Chicago, Illinois - The crowd at the 33rd Ward Working Families office is packed and overflowing onto the sidewalk. Anticipating the deportation raids threatened by the Trump administration during the summer of 2019, several community groups sent out calls for volunteers. Dozens showed up; the city’s northwest neighborhoods would protect themselves. Caitlin Brady, a member of the independent political organization 33rd Ward Working Families, recalls how volunteers learned to identify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, then divided into precincts and took shifts scouring the streets by bike or on foot, looking out for them.
As discussions over the newly instituted “strong mayor” system in Minneapolis are back in the news, local politicians, policy aides, activists, and pundits have been sharing their perspectives on the changeover. A month ago, Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley sat down with Unicorn Riot and discussed her thoughts on the government restructuring, corruption in the city and acts of political retaliation within the halls of power.
The core pillars of Ley 70 pivot around Blackness, collectivity, and protection — embodying the spirit of Afro-Colombian identity and resilience. The law centralizes Blackness, recognizing and celebrating the Afro-Colombian community’s cultural heritage, contributions, and place in the nation’s socio-political fabric. It fosters a sense of collectivity, advocating for collective land rights and the community’s right to govern these territories according to their ancestral wisdom and practices. Moreover, it underpins a strong protection mechanism, safeguarding Afro-Colombian communities from displacement, violence, and exploitation.
Informality often makes something beautiful. A rapper freestyling. A jazz musician improvising. A drag queen lip-syncing. Their organic, in-the-moment, uncodified nature is a huge reason they captivate and excite. Street vending is supposed to be the informal version of commerce. In this country, lawmakers and law enforcement have made attempts to codify street vending, and usually it gets pretty ugly, pretty quickly. Maybe this summer in Washington, D.C. will be the start of something different. After years of street vendor-led organizing, earlier this year D.C. Council Members unanimously passed legislation overhauling the District’s street vendor regulations.
This summer, cities around the world are unveiling and expanding new tools and initiatives in the name of civic engagement and digital innovation. From Los Angeles to Lisbon, local governments are testing different models of outreach and participation with the promise of increasing trust and equity in civic processes and institutions. Ranging from online portals to citizen assemblies, the wave of experimentation in policy and design responds to historic levels of distrust and disengagement in government at all levels. The question remains whether these new tools deliver on their promises to effectively bring underrepresented communities into decision-making processes and increase transparency and equity in bureaucratic systems.
The dialogue provoked by this workshop is timely and necessary because so many of the certitudes of political economy and culture are slowly crumbling before our eyes. It's fair to say that so many grand narratives of our time -- about citizenship, freedom, property rights, economic growth, and theories of value – have been called into question these days. Existing institutions and categories of thought aren't working so well. On the one hand, few people want to talk about structural change and necessary alternatives lest it open a Pandora's Box of monsters and chaos.
Little more than a century ago, British and Indian archaeologists began excavating the remains of what they soon realized was a previously unknown civilization in the Indus Valley. Straddling parts of Pakistan and India and reaching into Afghanistan, the culture these explorers unearthed had existed at the same time as those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and covered a much larger area. It was also astonishingly advanced: sophisticated and complex, boasting large, carefully laid out cities, a relatively affluent population, writing, plumbing and baths, wide trade connections, and even standardized weights and measures.
Kristina Banks and Ingrid Haftel from the Participatory Budgeting Project share reflections on the intersections between sociocracy and participatory budgeting (PB)--and how they are experiencing the transformative power of this shared governance systemically, organizationally, and individually.
Rania Khalek of BreakThrough News explains the various aspects of the crisis faced by Lebanon. Banks have been shut down following heist attempt by desperate account holders and electricity and telecom networks are crumbling. Most Lebanese are struggling to purchase essentials. Meanwhile, the country is locked in a dangerous dispute with Israel over offshore gas fields – all of this while having no government.
It was a dark, cold Saturday morning in late February 2020, and pandemic lockdowns were less than a month away. Leanna Young was lying in bed, still sleepy. On days like this, her husband would get picked up by her brother, Daren, who worked security at a Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ (Cayuga) community center on Cayuga territory. Her husband worked there, too. Most of the adults in her family did—it provided them with jobs, with financial stability. But by 6:05AM on Feb. 22, Leanna could still hear her husband in the kitchen. “Jesus, why is he still here?” she wondered. “He’s supposed to be clocked in by now.” Many of the kids in the community had spent the night at Grandma Wanda’s. For Leanna’s eight-year-old daughter, Evee, it was her first sleepover.
On Monday, August 22, thousands of Haitians took to the streets across the country to protest against rampant insecurity, chronic gang violence and a rising cost of living. The protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister and acting President Ariel Henry, arguing that under his management, the economic and social crisis deepened in the Caribbean country. In the capital of Port-au-Prince, members of several civil society organizations, popular movements, trade unions, and opposition parties held a massive rally, condemning fuel shortages and soaring prices of essential commodities and basic services. Protesters blocked roads with burning tires in and around the capital. Haiti’s central bank reported that inflation had reached 29% and hit a 10-year high.
Colombia - The Vice President of Colombia, Francia Márquez, symbolically took office in her homeland, in the department of Cauca, where she announced that this week the creation of the Ministry of Equality, which she herself will lead, will be filed in Congress. The formation of this new portfolio will be made to “take on the greatest challenge that Colombia has: inequality”, in the words of the vice-president. In this sense, “the agreement was to create a Ministry of Equality, and this project will be submitted to the Congress this week” and they hope it will be approved urgently”. In the municipality of Suarez (Cauca), the vice president also celebrated being “the first Afro-descendant woman vice president of Colombia and the second Afro-descendant woman vice president in Latin America (…), a daughter of this people”.
Only 36 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. system of government is sound, according to a new poll from Monmouth University. This number is a significant drop from previous polls which showed that even as recently as 2020, 52 percent felt the system was sound. This historic drop — down from 62 percent of responders who said that the system was sound in 1980 — is the result of sustained decrease in Americans’ faith in the government over the past several years. A recent Gallup poll which measures faith in 16 different institutions — including governmental institutions as well as institutions more broadly defined such as the medical system and small businesses — backed up these findings. The poll found that the average level of faith in institutions is at an all-time low and that faith in 11 of the institutions that they measure has dropped significantly.
The so-called “Summit for Democracy” should first agree on a definition of what democracy means. Whereas etymologically we know that the definition of democracy means rule by the people, instinctively we feel that people power must be more than a slogan, that it must be concretized by genuine public participation in the conduct of public affairs. There are, of course, many manifestations or “models” of democracy, exercised nationally as well as locally in provinces and communities. The spectrum of democratic governance goes from direct democracy by way of citizen power of initiative and the possibility to challenge legislation by way of referenda, to participatory democracy through public meetings and voting on specific issues by ballot (or even show of hands!), to representative democracy through the election of parliamentarians with specific mandates, to presidential democracy by electing a president with wide-ranging powers.
USPS has a public service mandate to provide a similar level of service to communities across the country regardless of local economic conditions. In addition to daily mail delivery to far-flung locations, the Postal Service maintains post offices even in low-income urban neighborhoods and small towns that lack other basic services. The Postal Service is able to fulfill its mission while keeping postage rates low due to economies of scale. Once the fixed costs of post offices and delivery are covered, the additional cost of new services is often minimal. If it weren’t prevented from doing so, the Postal Service could take advantage of underused capacity and build on Americans’ trust in the Postal Service to offer new services to the public while bringing needed revenue to the agency.