Who is Creating Democracy
Dozens of friends and allies have played a role in shaping the ideas and strategies of Creating Democracy, more than twenty organizations participated and sent representatives to the planning meetings and the PMA in Portland itself in 2010, an inspiring core group coordinated the work of the PMA, and several individuals were key in advancing the ideas and lessons from this decade.
Creating Democracy is coordinated by Chris Borte and Amy Dudley, partners in organizing and in life.
Chris Borte first discovered his passion for fundamental social justice as a student protesting the 1st Gulf War in the 90s and later at Evergreen College in Olympia, where he organized with elders, and allies for peace, justice, and Native Solidarity, first around the quincentennial, then in defense of Lyle point. Continuing with forest defense, farmworker justice, student, and homeless justice work, in 1999 Chris was among a small group who boldly called for the Shut Down of the WTO, and through a network of Art and Revolution collectives, the Direct Action Network, and Portlanders Against the WTO. The experience with the power of affinity groups on the streets of Seattle led Chris to seek deep conversation about the role of small groups in movements and envision what ongoing sustained community organizing based on a small group model of decision making could look like. Chris moved towards community organizing and racial justice work along with other white veterans of globalization struggles. Chris worked with Community Alliance of Tenants, and later with ‘ROOTS! (Reclaiming Our Origins Through Struggle) focusing on community organizing opposing racist gentrification in Portland before co-founding Creating Democracy in 2007.
Amy Dudley grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of SW Virginia and moved to Oregon in 2000 after spending a life changing year working with rural women farmers in Cameroon. That experience led her to organizing, first with neighborhood activists in SE Portland, building bridges across race, class, and immigration status, and from 2004 through 2010 with the Rural Organizing Project, alongside the amazing human dignity groups and leaders advancing democracy in rural Oregon on a range of racial, economic, and gender justice fronts, first as an organizer, and later as a co-director. As a mother of young children, Amy prioritized the intersections of parenting and racial justice through a focus on anti-bias education and racial equity training, including serving on the board of her cooperative preschool, Hawthorne Family Playschool, and as the Racial Equity Report Card Coordinator for Western States Center during the 2013 Oregon Legislative Session. Amy and Chris moved with their family to the outskirts of Nashville, TN in 2017 to be closer to Amy's family of origin and roots in SW Virginia and also to connect and support organizing and movement building in the South and Appalachia.
Creating Democracy began sharing the fundamentals of our theory of change - interconnected small groups exercising democratic decision making as a key to building a movement that could manifest justice in our world - in many ways over the past decade.
From small group conversations in living rooms, to one on one coffees with organizers and movement leaders, we asked the question: “What are the most significant barriers to movement building?” We continued with workshops in Portland, Oregon and at the 2007 US Social Forum in Atlanta, and through a series of Movement Building Conversations leading up to a Portland People’s Movement Assembly in conjunction with the 2010 US Social Forum and National People’s Movement Assembly in Detroit.
In 2015 we partnered with the Rural Organizing Project on a movement building project to assess challenges and needs in Southern Oregon and support collaboration across the groups in the region.
In 2018 we are launching a Rural Movement Building Project in Tennessee in partnership with groups who are interested in growing the capacity and infrastructure for movement building in small town and rural communities across the state.