These readings illustrate how progressive social movements in Barcelona, Spain, and Richmond, California, took power through the electoral process. It details how organizers built bases of support in the community, assembled coalitions, and decided on campaigns and platforms democratically, turning despair into hope. Significantly, these accounts tell their stories “warts and all,” examining the many challenges and setbacks they encountered, and how they tried to overcome them.
Barcelona, Win the City Guide
Barcelona en Comu: Activists in Barcelona share their strategy and structure for a democratic city including the use of neighborhood assemblies and democratic engagement with technology to draft a platform to gain power.
Cities in Transition and Citizen Struggles
This article offers some highlights from a conference where Spanish and French municipal activists shared ideas about winning power and governing in radically democratic ways.
Tools for Democracy
For further exploration of tools for democratic municipal movements, see the Commons Transition Platform which provides practical experiences and policy proposals aimed toward a more egalitarian, just, and environmentally stable society. (The Commons means the collaborative stewardship of our shared resources.)
Also related to this type of work is D-CENT, a European project for open, secure, tools for direct democracy and empowerment.
Richmond Progressive Alliance
For years dominated by a Chevron refinery that polluted the environment and politics, this poor, multi-racial city of 100,000 people has been transformed by activists without electoral experience who defeated corporate money and entrenched city corruption to win power and institute progressive policies in their city. This collection of internal documents, from RPA’s first meeting notes and handmade flyers to the “People’s Congress” platform, is an inside look at how a scrappy, persistent group of devoted activists achieved their vision of a democratic city for the people.
RPA: Defeating Big Money in Politics
RPA member Mike Parker describes how the RPA cleaned up toxic sites, fought union busting, raised corporate taxes, required police to end their cooperation with ICE, reduced gun violence, banned the box on employment forms, decreased homelessness, hired a new police chief who focused on community policing, and provided assistance for worker-owned coops. But Chevron is always able to outspend the all-volunteer effort, and the RPA continues to face serious challenges from national policy to the pressures of a global economy.