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Governing from the Grassroots (Fall 2003)

Vol. 10, No. 2: Fall 2003

As Californians recover from the tumultuous gubernatorial election in our state while also looking ahead to the 2004 presidential election, the issue of electoral politics looms large. The question is: how do activists and organizations struggling to promote equity in low-income communities and communities of color incorporate electoral politics into our work?

In recent years, the Environmental Justice Movement and its allies in the environmental, civil rights, public health, labor and faith-based movements have been assaulted on a number of fronts. It is clear that while our tried-and-true tactics of grassroots mobilization, research and litigation have led to victories, those approaches are not enough. To realize our goals of equity and sustainability, we have to move beyond the strategies we know.

For these reasons, Urban Habitat has begun to explore what an electoral strategy would entail for our organization and communities of color in the Bay Area. For one, it would mean partnering with nontraditional allies, including progressive businesses. It would also mean expending the energy, resources and time to promote an electoral agenda that favors equity instead of always reacting to agendas that undermine it.

This issue of Race, Poverty & the Environment is dedicated to examining the intersection between environmental justice and electoral politics. With key elections on the horizon, we wanted to provide our readers and partners with tools and strategies to influence and implement electoral campaigns.

Download a PDF of this issue (6.1 MB)

10-2 Vol.10 No.2 Fall 2003, Governing from the Graassroots.pdf

4  News From Urban Habitat

6  News From the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment

Elections 2000/2002

9   The Color of Election 2000
     by Bob Wing

13 Beyond Florida: Voting in Tennessee, 2002
     by Catherine Danielson

State of Our Union 

17 Curbs on Clean Air
     by Richard Toshiyuki Drury and A.J. Napolis

20 Right-wing Rollbacks and Our Courts
     by Deeohn Ferris

25 Civil Rights in Reverse
     by Liza Siu Mendoza and Rico Oyola

Building Power: The Case for EJ Electoral Politics 

29 The Mother of Movements
     by Rob Arnow and Paul Platt

33 Getting Political
     an interview with Anthony Thigpenn

38 Organizing is Not Enough
     by Robert McKay

Electoral Strategies 

41 Learning to Lobby
     by Judith Bell

46 Campaign Finance and Civil Rights
     by Paul Turner and Hector Preciado

49 One Person, No Vote
     by Ludovic Blain III

52 Taking Over City Council
     by Amy Dean

55 The EJ Candidate
     by Michael Leon Guerrero

59 Precaution as Policy
     by Bhavna Shamasunder

63 Electoral Tools and Tactics
     by Kimberley Paulson

Rap the Vote
     by WireTap Staff

68 Five Things You Can Do to Protect Your Vote
     by Melissa Siebert, Stan Goff and Chris Kromm


69 Resources