Over the past decades, private corporations have increased their control over prison services in the United States and around the world. Despite enormous lobbying efforts by the private players, citizens have started to reject this agenda of profiting from the criminal justice system, and instead demand to return prison management to public authorities. Biden has announced an end to renewing federal private prison contracts, which should be the starting point for wider changes.
The second ‘Municipalize Europe’ conference was held on 5 November online, while two years ago we organised the first edition in the European parliament. In that interval, municipalism, a new political movement, has been growing in Europe and beyond. It is a new way of doing local politics putting social rights and citizen engagements at the center. Municipalize Europe is an attempt to look at European politics through a municipalist lens and to build pressure for change of the top-down European politics.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ‘staying at home’ has become the main strategy to minimize the spread of the pandemic. Consequently, affordable housing with adequate living conditions has become a matter of life and death, which demonstrates why it is essential to prioritize the right to housing. What have cities done to secure adequate living conditions before and after COVID-19, and what should the EU do to help cities achieve a breakthrough in terms of affordable housing? Those were the questions guiding the Housing panel during the Municipalize Europe conference on November 05, 2020.
On November 5th, the last session of the online Municipalize Europe! event brought together a variety of municipalists who power and practise progressive policies on the local and system-wide level in the fight against the climate crisis. They discussed which municipal actions the EU should support for a European Green Deal (EGD) to have justice, democracy and regeneration at its heart.
The Cloughjordan Ecovillage models the transition to a low-carbon society and shares its learning through various educational activities. With 55 low-carbon homes, a carbon-neutral district heating system, a community farm, green enterprise centre, a planned reed-bed treatment plant and Ireland’s lowest ecological footprint, the ecovillage is demonstrating different ways to achieve ecological, economic and social sustainability.
An outcry from city governments has helped shelve the European Commission’s power grab over services. The Commission has failed to install a Services Notification Procedure, which would have given it advance veto power over new laws by regional and local governments, and could have further limited local democratic initiatives in areas as varied as affordable housing, energy supply and waste management. The Commission should learn its lesson and support municipalities to enact social and environmental measures, respect their democratic right to regulate, and roll back obstacles that prioritise corporate interests over local residents.
TNI is excited to announce that the People's Vote for the Transformative Cities Award 2020 is now open! Vote for you favourite initiatives in the following categories: food, water, housing, and energy. You can cast your vote until 16 November, by doing so you help to promote transformative practices around the world that deserve more global attention. You will help to highlight the interventions that show us how access to basic rights can be guaranteed even during the times of COVID-19.
This month the 2019 edition of the Atlas of Utopias has been launched. An initiative by Transformative Cities, the atlas is a unique collection of community-led transformations of water, energy, food and housing systems, featuring 33 stories from 24 countries.
The Transnational Institute (TNI) in the Netherlands is issuing an open call for essays, accessible papers, infographics and artistic collaborations for its forthcoming State of Power report launched in late January 2020 to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos. The focus for our ninth annual edition is on 'The Corporation'.
TNI is working with the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), and South Africa's National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in developing a road map to establish a new public electricity system based on a progressive restructuring of Eskom, the country’s state-owned power company. To this end, a Reference Group has been set up with researchers from these organisations.
In 2012, citizens from Highland Park, Michigan came together to form Soulardarity in response to the repossession of over 1,000 streetlights from their city. Their goal is to organise for community-owned solar street lights, energy production and equitable development. Since its formation, Soulardarity has installed seven solar streetlights and deployed over US$ 30,000 worth of solar technology in Highland Park and the surrounding communities through the PowerUP bulk purchasing programme. The group has also organised advocacy at the city and state levels for regulation, policy and local political leadership to support community ownership, transparency and environmental responsibility.
Soulardarity also advocates for a Community Ownership Power Administration (COPA) as part of the growing call in the United States for a Green New Deal to tackle climate change, economic inequality and racial injustice.
It was just a montage of words uttered over a video in the summer of 2018. Soon the words went viral. They helped unseat a Wall St-friendly Democrat – one primed to be the next Congressional leader. They were uttered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
It may not be a new idea, but the speed with which the Green New Deal has gained traction in the US is remarkable. Potential presidential candidates are already embracing the call and it’s firmly on the agenda for the new Congress, with 40 Democratic members demanding a firm plan be drawn up.
The GoiEner Cooperative was founded in 2012 in the Basque Country as a response to both the energy oligopoly and the rise of the anti-austerity movement connected to the economic crisis. Over the past six years, this cooperative for renewable energy generation and consumption has grown to include nearly 9,000 members, and has become an inspiring model for the transition to a new energy model.
Key attributes of GoiEner's approach include the alleviation of energy poverty, democratic and participatory involvement, and equal representation of men and women. GoiEner also supports the creation of new renewables cooperatives in other regions of Spain in order to increase local, democratic and renewable energy resilience.
The UK's labour party is inspiring grassroots and workers mobilisation and showing increasingly credible leadership. Its recent annual conference and the concurrently run World Transformed Festival give hope.
The growing call for the feminisation of politics – and energy politics for that matter – is about much more than merely increasing the representation of women in decision-making positions. We need to question the ways energy politics are shaped. We need to ask, energy for whom and energy for what?