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A Nationwide Campaign to Take Back Cities From the Corporations That Rule Them
July 3, In These Times 

On June 20, the Partnership for Working Families, a national network of advocacy organizations, announced the launch of a brand new campaign dubbed “We Make This City.” It consists of 10 cities—Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle—fighting for access to and a say over public infrastructure, from transit to housing to schools to water.

“It is a reaction to … the erosion of the public sector, the erosion of public goods and the erosion of regular people having a direct say in shaping the futures of the areas in which they live,” Partnership for Working Families deputy director Lauren Jacobs told In These Times. It’s also in opposition to “the rise in corporations having an outsized role in shaping the direction and future of cities,” she said.

There’s increased urgency as technology behemoths hold sway over cities, from Amazon’s beauty pageant for its second headquarters to its defeat of a new tax in Seattle. “Companies like Amazon or Google come in and want to try to drive decisions around the makeup and nature of the city,” Jacobs said. “We don’t show up to somebody’s house and say, ‘Well unless you remodel the bedroom or put in the finest linens and have breakfast for me I’m going to wreck your front yard.’”

We Make This City is “a campaign but also an agenda,” Jacobs added. The message is: “We have enough,” she said. “The other side often talks as though we don’t have enough money… We want to expose that, actually, we do have enough money in cities and metro regions. [The question] is about who controls it.” The coalition wants “to put forward a vision of abundance and fight back against the use of scarcity as a way to drive an extractive agenda,” Jacobs explained.

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For Immediate Release
June 20, 2018

10 Organizations Launch Campaign to Reclaim Power for Communities
We Make This City campaign calls for justice and equity in public infrastructure

On June 20, communities in 10 cities around the country will stake their claim on the future of their neighborhoods, resources and institutions. With the launch of the “We Make This City” campaign, Partnership for Working Families affiliate organizations will build a collective vision of cities that provide the foundation and infrastructure all people need to live full and healthy lives.

That vision is competing with a corporate agenda to starve public budgets, put more and more of our public assets in the hands of private industry, and offer increasingly large tax breaks and subsidies to corporations, taking money out of the public coffers. An estimated $1 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies, enriching the wealthiest 1 percent, while public services and systems that make our cities work are gutted.

In Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Jose, San Diego and Seattle, residents are leading a movement to ensure our families enjoy clean water, vibrant public schools, affordable homes, and accessible public transportation, and rejecting attempts by greedy corporations to place profits over the well-being of families and communities.

“People are waking up to the fact that running government ‘like a business’ and entrusting the well being of our communities to private corporations doesn’t create the cities that we need and deserve,” said Partnership for Working Families Deputy Director Lauren Jacobs. “With this day of action, we’re demanding that we– the people who live and work in our communities– shape the future of our cities.”

Shared public goods are the backbone of our cities, but our diminished public investment in these resources has left our communities without the basic elements people need to live full and healthy lives. The dream of stable affordable housing and public transit that gets us to work, school, or a visit to the doctor is out of reach for too many of us. In many places, we can’t count on clean and affordable drinking water, or even send our children to healthy school buildings free of lead and toxic chemicals. And as extreme storms and weather become more common, our need for resilient infrastructure and a clean energy transition has never been clearer.

Through the We Make this City campaign, the Partnership for Working Families is demonstrating how we can reverse this tide and fight for all of the essential things we need to live full and healthy lives.

In Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, clean water is the central issue. Pittsburgh residents are in an extended fight to keep their water authority public and rid the water of lead, and Los Angeles voters will soon be able to vote on a measure to capture and clean rain and runoff while creating good jobs for workers of color.

In San Jose and Boston, community members are taking on large corporations who are seeking to profit from private takeovers of our public land and institutions.

In Denver, Oakland and San Diego, Partnership affiliates are intervening in runaway gentrification threats by demanding budgets, city services, and development plans that are driven by the needs and visions of community members.

Atlanta and New York City residents are putting forward visions for excellent, reliable public transportation. Atlanta leaders with Georgia STAND-UP will be part of a “Rides to Wellness” event looking at the impact of transportation investments on health with Grady Memorial Hospital, MARTA, and public health advocates. New Yorkers will meet in Union Square to unveil a power map showing who controls the dysfunctional MTA and to lift up the type of transportation system that people want and need.

Events are scheduled to begin at 8 am Eastern and finish at 9 pm Pacific. Interviews with local representatives of each campaign are available upon request.

Latest News

For Immediate Release
June 20, 2018

10 Organizations Launch Campaign to Reclaim Power for Communities
We Make This City campaign calls for justice and equity in public infrastructure

On June 20, communities in 10 cities around the country will stake their claim on the future of their neighborhoods, resources and institutions. With the launch of the “We Make This City” campaign, Partnership for Working Families affiliate organizations will build a collective vision of cities that provide the foundation and infrastructure all people need to live full and healthy lives.

That vision is competing with a corporate agenda to starve public budgets, put more and more of our public assets in the hands of private industry, and offer increasingly large tax breaks and subsidies to corporations, taking money out of the public coffers. An estimated $1 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies, enriching the wealthiest 1 percent, while public services and systems that make our cities work are gutted.

In Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Jose, San Diego and Seattle, residents are leading a movement to ensure our families enjoy clean water, vibrant public schools, affordable homes, and accessible public transportation, and rejecting attempts by greedy corporations to place profits over the well-being of families and communities.

“People are waking up to the fact that running government ‘like a business’ and entrusting the well being of our communities to private corporations doesn’t create the cities that we need and deserve,” said Partnership for Working Families Deputy Director Lauren Jacobs. “With this day of action, we’re demanding that we– the people who live and work in our communities– shape the future of our cities.”

Shared public goods are the backbone of our cities, but our diminished public investment in these resources has left our communities without the basic elements people need to live full and healthy lives. The dream of stable affordable housing and public transit that gets us to work, school, or a visit to the doctor is out of reach for too many of us. In many places, we can’t count on clean and affordable drinking water, or even send our children to healthy school buildings free of lead and toxic chemicals. And as extreme storms and weather become more common, our need for resilient infrastructure and a clean energy transition has never been clearer.

Through the We Make this City campaign, the Partnership for Working Families is demonstrating how we can reverse this tide and fight for all of the essential things we need to live full and healthy lives.

In Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, clean water is the central issue. Pittsburgh residents are in an extended fight to keep their water authority public and rid the water of lead, and Los Angeles voters will soon be able to vote on a measure to capture and clean rain and runoff while creating good jobs for workers of color.

In San Jose and Boston, community members are taking on large corporations who are seeking to profit from private takeovers of our public land and institutions.

In Denver, Oakland and San Diego, Partnership affiliates are intervening in runaway gentrification threats by demanding budgets, city services, and development plans that are driven by the needs and visions of community members.

Atlanta and New York City residents are putting forward visions for excellent, reliable public transportation. Atlanta leaders with Georgia STAND-UP will be part of a “Rides to Wellness” event looking at the impact of transportation investments on health with Grady Memorial Hospital, MARTA, and public health advocates. New Yorkers will meet in Union Square to unveil a power map showing who controls the dysfunctional MTA and to lift up the type of transportation system that people want and need.

Events are scheduled to begin at 8 am Eastern and finish at 9 pm Pacific. Interviews with local representatives of each campaign are available upon request.