Around the world people are organizing to take power in their cities.
In the Portland metro area, a municipalist movement is also taking shape. In 2018, voters elected Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a progressive leader and the first African-American woman on City Council. Progressive ballot measures such as the Portland Clean Energy Initiative (PCEI), Honest Elections and Yes to Affordable Housing passed by overwhelming margins. These victories provide an unprecedented opportunity for grassroots forces to change our region for the better in 2019-2020.
Our goal is to create a Portland metro area that’s a healthy and nurturing place for everyone and every community who calls it home, and not just an enclave of the 1%. Toward that end, the Portland-Metro People’s Coalition (PMPC) is building a cross-issue coalition of grassroots organizations to join forces, amplify our initiatives and begin to strategize how to build a unified and broad-based progressive movement capable of building an urban commons for the 99%.
After the 2016 elections, following models of successful municipalist movements in other cities (see our Case Studies page), we began convening groups of local organizers to identify, debate and approve a Bill of Rights that establishes our ambitious vision for the future. Since these rights have broad support on the left, this would be one way to begin to work together on common ground. In the fall of 2017, we went on a listening tour to hear what grassroots community groups were working on and how we could support each other. Then, under each right, we added policies that organizations were currently developing to form a single platform in order to have a material goal to struggle for collectively.
The process is just as important. On April 14, 2018, after meeting with over 40 organizations, we held an inaugural People’s Convention to ratify the Bill of Rights and Policy Platform (the People’s Platform) to help us develop mutual respect, trust, healthy relationships—and popular power. Twenty organizations agreed to participate and voted unanimously to support the Platform and to work together to pass it. After creating a democratic internal structure approved by Delegates of the twenty PMPC Participating Organizations, we now hold bimonthly Delegate Assemblies, where these representatives can advance our shared policy goals and strategize ways to build grassroots power.
By creating a culture of solidarity and acting together in a unified voice, our intention is to move beyond transactional one-on-one relationships to a transformative organizing model. While we recognize the importance of tactics like solidarity calendars, protests, teach-ins and single-issue organizing campaigns, our focus is to fill a vital missing role in the Portland-Metro area: to act as a coordinated strategic body to research, develop and pass policy to win, build and leverage people power to create a popular progressive movement to expand the commons.
A unified Portland-Metro People’s Coalition with a clear agenda will allow us to win policies that truly represent our interests. We also need power to hold officials accountable once in office and to counter the biased media, unaccountable corporations, and right-wing billionaires who every day seek to thwart progressive ideas and representatives. Having unity means we can bring pressure to bear in many ways, from drafting legislation and testifying at hearings to creative protest and direct action.
Our goal is to build and strengthen popular movements striving for a just, egalitarian, and liberatory society for all. Please join us.