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.

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.

In solidarity,
Shawn and the CDP Team

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 communitydemocracyproject@gmail.com 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 communitydemocracyproject@gmail.com by Tuesday, May 27th. We will send location details to everyone who RSVPs.