Our current social and economic system allows for the consolidation of wealth and power for the few, at the expense of the many. This imbalance of power often leads to decisions that are made for communities without their input: pipeline approvals, toxic pollution, and influxes of big box stores that hurt local economies and move the impacts of our production and consumption elsewhere.
While grassroots groups have the ability to flip these power structures and build alternative solutions, they may also replicate the same systems that privilege only certain people’s needs for health, safety, and wellbeing. The issues at hand are urgent, but without creating groups that challenge these dynamics, our solutions will remain faulty at best, and perpetuate oppressive dynamics at worst. The Shifting Power practices aim to give organizers a structure with which to reflect on how their group is already, and could improve upon, operating under the guidance of this value.
This stance is principled, but it’s also practical: tapping into a wide range of experience and expertise will be necessary to build resilient solutions to the crises we face.
There is a lot at stake if we don’t reflect on our ability to shift power wherever we are. The dominant system treats the planet as expendable, tells us certain lives are necessary collateral and therefore has the green light to pollute, destroy and endanger what we love. To create healthy and just communities, we are called upon to counter this idea of expendability with just the opposite: to recognize that lived experience, especially of communities that have been harmed by this system, contains the wisdom we need in order to survive, and then to create systems that give power to that experience.
This Summer & Fall we are developing the Guiding Practices by defining specific actions and protocols alongside grassroots organizers. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter below to stay tuned for updates.