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)

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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!

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Talia and the CDP Team

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