I feel we need to coin a phrase. ‘MoveOnCities.org’ might serve the purpose, because just as MoveOn.Org incorporates Americans into the national political process, the new city movement incorporates Americans into related grassroots processes that fundamentally transform their cities.
It is a city movement because the main tool that Americans have discovered for effective change is the City Ordinance, and four have been central: Nondiscrimination, Human Rights, Fair Trade, and Anti-Sweatshop Ordinances. These are not as distinct as they might appear since each draws from a human rights framework.
Take San Francisco. In 1998, responding to a broad based coalition of groups, the City of San Francisco passed an Ordinance to adopt into law, the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). (Do note that the US is not a state-party to CEDAW.) Much credit for relentlessly campaigning in San Francisco goes to the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights (WILD
Take Austin, Covington (KY), East Baton Rouge, Fort Worth, Ithaca, New Orleans, and Peoria. All have recently passed legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, just a tiny number of cities that already have, according to Human Rights Campaign.
Take Eugene, Oregon. On the verge of becoming a Human Rights City
Take Media (PA) and Mountain View (CA), cities that have each passed a Fair Trade Resolution:
Take Amherst, Boston, Chicago, Brattleboro (VT), Los Angeles, Portsmouth, Seattle, Las Vegas, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and Washington, DC., among other cities with Fair Trade Coalitions
It seems evident that the federal government is not providing the moral leadership on any of these issues. That’s because human rights generally are a thorny topic in Washington. As Kenneth Roth
Even were the US to make that U-Turn and to make a commitment to uphold human rights, it would not be enough. Human rights need to be embedded in daily practices, social interaction, local norms, local opportunities and upheld in local laws. Its only in communities where people can practice deeper forms of democracy, foster egalitarian values, and uphold norms of mutual respect and solidarity.
If we are lucky the US will make that U-Turn and if we are very, very lucky, MoveOnCities.Org is on the move.