Community Democracy Project

Welcome to CDP, Oakland’s all-volunteer campaign for a more democratic budget process! The Community Democracy Project (CDP) promotes active citizenship, community learning, and direct democracy by putting the people in charge of the budget. Our voter initiative will change the Oakland City Charter so that we the people decide how our tax money is spent. Please explore our site to learn more about the initiative and how you can get involved.

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Your City. Your Budget. Imagine That.

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Do You Believe in People Power?

Do you believe in people power in Oakland?

This is what I often ask people on the street as I gather signatures.

Do you believe in people power?

standwithcatbrooksWhat is people power? For me, it means democracy: government of, by, and for we the people. (Indeed, from the Greek: demos = the people, kratia = power/rule.) The significance of people power here in Oakland is deeply enriched by our history of social justice and civil rights movements, for example the Black Panthers: All power to the people!

Today, in practical and immediate terms, people power means we the people have a direct say in how our government works, in particular by deciding where our tax money is spent. This is what the community budgeting initiative (aka democratic budgeting, aka people’s budget) is all about.

If we the people don’t control how our government spends our money, then we the people don’t control our government. Period.

Today in Oakland, in California, in the U.S., in the world, we are facing a fundamental choice: between government that respects and uplifts the people and government that ignores and represses the people.

This why we stand in solidarity with community leaders like Cat Brooks and Jahmese Myres: They and others are putting their comfort and their bodies on the line to stand up for our First Amendment rights, in the face of the at best misguided attempt to ban night-time protests.

Do you believe in people power?

The vast majority of people, when they stop to hear us, say yes. This is why we know the time has come to make democracy real.

Do you believe in people power?

Then join us!

Here is how you can help:

Thanks for your support and for all you do to make a better world =)

Shawn and the CDP Team

All Hands on Deck for People Power in Oakland!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~Margaret Meade

Hello from the Community Democracy Project!

We want to give a big thanks to ALL of our volunteers, members, and directors for keeping the motivation going as we work to complete the first month of our signature gathering campaign! We’ve been gathering support (and of course, signatures!) from residents all over Oakland, who are keeping us energized with their excitement as they learn about our initiative and how it will bring power back to the people of Oakland!

CDP Co-Director Shawn McDougal with 2014 Oakland Mayoral Candidate Dan Siegel

CDP Co-Director Shawn McDougal with 2014 Oakland Mayoral Candidate Dan Siegel








A question that we get a lot while we are out signature gathering is- “Who’s behind this?”

We love being able to tell people that we are an ALL-VOLUNTEER organization, whose only motivation is creating a space for true democracy in Oakland. We have come to understand that there is power in community, and that there is truth to the statement “many hands make light work.” It takes a LOT of work to get an initiative on Oakland’s ballot, which is why are so grateful for all of our members and volunteers!

An example of one of our STAR volunteers is William Jones (pictured on the right below, with CDP co-director Kit Decker.)








William came out to gather signatures with us during our May Day launch event, and had such a great experience that he’s committed to volunteering with us again! He has committed to gathering TEN signatures a week- AMAZING! Thank you, William!

How many signatures can YOU commit to getting each week?

There are so many ways to help! One of the easiest (and most fun!) ways is by coming to one of our signature gathering events. Sign up here, and one of our directors will contact you to make sure you have all the information that you need!

This Week’s Lineup

Saturday, May 23rd
Eastlake Music Festival at Lake Merritt Ampitheather

Sunday, May 24th
Laney Flea Market at 9th & Fallon

Monday, May 25
Oakland Carnaval at Mosswood Park

RSVP to communitydemocracyproject@ or by signing up at the above link, and we’ll follow up  with time and location information!

If you can’t make any of our events this week, never fear! There are many other ways to volunteer, such as committing to a number of signatures each week. Take a petition to your local library, your neighbors, your favorite cafe, your church group- the possibilities are endless! Simply email us, and one of our directors will be in touch.

Remember- change begins with you. If you’re tired of the status quo, the time to act is NOW. Join us!

In solidarity,

Victoria and the CDP Team

Stories from the Frontlines, in 5 Acts

For the past two weeks, we have talked with thousands of people in just enough moments to hopefully strike a chord.

Sometimes it’s a favorable interaction, sometimes not. Sometimes it results in a signature, sometimes even a volunteer or organization contact. It’s a chance to talk about something that matters to people in your own community. You can brighten someone’s day, or even give hope in a society where too many important voices go unheard. For me, it’s my time to spread good news, and to feel great about being that crucial “bridge” that one man told me I was, connecting the convoluted government affairs with the everyday people of Oakland.

If we don’t do it,’ I told him, ‘all these people who want to participate in their city government–16 and up, regardless of criminal history or citizenship– will not get this unique opportunity to.’

Our role is truly validated each time we gather signatures.

And now, we present to you just a handful of encounters during people’s budget signature gathering that stuck with us. …

unnamed (2)









Act 1

Me [walking along, minding my own business, wearing our awesome shirt]

Lady in car: Hey! What’s your shirt about?

Me: Oh hi! It’s about people power. I’m with the Community Democracy Project, we’re trying to bring a people’s budget to Oakland so that people can decide what their priorities are and where their money goes!

Lady: That’s awesome! We definitely need that! A lot of the folks in City Hall are just developing the city for the computer people, they don’t care about us low-income people. No one wants to listen to us.

Me: Right on, exactly, that’s why we’re out here! Everyone should have a say in shaping their city.

Lady: Well let me sign that! Thanks for what you’re doing!


Act 2
Location: OG Plaza, May Day

Me: Are you an Oakland voter? Sign our petition to bring a people’s budget to Oakland!

Random Dude: Hmm.. I’m not sure about that.

Me: Trust me! It will be awesome!

Random Dude: Well okay, sure! [signs petition]

unnamed (1)










Act 3

Location: Lakeshore Ave

Me: Hi! Are you an Oakland voter?

Oakland father walking with 2 sons: Yes, and my boys are too!

Me: Awesome! Would you all be interested in signing our petition to give the people of Oakland a say in our city budget?

Oakland father: Well, what’s this all about?

Me: Well, we are trying to get an initiative on the ballot for a participatory budget in Oakland!

Oakland father: Oh, well you know, I want to look more into that before signing. Do you have any information?

Oakland son #1: I’ll sign the petition if it’s just to get the initiative on the ballot. I think people have the right to decide if this is what they want.

Oakland son #2: Yea, I’ll sign it too.

Oakland father: You know, my boys are right. I’ll sign the petition too because people have a right to choose for themselves. Can I still get a flyer to learn more about the initiative?

Me: Of course! Here’s our flyer with our website, where you can find the entire initiative and our contact information if you have any more questions. Thanks for your support!


Act 4
Location: Phat Beets Produce Farmer’s Market

Me: Hi! Do you care about Oakland’s libraries?

Dude: Yes! What’s this all about?

Me: Please sign this petition to give Oakland residents a real say in where we spend our money. I’m a member of Community Democracy Project (Oakland) and we’ve been out and about for the past few years. Our surveys have shown that given more power over the budget, Oakland residents would allocate more funds to libraries and community services!

Dude: GREAT! If this passes, I’ll have more than Brazil to talk about when we go over participatory budgeting.

Me: Exactly!


Act 5

Me: Would you sign our petition for people power?

Oakland-er wearing Black Lives Matter shirt: How would that work?

Me: If this passes residents of Oakland can vote on budget priorities in their community. Imagine along with protesting against the police, we could vote on competing budget proposals and have a say in how the police department is managed.

Oaklander: That’s amazing. Wow… YES! I WILL sign this. It’s exactly what Oakland needs right now.

Me: Great!! Are you registered voter?

Oaklander: AW Maaaan No… I can’t vote. I’m on parole… This is how they get you.. I want to be able to change the system, but the system doesn’t allow me to do it.

Me: Well hopefully this can pass and change power dynamics in our communities.. Do you want some flyers to pass out??

Oaklander: (grabs 10 flyers)










For some of your own personal stories, consider gathering signatures for a people’s budget in Oakland with CDP! Join a team or go solo–it’s up to you and your schedule.

Let us know if you want a petition mailed to you or sign up to join one of our many upcoming signature gathering events in May here!


Talia and the CDP Team

First time volunteer? Fear no more!

As you may have heard by now, our signature gathering campaign launched with a BANG. We’ve been all over Oakland– marching on May Day against Police brutality, hitting up First Friday Art Walk, and taking action at West Oakland BART (just to name a few..)

It’s only been a week, but we have already gathered hundreds of signatures.

photo 1









CDP supporters like YOU came from all over the city to take action for people power. Volunteers with different backgrounds and experiences sharing the SAME belief that the people of Oakland deserve to have a voice in their community.

Here’s an example of one of our amazing volunteers.

Meet Linda Chen. In the beginning, Linda wanted to support our campaign but was unsure about signature gathering. Linda had no experience and didn’t know what to expect. Their response to our invitation to join us? “I’ll try it one time.”

Linda pictured on the right in the grey shirt

Linda pictured on the right in the grey shirt









After CDP volunteer training and a day of gathering signatures, Linda turned out to be a natural, and gathered the most signatures out of everyone! Their soft spoken nature and strong conviction got people to listen. Not only that, at the end of the day they said “It changed the way I think about how I interact with people, and this will have a big impact on how I show up in my life.”

Whether you are an old supporter or completely new to CDP, come out and join people like Linda in taking action for Oakland and for yourself. I know what you’re wondering.. WHEN CAN I START? WHERE DO I GO?

Here are the shifts for this weekend:

Sat May 9th 1-5pm: Second Saturday Art & Music Walk (meet at corner of San Pablo & Alcatraz)

Sun May 10th 1-4pm: Lake Merritt

Or sign up for other signature gathering parties in May here!

In solidarity,

Mandy and the CDP team

Real Stories, Real Action: Join Us Tomorrow for #MayDay2015

CDP–like Oakland itself–is made up of diverse and passionate individuals, individuals with different experiences who all share the commitment to making democracy real in our city. Below are the personal statements of just two of our members.

My name’s Tia. I sue perpetrators of domestic violence for a living and I have a love-hate relationship with the police.

Concord PO
Concord’s first police officer dedicated to domestic violence

While I recognize and appreciate law enforcement’s ability to remove a batterer from an abusive household in times of crisis, I also sometimes feel a cramp-inducing fear in my stomach when I spot a uniform-clad officer in my vicinity.

I joined the Community Democracy Project right about when the Darren Wilson verdict came out of Ferguson. That night, I marched in solidarity with Ferguson and then came home feeling tired and hopeless. I felt hopeless because the murder of Michael Brown wasn’t an isolated incident. This past week in Baltimore has proven that point yet again.

The police have slain too many other Black folks:
Freddie Gray.
Yuvette Henderson.
Yvette Smith.
Eleanor Bumpurs.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Tarike Wilson.
Dante Parker.
Ezell Ford.
Kajieme Powell.
Akai Gurley.
Tamir Rice.
Rumain Brisbon.
Oscar Grant.
Raheim Brown.
Alan Blueford.

I get anxious writing these names because I know that each time I try to list victims of police brutality, I forget someone. There’s really just too many names.

So, when the Black Lives Matter movement put out a national call to action, I joined Asians4BlackLives and we shut down the Oakland Police Department. I did this because as a Pilipino person, I recognize that Asians are used to prop up the anti-Black racism that allowed Darren Wilson to walk free.

That’s me trying to make sure the cops stay calm while my friends literally put their bodies on the line by chaining themselves to the OPD entrance in response to a national call to shut down institutions that perpetrate the war on Black people.

Believe me. Shutting down OPD was one of the most amazing moments of my life. That day, members of the Blackout Collective, Black Brunch, and Black Lives Matter joined us.


Their power together was breath-taking.

After symbolically shutting down OPD for a day, I wondered: how can we actually shut down police brutality for good?


That’s where the Community Democracy Project comes in. While the world was in mourning, CDP held space for its members to mourn and be optimistic.

The optimistic part? It FINALLY starts on ‪#‎MayDay‬.


That tagline? “Your City. Your Budget. Imagine That”? Really. IMAGINE IT. The possibilities are overwhelmingly positive.

Imagine spending less on police weapons and more on OPD’s domestic violence unit. Less on the Coliseum Lease and more on affordable housing.


Community owned solar power plants
Domestic violence prevention workshops
Guaranteed jobs
Urban gardens on every block
Libraries open 24/7
Seed funding for worker owned cooperatives
Emergency contingency plans
Culturally relevant murals in public spaces
Free public transportation
Literacy programs
Daily preschool story-time
Rape crisis centers in every district
A requirement that all city employees learn nonviolent communication

Let’s make all of this and more happen. Let’s start on May Day.

Let’s rally with the ILWU in solidarity with victims of police brutality, and start gathering signatures to amend the city charter such that the PEOPLE have a real say on how we spend our money.

Last night, CDP voted in THREE new members: Shoshanna Howard, Amy Tao, and Tim Ng.


Tim is also a member of Asians4BlackLives and this is what he has to say about joining CDP:

I joined CDP because I refuse to play with the cards that we’ve been dealt.

They tell us:
If a candidate is corrupt, don’t vote for them.
If a corporation is poisoning your neighborhood, don’t buy their products.
If the government doesn’t listen, just move somewhere else.

I challenge the system as a whole and the rules that we’re told to play by. The ruling elite act as a united force, while we are told to make our own little individual choices and trust that the system will listen to our incremental actions.

We were given a bucket of paint and told to change the color of the walls inside their house of oppression.

It’s time for us to step outside and build our own future – enact our transformative visions and take control of OUR money in OUR budget through the principles of the Community Democracy Project.

Community – We are stronger when we build bonds with each other.

Democracy – people power is always within ourselves, ready to be unleashed

Project – through participatory budgeting, we fund each others creative visions.

The path ahead is clear. On May 1, we set forth to a better future.

We’re meeting THIS Friday (May 1st) at Oscar Grant/ Frank Ogawa Plaza near the 14th St. BART Station exit at 11:30AM.

If you can’t find us, please call or text Tia at 510-393-2723.


RSVP to our Facebook event so everyone will know CDP’s rolling deep on May Day.

If you’re feeling nervous…or if you want to brush up on some talking points about CDP, here’s a cheat sheet we made for volunteers! We’ll also give you a hard copy on May 1st.

For even more details, you can also watch our animated video about participatory budgeting or simply read the initiative here.

If you can’t make it at 11:30AM on May Day, we’re also meeting up at 5:00PM at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza to gather signatures at the First Friday Art Walk. You can also RSVP to other shifts here.

Lastly, please help us pay for the printing costs of this campaign! Donate $35 today!

We can’t wait to see you all!


Tia, Tim, and the CDP Team

The Time Has Come: May Day 2015

The time has come. Now is your chance to help make history in Oakland. Now is your chance to help build the new paradigm.

The old paradigm is the paradigm of passivity–we the people sit idly by while decisions that shape our city, our communities, our future are made for us, by forces mostly outside our control.

The new paradigm is the paradigm of participation–we the people engage in collective conversations about our shared reality, and we the people decide how to shape our city, our communities, our future.

The City Attorney’s office will send us the official Title and Summary language–to go at the top of each petition–by Tuesday. We will then be ready to gather signatures startingMay 1. (May Day, the historic international day for worker’s rights, the original Labor Day.)

Will you join us? Here is how you can help:

  • Volunteer to help gather signatures. (A few hours per month, a few hours per week, a certain number of signatures from your friends and neighbors and coworkers, whatever you are willing to give will make a difference.)
  • Make a donation.
  • Plan to join us at our launch on May 1. (RSVP for details and to join one of our teams.)
  • Phonebank with us on Sunday 4/26 at 1pm-3pm. (RSVP for location.)

Thanks for your support and for all you do to build a better world =)

Shawn and the CDP Team

Help us make history in Oakland!

First and foremost, we want to give a shout out to YOU and the rest of our supporters, who have shown us an overwhelming amount of excitement and dedication as we get ready to launch our signature gathering campaign! Our amazing CDP members and volunteers have already committed to gathering thousands of signatures. Thank you!

How many hours will you pledge to help make history in Oakland? May 1st is quickly approaching, and we need all hands on deck! The way we want Oakland to look and feel in the next five years (and beyond!) is up to us. With just two weeks left to prepare before our official signature gathering launch, we ask you to consider supporting and engaging with us, as we campaign to institutionalize the validity of neighborhood voices and direct democracy.

We have exactly six months from our start date to collect 40,000 signatures from registered Oakland voters. If you are willing to spare just two hours out of your month for the next six months, we can easily reach our goal!

Can’t wait til May 1st to get involved? No problem! Join us this Saturday, April 18th for a phone-banking party from 1:30 PM-3:00 PM. You can meet our members, and help us reach out to fellow supporters to rally support for our campaign. Please RSVP tocommunitydemocracyproject@ for location information.

In solidarity,

Victoria and the CDP team

PS. CDP is an all-volunteer organization, but we need money to run a campaign! Visit our crowdfunding site today and donate! Thanks to our generous supporters, we have already reached 40% of our initial fundraising goal. If everyone gave just $1, we could easily reach our goal overnight!

Cartoons, Crowd-funding, and Community

The Community Democracy Project’s signature gathering campaign launch date is quickly approaching.

This means we need money to file and print our initiative. That’ll cost about $3,000 and we need to raise that much by May 1st!

Please donate today and watch CDP’s animated video about our vision for a people’s budget.

As you’ll learn from our video, to get our initiative on the ballot, we need to gather 40,000 signatures from Oakland residents.

CDP members and volunteers have already committed to gathering 36,418 signatures!

It takes about one hour to gather 16 signatures. That means we need less than 20 folks to pledge 12 hours each.

That’s only 2 hours per month between May 1st and October 28th! Admit it… that’s probably less than the time you spend every month feeling frustrated with the current system.

Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it.”

So…will you pledge at least 12 hours to help us create an infrastructure for community, democracy, and mass movement?

In solidarity,

Tia and the CDP team

P.S. Did this e-mail inspire you so much that you want to start helping us ASAP? If so, please attend our phone-banking party this Saturday, April 11 from1:00pm to3:00pm (Location: TBD). We plan to call all of our supporters to let them know that the campaign for a people’s budget starts on May 1st. Email us at communitydemocracyproject@ to RSVP.

Ready, Set, LAUNCH with CDP!

Calling all supporters! We are excited to announce that we are in the process of filing our petition with the city of Oakland, and we will be officially launching our signature campaign in just one month! Starting May 1st, we will have six months to gather signatures from Oakland residents so that we can get our initiative on the ballot and put the people of Oakland in charge of the city’s budget!

Many hands make light work, so we need as many volunteers as possible to help gather signatures. Spread the word, and contact us directly for more information about how to get involved! In the meantime, here are three things that you can do to get involved RIGHT NOW!

1) We will be hosting another Yard Sale/Phonebank Outreach on Saturday, April 4th from 2 pm-5 pm. Meet us at Alchemy Cafe at 1741 Alcatraz Ave in Berkeley, and help us reach out to our supporters to mobilize and get volunteer hours committed for our signature gathering launch! For more information, check out our Facebook event page.

2) Pledge to gather signatures! Have you been jonesing to get out there with CDP and chop it up with folks all over Oakland? Never fear, we have plenty of opportunities to get involved! Fill out a pledge form and we will follow up with to get you set up with a signature gathering crew.

3) We are always accepting donations, which is a great way to show your support if you’re not able to volunteer with us! As an all-volunteer campaign, we rely on community donations to fund our campaign. All proceeds go directly to the costs of running a campaign – none of our members or directors are paid for the countless hours that they continue to commit to our cause.

We thank you for your support!

In Solidarity,

Victoria and the CDP Team

Jump In, Join Up with CDP this Sunday!

There’s no time like the present to jump in and join the Community Democracy Project as we explore another Oakland neighborhood! This Sunday we’ll be hitting up Jack London Square to talk to folks about their vision for Oakland.

What: Another installment of Sunday street conversations. If you’re new, we’ll provide a brief training and orientation on community outreach and engagement. Then we’ll head out to talk to people we encounter about what they’d like to see in Oakland. Check out our Instagram for some great snapshots of past conversations!
When: Sunday, March 29th 12pm-2pm. Afterwards join us from 2-3pm to hang out and have some delicious eats! (Hint: it will include chicken & waffles!)
Where: Jack London Square. Email communitydemocracyproject@ to RSVP and for location details.

MEANWHILE, in the campaign room…


CDP members and volunteers are excitedly gearing up to launch our next signature gathering campaign! We will be launching in the next couple months, so stay tuned, and sharpen those signature gathering skills! If you’d like to be involved in helping launch our campaign, we would love to have you – email communitydemocracyproject@ to set up a meeting to discuss how you can plug into this momentous campaign.

Don’t have time? We’re always accepting donations! As an all-volunteer campaign, all of our funds come from community members like YOU and will support our signature gathering drive. We thank you for your support!

In solidarity,

Allee and the CDP team


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