Brazil’s 17th National Health Conference brought a significant portion of the social mobilizations that led to President Lula’s electoral victory to the federal capital Brasilia. It was a rare opportunity to see all, or almost all, the social struggles from different corners of the country in one place. The National Health Conference represented an important gathering point for different activists and generations, highlighting the long-standing challenges in the pursuit of social justice. The National Health Conferences are spaces for activists and the population at large to conduct dialogue with the government and influence the priorities and working of the Brazil’s famous Unified Health System (SUS).
Researchers have been documenting the benefits of outdoor playtime for years, demonstrating it leads to improved cognitive ability, fights childhood obesity, improves mental health and promotes social skills. Yet, for far too many children, safe, well-designed playspaces are sorely lacking. This phenomenon is called playspace inequity, and it has lasting, detrimental effects on primarily Black and Brown communities in the United States. Cities around the country are recognizing the importance of playspace inequity as a public health issue, particularly as families emerge from a pandemic with wide-ranging physical and mental health impacts.
In my hometown of Ithaca, New York, GreenStar has been, for many, a symbol and a center of ethical food retail since its birth in the early 1970s. When its Bylaws were first written in 1971, the GreenStar operation consisted of Ithaca volunteers driving the 56 miles to Syracuse and back every Saturday morning, transporting healthy and local farm food which they pre-ordered and distributed to community members at just 5% wholesale mark-up. Today, the consumer-owned grocery cooperative boasts three stores across the city, servicing 12,000 member-owners and thousands of non-members who are also free to shop.
“If you want our money, you’ll have to work together.” That’s essentially what The John R. Oishei Foundation told three separate anchor institutions when they asked for money to fund new buildings on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). As Buffalo’s largest foundation, Oishei has quietly supported the BNMC from the beginning. But all along, there was one steady condition: The institutions had to collaborate. Funding requests from individual organizations would almost invariably be rejected. Any request had to come from the campus as a whole. Insisting that the institutions collaborate wasn’t a popular decision. But it was the right one.
More than 70 environmental justice groups and 60 allied organizations demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that equity and justice are central to national policy decisions by sending a letter to President Joe Biden expressing concern about his support of dangerous and undemocratic permitting ideas, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022. The advocates called for the President to support reform measures that uphold democracy and center community interests in decision-making for projects designed to advance our national transition to a clean energy economy. The letter was sent to President Biden in anticipation of the “permitting reform” conversations beginning again as Congress reconvenes.
Small businesses build local wealth, with benefits for nearly every aspect of the community and region. They offer a path to prosperity for hard-working entrepreneurs. They keep a larger share of their economic output within the community than businesses with outside ownership, putting that output to work to support schools, public safety, roads, parks, affordable housing, and many other vital public needs. And young, small businesses create the bulk of the nation’s new jobs. But one of the biggest challenges facing America’s communities is leveling the playing field for small businesses and intentionally moving away from the past decade’s Amazon-take-all trajectory. The $1.9 trillion ARPA provides America’s towns and cities with the money and encouragement to do so.
Union membership fell by almost 2% in 2021 as employment rose by over 3%. That took union density—the share of the workforce belonging to unions—down from 10.8% in 2020 to 10.3% last year, where it was in 2019. Density rose in 2020 because more nonunion workers lost their jobs in the covid crisis than their unionized counterparts, but 2021’s return to employment undid that. For the private sector, just 6.1% of workers were unionized last year, down from 6.3% in 2020, an all-time low for a series that goes back to 1900. (Official numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics began in 1983; I’ve assembled figures for earlier years from various sources.) Public sector density also fell, from 34.8% to 33.9%, not quite a record low. But the number of government workers organized in unions fell by 2.7%, almost four times as much as private sector members. The full history is graphed below.
Baltimore Maryland is a majority-black but hyper-segregated city. Following the uprising in Baltimore in 2015 in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray, Dr. Lawrence Brown, a public health expert at Morgan University, a historically black university in Baltimore, found that historical context and data were missing from the conversation about what was happening. Thus, he wrote "The Black Butterfly: The Politics of Race and Space in America." In this book, Dr. Brown describes the history of and the players who created the urban apartheid and how Baltimore became a template for many cities across the country. His book, available through Johns Hopkins University, provides the data, language and solutions necessary for the struggle to dismantle systemic racism.
Chicago - A coalition of activists are demanding elected officials maintain pressure on Mercy’s ownership to keep the hospital open or sell to someone who will. The activists held a vigil Monday, a week after a state board unanimously rejected Mercy Hospital’s request to close. Board members agreed closing the Near South Side institution would negatively impact South Siders, especially in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Mercy Hospital leadership announced in July the city’s first chartered hospital would shut down, citing monthly operating losses of $4 million and shifting trends in the field of health care away from inpatient services. The news came two months after a billion-dollar plan to consolidate the hospital with three others on the South Side fell apart.
Nearly a year after its creation, the Atlanta City Jail task force has recommended closing the jail, demolishing the building and replacing it with a Center for Equity that would support Atlantans’ needs. The 26-page report was delivered to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on June 12, giving suggestions on how the city can change the institution and convert it into a space to serve Atlanta residents, particularly those from communities most affected by the criminal justice system. The report described a center “that will advance racial and economic equity, promote restorative justice, and invest in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.” The 52-member task force suggested any changes to the 11-story facility that can hold up to 1,300 inmates include addressing ongoing justice reform and the city’s employment and housing concerns.
The Boston Ujima Project is a community-led organization with a mission of growing a people’s economy in Greater Boston, one that is controlled by the community with neighbors, workers, business owners, and investors all working together on a shared vision of collective work and responsibility. From Ujima’s citywide assembly “Old Roots, New Rules,” October 2018. The idea is to challenge poverty and develop local neighborhoods by organizing individual savings, businesses, and customers to grow their own wealth and meet their own needs. The word ujima is a Swahili word that refers to the Kwanzaa principle of collective wealth and responsibility.
LOS ANGELES – Beginning in January in Los Angeles, individuals who are low-income and/or have had a conviction for a marijuana-related offense will enjoy priority status when it comes to applying for a license to legally sell the herb. Cultivators or manufacturers will also have such status, thanks to the Los Angeles City Council. On Wednesday the council voted to repeal a four-year-old ban on such businesses in the city, and that repeal is accompanied by what supporters are saying is the most aggressive and progressive “social equity” clause in the nation. In the movement to decriminalize marijuana, attempts to apply “social equity” standards to cannabis have been talked about but have not made much progress.
By Popular Resistance. Launched just after Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss was appointed in February, 2017, the #WeChoose campaign is fighting for equity in education. They write: "We are not fooled by the 'illusion of school choice.' The policies of the last twenty years, driven more by private interests than by concern for our children’s education, are devastating our neighborhoods and our democratic rights. Only by organizing locally and coming together nationally will we build the power we need to change local, state, and federal policy and win back our public schools. School closings are a key issue now because if our communities don’t have schools, we will have little to fight for. But if we only fight against closings, we won’t succeed at building the kind of sustainable school transformation that will carry us forward.
By the Convenors of the People's Congress of Resistance. We are excited to release the Manifesto of the People's Congress of Resistance! Titled "Society for the Many: A vision for revolution," the manifesto sets out a bold and clear program for people's power, emancipation, equality and a society to meet human needs. In the introductory paragraphs, the People's Congress of Resistance Manifesto explains: "Without a revolutionary vision, change will not take a revolutionary direction. Resistance will remain rudderless, an exercise in activism for its own sake, or it will be co-opted into a vessel for the political elites. A vision for social, economic and political revolution is necessary. We need to know where we want to go. Our vision ties our actions to our goal by showing us what we are mobilizing for. It guides us in coordinating our strategies and tactics. It helps us build collective strength. Our vision tells us how we can win and that we will win."