Originally published in The Nation on November 29, 2016.
In this forum for The Nation, Gar Alperovitz explores what the election of Donald Trump means for local organizing — particularly at the level of cities, which will inevitably play a central role not only as sites of resistance to Trump’s agenda, but also as the birthing ground for new progressive strategies. Other contributors to the discussion, “‘All Resistance Is Local’: A Plan of Progressive Action for the Trump Years,”include Heather Gerken (Yale Law School), David Bollier (Commons Strategies Group), and Gary Gerstle (University of Cambridge). Here’s an excerpt from Gar’s contribution:
Cities—along with a handful of states—are the most important places left in America under Democratic control. They will inevitably play a central role not only as sites of resistance to Trump’s agenda but also as the birthing ground for new progressive strategies. An explosion of new forms of democratic ownership suggests how new power can be built and how foundations for long-term political change can be established.
In cities all across the country activists have been developing worker-owned cooperatives, community-based land trusts and financial institutions, and publicly owned broadband networks. Some have even launched efforts to take over and municipalize electric utilities as a way to address climate change. Mayors, realizing the potential, have begun to respond to this new wave of organizing and institution building. In New York City and Madison, Wisconsin, funds have been allocated to help build worker cooperatives. In Santa Fe, Oakland, and Philadelphia, intensive city-sponsored explorations of municipally-owned banks are underway.