What We Can Do: Models of Effective Local Initiatives

So much of what contributes to the quality of our daily lives happens at the State and local levels. This blog presents a number of examples of effective strategies that can advance equity and justice, despite Trump. Also #DeFundDaPL Direct Actions planned for Santa Fe and Albuquerque City Council meetings and Bernalillo County Commission.

act-localLegislation on minimum wage, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, gun control, and even combatting climate change all languishes in committees and dies due to lobbyist efforts at the National level, but each of these issues has advanced significantly due to local and state activism. This won’t change under Trump. Below I will refer to a number of articles from The Nation, Post Carbon Institute, and Transition U.S. for inspiring examples of local communities taking responsibility for effecting change in the face of gridlock and now likely worse, at the National level. At the end of the blog is information about a refugee panel on Jan. 8 in Santa Fe, a writers’ resistance on Jan. 15, and how you can take important direct action in Santa Fe and Albuquerque as early as tomorrow. I harp on this in most every blog: reading this blog accomplishes next to nothing; acting on the opportunities presented in this blog can mean everything. We are offering leadership roles in Retake Our Democracy and have just developed a good summary of what is involved: click here. And one of the most important things you can do is to share this blog regularly with friends, family and colleagues. We need to get bigger; we need to expand our base. That depends entirely on you.

localglobalThe Nation published the views of four writers on how to resist the oppression anticipated from the Trump administration while advancing progressive initiatives. David Bollier points to Europe and its City-as-Commons movement that has transformed Barcelona, Bologna, Madrid, and other cities offering examples of platform cooperatives for network-based services, alternative currencies to encourage the social economy, participatory budgeting, and countless homegrown open-source projects. Each of these bypass both the Corporatocracy and national governments that are too often in the stranglehold of the corporate world.

Gar Alperovitz describes how democratized institutions in local jurisdictions can be in place for the inevitable economic pain that results from Trump policies. In those moments, many who voted for Trump will be having a WTF moment, and it is our responsibility to be able to project not just ideas, but models of how the majority can have their needs addressed.

Heather Gerken describes how gay marriage failed to advance at a national level until state after state took action and points to how states and local jurisdictions can also effectively resist draconian efforts from the new administration:

“States can significantly slow down or reverse federal policies simply by dragging their feet and doing the bare minimum necessary. That’s how state and localities have thwarted federal education reform over the last several years. Sometimes states just pull their enforcement resources. . . Some states even engage in a form of civil disobedience, as many did in refusing to enforce parts of the Patriot Act.”

Gary Gerstle describes how even in historically conservatives states like Arizona and South Dakota, progressive increases in the minimum wage can occur.  But for any local or state initiative to gain traction, it needs well-organized, well-informed people, joined together, raising their voices, and taking effective action. We can not survive with ‘click’ activism (slacktivism) done in the comfort of our homes.

To read The Nation article and a more detailed discussion of some examples of effective local implementation of progressive initiatives, click here.

A fascinating article from the Post Carbon Institute begins by noting how neo-liberal efforts to ‘globalize’ trade agreements, labor law, and environmental regulation purport to be about ensuring an effort to raise working standards for the impoverished, protect the environment, ensure economic stability, and prevent local practices from deviating from these standards. But in fact what these global agreements have tended to do is to ensure the conditions that international corporations require to produce obscene levels of profit and inhibit local efforts to enforce standards reflective of the communities in which business is conducted. The article points out that while much of Trump’s rhetoric has railed against these global agreements, he has never described anything like what he sees as an alternative, so part of our efforts must focus on resistance when the inevitable backslide occurs. But the most important value to the Post Carbon Institute article is its focus on what we can actually accomplish despite Trump.

“As important as resistance efforts will be, pouring all our energy into opposition may be poor strategy. Just as important will be building local alternatives—cooperative institutions and enterprises, including community land trusts, city-owned public banks, credit unions, and publicly owned utilities investing in renewables. Such constructive efforts have, after all, always been the main work of committed localists.”

transitionusThe list of possible actions in the above quote is inspiring, but the Post Carbon Institute also provides a link to a Transition U.S. report that provides summaries of 25 innovative, progressive initiatives from throughout the US, spanning a wide variety of social, economic, and environmental activities. These are the kinds of things that can be done in any city or state with an active, informed, and assertive progressive base, which is precisely what Retake Our Democracy is in the process of forging. Click the link 25_enterprises_that_build_resilience for the Transition U.S. report. It will lift your spirits more than anything you have read in some time.

Dixon, NM: A model of innovation and community activism:  For an example of how a small number of committed residents of Dixon, NM have formed collectives, transformed their library into one of the five best libraries in the US, and created an inspiring regenerating community, click here to go to our Facebook page and while there, like the page, and make a habit of stopping by. We post 2-3 times a day, so there is much of value to be found.

Actions & Events

wells

400 Santa Feans, including our Mayor, outside Wells Fargo, the primary bank of the City of Santa Fe. They take our money and invest in things we protest. Huh?

So what can Santa Fe do? What can New Mexico do?  Well it turns out, quite a bit. Right now in Santa Fe, the City Council is considering a resolution to create a Task Force that would create a public bank for the City, saving it millions of dollars annually and, as importantly, removing the nearly $100M that is annually parked in Wells Fargo Bank, a major funder of DaPL. Is this what we want our taxes to support? Whether or not you are ready for a public bank (and I am), the City’s four-year contract with Wells Fargo expires in Oct 2017, and it is time to make sure that the Mayor and City Council understand that whatever their stance on public banking, their constituents do not want OUR money in Wells Fargo Bank. #DeFundDaPL is staging a rally at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting and Retake Our Democracy is asking you to assemble at City Hall at 5pm and speak during the public comment period. Click here for more information on the protest. The link also includes information about similar actions at the Albuquerque City Council on Jan. 4 (tomorrow,) and the Bernalillo County Commission on Jan 10. Getting local dollars out of the clutches of the Corporatocracy is an important action and we need our representatives to understand that we will hold them accountable. If you want to also write or call the Mayor or your City Council representatives about this issue, click here for contact information.

refugeesRefugees Speak, a Santa Fe Refugee Panel, Jan. 8, 1pm-3pm at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe, 208 Grant Ave. You will have the honor of meeting refugees who have been resettled in New Mexico from the Middle East and Africa. As you can imagine, they have been through very difficult times, and they need to be welcomed, supported, and embraced as our new friends and neighbors. You will have a chance to ask questions, learn about their lives, hear from them how we can help, and be part of the welcoming committee!  Click here for more information

Writers Resist:  On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jan. 15, 2017, a collection of Santa Fe writers will join communities throughout the US and the world (www.writersresist.org) to support non-profits who work to aid the imperiled. Writers will offer brief readings from a selection of diverse voices that speak to the ideals of Democracy and free expression, freedom from harm for women and the earth. The public is encouraged to attend: come for some or all of the event! Click here for more details.

 

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