People have far more power than they realize

James Trice

Since moving to Minneapolis in 1990, my career in public policy has included organizer for the Whittier Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), the first approved by the city of Minneapolis, consultant to various neighborhoods NRP plans, tenant’s rights organizer in St. Paul, executive director of a North Minneapolis neighborhood organization, and a public policy advocate for a cross-cultural adoption agency.

In 2003, I founded the Public Policy Project (PPP) LLC, a non-partisan independent provider of public policy consulting, leadership training, civic engagement, lobbying, strategic planning and advocacy services. PPP works to address policy issues impacting African-Americans, other people of color, Native-Americans and low-income communities. PPP works to help these communities understand the role of public policy in shaping their experience of oppression and marginalization, and the opportunity to generate improved policy platforms that better promote their well-being. PPP works to build collaborative power within and across communities of color, and within organizations that work within these communities to guide all toward an equitable, inclusive and healthy future. To date PPP has trained thousands nationwide, facilitated numerous community discussions, provided strategic planning, organization and non-profit board development, lobbying, assist in creating policy agendas and developed training curriculums for various community organizations to name a few.

PPP believes those most affected by any issue have the greatest reason to invest in generating alternative outcomes. When marginalized and oppressed people are directly involved as agents of change they seed the conditions for a “sea change” in societal norms, and usher in new possibilities anchored by emergent leadership roles of those who participate in the change process. PPP believes in order to bring about a truly egalitarian democracy, individuals must develop the capacity to organize consciousness and living infrastructures of participatory democracy.

Everyday people have far more power than they realize, too often allowing problems to fester, posing serious risks to our future. We often place blind trust in representatives and too often have too little faith in our own capacity to create the futures we seek. As Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

PPP seeks to transform this pattern. This is particularly relevant as we reflect on the serious deep racial disparities in employment, income, education, housing, the criminal injustice system and incarceration rates. Until African-American, Indigenous nations, other Black and Brown people, the poor and other marginalized groups organize to both demand and promote justice, equity, equality and the death of the false ideology or white supremacy, it is not going to happen. We must develop a sophisticated analysis of the interacting dynamics of oppression and develop a clear robust action plan that will generate the results we expect.

Voting is a simple way for communities to make their voice heard on issues and utilize their power to bring about change. PPP urges citizens to vote on every office, (local municipal, county, state and federal) in every election, (runoff, midterm, primary and general) and to know who they’re voting for and why. PPP strongly discourages citizens from being wedded or bound to any one political party, but to vote for candidates who best align with their values because Elections have consequences. Vote Tuesday Nov. 6.

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