Farmers Reject Nicor’s Pipe Dream

Pembroke Township, Illinois - At the end of a maze of dirt roads lies a 40-acre teaching farm called Black Oaks Center, where local residents gathered on a Sunday in November 2021 for a farmland restoration workshop and community gathering. “If you all want to bust wood again, they’re out there,” said Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter — who runs the center with her husband, Fred Carter — to the newest arrivals. Some joined the group clearing felled trees for off-grid homesteading, while others stayed inside to warm up and chat.

In addition to raising food and hosting classes, Black Oaks has become a hub for organizing against a proposed natural gas pipeline some locals say threatens the area’s farming way of life, which is rooted in environmental stewardship.

Continue reading

Abandoned Indianapolis School Reclaimed

Indianapolis, IN – A pastor is leading the charge of reclaiming an abandoned school and creating a community-and-trades center on the east side of Indianapolis. Pastor Denell Howard’s vision of The Evolve Education Center is slowly coming to fruition after years of planning, praying and a community effort to fix the building up. Requiring about a half million dollars to get the lights turned on, the center needs the help of the broader community to generate enough resources together.

A volunteer named Stan, who spent months cleaning up the building, gave Unicorn Riot a tour of the reclaimed school in July 2021. We heard from Stan and Pastor Howard about their vision for the center and the work they’ve done up to that point.

Continue reading

Community Owned Real Estate

In this episode, I speak with executive director Noni Session about how EB PREC is garnering support to shift real estate ownership from extractive developers into the hands of the BIPOC community in Oakland and the East Bay. She shares the difference between a permanent real estate co-op and land trust, ancestral remembrance of cooperative ownership, how they got the first group of people to invest, their governance structure and multi-stakeholder model, prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility to individual investors, transparency of investment risks and how they mitigate it, and their exciting new venture – a historic Black arts venue they’ve acquired for Black artists and small businesses at 50% of market rate.

Continue reading

After Ida, This Louisiana Tribe Is Organizing Its Own Recovery

After the hurricane, the garden took on a new role as a staging ground for the tribe’s disaster response to distribute supplies, coordinate mutual aid groups and help tribal members, who, along with other Native people in south Louisiana, were among the hardest hit. In the long run, Aronson hopes Yakani Ekelanna can combine these functions to become a sort of “laboratory”— a place for building tribal sovereignty and resilience against an uncertain future.

Continue reading

Kansas City Tenants Union: Organizing At The Speed Of Trust

Our tenant union network currently supports three tenant unions in the city. So that’s Gabriel Towers Tenant Union, McGee-Shiffman, Tenant Union, and the KC Homeless Union with plans to support the creation of many more unions. I’m sure that a lot of listeners of this podcast already know about the power that unions can wield. Lastly, our peoples Housing Trust Fund is a vision/ policy proposal that would make housing in KC truly and permanently affordable by divesting from our oppressors, namely gentrifiers and the police, and investing in our communities by funding social housing, rehabilitation to make homes more sustainable and accessible, protecting tenants rights, and more.

Continue reading

Farmer Co-Ops Are Giving Latinx Communities Room To Grow

On Sundays, Edith Alas Ortega travels 20 minutes from her home to a farm field in Henderson County, North Carolina, and takes a deep breath. “There’s a mental and physical healing that happens out here,” she said in Spanish. Ortega is one of five members of Tierra Fértil Coop—“fertile ground” in English—an agricultural, worker-owned cooperative for and by Latinx immigrants. The group—three Salvadoran and three Mexican immigrants—meet every week on their one-acre parcel in Hendersonville that provides vegetables for the families involved as well as enough for resale, with a focus on culturally appropriate ingredients for the Latinx market.

Ortega marvels at the first strawberries of the season on a recent morning in June—just 40 for now.

Continue reading

When Communities Reject The Throwaway Economy

Here’s how a growing number of communities across Europe are speeding up the shift to more resilient economies and supply chains.

Rethinking the way we create, use, and dispose of our everyday products.

The world’s resources are limited, but we are living as if they weren’t. Our current economic system is based on extracting raw materials from the Earth, creating products with a built-in life span and throwing them away to then buy new ones.

The good news is that more and more communities are fighting back, creating responsible business models to reduce Europe’s dependency on mining.

This is the story of Maakfabriek, a Belgian creative lab and community of upcyclers extracting precious resources from urban waste and giving products a second life.

Continue reading

Resistance And Aid

In the villages, cities and regions of Rojava, in the predominantly Kurdish north east of Syria, political upheaval has resulted in the largely decentralised self-administration of many areas, including health, economy, law, education and internal security. The Rojava revolution led to both the secularisation and democratisation of institutions that had, until then, been controlled by an elitist-centralist national state. But what exactly does this mean? How is Rojava’s decentralisation expressed in everyday life? Located in north eastern Rojava, Amûdê County demonstrates what decentralisation and self-administration can look like in practice. Starting at the end of government rule in 2012, its communes, district people’s council and the municipality (Şaredarî) were all subjected to processes of democratisation.

Continue reading

The Healing Web Of Solidarity

As most of us sat at home during the past year, seeking safety from the pandemic and isolated from each other, we had little to protect us from the onslaught of historic national traumas and anxieties. We watched in horror as over half a million Americans died, millions lost their livelihoods while others had to face the virus at work, an unarmed Black man was slowly murdered by a policeman on camera, and our President encouraged a white rightwing insurrection. All of this is superimposed on the global existential crisis of climate change and the economic abandonment of many places across the country. If years can be ranked by their impact on the mental health and well- being of people, 2020-2021 would easily be near the top of the list.

Continue reading

Building Class Power By Fighting For The Common Good

As activists orient to the post-election landscape, we’re having lots of conversations about building power for the long term. We’re taking stock of the types of power we need and how they can reinforce each other – narrative, organizing, mobilizing, and electoral power, to name a few. And despite the decline in union membership and strength, workers’ collective bargaining power also offers a means of making gains for broader communities. “Bargaining for the Common Good” (BCG) makes this real.

Unions that adopt a BCG framework incorporate community demands alongside their workplace demands in contract bargaining.

Continue reading

Organizer Do’s And Dont’s- 101

My license to speak about this comes from the fact I’ve been involved in organizing work since 1979 when I joined the Pan-Africanist Secretariat (Brother Oba T’Shaka for those that know) at 17 years old.  In 1984, I heard Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) speak and I joined the All African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).  I’ve been an organizer/member of the A-APRP ever since.  That means decades of working with people, all types of people.  I’ve worked in organizing efforts in Africa.  In Europe.  In the Caribbean. 

Continue reading

Ten Action Ideas For Building A Police-Free Future

What makes a community healthy and safe? This document doesn’t have all the answers, but it acknowledges that for many of us, police are not part of the solution. Patterns of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and bullying are too common. When someone is having a mental health crisis, or when neighbors are concerned about a fellow neighbor, or when we feel unsafe– are the police our only option? Of course, different communities have different needs. Vibrant, dynamic, and police-free communities aren’t going to be created by outside groups– they’re going to bloom from the soil that already exists in those spaces. What we can share here, though, is what that process has looked like elsewhere.

Continue reading

Popular Power Will Not Be Quarantined!

Analysing different future scenarios is a very common exercise for Venezuelan political organisations. With constant US pressure, imagining situations of foreign invasions, military coups, early elections, etc. is natural. Leftist organisations look to describe these scenarios before envisioning what their eventual role would be.

Nevertheless, no one was prepared to face the coronavirus. While in the abovementioned examples revolutionary organisations have no problems figuring out where they stand, and where their enemies stand, this context changes everything. The enemy at hand is “invisible,” it cannot be fought on the streets or in a collective fashion. Not only that, there is also the fear of being infected or (worse) of infecting other people.

Continue reading

Socialists Of Color To The Front

One evening in late May, upward of 50 grassroots organizers from different groups around the country gathered at a union hall in Dorchester, Mass. They were grappling with some of the Left’s age-old questions: In a future where the Left wins political power, what would we like to see happen? And more pragmatically: What would it take to get there?

A local community organizer sets the scene: “It’s 2019. Burning issues are facing our communities.” She lists off galloping inequality, a trigger-happy white nationalist movement, looming environmental disaster. It’s urgent, she says, to do “more cross-fertilization work” to harness progressive forces (like the striking teachers around the country) to build solidarity across issues.

This discussion of base-building to include more different types of people is typical of many Left gatherings.

Continue reading

Symbiosis: A New North American Grassroots Political Network

On January 7, Symbiosis released a launch statement announcing the Congress in Detroit from September 18-22 of this year., initially signed by 14 organizations. “Over the course of the past year,” it stated, “our organizations have been strengthening our relationships with one another, learning from each other, generating shared resources, and honing a common vision of how to create together the genuinely democratic world that we need.”

Beyond the shared vision of radical democracy and egalitarianism, what unites these groups is a common political strategy, of building institutions of popular power from below to challenge and replace the governing institutions of capitalist society. This approach is known as “dual power.”

Continue reading