Nociones Comunes/Common Notions

A space for self-education, militant research, and strategical thinking.

 
 
casadelpopolo.jpg

A MUNICIPALIST HYPOTHESIS FOR NYC

An Activist-Research Workshop Program
Brooklyn, NY. Saturdays in May 2017. 

Municipalism
This workshop series tries to open a space for a collective process of thinking about how the rise of left popular municipalism might be translated into the US and NYC context, especially given the complex conjuncture opened by the beginning of the Trump administration.

Organized by Nociones Comunes/Common Notions NYC.
Nociones Comunes / Common Notions NYC is newly founded independent collective for movement self education and research. Through the organizations of programs, encounters and conversations, its work aims at the interrogation of the social, political and cultural present through the articulation of practical and theoretical knowledges.

 
streetcar.jpg

PURpose & Concept

PURPOSE/CONCEPT
The goal of this seminar is two-fold. On the one hand, to provide a space for encounter and discussion regarding the potentials and possibilities of a municipalist initiative in NYC. As a seminar, it tries to spark a shared production of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, between activists, academics, and interested individuals. But besides its pedagogic character as a space for knowledge exchange and production, the seminar is intended as an opportunity for achieving some practical, concrete goals. 

First, the development of the seminar itself, throughout its sessions, should be thought as an strategic discussion and organizational process. That is: workshops and sessions are intended to provide general knowledge about municipalism as an idea, its traditions in the US, very much in the vein of an academic seminar. But at the same time, the space is intended as a practical opportunity to explore NYC—particularly its realities as immigration, gentrification, and its political potentialities—as well as collectively mapping out the city’s political landscape, its institutions and administrative structures, and political actors (potential allies and adversaries). In doing so, each session will bring together the presence of organizers, activists, etc. coming from various social and political organizations in NYC, so the series can provide an opportunity for dialogue towards a movement building process. 

Second, the outcome of the seminar is eminently practical: the goal is to generate a document (a charter, a manifesto, a series of points) that could include: 
• A collective diagnosis of the city’s main problems:  
• An analysis of the city’s political landscape
• An assessment of the practical approaches, language and steps to build a platform for a potential municipalist initiative or political entity (not necessarily electoral) in NYC. 


Program Description

Within the last years, cities all around the world have proven to be crucial spaces for the struggles for social and political change: the movement of the squares throughout the world, from Occupy to 15M, from Tahrir to Gezi, from Iceland to Hong Kong, pointed to new organizational forms, and a broadly shared desire for more participatory and egalitarian democratic forms.  In some places, these movements gave place to new political forces, especially at the municipal and city level.

In the US, there has been long traditions attached to ideas of municipal democracy, and plenty of experiences that show how cities can push meaningful social, economic and political transformations, and even become relevant actors regarding the national politics. With all its dramatic and grave effects, the current conjuncture open by the start of the Trump administration forces us to build together new political forces, so we can be able to go beyond the shock effects that this administration has sought, and also beyond a merely “Anti-Trump” framework. At the same time, tensions between federal and cities’ governments, exemplified in the debates around the so called “Sanctuary Cities”, show the potential of local power against this situation, despite the extremely limited meaning of the “Sanctuary” idea  - and therefore its instrumentalization - that Democrats want to establish.

The goal of the program is to share, produce and grow our knowledge of NYC social and political landscape, and think together on possible ways for building a city movement confluence around critical issues of the city’s life. The program combines two aspects. On the one hand, it tries to spark a shared production of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, between activists, academics, and interested individuals. On the other hand, the program itself is intended as an opportunity to build a strategic discussion and organizational process. By doing this, program participants will have the opportunity to learn and discuss about Municipalism and its different aspects, history, etc. while at the same time, be able to contribute to a collective exploration of NYC—particularly its realities as immigration, gentrification, and its political potentialities— and a collective mapping out the city’s political landscape, its institutions and administrative structures, and political actors (potential allies and adversaries).

In doing so, each session will bring together the presence of organizers, activists, etc. coming from various social and political organizations in NYC, so the series can provide an opportunity for dialogue towards a movement building process. This program is open to any organization, collective and individual willing to get involved in the transformation of New York City, and of the usual ways of thinking and practicing politics in this city.

Why Municipalism? Why now? What historical precedents and experiences have been and are currently going on in the US? How would a US and NYC municipalist movement look like? What methods and tools can be developed in order to build it? How to relate electoral initiatives with grassroots processes? What is our shared analysis of the main problems in NYC? What new visions for city policies and institutions can this movement integrate?

Throughout the four sessions of the program, we will explore these and other questions. By the end of the program, participants will collaborate in generating a collective document summarizing the program discussions, analysis, and strategic conclusions.


PROGRAM OUTLINE

Session 1: Introduction. The Municipalist Hypothesis.
Saturday May 6- 3:00PM - 5:30PM
Starr Barr, 214 Starr St. Brooklyn, NY 11237

• Introduction to the program: Methodologies, Contents and Materials. Purpose and specific goals of the program. Why Municipalism? Why Now? Discussion on the relevance of Municipalism in the current NYC and US conjuncture.
• Conversation with Debbie Bookchin. Historical and Conceptual Antecedents of Municipalism and its relevance now.
• Group discussion on examples of Municipalism in the US and the world. Questions and themes for the next session.

Session 2: Municipalism in the US. Traditions and Examples.
Saturday May 13 - 3:00PM - 5:30PM
Brooklyn Community Foundation 1000 Dean St. Third Floor, Brooklyn NY 11225

• Historical overview of local and municipal experiences in the US

Session 3: A Social and Political Mapping of NYC
Saturday May 20 - 1:00PM - 5:30PM (Double Session)
Brooklyn Community Foundation 1000 Dean St. Third Floor, Brooklyn NY 11225

• Assessment of the current social and political juncture in NYC.
• Collective mapping of main problems in NYC and of existing organizations dealing with those issues: housing, gentrification, migrations.
• Collective Mapping and discussion on NYC’s political landscape. Perspectives from different political organizations regarding municipalism. Assessment of NYC’s political actors and administrative structures.

Session 4: Participatory Practices and Tools. Collective Conclusions and Next Steps
Saturday May 27 1:00PM - 5:30PM (Double Session)
Brooklyn Community Foundation 1000 Dean St. Third Floor, Brooklyn NY 11225

• How to build a Municipalist Movement in NYC? In this session, we’ll take a look at different participatory methods, base-building approaches, online tools that may be helpful in starting a shared process of political organization.
• Envisioning a NYC Municipalist Movement.
• Collective conclusions. Discussion on program outcomes and proposal for next steps.