Retake has been researching models for radical change that are applicable to Santa Fe. Jackson, MS has been developing a radical, cooperative and intensively participatory model for community revitalization and they are not alone as other cities across the country are experimenting with other models, deploying other strategies. This issue begins an exploration of how we can use these models to Recreate the City Different.
Breaking News: Hurricane Irma Now a Category 5 Hurricane and Headed to Florida: Consider that Sandy, Katrina and Harvey were all Category 4. Click here for details.
Community Conversations Canvassing Resumes After Labor Day Break. Wednesday, Sept 6, 4pm 1420 Cerrillos Join us for a short 20 minute training and then you can go on your own schedule to meet neighbors going door-to-door. The script is very informal and conversational, the point is not to convince or dispute. You are merely engaging and chatting and by doing so, you are identifying people who want to be kept informed or get active. From all reports, it is both fun and your neighbors will welcome the connection. No RSVP, just please show up and, if possible, bring a friend.
Jackson Mississippi: A Vision for Radical Change & Cities Rising
Cecile Lipworth from our Leadership Team forwarded me The Socialist Experiment from The OxFord American. It examines the remarkable history of the father and son Mayors of Jackson, Chokwe Lumumba Sr. and and now Chokwe Antar Lumumba. It describes the long journey in which first Lumumba Sr and now his son have been advancing an explicitly socialist agenda in Jackson and with stunning levels of support. Lumumba Jr was just elected Mayor with 93% of the vote three years after his father died of a heart attack just months into his Mayoral administration. The Oxford American author, Katie Gilbert began The Socialist Experiment with: “Utopia’s strongest function, its claim to being important rather than a matter of esoteric fascination and charm, is its capacity to inspire the pursuit of a world transformed, to embody hope rather than simply desire. If I wanted to plot for myself the coordinates of the line between fantastical and real societies; between unheard-of ambitions for change and perfectly familiar ones; between a fable told for comfort and a plan for real change on the ground somewhere, I felt that I needed to better understand what was happening in Jackson.” Me too. And so a several part series begins, exploring Jackson, NYC, Chicago and even our own Albuquerque.
The Lumumba’s felt that Jackson. the state capitol and the largest black-majority city in America, was the ideal location for testing a new approach economic and governance systems that rejected how capitalism and our community governance structures manage our life options. I would argue that in many ways, Santa Fe is also an ideal place to adapt these practices and experiment with new approaches to local economic and governance structures. Like Jackson, we are a small city, the state Capitol and enjoy a strong progressive constituency. Let’s see what we can learn from Lumumba and from Jackson.
In a campaign speech Lumumba built his case: “Honestly, when people call me a radical, I take it as a badge of honor. Because Martin Luther King was radical.” Applause spread through the room. “Medgar Evers was radical.” The applause intensified, and so did Antar. “Jesus Christ was radical.” The applause didn’t break, so he spoke louder to be heard. “The reality is that we have to be prepared to be as radical as circumstances dictate we should be. If you look outside these doors and you see a need for a change, then you should all be radical.” I heard shouts of “Amen!” He went on, “And the reality is that we haven’t found ourselves in the condition we’re in because someone has been too radical for us.” He inflected these last few words. “I would argue we haven’t been radical enough.” The applause carried on like an unbroken wave.
The article goes on to quote Lumumba on something our own State and City might well heed: “Oftentimes we find ourselves engaged in merely a discussion of how we entice businesses to come here. We have to also consider where there is a need that we can fill, where we can develop the businesses ourselves. And look at cooperative business models where the people who live in the community own the business, and the people who work in that business not only determine what their labor will be, but they have a say-so in what the fruits of the labor will be.” Cooperation Jackson is Lumumba’s overarching plan. It is an experiment that assumes that living and working in fully democratic communities will change the people involved. And Lumumba believes that one of the first steps is for people to realize how capitalism has shaped them and to recognize how alternatives could refresh their perspectives. This is the work that has been going on with the Research Advocacy Team which meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Our current focus is on how to use the opportunity presented by the City’s ownership of the land underneath the University of Art & Design (UAD). The next meeting is this Thursday from 6-8pm at 1420 Cerrillos. For details and to RSVP click here or simply respond to this email. For more on Cooperation Jackson, click here.
Antar Lumumba stated the core principle to Cooperation Jackson as being: From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. “No democracy has achieved that yet,” he added. The implicit challenge was to figure out a way to do what no one else had done. But there are experiments emerging in municipalities throughout the country imagining new, progressive approaches to community challenges that only get worse within the capitalist structures and assumptions. Over the next several posts and at our Research Advocacy Team meeting, we will share information about the elements of Cooperation Jackson and other models being implemented elsewhere in the country. Among the new tools and strategies being tested:
- Community Land Trusts which allow communities to aggregate collective ownership of the land beneath housing and business structures and to collectively govern those communities. This is a mode we will pursue for UAD. For more on CLT’s click here. In a future post we will examine two Nation magazine articles that outline how CLTs could be used in Santa Fe and elsewhere to regain control over community development, stall gentrification, maintain housing affordability, and prevent displacement.
- Participatory Budgeting where communities work in Peoples or Neighborhood Councils to govern and decide how public and private resources should be utilized in their community. For more on participatory budgeting, click here.
- Inclusionary Zoning Strategies which can create geographically defined districts where zoning ordinances requires a mix of affordable and market rate housing with ‘affordability’ defined by the community.
- Cooperative and collective work structures where businesses within the CLT operate in collectives with decisions about work conditions, wages and production made collectively by all employees.
The Research Advocacy Team is learning more and more about these and other strategies that turn their back on market-based, capitalist models that limit options and place profit before all else: before the interests of our planet and before the interests of us and future generations. We will share more in coming posts, but The Socialist Experiment represents an excellent primer on the concepts, full of links to other sources. Click here to read a truly inspiring vision of what American cities could become, actually what they must become if we are ever to free ourselves from the shackles of capitalism and create a society where people and planet are more important than profit. Much more on this coming and do join us on Thursday to help clarify and advance our planning. To get a taste of Cooperation Jackson and Mayor Lumumba, check out the video below.
Paul & Roxanne