During the summer of 2018, a small contingent of organizers within Chicago DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) developed a Working Group committed to the task of incubating and facilitating neighborhood level democratic assemblies with the goal of empowering the voices of local residents and citizens in the total governance of their communities.
Unlike the institutions offered in our representative democracy, these local assemblies would provide an opportunity for residents to voice concerns, collectively strategy, and create a framework to which aldermanic power might eventually be devolved as they developed into more powerful anchors within the community.
Community Councils Working Group is a catalytic space to facilitate discussion and development of self-governing neighborhood assemblies as a platform for collective democratic empowerment. Our approach involves coalition building within our own communities while using group meetings to share best practices and improve our local organizing strategies.
While the current future of the Working Group is uncertain, this page serves as an archive of some of the materials employed in their study and presentation of the assembly model before members of the general public. Several of the organizers have brought the lessons they gathered from the Working Group to other projects and the Working Group is a signatory to Symbiosis’ call for a “Congress of Municipal Movements” occurring next week in Detroit.
The notion of public assemblies as deliberative bodies is espoused in the works of Murray Bookchin and the framework of “libertarian muncipalism”, but Municipalist.org highlights a much broader purpose of muncipalism as helping to “mobilize residents to participate deeply in local problem solving”. To this end, the work of the Community Councils Working Group is much broader than the mere establishment of new structures for citizen campaigning and advocacy. We have sought and seek to create additional formations in which neighborhoods can develop the appropriate toolkit to address their most immediate challenges in ways that are unique and distinct to those communities.
The resources below were mostly assembled for our January public education entitled “People’s Assemblies: Direct Democracy (And Why We Need It)”. The materials are open-source and available for reuse and remixing with accreditation to the Working Group.
While the contents of the program will be left undefined, we trust that using the same readings, materials, and liberatory will bring groups of people to similar conclusions about the use of a federation of people’s assemblies as a highly localized form of participatory democracy.
The “Peoples Movement Assembly Organizing Handbook” was produced by Project South with input from several Assembly practitioners between 2006 and 2016.
The Gallery of Assemblies is a production of the Kola Nut Collaborative with named writing contributions from several members, affiliates and associates of the Community Councils Working Group. This gallery follows on a similar project produced for Cooperation for Liberation Study & Working Group on the Black radical tradition of cooperation, mutual aid, and cooperatives. These galleries are meant to offer an immersive visual storytelling experience for which draws participants out from individually engaging with the text and allows the full use of a room where generative discussion can more readily occur between participants.
Gallery Of Assemblies
Pots, Pans and Popular Power
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