Building Power in Place

A Municipalist Organizing Toolkit

 

Building Power in Place is an introduction to the theory and praxis of movements we describe as radical municipalist. The toolkit will share practical tips to apply municipalist strategy to your local organizing context. And, it will include key takeaways, lessons learned, and case studies to inspire and support municipalist projects.

 

The municipalist movement is still emergent in North America. In September 2023, the Municipalism Learning Series launched the Municipalism Cohort Fellowship, a 12-week online program that sought to broaden and deepen experiments. This fellowship presented radical municipalism to grassroots organizers working to reclaim governance in their cities. The fellowship provided an incubator for critical reflection, applied research, and the exchange of translocal tactics. Drawing on the fellowship’s curriculum, we designed this toolkit to be an accessible guide to municipalist organizing for you, your comrades, and a wider audience of organizers.

 

The editorial team that produced the toolkit will introduce it to a target audience of grassroots organizers on July 6th 2024. A panel geared towards a broader audience will be scheduled on September 17th (the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street).

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Step 1 - Decoding Municipalism

Shows an aerial view of a community with a city hall, community gardens and an outdoor gathering place. Reads: “Municipalism is about reinventing governance, confronting institutions and democratizing them. It is an experiment in transformation, local radical democracy, and self-governance, rooted in interdependence. Who are the Municipalists: Murray Bookchin; Barcelona en Comu; Los Angeles for All; Global Networks; and North American roots in Black and Indigenous self-governance. What municipalists do: Direct democracy, dual power, civic platforms, and movement work (includes supporting mutual aid, tenants unions, degrowth, permaculture, and solidarity economy projects). Dilemmas: What kind of political system does a post-capitalist future call for? What do we call ourselves? Are we revolutionary or reformist? How should our political system relate to the economy? Democracy: Is this idea inclusive or alientating? How do we ensure social justice within direct democracy? Art by Michelle Sayles.

Step 2 - Mapping Local Power

Step 3 - Basebuilding

Step 4 - People's Movement Assemblies

Step 5 - Pathways to Power

Step 6 - Transition to Practice

Editorial Team

Belinda Rodriguez

she/her

Organizing Project:Common Ground Collective

Location:Baltimore, MD

George Ygarza

he/him, they/them

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

Location:Paterson, NJ

Jordan Packer

she/her

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.

Michelle Sayles

she/her

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.

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