Fellow and Ashoka Fellow Alum. They served as Co-Director of the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) from 2005-2008 before joining MG.
With ancestry in Goa, India, Michelle was born and raised in Tongva territory/Southern California, Michelle has nurtured a growing family in Huichin/Chochenyo Ohlone territory in the Bay Area for the last 20 years. She is on the board of Movement Generation and the New Economy Coalition, in the teacher training program of generative somatics, and a strategic advisor to Nuns and Nones.
Michelle Sayles is a socially-engaged artist and advocate with a passion for nonfiction comics and political cartooning. She is based in Lancaster, PA with roots across New England. For over a decade she’s been organizing with movements for social and environmental justice. She was a participating artist in the graphic medicine anthology El Viaje Más Caro/ The Most Costly Journey: Stories of Migrant Farmworkers in Vermont. She holds a BA in Geography from Kutztown University and an MA in Globalization Studies from McMaster University.
Mike Strode is a writer, urban cyclist, facilitator, and solidarity economy organizer with the Kola Nut Collaborative residing in southeast Chicago. The Kola Nut Collaborative is Chicago’s only time-based service and skills exchange (otherwise known as a timebank) providing an open platform for mutual aid, community organizing, and network weaving. The Collaborative develops programming to support Chicago-based organizers in facilitating non-monetary exchange networks through practices like the Offers and Needs Market. He is a Program Manager at Open Collective Foundation and serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, New Economy Coalition, South Deering Manor Community Association, and Dill Pickle Food Co-op.
Pablo Benson is a tested organizer, organizational consultant, campaign strategist, field manager, project manager, public policy advocate, facilitator, and teacher with over ten years of experience. He has developed, launched, managed, and participated in dozens of campaigns, social movement organizations, and social justice projects for multiple causes and in various arenas. Currently, he runs a consultancy firm La Base in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was the field director for a municipalist mayoral campaign in 2020-21. Previously, Pablo was the co-director of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, a leader in Occupy Sandy, co-founder of the Movement Netlab, and coordinator of the Fearless Cities conference in NYC in 2018.
Yvonne Yen Liu
Yvonne Yen Liu is the Co-Founder and Research Director of Solidarity Research Center. She is based in Los Angeles, California, where the sun smiles on her every day. Although a native of New York City, she and the city have broken up and went their separate ways. She is a practitioner of research justice with over 20 years of being a nerd for social movements. Yvonne serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, Policy Advocates for Sustainable Economies (a 501(c)(4) organization affiliated with the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives), Institute for Social Ecology, and New Economy Coalition. She teaches in the gender studies department at California State University, Los Angeles. Yvonne has a BA in cultural anthropology from Columbia University and a MA in sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she pursued a PhD.