KPFA Radio is hosting a speaking event with Steve Early, author of Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, & the Remaking of an American City. In his book, labor activist Early documents how a largely non-white working class community of 110,000 people spawned a vibrant culture of resistance to corporate power after more than a century of political dominance by the Chevron Corporation. Richmond, California – long a proto-typical company town with one of the highest homicide rates per capita in the country, with deindustrialization, poverty, joblessness, substandard schools and housing, drug trafficking, street crime, gang violence and wild corruption in City Hall resulting in mismanagement and near bankruptcy – transformed itself over a decade into a progressive city via multi-faceted municipal reforms. These were led by labor and community activists, environmental justice campaigners, police reformers, and gay rights activists who formed the Richmond Progressive Alliance, “an unlikely group of Greens, Latinos, progressive Democrats, African Americans, and free spirits” who worked with incoming Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. Richmond became the largest U.S. city run by a Green mayor plus an ally of peasant farmers in Ecuador, which had also battled Chevron.
Andres Soto, Richmond Community Organizer with Communities for a Better Environment, will host. Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond City Councilmember, will also speak.
“Refinery Town is based on one city’s experience, but it reflects the lessons of grassroots organizing elsewhere…This timely book offers ideas and inspiration for making change where it counts the most–—among friends, neighbors, and fellow community members.”
— Senator Bernie Sanders
“As Washington remains in gridlock, the everyday citizen-heroes of Richmond, california, have been getting things done to make their city work for all. Refinery Town is essential reading for anyone seeking inspiration for what grassroots organizing can accomplish, one community at a time.”
— Robert Reich
“Richmond’s creative resistance to Chevron is a model for environmental justice campaigners everywhere- in the U.S. and abroad – who face tough struggles of their own against Big Oil and big money in politics.”
— Annie Leonard, executive director/Greenpeace USA
STEVE EARLY has been an organizer, lawyer, union representative, and labor activist for the past forty-five years. He is the author of three other books, including Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. He has written for The Nation, Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and many other publications. He lives in Richmond, CA.
GAYLE McLAUGHLIN, former mayor of Richmond, Ca., has served as the first corporate-free progressive officeholder on the Richmond City Counil, elected first as a councilmember in 2004, then as mayor in 2006 and re-elected in 2010; having termed out as lmayor, she was elected again to the City Council in 2014. As Mayor of Richmond, Gayle led the City in a progressive direction that kept city workers in jobs and city services in place even during the recession; held Chevron accountable in terms of reducing its pollution and paying an historic $114 million dollars in additional taxes; and reduced crime dramatically. She attributes her success in elected office to having an organization behind her (one she helped create) – the Richmond Progressive Alliance.
ANDRES SOTO grew up in nearby San Pablo, raised on a diet of politics and grassroots activism, such as picketing grocery stores on behalf of the United Farm Workers. Following graduation from U.C. Berkeley, he worked for the City of Richmond helping low-income residents train for and find jobs. Long an organizer with Communities for a Better Environment, he has been involved in stopping various crude oil shipping by rail projects, blocking the coal shipping terminal at the Port of Oakland, working to establish refinery emissions caps, and helping under-served communities get the justice, services and respect they deserve. In addition, Andres is a performing musician, and he hosts a weekly show on KPFA Radio.
Advance tickets: $12 can be bought at brownpapertickets.com or by telephone: 800-838-3006. Or you can buy tickets in person at local bookstores: Books Inc/Berkeley, Pegasus (3 sites), Moe’s, Walden Pond Bookstore, Diesel a Bookstore, Mrs. Dalloway’s
Tickets are $15 at the door
FREE PARKING & WHEELCHAIR ACCESS
2501 Harrison St
Oakland, CA 94612
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