“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.”[1]

Community Assembly & Participatory Democracy

The Community Assembly Project is a grassroots organizing initiative focused on bringing participatory democracy into our communities.

Kari Koch talked about the “Common Visions” bringing folks together for a Community Assembly to Create a People’s Budget on Saturday, May 5th, 2012 at the First Unitarian Church (Portland, Oregon).

Collaborative information portals?

Organized Power delivers collaborative technology designed to help communities make connections and build relationships.

    Collaborative information portals are wiki-based hubs where
  • documents
  • calendars
  • reports
  • contacts
  • message boards
  • videos
  • audio files
  • and other media reside in a
  • organized
  • accessible
  • and
  • easy to use way

Collaborative information portals are infinitely customizable and extensible. They can be public facing, or serve as a private, password protected intranet.

Advancing The Community Agenda

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.

Community Assembly to Create a People's Budget logo.

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.

Organizing Collaboratively

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.

1. Archon Fung & Erik Olin Wright: “Deepening Democracy: Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance
2. Paul Cienfuegos: “The Community Rights Movement and the Arc of Nonviolent Social Change