31 Aug

Political exclusion patterns: who gets ignored?

How can cities fight political inequality and push toward an equal voice for all their residents? The everyday grind of politics elevates some voices and leaves others behind, but there often aren’t ways to trace who is being ignored. So I developed a set of tools to measure, critique, and ultimately change exclusion patterns in city politics.

Talking with neighbors in West Oakland and the insightful students of the Bay Area Urban Debate League back in the day revealed a potential trap: when asked where they would go with a problem in their city, most people said they would go to a city council meeting – but every expert I talked to said that those meetings were the last place an everyday person should go to have their voice heard.

It wasn’t hard to find people who had attempted to engage their council and left feeling disappointed, shot down, or ignored – and I had a hunch that this experience was widely shared. So I put together a research project to trace patterns in political exclusion in the city councils of Oakland and Berkeley – who gets listened to and who goes ignored – and developed a toolkit for anyone who wants to trace exclusion patterns in their own cities.

The context: National political inequality

From all the think pieces debating the role of the working class in the 2016 presidential elections, it would be easy to get the idea that low-income people are highly engaged and empowered in American politics. On average this is far from true. Class-based political inequality is still real, with census data showing that the voting gap is big as ever:

Starting into the research, my hunch was that everyday political institutions like city councils contribute to this political inequality by giving less attention, affirmation, and applause to non-elites. In diverse liberal cities like these, it’s hard to find open prejudice by race or gender by a public official, so they are perfect places to study implicit bias – and the first step in fighting implicit bias is bringing invisible patterns to light.

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30 Aug

Civic and Social Innovation Group @ Cal State LA

The new semester has begun and over 200 students are digging in to the hard work of community-based social impact with the Civic and Social Innovation Group. We just launched research projects to learn from our neighbors, colleagues, and families who are facing down issues from racial prejudice to gentrification, from economic opportunity to health care access.

The Civic & Social Entrepreneurship Summits have been amazing, but they’re just the beginning. The Rooted Innovation Incubator will help a cohort of students go beyond the #entrepreneurial phase of ideation. The Social Innovation Prize competition financially supports students with groundbreaking #ideas that can #makeadifference. The Social Impact Career Fair gives students the opportunity to connect with up and running organizations that #dogood. Stay tuned on social media, much more to come from CaSIG:

   

05 Aug

Solution Bank: Culture & Emotion

A few models for engagement with culture and emotion – useful for courses but also as a start for grappling with the question of how to intervene in culture:

Want to add, edit, or critique? Always welcome – contact us here.

01 Aug

Solution Bank: Class & Inequality

A few models for engagement with inequalities of class – useful for courses but also as a start for grappling with the question of how to make lasting change:

Want to add, edit, or critique? Always welcome – contact us here.