“A fundamental challenge for the Left is to develop transformative democratic strategies that can advance our traditional values—egalitarian social justice, individual liberty combined with popular control over collective decisions, community and solidarity, and the flourishing of individuals in ways that enable them to realize their potentials.”
The Community Assembly Project is a grassroots organizing initiative focused on bringing participatory democracy into our communities.
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The central goal of Community Assembly is to foster participatory democracy. Participatory democracy means bringing everyday citizens together in a community assembly to articulate the priorities for their community. Participants include working people, community representatives, community based organizations, small and mid-sized businesses, union members, students, faith communities and others.
The product of each community assembly is then used to educate officials—elected or otherwise—on the priorities each community decides are most important. If representatives fail to respond to the concerns and priorities articulated by the community, the community assembly process is then used to mobilize pressure on unresponsive officials.
What sets the community assembly model apart from traditional community organizing is an emphasis on uniting a diverse group of people to focus on common goals. Traditional organizing efforts often fall short of their objectives. Single issue causes that are vitally important to some may fail to generate much interest with the wider community. When people come together to push for common goals, however, their power is often multiplied many times beyond the sum of their individual parts.
Because of its reliance on the participation and capacities of everyday people, the community assembly model is a form of Empowered Deliberative Democracy. Community assemblies provide a pathway for ordinary people to effectively participate in and influence policies that directly affect their lives. They are empowered because unified discussion is followed by direct action.