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Date(s) - 05/13/17
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Brooklyn Community Foundation

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Session 2: Municipalism in the US. Traditions and Examples.
Saturday May 13 – 3:00PM – 5:30PM
Brooklyn Community Foundation 1000 Dean St. Third Floor, Brooklyn NY 11225

Deep Case Study of the Jackson Mississippi.
Reading: The Jackson-Kush Plan

Program Description
Within the last years, cities all around the world have proven to be crucial spaces for the struggles for social and political change: the movement of the squares throughout the world, from Occupy to 15M, from Tahrir to Gezi, from Iceland to Hong Kong, pointed to new organizational forms, and a broadly shared desire for more participatory and egalitarian democratic forms. In some places, these movements gave place to new political forces, especially at the municipal and city level.

In the US, there has been long traditions attached to ideas of municipal democracy, and plenty of experiences that show how cities can push meaningful social, economic and political transformations, and even become relevant actors regarding the national politics. With all its dramatic and grave effects, the current conjuncture open by the start of the Trump administration forces us to build together new political forces, so we can be able to go beyond the shock effects that this administration has sought, and also beyond a merely “Anti-Trump” framework. At the same time, tensions between federal and cities’ governments, exemplified in the debates around the so called “Sanctuary Cities”, show the potential of local power against this situation, despite the extremely limited meaning of the “Sanctuary” idea – and therefore its instrumentalization – that Democrats want to establish.

The goal of the program is to share, produce and grow our knowledge of NYC social and political landscape, and think together on possible ways for building a city movement confluence around critical issues of the city’s life. The program combines two aspects. On the one hand, it tries to spark a shared production of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, between activists, academics, and interested individuals. On the other hand, the program itself is intended as an opportunity to build a strategic discussion and organizational process. By doing this, program participants will have the opportunity to learn and discuss about Municipalism and its different aspects, history, etc. while at the same time, be able to contribute to a collective exploration of NYC—particularly its realities as immigration, gentrification, and its political potentialities— and a collective mapping out the city’s political landscape, its institutions and administrative structures, and political actors (potential allies and adversaries).

In doing so, each session will bring together the presence of organizers, activists, etc. coming from various social and political organizations in NYC, so the series can provide an opportunity for dialogue towards a movement building process. This program is open to any organization, collective and individual willing to get involved in the transformation of New York City, and of the usual ways of thinking and practicing politics in this city.

Why Municipalism? Why now? What historical precedents and experiences have been and are currently going on in the US? How would a US and NYC municipalist movement look like? What methods and tools can be developed in order to build it? How to relate electoral initiatives with grassroots processes? What is our shared analysis of the main problems in NYC? What new visions for city policies and institutions can this movement integrate? How can the new participatory structures that municipalist initiatives are experimenting with across the globe, guarantee and prioritize the participation of historically oppressed and marginalized folks? Does municipalism represent a new form of doing politics?

Throughout the 4 sessions of the program, we will explore these and other questions. By the end of the program, participants will collaborate in generating a collective document summarizing the program discussions, analysis, and strategic conclusions.

Organized by CommonNotions/NocionesComunes NYC.
Common Notions/Nociones Comunes NYC is newly founded independent collective for movement self education and research. Through the organizations of programs, encounters and conversations, its work aims at the interrogation of the social, political and cultural present through the articulation of practical and theoretical knowledges.