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.

Latest Posts

CDP Mixer at Farley’s East Tomorrow; Join the #PeoplesBudget Coalition!

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.16 AMJoin CDP tomorrow, July 9 from 5-9pm for a mixer at Farley’s East! CDP has been named Nonprofit of the Month for July and will be celebrating with a mixer at Farley’s that will include games, prizes, a photobooth, and more! 20% of proceeds from the event will be donated to CDP, so come hungry! Here are a few reasons to stop by:

  • Learn more about the group of Oakland residents that is making historical strides towards a city budget that serves the real needs and values of the people!
  • Check out our window display for July’s Nonprofit of the Month
  • Celebrate our success so far
  • Find out how to get involved

Hope to see you there!

On Monday, July 6, CDP, together with the Participatory Budgeting Project led a teach-in hosted by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. PBP shared examples from around the country and around the world and CDP shared more about our campaign and led a discussion on how PB can deepen democracy. Thanks to all who came!

CDP is part of a burgeoning #peoplesbudget coalition! Do you know an organization that should be part of the movement to bring a People’s Budget to Oakland? An organization working to build people power, deepen democracy, increase civic engagement, or build an inclusive Oakland that reflects the needs of all? We’d love for you to connect us with them! Several Oakland organizations are already involved, and the table is open to other organizations working to build people power in Oakland.

Email us at if you have an organization you’d like to connect us with. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.47.20 AMAs always, we’ve got teams going out all over Oakland to gather signatures for our ballot initiative! We’ve still got slots available for the following teams:

  • Friday, July 10: Walmart, 6:30-8:30pm
  • Saturday, July 11: Grand Lake Farmer’s Market,11:00am-2:00pm
  • Sunday, July 12: Lake Merritt, 1:003:00pm

When you come out with CDP we’ll train you, equip you, and accompany you! 

To RSVP for any of those teams, or to see what other times are available, click here.

In solidarity,

Allee and the CDP Team

This Monday: Participatory Budgeting teach-in at Impact Hub Oakland!

If you want real change and to help deepen democracy in Oakland, then the Community Democracy Project (CDP) is where it’s at.

However, perhaps you are still a little new to CDP and the idea of a peoples budget. You may be asking yourself what is participatory budgeting? Why are residents in Oakland volunteering their time to get it on the city ballot?

Find Out! On Monday the 6th, 6pm at Impact Hub (2323 Broadway) CDP will be hosting a teach-in about participatory budgeting, the Community Democracy Project, and how we can give all of Oakland a real voice in their community.

Also, another great place to learn more about CDP is Farley’s East, where they are hosting us as their non-profit of the month for July. In celebration we are throwing a Mixer, on Thursday, July 9th, 5pm to 9pm. Here are a few reasons to stop by:

  • Learn more about the group of Oakland resident volunteers that is making historical strides towards a city budget that serves the real needs and values of the people!
  • Check out our window display for July’s Nonprofit of the Month
  • Celebrate the mini-victories
  • Find out how to get involved
  • 20% OF ALL SALES WILL BE DONATED during that time to the initiative campaign that is gathering signatures for a people’s budget in Oakland

Also, over this last week the #peoplesbudget coalition is starting take form. We had some of our first meetings with Bay LocalizeCJJCSELC and ACCE where we got to share our collective wisdom about organizing and the struggle to bring real power to the people. It is in forming these coalitions that the Community Democracy Project hopes to build beyond just the fight for a peoples budget but also to really create a strong movement of people power in Oakland. 

We look forward to working with and collaborating with these and other groups in the future. If you or your group is interested in getting involved with CDP then please reach out! We will also keep you apprised of our future coalition meetings.

And last but not least, CDP is standing up for free speech and our rights to be involved in our community. For those of you who don’t know one of our Co-Directors, Shawn, was harassed by security at the Oakland Grocery Outlet. When Shawn stood his ground, security eventually called the police. Two patrol cars worth of police arrived to also harass Shawn while he was going about his constitutionally protected right of political free speech. (cf. Pruneyard v. Robins, 1979 CA Supreme Court.) This eventually ended in him getting charged with a misdemeanor.

In the end the DA decided not to file charges. So this week we are back at the Grocery Outlet to show the forces of oppression that we can not be intimidated. We will keep on doing our best to bring a people’s budget to Oakland!

Join us!

Here is how you can help:

In solidarity,
Kit and the CDP Team

#ourcityourbudget! Free speech 1, repression 0.

We are building an #ourcityourbudget coalition. Organizations in Oakland that want the city budget to reflect the values and aspirations of the many rather than the fear and greed of the few are coming together to plot how we can combine our forces and reach our goal of 40K signatures by November. There are a multitude of ways folk are talking about contributing. If your organization would like to be a part of this historic campaign, let us know. Our first summit will be Thursday June 25, from 3 to 5pm.

Most places we gather signatures at respect our political free speech rights. At a few places we have faced harassment from managers and security and, in two or three cases, from police officers who do not understand that political free speech is protected under the constitution of the State of California: We have the right to petition at supermarkets and shopping centers and other such places. (cf. Pruneyard v. Robins, 1979 CA Supreme Court.)

Our rights as public citizens are not trumped by the dictates of private property.

On Monday I went to court to contest a misdemeanor citation I received from an OPD officer while petitioning at Grocery Outlet a month ago. I was buoyed by many messages of support and the presence of some supporters who were able to make the 9AM appearance. After some waiting in line, we found out that the DA’s office had chosen not to file the charges. This was a relief–no more time spent on court appearances!–but not a surprise, as the DA likely knows the law better than the police officer that cited me.

Shawn Norma Tim at courthouse

Such spurious citations are not simply about ignorance of the law. They are also a tool of intimidation and repression: if people do not have the knowledge or means to fight back against such manoeuvers, they can be cowed into obeying arbitrary orders of security and police officials, cowed into giving up their rights.

This is the culture of isolation and fear we must replace with the culture of participation and solidarity. The #peoplesbudget initiative isn’t just about we the people deciding the budget.

It’s about reclaiming our role as citizens, asserting the power of the community over the power of the corporatocracy.

On Monday, 6/29, in celebration of our victory in resisting repression and uplifting our rights, we will have a special street team at Grocery Outlet. We will peacefully gather signatures and see if the police again try to stop us. We will need witnesses with cameras, in addition to folk who want to gather with us.

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 do will make a difference.)
  • Join one of our Street Teams.
  • Make a donation.
  • Invite us to speak at your community event or gathering.

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

Shawn and the CDP Team

Court Date 9AM June 22: Defend Free Speech Rights!

As you know, members, co-directors, and supporters of The Community Democracy Project (Oakland) (“CDP”) gather signatures every single day to get our initiative on the 2016 ballot. If our initiative passes, Oakland will have the strongest #PeoplesBudget in the United States!

Our co-director Shawn McDougal is being charged with a misdemeanor: “Interfering with a Business” (California Penal Code Section 602.1) for talking with his neighbors shopping at the Oakland Grocery Outlet.

The security guards at the Grocery Outlet demanded that Shawn stop gathering signatures near the entrance of the store. They wanted him to relocate to a far, isolated spot with little to no foot traffic.

Shawn peacefully asserted his right to circulate petitions in any and all public access areas, including private/corporate property. Private and commercial development in Oakland has overwhelmed the development of public and communal areas, leaving fewer areas available for people to gather together and build community.

Shawn continued to gather signatures while the security guards hassled him. Eventually the guards called the Oakland Police Department and accused Shawn of “trespassing.” The responding officers threatened him with arrest if he did not leave the premises.

Since Shawn’s shift was minutes from being over, he decided to comply instead of spending the weekend in jail. Still, the cops gave Shawn a citation and now he risks being convicted of a misdemeanor.

JOIN US at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse (Department #107) to support Shawn and to let the City of Oakland know that we as a community will stand up against corporate and police harassment!

We’ll bring CDP pins and posters! See you on Monday at 9:00am!

After the hearing, we’ll debrief over brunch at a location TBD.


Make people power real in Oakland – join our teams at places such as these –

Friday, June 19 – Oakland Museum of California

Saturday, June 20 – Gazzali’s Supermarket

Sunday, June 21 – Juneteenth Festival

If you cant make it these times, we are everywhere throughout the city every day and weekday – check here to see updates each week about where we will be in the near future.

You can still support us by donating or getting a copy of the petition and gathering signatures any time, and sharing the campaign for a people’s budget in Oakland on social media – Instagram – Facebook – Twitter

Save the date! We will have a teach-in about Participatory Budgeting on July 3 at 6 pm, at Impact Hub Oakland.

In solidarity,

Tim and the CDP team

Building coalitions for community equity in Oakland

This week, two coalition groups – one alliance consisting of labor and community organizing organizations, and another collaboration of artists and stakeholders in the creative community, launched their campaigns this week for economic equity in Oakland. Community members agree:

It’s time that Oakland’s budget supports the people who work every day to make Oakland great.

OurCityOurBudgetThe ReFund & ReBuild Oakland Community-Labor Coalition seeks:
Reinvesting in tenants by adequately staffing housing inspectors,

Enforcing Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave,

Supporting the creation of a Department of Race and Equity,

Reinvesting in public services, and

Ensuring that communities benefit from the rise of development taking place in Oakland.

OurBudgetOurCityThe Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition’s vision and core principles:

Develop policy/budget recommendations that support arts/cultural preservation, affordability, and healthy neighborhoods.

Oakland’s economic growth and well-being depend upon the health of the Arts community

Cultural Equity is inextricably tied to racial and economic justice

City Wide – beyond Uptown – resources for East and West Oakland

Community-oriented cultural development and funding



It’s clear that we, the people of Oakland, have the vision to bring Oakland further and build a more equitable community.

What if community leaders and grassroots, resident-focused coalitions were the foundation of Oakland?

What if funding for community development and cultural programs was more than 1.3%?

Can you imagine the kind of creative thinking, cultural events, and community projects that could be supported?

How can we move forward from this, the current model of the city budget?:

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Will you continue to grow these coalitions with us, and create an Oakland that reflects the contributions of the people who work in our neighborhoods? Come out and join us this weekend:

  • Friday, June 12 – Oakland Museum of California
  • Saturday, June 13 – Jack London Square
  • Sunday, June 14 – Temescal Farmer’s Market

If you cant make it this time, we will always be everywhere throughout the city next week and every week – check here to see updates each week about where we will be in the near future. You can still support us by donating or getting a copy of the petition and gathering signatures any time, and sharing the campaign for a people’s budget in Oakland on social media – Instagram – Facebook – Twitter

CDP happy hour!

To our supporters and volunteers, join us on Monday, June 15 at 6 PM for a CDP happy hour to appreciate your help, celebrate the campaign’s progress, and most importantly, to have fun! RSVP to communitydemocracyproject@ for details.

In coalition,

Tim and the CDP team


The Time is Ripe: Help Bring a People’s Budget to Oakland

One month down, five more to go!

Over the past 35 days, CDP members and supporters have been all over Oakland, gathering signatures from West Oakland to East Oakland, downtown to uptown, Lake Merritt to Merritt College, and everywhere in between!cdpvols love your neighborhood day 6.2.15

This week we took a moment to pause on our successes so far and plan for the future, and in that spirit we wanted to share some inspiring words we received from a supporter, who is currently incarcerated but sends us words of encouragement:

“All your hard work is not in vain. Although getting signatures can be hard when people are unkind, keep in mind that what you’re doing is planting a seed that will grow. People may not see the potential right now but because of human curiosity they’ll wonder what you were talking about and do some research, and once they see for themselves they’ll talk to friends and family and from there support will grow. Don’t be discouraged, although some seeds might not grow, some will – and every one counts.

Are you one of those seeds? The time is ripe – come out and join us! Here’s a few spots where we’ll be this weekend, click on the link to RSVP:

Can’t make it then? Never fear, we have teams going out all next week and the week after that – click here to see where else we’ll be and sign up to join us. Even if you can’t make any of our teams you can still help – we can send you petitions so you can get your friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to sign on your own time. Let us know how many you need!

Also, a note from our party committee: Save the Date for Monday, June 15! We’ll be hosting a CDP happy hour and friendraiser to thank our supporters, celebrate our campaign, and just hang out! More info to come – RSVP to communitydemocracyproject@ for updates.

In solidarity,

Allee and the CDP team

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. …

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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]

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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

Community Democracy Project
PO Box 22470
Oakland, CA 94609