The following case studies spotlight four community campaigns working across the U.S. to reclaim power over economic resources.
This case study follows Pittsburgh United and its partners in the Our Water Campaign as they seek to restore public governance over the local water authority. After a private company left Pittsburgh’s water infrastructure corroded and contaminated, local organizers built community pressure to hold the agency accountable, increase oversight and civic participation, and ward off threats from other companies hoping to privatize the city’s water supply.
This case study follows the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) as it worked to redistribute political and economic power in greater Houston after Hurricane Harvey. TOP organizers wanted to change how Harris County allocated relief funds and ensure that the people most impacted by the climate crisis have a seat at the table. To accomplish this, they implemented a 3-part inside-outside strategy: a leadership development program, an electoral campaign, and co-governance work to develop an “equity framework” for future funding.
This case study follows the New Economy Project as it organized a cross-sector coalition of local worker collaboratives, housing cooperatives, and community wealth-building organizations to win public-banking infrastructure in the city and state of New York—the finance capital of the country.
This case study follows the coalition For Us Not Amazon (FUNA) and members of the Athena Coalition as they organized to prevent one of the biggest corporations in the world from taking over the civic, social, and political life of Northern Virginia and beyond.
In all four case studies, ordinary people found ways to battle concentrated power in the hands of the corporate ruling class. Organizers and community members held to a belief in the common good, public institutions, and principles of justice and equity against enormous odds.
The campaigns in Pittsburgh, PA, New York City, and Arlington County, VA confronted corporations with global reach attempting to take control of precious natural and financial resources and undermine civic governance. In Harris County, TX, New York City, and Pittsburgh, community members built relationships and worked closely with government officials while simultaneously organizing and agitating those same officials to ensure community control over public goods and resources. And in all four cases, organizers developed new leaders from Black and brown communities to take power into their own hands by joining local governance boards, leading meetings with government officials, engaging in direct actions, and participating in oversight and decision-making about public spending. Together, these case studies show that another economic paradigm is possible. Right now, people all across the country are building a better future by recognizing their common bonds, reclaiming civic and economic power from corporate elites, and working to transform their communities into something more humane, inclusive, conscientious, and just—a democracy of, by, and for the people.