June 11, 2012
Amisha Patel has 10+ years of organizing experience in Chicago, both with unions and community groups. Among all of the organizers in Chicago she stands out on account of her commitment, sense of strategy and ability facilitate powerful alliances.
Chicago is one of those places where sure, we have democracy… but there is so much power and money at stake that policy and electoral outcomes have tended to be dictated by an ambitious few that have used whatever means necessary to exert control. Over the past hundred years or so there have been some bright variances from this norm, but oh too few and far between. Normal everyday people of Chicago are often not invited to the decision making table and they have to find ways to assert themselves to get a seat.
Some people think that the city currently has potential to break away from the mold – perhaps on account of the departure of Mayor Daley or the emergence of strong progressive leadership based in communities and unions – let’s here it for the Chicago Teachers! Only time will tell if this is accurate or not, but the Grassroots Collaborative is pushing the envelope on community based power and has been central to many recent progressive victories including the Living Wage Ordinance, winning a $60 million increase in Chicago’s budget, and forcing the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to give back $15 million in tax payer money that they had used to renovate bathrooms in their loop headquarters.
This first bit is about the work of the Grassroots Collaborative and is really great, it even includes a story about a bake sale for billionaires:
Later I asked Amisha about the political work that she is involved in as a volunteer and found this instructive to solving the puzzle of Chicago’s power dynamic:
As you can see Amisha is connected with great work both on an organizational level and as a volunteer. For more info check out http://www.thegrassrootscollaborative.org