Friday, September 21, 2018
Nikki Fortunato Bas
“You should come work for EBASE,” my friend Kirsten said. “They’re doing some of the most innovative work around economic development and worker organizing in the country, bringing unions and community members together to build real power.” It sounded like a challenge, and an opportunity too important to pass up.
Fast forward 12 years, and I am transitioning out of a life-changing role as executive director of the national network that EBASE is a part of, the Partnership for Working Families. I knew one important thing back then: there is a different way to build our cities – one that’s driven by community members and that creates more equity and restores the wealth and resources that have historically been taken from people of color and marginalized communities. What I didn’t know was that this model of organizing presents one of our best and only hopes for growing the current resistance.
Since the 2016 election, we are fending off constant attacks on immigrants and poor people of color, the gutting of our safety net and public services, and seeing massive corporate giveaways at the expense of vulnerable communities. Our opportunity to push back starts at the local level, where we can grow a base of organized people, build long-term power, and pass policies that level the playing field and protect the lives and well-being of our residents.
As I move into my next chapter of local public service, here are some of the major lessons I’m taking with me: