Municipalism Cohort Fellowship
The Municipalism Cohort Fellowship is a 12-week online program, beginning on September 16th 2023 and ending December 2nd, that presents radical municipalist theory and practice to grassroots organizers trying to reclaim the right to their cities and self-organize as rebel cities.
This cohort fellowship aims to make municipalist approaches and techniques more accessible and present on the ground in North America. Weaving a variety of pedagogical approaches, the seminar will:
- Provide an incubator for critical reflection, applied research, and the sharing of translocal ideas and tactics.
- Network municipalist projects across North America.
- Support skills development (e.g. design thinking and facilitating assemblies)
- Prioritize participants from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), working class, immigrant, women, LGBTQIA+ and gender nonconforming, and justice-impacted communities.
- Foster new and original perspectives, bringing municipalism into conversation with grounded movements and struggles.
- Collectively develop a Municipalist Toolkit via participant contributions.
Art by Josh MacPhee.
We will be sharing recorded lectures from our sessions with fellows and their colleagues only. Our aspiration is to make all of our sessions publicly available as self-guided modules, similar to the Economics for Emancipation course. This is our inaugural cohort and we will use what we’ve learned to shape future offerings.
Kate Shea Baird, Barcelona en Comu and Fearless Cities
Kate Shea Baird is a London-born activist who has been based in Barcelona since 2008. She has participated in Barcelona En Comú since the project’s official launch in 2014 and regularly published articles in English on its evolution for an international audience. She set up the organization’s International Committee, which led the construction of the Fearless Cities network and organized the first international municipalist summit in Barcelona in 2017. She served on the Executive Board of BComú from 2017-2021 and co-coordinated the 2019 election campaign committee, where her focus was on innovation and grassroots organizing.
Black Nashville Assembly
The Black Nashville Assembly (BNA) is a participatory democracy, Black organizing, and political engagement project. The BNA is a quarterly assembly of Black people in Nashville. At our assemblies, we discuss the issues that impact our lives, create solutions that will transform the lives of Black people in Nashville, and take collective action to implement those solutions.
This project includes strategic outreach to Black people in Nashville, political education, relationship building, leadership development, community surveys, and community block meetings. Together we are creating a bold political platform, mobilizing Black people to build political power, engaging in issue-based campaigns that align with our political agenda, and holding our elected officials accountable to our visionary demands. We are a political home for people who can’t vote, who don’t vote, and voters looking for a meaningful reason to vote.
Kali Akuno, Cooperation Jackson
Kali Akuno is a co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson.
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 also served as the Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network, the Executive Director of the Peoples’ Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) based in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. And was a co-founder of the School of Social Justice and Community Development (SSJCD), a public school serving the academic needs of low-income African American and Latino communities in Oakland, California.
Session 1: Decoding Municipalism
On September 16, 2023, we oriented ourselves via a critical historical discussion about municipalism. What is municipalism and where did it come from? We reviewed movement lineages, clarified key vocabulary (e.g. what is the difference between direct democracy and participatory democracy), and flagged key dilemmas and debates.
Session 2: Mapping Local Power
On September 30, 2023, we reviewed different approaches to thinking about power, a contested concept. We discussed the limits to constituted power at the municipal level and how we can challenge the restrictions on local autonomy. And, we created research plans to map power from above and below in our terrain.
Session 3: Base Building
On October 14, 2023, we reviewed the nuts and bolts of base building, used the concept of strategic escalation to develop an organizing plan, and discussed different organizing approaches to questions of scale and ideological content.
Session 4: People's Movement Assemblies
On October 28, 2023, we learned about the history and practie of the People’s Movement Assembly process. We imagined how we could employ the Assembly process for movement governance. And, we heard from the Black Nashville Assembly how they engage with the process in local and regional organizing strategy.
Session 5: Pathways to Power
In our penultimate session of the fellowship on November 18, 2023, we analyzed strategies for organizing towards municipalist ends in our local terrain. We defined strategies to win power,
learned lessons from the Jackson-Kush Plan, and started to create strategy plans for our local terrains.
Session 6: Transition to Practice
We closed out the 12-week fellowship on December 2, 2023 by reflecting on what we’ve learned and sharing how we’d like to continue to collaborate.
Meet the 2023 Cohort Fellows
We’re extremely excited about our inaugural cohort fellows. We accepted 27 participants, representing a number of local organizing initiatives from around the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, including the Lucy Parsons Labs in Chicago, La Liga de Ciudades de Puerto Rico, Common Ground Collective in Baltimore, Paterson People’s Assembly in New Jersey, and Aetna Street Solidarity in Los Angeles. Some of our participants organize workers, others the unhoused, and some the abolition of the carceral state. All seek to build democratic power at the municipal level.
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