Location: San Francisco, CA
Would it be possible to eliminate the problems of poverty, homelessness and displacement? If so, what would it take?
The people who are most directly affected by problems in their community and workplaces should have the opportunity to solve those problems.
POWER believes this is the best way to solve the intractable problems that we face today- problems like poverty, gentrification and worker exploitation. But rather than being seen as part of the solution, low-income people and people of color are all too often treated as if they themselves are the problem.
POWER’s work is guided by our theory of social change which sees that those people who are most affected by the problems of society- low-income and working class people, people of color, women, queer and transgender people- must lead a movement of millions to eradicate those problems.
By building power from the bottom-up with a commitment to solidarity, POWER is able to ensure that public policy and public institutions serve the interests of everyone.
POWER is a membership organization made up of low-income African American and Latino workers and tenants in San Francisco. Through community and electoral organizing, leadership development and movement building, POWER brings a human face to important policy debates, transforms individual lives and brings about broad-based policy change at the city, state and national levels.
We are working for a day when:
- People and the planet come before profits.
- All people have health care, housing, food, education and all other basic needs.
- Our communities have good jobs that support our families without doing damage to the water, air, and land.
Institutional racism, sexism and all forms of oppression are replaced by respect and solidarity.
- All people have a say in the decisions and policies that affect their lives.
Why do we believe this model of organizing can work?
Since POWER’s founding in 1997, we have waged and won numerous campaigns resulting in important victories, including:
- Winning free transportation for all welfare recipients in San Francisco (1997).
- Winning equal protections for workers receiving Welfare so that they are covered by workplace health and safety protections just like all other workers protected by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1998).
- Playing a lead role in creating San Francisco’s Living Wage Ordinance, the most comprehensive living wage ordinance in the country (2001).
- Leading a community and labor coalition that succeeded in raising San Francisco’s minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.50 per hour, while winning annual adjustments to the minimum wage for increases in the Consumer Price Index (2004)
- Blocking the City’s attempt to displace low-income home-owners and residents by forcing them to subsidize the cost of a project to underground utility wires in Bayview Hunters Point. POWER convinced the City to increase funding by $750,000 for a program to help low-income home-owners to pay for the beautification project (2005).
- Organizing hundreds of public housing residents to testify before the Board of Supervisors and push the City to create a Task Force to resolve alarming violations of health and housing codes in public housing units (2006).
- Carrying out a campaign to require that any housing constructed on the Candlestick Point land in Bayview would include a minimum of 50% affordable housing units. POWER and our allies collected 11,818 signatures in ten days to put this initiative on the ballot to counter a massive luxury housing development and stadium proposal sponsored by the Lennar Corp. (2008).
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"
Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)
"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"
Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster
Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.
I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.