MASSACHUSETTS RELOCALIZATION CONFERENCE – October 18, 2009 Breakouts on “Democracy & Relocalization: Applying Democracy in the Face of Corporate Power” Notes

by Ruth Caplan. Alliance for Democracy These two breakout sessions were designed on a participatory model around three questions: What we are doing now; What we would like to be doing; Who we’d like to work with. Resource people attending the workshop included: Dave Lewit, Alliance for Democracy; Suren Moodliar, Mass Global Action; Adam Friedman, Citizens for Voter Choice; and May Louie, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. The notes from the two breakout sessions were combined to share the richness of both sessions and to encourage wider collaboration. Any additions/corrections are most welcome. What we are doing now Supporting campaigns and parties • IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) – Citizens for Voter Choice • Supporting the Green Rainbow Party • MA Green Power -- helping implement Green Communities Act of 2008 • Corp 20/20 – promoting “we the people” decentralized governance • POCLAD (Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy) • Advocacy for MA public health legislation • Advocacy for food justice Working in our local communities • Transition Somerville—seeking increased participation • Arlington United for Justice & Peace – seeking to build compassionate communication • Lexington CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) • Brookline -- Green Space/affordable housing • Winchester -- relocalization • Cambridge o People’s Congress to build support for political action around greening Cambridge o promoting community policing • Jamaica Plain – City Life/Vida Urbana • Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative o direct participation/community democratic process/community-elected BOD • Roxbury

o Green Power Cooperative o Solving problems through power of eminent domain granted by city What we would like to be doing Reframing the problem and the solutions • Develop best practices to challenge the empire • Show that democracy is much more than just voting o Provide ways for people to get involved in their community o Address ways people’s lives are impacted • Create the “democratic citizen” both in everyday life and in government processes o Increase participation in town meetings o Consider whether voting should be required o Empower local governments in face of developers’ assumed rights to have whatever they want o Show that democracy is not a celebrity sport • Develop community vision and values related to the common good • Promote regional integration • Promote sociocracy • Make more people politically involved by reaching people who have tuned out or never tuned in because they feel discouraged o Unfreeze existing ideas, eg, it’s OK to talk about religion & politics o Provide information with a broader perspective which is relevant to people’s lives o Make the information understandable, especially cross-culturally  Use humor  Make participation, eg, voting, “cool” o Build skills needed for democratic participation and decision-making at all levels, including the workplace (and non-profit organizations!) o Provide training in empowerment through cooperative democratic processes o Build a sense that people are moving together o Make the action relevant to people’s lives and demonstrate that what people do really matters. Examples given:  Success in opening commuter rail station in Roxbury  Success in getting mail boxes put back in community Specific initiatives • Promote participatory budgeting o Control the use of taxpayer dollars in order to humanize our representative system o Give people a direct say in how tax dollars are spent in their neighborhood • Establish real home rule for MA communities and cities o Idea of home rule is not having to ask the state legislature for permission to pass local budget or pass ordinances to protect the community o MA home rule law still requires localities to request permission of state

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legislature Create a grassroots movement connecting food, environment and health Use IRV to create space for more parties and more platforms Use Community Development banks to support community value system and get people to cooperate Create community land trusts o Local control of wealth o Permanent affordability Reform corporate chartering process o Serve clearly defined public purpose o Reflect the people’s values o Make it easier to create non-profit corporations Use community colleges to educate on all these issues

Who We’d Like to Work With We hardly had any time to address this, but in the second workshop, there were a few specific ideas. • Artists and musicians • Getting beyond white privilege and realizing other voices are not being heard o Form personal relationships as basis for reaching out o Reach out to help others, rather than asking others to help you, which means taking the time to understand what specific communities really care about and how you can build support in your own community • Boston Workers Alliance (unfortunately they were not able to join either workshop) o Build support in your neighborhood for CORI reform (Criminal Offender Record Information) The CORI reform bill for which Commonwealth CORI Coalition is lobbying (History: H3523/S1608) Working together is really up to all of us. In the two breakout sessions, there were many wonderful participants. We are sharing names, e-mails, phone numbers so you can be in touch with each other and find ways to work together.

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