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

#ReclaimMLK : Street Conversations for Racial Justice in Oakland

Tomorrow, as part of the national call to action to #ReclaimMLK, we’re taking it to the streets and facilitating a direct action to engage the people of Oakland in conversations about their vision for a racially just Oakland and what kind of city they want to live in.

Folks are realizing that in order to hold the government and police accountable to the people, we have to move from being passive spectators and individualized consumers to connecting with each other about our shared reality.

Join us!

We’ll meet at Lake Merritt BART at 11am. There will be a short training and then we’ll break out into small groups and fan out to neighborhoods across Oakland to talk directly with Oakland residents. At 2 we’ll come back together to share our experiences. All are welcome – just come ready to chat it up!

You can also share the event on FB.

To find out about other local actions to #ReclaimMLK, including a jobs and economy march on Monday, check out APTP’s event calendar.

In solidarity,

Shawn and the CDP Team

Meet up with CDP this Sunday 1/11!

It’s a New Year!

Start it off right by coming to CDPs January House Party this Sunday the 11th from 1:30 to 4:30pm. There will be food, drink, and great people having stimulating discussions about making our community stronger and deepening democracy here in Oakland. With all that has happened this last year and is still happening now it’s a great time to get involved in your community.

Also, you can meet new members like Talia Alarid who has recently joined our ranks and is working hard on helping us get the word out through imagery and branding as well as being generally awesome.

And of course if you made any resolutions about getting out there, making new friends, or volunteering with some awesome group, CDP totally has you covered. We combine all three and throw in the bonus of being fun as well.

Finally, this last year has shown us once again that people acting in solidarity with one another, can change the conversation at a national level. Real change is possible if we all come together and work for it. Here at CDP we believe that giving the people the power over their money and their city will help usher in a new era of responsibility and sustainability in government that will strengthen us all.

So come join us in the New Year and help us create opportunities to strengthen our community through coming together, working together, and being the change we want to see in the world.

RSVP to for location.

Hope to see you all this weekend!

In solidarity,
Kit and the CDP team.

The People’s Budget & Racial Justice in the New Year

We have been inspired by the recent widespread discussions and protests around systemic racial injustice in our society. We also know that the energy of the moment must feed sustained and strategic engagement if we are to see the kind of culture shift we yearn for.

How do we create a social life based on equality and solidarity, rather than injustice and divisions?

What does creating a People’s Budget in Oakland have to do with racial justice?

Here are four ways our initiative will help deepen and expand racial justice in Oakland:

  • The views and insights of ordinary folk who live in Oakland will be placed front and center in discussions about how our city should work. Those whose voices are sidelined or ignored in the current system–in particular, low-income people of color–will not just be heard, but will actually make decisions.
  • It’s the People’s Budget: public priorities will reflect the needs of the people more than the needs of the elite special interests. Programs and policies that uplift the community will be more likely to get funded than programs that only reinforce the status quo.
  • As people gather in neighborhood assemblies and city-wide groups to get informed and discuss the issues, they will interact with and build connections with diverse others in the community and throughout the city. Over time, ignorance and fear will be replaced by dialogue and understanding.
  • The strengthening of the Culture of Solidarity: as people think about, talk about, and decide about public priorities, habits of mind focused on our shared reality and the social good will replace habits of mind focused on individual consumer choices. The individual consumer rat-race, which feeds off of and reinforces racial divisions, will lose its grip over how we think and interact.

This social vision is all well and good, but how do we make it real?

Build with us! We are setting up face-to-face meetings with folk who support us like you all over town so we can plan how to best align our energies to make the Oakland People’s Budget real. If we have your number, you should be getting a call from us in the near future. If we don’t have your number, do send it to us so we can be in touch.

Come to one of our house parties! The next one will take place at on Sunday, January 11th, in West Oakland. Early afternoon. RSVP for details.

Donate to the cause! Even if you don’t have time to give you can still contribute funds. We need to print flyers and posters, make t-shirts, and rent a space for events, etc. Whatever you feel comfortable giving will be most appreciated!

Joy, Peace, and Justice in the New Year =)

Shawn and the CDP Team

The election is over! Now join CDP to build real people power in Oakland

The election is over!

Do you feel like your voice was heard?

Do you feel like you got to decide how the government spends your money and provides you services?

If not then let us offer you an alternative.

Community Democracy Project (CDP) wants to give the people of Oakland the chance to decide on their budget for their city. This means that instead of just having to vote for a few propositions every couple of years, you will be able to make fully informed decisions about where your money goes.

So what have been we up to? For starters, we’d like to introduce the newest member of our team: Tia Katrina Taruc Canlas! Tia’s an amazing lawyer, advocate, and artist who has been helping us work on marketing material and has come up with some of our recent graphics that you may have seen on Facebook. She is also developing a video for us which will debut early next year.

We recently attended the Ferguson Report Back by Left Roots. We were impressed to hear about the work Left Roots is doing in working with the protesters in Ferguson. We were also inspired by the reports of bravery and commitment the community in Ferguson is showing and reminded that taking direct action and being organized are not mutually exclusive. It is these struggles in places like Ferguson that make the most compelling argument for what CDP does. We need to make government at every level be truly of, by, and for the people..

CDP also went to the Green Party’s Green Sunday Event this last Sunday at the Niebyl-Proctor Library to discuss how the recent election impacts future strategies. We look to the success of the Green Party in the Richmond Progressive Alliance as an example of how to build strong coalitions in the future, and hope to continue to work with the Greens on building and deepening democracy in Oakland.

Finally we want to announce that CDP is hosting our first house party this December the 7th at 1:30pm. If you are interested in having your voice heard, having a say on your budget, and not letting your government oppress its people; join us and RSVP for CDP’s First House Party!

Let’s all join together to bring real democracy to the city of Oakland.

In solidarity,

Kit and the CDP Team

Vote for yourself in November!

We invite you to vote for yourself in November!

What? You’re not on the ballot? You don’t get to decide how your city works?

We need to change that.

What is our strategy?

This question concerns all of us who seek a more just and sustainable world.

If we are to move from the politics of reacting to the latest outrage or crisis–and unwittingly letting the forces that oppose us define us–we must answer this question.

What is our strategy?

Too many of us either don’t have an answer to this question, or we answer it in terms that are hopelessly broad–e.g. “build unity” or “raise consciousness”, or underwhelmingly narrow–e.g. “be nice to my neighbors” or “tell my friends about the issue”.

The lack of clear strategy often leads to magical thinking about social change: e.g. “a wise and noble politician will save us”, or, “when everyone is angry and protesting in the streets all at once, then we will have a just society”.

In order to achieve the long-term culture shift we want to see, it is necessary to mobilize people, but it is not enough to mobilize people. We need to create new patterns of participation, embodying new social habits, so that we the people are engaged in an ongoing, values-driven way, rather than in a reactive, crisis-driven way.

Beyond critiquing the old structures that don’t serve us, we need to create new structures that do serve us.

What do these structures look like? How do we build them?

What is our strategy?

CDP represents one answer to this question.

We are getting ourselves mission-ready to launch the petition drive. Over the next few months we aim to have a critical mass of volunteers trained and ready to go, so that once the signature drive starts, we will have what it takes to win.

The people of Oakland–including you–will be in charge of the budget.

It’s time to change the conversation from “Who will you vote for?” to “Vote for Yourself!”

We invite you to join us.

Militarized police? Or a mobilized public? Choosing a People’s Budget in Oakland.

Along with the rest of the country, we at the Community Democracy Project have been paying attention to the events in Ferguson with great alarm. At this moment, the nation’s attention has been called to the deeply problematic practice of militarizing the police, and both activists and ordinary citizens have called for action to address this specific problem. This problem of the militarization and expansion of police brutality, however, is but one head of a modern social hydra, and were we to lop it off, another would grow back in its place, while the others – government repression, plutocracy, structural racism, sexism, and classism, for example – would continue to roar. This hydra is what CDP aims to attack, by reversing the imbalance of power between the people and their government and giving the citizens of Oakland a direct say in how the city is run, by voting directly on the budget.

We believe our initiative to deepen democracy and let the people decide the budget is a solution to police brutality and militarization. Imagine if the police and public officials had to come to neighborhood meetings and beg for money? Imagine if they had to justify their budget to the citizens of their city? People could still vote to give them tanks, and armor, and machine guns; but they probably wouldn’t, because most citizens don’t actually want those things in their communities. Moreover, the power paradigm would shift as public servants are forced to treat the communities they are sworn to serve with respect. Government accountability and transparency would no longer be mere buzzwords but would simply be the way things work.

As long as our society remains one in which people are afraid of the government, instead of the government being afraid of the people; as long as we are alienated from each other and from the structures of decision-making, thus leaving democracy “to the professionals”; as long as we continue to fracture ourselves to fight one-off battles against the different heads of the hydra, the forces of fear and greed will continue to dominate our society and our government. This is why we believe our initiative to deepen democracy and let the people decide the budget is a solution to the status quo that maintains this situation. Starting in Oakland, we aim to set a precedent that can be replicated in cities across the state and that can shift the conversation about democracy and people power across the country.

If you would like to get involved in our campaign, you are always welcome at one of our planning meetings. Our next meeting is next Tuesday, September 23 at 6:30pm. RSVP to for location.

CDP Community Meeting and Skillshare!

As you know, we are rebuilding so that when we start gathering signatures again, we will have what it takes to win: to put the people of Oakland in charge of the budget. But the vision we share isn’t just about the people of Oakland deciding the budget. It’s also about reclaiming the commons, about folks coming together to learn from one another as they discuss the vital issues that affect their lives:

What will it take to build a sustained and broad-based movement for real people power in Oakland? How do we replace the politics of mass spectacle with the politics of mass participation? How do we reclaim our power as citizens to shape the economy?

If the answers to these questions were easy then we wouldn’t need to ask them ;^)

Join us for the first in a series of gatherings where we discuss movement-building strategy, share practical skills, and deepen our understanding of how the people can take power back, starting in Oakland.

Person by person. One conversation at a time. We break bread. We learn together. And we build.

The first gathering is THURSDAY, MAY 29TH . The skillshare will feature the topic of Non-Violent Communication (NVC). NVC is a set of tools that can help people move from conflict-avoidance to creative conflict. After the skillshare, we’ll close with an overview of the rest of the series and an update on CDP.

Date: Thursday, May 29th 7pm-9pm
Location: TBD
Food: Semi-potluck. We will have some snacks, please feel free to bring more to share!
RSVP: So we know how much food to get and what location we need, please RSVP to by Tuesday, May 27th. We will send location details to everyone who RSVPs.

Keeping Up on Oakland Budget News

‘Tis the season: There have been a spate of articles and blog posts about the Oakland budget lately, and we’re following things closely. Here are a few of the articles and posts we’ve been following….

…More to come!

5/30: Expressing the Leadership Within us All

Your city. Your budget. Imagine that.

Friends and Supporters of CDP!

What are some of the traits of an effective leader that you would like to acknowledge or cultivate within yourself? 

This was an icebreaker question at our recent meeting. A key goal of CDP and our initiative is to encourage the community to embrace the leader which resides in us all. That old idea, “leaders are born, not made”, can only seem true if everyone is not encouraged to cultivate the gifts we innately possess. The kind of community-wide decision-making we are working for is not just about the budget, but, at heart, about honoring the leadership and wisdom that exists throughout the Oakland community.

What do you think?

Gettin’ fired up, gettin’ ready to go! As you probably know, we are launching our signature drive by the end of June. We’re dotting the i’s on our initiative and crossing the t’s on our tactics. We are grateful for the generous assistance of Nicole Derse, founder of 50+1 Strategies, who has graciously shared key campaign strategy insights as we finalize our plans.

The buzz continues to build =) Our own Sonya is quoted in this recent KQED radio story: . New faces continue to show up to our weeklyMonday meetings as well!

We’re showing up all over town! Meetups…HUB Oakland parties…phone banks on a Monday night…whaaat? Check out our calendar to find out where CDP members are meeting up or doing outreach.

Sign-up! Sign-up! If you haven’t already, do sign up on the website to volunteer with us. We mainly need folk to help gather signatures. There will be  trainings and such, so never fear. There will also be other ways for folk to help with the campaign–stay tuned!

As always, you’re welcome to participate in our weekly campaign meetings. Mondays at 7 at the Sudo Room. Just RSVP to let us know you’re coming!

Thanks for all you do to cultivate community and deepen democracy =)

–Greg, Shawn, and the rest of the CDP Team

5/24: More than Two Minutes on a Mic

Dear CDP community,

Budget season is in full swing–and CDP is hangin’ in close to the action-and we’re asking: don’t we deserve more than two minutes on a mic, after so many key decisions have already been made? So many people have been ready for accountability and meaningful participation in city government for a long time–and we’re glad to be an organization that works to turn that conversation into action. The City Council will continue to deliberate on the budget, and we’ll be right there in the chambers, too.
We know you stick around because we’re more than just talkthe signature drive launches in one month, and to date, CDP volunteers have pledged 367 signature gathering shifts, just 33 shifts away from what we need to launch.

You can help by pledging just a fraction of that: if just three people reading this pledge to volunteer just twice a month, we’ve exceeded our goal!***

Pledge today. It’s painless and exhilarating :)

Without further ado, this week in CDP…..
  • Phonebanking victory! Our volunteers have phonebanked their way to the end of our phone list–and the outreach has really paid off. Take our newest member, Jahneah: We met a passionate and bright student, Rio, while doing street outreach, and when we went to meet with him again, he brought along Jahneah, his mentor.

Jahneah: “I’m excited to work with CDP because it gives me the support to put the power back into the hands of the people of my city. Many people dont realize that we are the government and end up giving up the responsibility and power that comes with voice, and CDP is something that’ll help me help my city to be heard again.”

  • The initiative is live: We continue to grapple with suggestions from community allies about how the Democratic Budgeting Program initiative can best represent and serve all constituencies. Thanks to all who have provided feedback.
  • Strategy, strategy, strategy: We’re having our second meeting with Nicole Derse, a campaign strategist who ran the Obama campaign in Wisconsin and is graciously helping us launch an awesome, well-organized grassroots campaign. Thanks, Nicole!
Join us at our weekly campaign meetings, Mondays at 7 pm, at Sudo Room on 22nd St. between Broadway and Telegraph (to the right of address #459).
Thanks for your support!
Sonya, CDP
***Twice a month! If you’ve ever spaced out on a few seasons of your favorite TV show, or done your laundry regularly, you’re already an expert in honoring a twice-monthly commitment! Go you! Only this time, we guarantee you’ll be glowing with civic pride afterwards. We believe in you. Pledge, pledge, pledge! 

Read our Weekly Newsletter to get updates on CDP.

Contact Us to get more info, share resources, or to endorse our initiative.