When the channels of power at national and state levels are blocked, we build people power here where we live – that’s the key concept behind the Community Power Summit, which took place on Saturday, May 6.

On one of the first sunny Saturdays in a long time, around 120 people gathered at All Pilgrims Church on Capitol Hill to learn how they can plug in to work on crucial issues affecting city, state and nation.

They learned . . .

  • how to work for a Seattle beyond car culture, relying more on transit, bikes and walking (from Beau Morton of Transit Riders Union and Merlin Rainwater of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways).
  • how to amp up a Seattle climate-energy agenda for just transition to green jobs (from Jill Mangaliman of Got Green and Patrick Mazza of 350 Seattle).
  • how to create just taxation and fund education (from Katie Wilson of Trump-Proof Seattle and Michael Tamayo of Seattle Education Association).
  • how to confront displacement with community-controlled affordable housing (from Giulia Pascuito of Puget Sound SAGE and Hana Alicic of Tenants Union).
  • how to protect immigrant and refugee rights (from Rich Stolz of OneAmerica).

The summit was co-organized by 350 Seattle, Transit Riders Union, and the Neighborhood Action Coalition (NAC), a network of local groups that has sprung up in the aftermath of the Trump victory. NAC activists helped co-facilitate workshops.

The keynote was given by Ximena Velazquez-Arenas of the NAC. “In many ways, becoming an adult for me, was a process of pacification,” she said. “Learning to accept compromise. Learning to hide vulnerability. To not sit too long in anger, or in sadness, to not publicly despair because that was a sign of weakness. Lately, however, the only moments in which I feel nourished, are those in which I speak sincerely to my feelings. Our lives are expendable in this system. And I refuse to give them that power. I ask you, if you feel the same, to allow yourself to step into anger. Anger is a necessary, and righteous response to this moment,” she said.

Alexandra Blakely-Brown performed a beautiful musical closing.

A network of local people power movements can have broad impacts, as the spread of ideas such as $15/hour minimum wages and fossil fuel divestment demonstrate. People can win, and take the power back. A summit framing paper lining out how, A Call to Local Action, is here. 



*Funded in part by a Neighborhood Matching fund award from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods