There’s no better time to talk about power than after an election. Across the nation this November, the politics of bigotry and division faced major setbacks.
Here in Washington, the Legislature flipped blue. That means hope for real gains in things like health care, low-income housing and drug and alcohol treatment.
In Seattle, we’ve elected the most progressive City Council we’ve seen in a long time. Maybe ever. We also have our first woman mayor since Bertha Landes in 1928.
Even now, in these times of authoritarian kleptocracy, we can sometimes see that the arc of history bends toward justice. That’s what happens when democracy and power filter downward, and more and more of us own the power that we have.
Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan has pledged to open 700 new shelter beds and another 1,000 tiny houses. She’s also committed to closing the housing affordability gap.
None of that will happen with citizens standing on the sidelines. The change we get is the change we’re willing to work for.
Voting matters, but so do the everyday acts of human decency that accumulate over time into meaningful change.
In September, Citizen University founder Eric Liu outlined his Three Laws of Power at the Real Change Annual Breakfast. These laws, described in his new book, “You’re More Powerful Than You Think,” also offer strategies for hope.
Law One: Power accumulates. Law Two: Power justifies itself. No surprises there. The most corrupt presidential administration in recent memory serves as ample illustration of laws one and two. We get it.
The good news here is that power itself is neutral, and those laws can hurt or help depending on how power is used.
Power is infinite. It’s not a zero sum game where there is only so much power to go around.
Law Three, however, is where the hope lies. Power is infinite. It’s not a zero sum game where there is only so much power to go around. We can build power, as Liu says, “out of thin air.”
That almost sounds like magic. In a way, it is.
You know what else is magic? This newspaper.
This month on the Seattle Channel’s Citizen University TV, Eric focuses on just one of his Eight Ways to Practice Power. Act Exponentially.
When we think and act in networks, says Liu, we change the equation of power.
“Networks enable us to create exponential power from thin air: by setting off contagions of attitude and action, by activating every citizen as a potential node of transmission, and by creating global webs of local knowledge and action.”
We’re more than honored that Eric chose Real Change as an illustration of this principle.
Real Change was founded to build power for those who have often had little. We are grounded in the community through a dense network of alliances and relationships.
Take a moment today to tell five people you know about Real Change. Every time a new person becomes a reader, our network grows and our vendors win.
We are members of the International Network of Street Papers, an association of more than 100 papers from 36 countries. Through the INSP, we are able to share stories and best practices across the globe.
Each of our vendors is a hub of community, supported by a network of relationships and inspiring others to act upon their caring.
We are reader-supported, with nearly 2,000 people giving each year to make up more than 60 percent of our income.
You, our readers, are what makes us strong.
I ask you to take a moment today to tell five people you know about Real Change. Every time a new person becomes a reader, our network grows and our vendors win.
More people get to care. More relationships get built. As our vendors experience the caring community you provide, they find the support they need to make positive change in their lives. They become inspired and they inspire others to action.
That’s how power gets built. That’s how change happens.
Watch the video on Real Change acting exponentially. It’s four minutes well spent. Share with your friends and ask them to share. Help us grow the movement, one newspaper and one reader at a time.
Tim Harris is the founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994 Harris founded Spare Change, a street newspaper in Boston in 1992 while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace.
Wait, there's more. Check out articles in the full November 15 issue.