In a small living room in one of the most economically neglected neighborhoods in the State of Washington emerged the work of Envision Spokane. A handful of local activists and residents asked themselves the question “why?” Why, after so many years of advocacy work on behalf of neighborhoods, renters, the houseless, small businesses, the uninsured, workers, and the Spokane River aren’t things getting any better? That discussion, coupled with guidance from CELDF and effective community-wide organizing, brought forward some groundbreaking and seminal efforts in the arenas of social and civil justice that have helped fuel campaigns beyond the city.
The very first “Community Bill of Rights” came from the work of Envision Spokane in 2008. In that bill of rights there were provisions to support the real needs of people seeking justice in the areas of healthcare access, job access, worker rights, housing access, and neighborhood empowerment.
That first wave of organizing was followed by efforts to protect workers; institute a clean and fair elections ordinance to remove the ability of corporations to influence votes; a police accountability bill of rights to not just hold law enforcement more accountable, but to transform the purpose of policing in the community; and a “Worker Bill of Rights” in 2015 to raise the minimum wage and protect against unwarranted terminations.
These were all firsts for the “Community Rights” movement. And even though nine years of dedicated efforts have yet to see a transformation of local government in Spokane, those efforts in the name of social justice have and continue to have ripple effects locally and beyond.
In Autumn 2021 the book One-Block Revolution: How To Host, Inspire, and Catalyze Social Change will be released by Latah Books, which includes the story of Envision Spokane.