Creating an Economy That Works!

Submitted by George Friday on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 13:48.

Who was there? Here are the groups represented:

Black Workers for Justice, Rocky Mount, N.C.
California Coalition of Welfare Rights Organizations
Coastal Women for Change, Biloxi, Ms.
Commonwealth Schools, Georgia
Desire Area Residents Council, New Orleans, La.
Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger
Georgia Green Party
Greater New Orleans Roundtable
Green Party of Ohio
Independent Progressive Politics Network
League of Revolutionaries for a New America
League of Young Voters
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Atlanta
Miami Valley (Ohio) Full Employment Council
Miami Valley Jobs with Justice Organizing Committee
National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America
National Jobs for All Coalition
Organize Ohio
Project South
Welfare Rights Organization, New Orleans
Welfare Warriors, Milwaukee, Wi.

People were present from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin and California.

The goals of the dialogue were summarized this way: “We believe it is time for a weekend conversation focused on organizing strategies to address structural inequality, injustice, poverty and other social and economic ills. We have a new President and Congress, but without strong and coordinated grassroots action, we will not see the kinds of changes needed by workers, low-income people and people of color. Together we will strategize about how to take action during this crisis so that we can emerge with the greatest power for the changes we need.”

We agreed to support several major action initiatives:

-the “Resistance and Recovery Week of Action” being organized by National Jobs with Justice (http://www.jwj.org) March 27-April 4th. A key demand of this week is to pass the Employee Free Choice Act which would make it much harder for employers to prevent unionization on the job when a majority of workers signed up for one.

-First Friday Actions starting April 3, 2009, being initiated by the National Jobs for All Coalition (http://www.njfac.org). On the first Thursday/Friday of each month the Labor Dept. releases the previous month's unemployment numbers. On that first Friday, activist groups would hold news conferences, vigils, picket at unemployment offices or take other creative action to demand jobs and an effective safety net to protect the unemployed and others hurt by this economic crisis.

-the organization of local/state/regional people’s assemblies or social forums, in part to develop a popular agenda for change. We encourage working with the U.S. Social Forum (http://www.ussf2007.org) in the development of these conferences, building towards the 2010 second U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.

The heart of the weekend’s deliberations was a visioning brainstorm about what kind of a society we would like to see. There was agreement that we need to go for what we want, not what we are told is possible, if we are to see the kind of world worth living in, worth fighting for. That brainstorm was followed by small group working groups to flesh out what that vision would mean specifically in the here and now and what actions should be taken.

Prior to this visioning/workshop process, there was general discussion about this time that we are in and how it compared to the 1930’s. Some of the points made were:

In the 1930’s, there was a demand for a guaranteed safety net from the cradle to the grave.

The best economic plan, then and now, is to put money into the grassroots.

We need popular education on the nature of the economy and how it works.

We need to redistribute income from the top downward.

We need to use a race/class/gender lens in approaching economic issues.

This is a teachable moment. We need to educate about the larger framework as we do our actions and movement-building. The window is open.

One concrete thing that can be done locally, and it’s legal, is to print local currencies to build up local economies.

Some of the differences between the Depression and today are:
-The Iraq and Afghanistan wars today. There wasn’t a war the U.S. was involved in during
the 30’s.
-The climate and environmental crisis of today.
-The monetary system in the 30’s was based on gold, at least in part. Today money is
lended that doesn’t exist; there’s tremendous speculation.
-The U.S. economy and other economies were pretty much national economies. Today there
are extensive global interconnections.
-Today’s automation and robotics have massively displaced and dispersed both jobs and
people.
-The immigration issue is huge, leading to black/brown antagonism and racial
discrimination against brown people.

This discussion laid the basis for our vision brainstorm and our workshops. The specifics of the visioning fell into three areas: government policy and social structure, culture, and the environment.

Under policy and structure:

Learn critical thinking
Monetary systems run locally
Socially productive work publicly
Small cooperative, worker run businesses
Poor folks’ political party and increased political power
Healthcare for everyone; healthy, safe communities – true public safety
Reparations for stolen labor and land
Legalize drugs
All needs met
Free housing for all
One federal guaranteed income for all
No cash – plenty of healthy food
Real democracy
End poverty (no more poor people)
End Child Protective Services (no more CPS)
No more state borders (withering)

Under culture:

People welcoming
Shared values – equity
Nonviolent conflict resolution
Restorative/transformative justice (brother-brother, sister-sister)
Connected around the world
Travel & internet
Families inclusive of men/presence of Black men
Village – circles overlapping
Learning from each other
Peace, joy
Diversity – everyone has a voice
Respect for religion/spirituality
Education valued

Under the environment:

Solar panels/local wind/geothermal energy
Real healthy food
Water & green space
Clean Air
Decontamination work

Small Group work—policy/structure

HEALTH CARE

Drug rehab for all in need
Electronic medical record –funded and adequately staffed
Adequate staffing at all levels
Adequate privacy protections
Support HR 676
Confront local providers to provide services

TRANSPORTATION

Every state has cross-state mass transit
Auto bailout promote mass transit construction
Nationalize & worker control auto industry
Free city transit

EDUCATION

Support public education
Free higher education student loans to 1%

HOUSING

Expand housing vouchers – 2 million “Opportunity Vouchers”
Foreclosure & evictions moratorium
Bankruptcy Changes – Mortgages down 50%
Re-evaluate housing

JOBS/ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT

Support Free Employee Fair Choice Act
Support collective bargaining
Support Sick Pay
End Right to Work laws
End time limits on TANF/unpaid workforce – eliminate lifetime limit
Increase daycare subsidies
Raise minimum wage to living wage immediately, tie to inflation and increase whenever Congress raises its pay
Reparations – add to all of our agendas – Support HR 40
Match Legislative/Salary cuts tied to budget cuts; rollback Congressional pay raises
House arrest & community service for non-violent crimes
70% TANF ------Families
Formerly imprisoned allowed to participate in infrastructure/rebuilding projects

Use of national/regional conferences; education components; Democratic People’s Assemblies
Use Sam the Fish story as organizing tool

Set priorities; 1st Friday Actions starting 4/3/09
2/11 – 12 People’s Bailout @ GA state Legislature

SEND THESE PRIORITIES TO:

1. local democratic processes we are engaged in
2. the “First 100 Days” component of federal government
3. US Social Forum process people’s assembles
4. Congress

1) End Poverty; Build The Economy
2) Health Care Is A Right; Not A Privilege

Small Group work—culture

Goals –
Add value to the work we are already doing; increase the effectiveness of our organizing.
Support/encourage/demand that partners participate in undoing/dismantling oppression/racism process (from a transformational/community building perspective)

Strategies
• Getting out our stories of victory
 How do we reach each other?
• Existing networks – NAACP, churches, middle and high schools, youtube, local cable, late night 30 second video w/800 #, PSAs
• SWAC
• Call to organizers (to walk our talk – organize for transformation!!)
 Transform how we work so that we’re identifying partners & building partnerships/collaborations, not looking for enemies – getting past who’s the enemy
 Organize to reach for the power in each person & community that will create change
• Compile and disseminate stories of victories (youtube, local cable, late night 30 second video w/800 #, PSAs )
make real the majic that can happen when you work to transform
 Organize from a “whole person/whole community” perspective
• build community connections, link issues together confront negative cultural messages, inclusive of multi-cultural, interfaith processes
• organic gardening, remedy polluted soil

• Dialogues in states or regions
 Connect to USSF process
• Re-create dialogues in “town hall” style as part of USSF organizing process
• Stream educationals and victory stories
• Host a pre-dialogue teleconf for organizers on local economic strategies – local currency, others

• Demand honesty in policy that affects everyone
• Demand policies that protect everyone
• Confront cultural assumptions
• Personal contact across borders
• Messaging – generate hope to inspire action

Small Group work—the environment

RENEWABLE ENERGY

-Support how-to teaching in schools about wind, solar, other renewable energy
-Support education in communities about how to install/obtain resources to install
-Support serious resources from government for this
-Mandate that new houses/buildings be energy-efficient and green, saving energy and money.
-Energy efficiency regulations for rental units.
-Encourage more bicycling.
-Connect with growing student climate justice movement and green jobs movement.
-Support strong federal legislation to reduce global warming and support green jobs.
-Educate people about buying green so that, over time, prices come down as demand for green products and food increases.
-We need to challenge the ownership of energy, and other, resources by the corporate elite.

REAL HEALTHY FOOD

-Community groups help develop gardens on roofs of houses that grow healthy food and also help the environment. Also support composting to turn garbage into organic fertilizer.
-We need to get away from unhealthy foods full of chemicals, preservatives, fats, excess salt. We need farm-grown fresh types of food.
-Educate people about buying green so that, over time, prices come down as demand for green products and foods increases.
-Support local farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture to bring healthy food from local farms to urban communities.
-Support natural healing through plants and herbs. Demand that a new health care system support this. Connect the health care and environmental justice movements. Learn from healthy ways of different cultures.
-Oppose privatization of seeds and genetically modified seeds and other foods.
-Break our dependence on pharmaceuticals.

AIR, WATER, GREEN SPACE

-Communities should take over areas that have been abandoned by speculators where there is housing and land that is not being used or kept up.
-Shift from dirty and polluting oil, coal and natural gas—the fossil fuels—to clean, renewable energy like wind and solar to clean up the air and the environment.
-Support recycling, not incineration which releases toxins and pollution into the air.
-Air quality testing and housing quality standards in all rental units.
-Chem trails: support alternative bio-fuels for planes to cut down on pollution.
-Universal health care is helped by cleaning up air and water and providing green spaces for people.

DECONTAMINATION

-Take asbestos out of building materials.
-Deal with formaldehyde in FEMA trailers.
-We need government resources to train people for decent-paying jobs in environmental clean-up, with adequate safety protections.
-Educate people in communities about ways to clean water and use filters.
-Support monitors and technology in community to detect air and ground pollution. Train community people on how to detect polluted and contaminated areas.
-Pollution control devices and technology on companies that are major violators.