What happens after the end of protest? That is what we are discovering in Nehalem, Oregon.
In the weeks since my last open letter, the Nehalem People’s Association hosted our first open community meeting. It was an overwhelming success (see below).
At the same time, the meeting illuminated the stark challenges I must overcome in my candidacy for Mayor of Nehalem.
The small opposition, the defeatist Same Old Boys who want city council to be an hereditary position, have launched a malicious whisper-campaign of fanciful and hurtful rumors. They’re turned to slander and intimidation. But I’m not afraid and we're undeterred.
The dream only spreads: neighboring Manzanita's city council is now being contested by democracy activists.
What we are doing in rural Oregon is necessary—it is the solution to the problem plaguing contemporary activism. Protest is broken. The marches don’t work. The only path forward is for activists to capture sovereignty. We must figure out how to use micro-movements to win elections and govern cities.
Now I need your help. Please help grow our revolutionary dream:
1. Gift a copy of THE END OF PROTEST to yourself and a friend2. Found a People’s Association in your city3. Call every journalist to do a story about what we're up to in rural Nehalem
The status quo might be able to stop one of us; it will never be able to stop all of us.
Here is the open letter that I sent today to the people of Nehalem:
I’m writing to share happy news. The first community meeting of the Nehalem People’s Association was an outstanding success! On Sunday, August 7, over 65 local residents—including many City of Nehalem registered voters, a majority of Nehalem City Councilors, several prominent local business owners, and the Mayor of Wheeler—gathered in the NCRD’s Riverbend Room to discuss the next 100 years of our great city.
The people of Nehalem arranged our chairs in a circle and went around the room until each person had spoken for as long as they pleased. Of course, we did not agree on everything. Many were in favor of the Nehalem People’s Association and my candidacy for Mayor. Others were not. There were a handful of angry defeatists in the room. One immaturely shouted an obscenity at his neighbors before storming out. No one was impressed; the gathering continued without pause. The majority of us were conservative optimists who stayed calm, listened to our neighbors and shared positive ideas for the future of Nehalem.
When we plan for the future, we need not fear change.
I am happy because there was one thing that everyone—defeatists and optimists—agreed on. Out of the range of voices, and the diversity of perspectives, an overwhelming agreement emerged: we, the people of Nehalem, love our Nehalem and we want our city to prosper. As one optimistic participant in our gathering wisely observed:
We must define the qualities of Nehalem that we love so we can create a plan to protect them.
We, the optimistic people of Nehalem, believe that the future of Nehalem is bright and that creating a new comprehensive plan backed by community engagement will benefit us all. But others want to discourage you from thinking positive change is possible. The defeatists lack initiative, believe City Council should be a hereditary position and are devoid of confidence in the people. The defeatists have given up on Nehalem without listening to the people of Nehalem. Without ideas or vision, the Same Old Boys have only defeatism, xenophobia, anger, and intimidation as their tools. Our city needs new leadership.
That is why I am running for Mayor of Nehalem. That is why I founded the Nehalem People’s Association: to give you, and your neighbors, the power to positively influence the direction of our city.
A tale of two Nehalems: defeatism or optimism
The next day after our meeting, barely a dozen people showed up for another perfunctory Monday meeting of the Nehalem City Council. The contrast between Sunday and Monday—from the arrangement of chairs to the feel of the room—could not have been greater. In one gathering the people of Nehalem were engaged participants, in the other we were voiceless spectators. On Monday, unelected city councilors pusillanimously “discussed” whether to buy themselves $5,400 worth of iPads with city funds while the optimists in the audience boldly dreamed of using that $5,400 to improve the lives of Nehalem’s children. While the defeatists on city council then “considered” spending $205,000 on paving the corner parking lot to entice an out-of-state developer to build a large commercial building, the optimists imagined what $205,000 could do to actually improve your livelihood, your drinking water, your businesses. At the City Council, all public comments were silenced until after the decision-making portion of the meeting was over. At the Nehalem People’s Association, public comments were encouraged before, during, and after the gathering.
In short, in this upcoming election, you have a choice between being listened to and being ignored, between optimism and defeat.
I’m on the side of optimism. Will you join me?
My pledge to you: An optimistic vision and a plan of action
If you vote Micah White for Mayor of Nehalem, I pledge to:
❖ Give you greater power over the decisions being made by your city council❖ Hold an open community gathering prior to every city council meeting so that you have an opportunity to discuss and decide on how the city council should act❖ Put the livelihood of your family, our watershed, our timberland, our river and your business at the top of the agenda❖ Work to make Nehalem more affordable for year-round residents❖ Operate transparently and democratically❖ Establish a Vision Committee comprised of Nehalem’s residents tasked with creating a strategy for Nehalem’s next 100 years
Our city has a duty to reach out and inform the community about the decisions being made at city council. As Mayor, I will start a community newsletter to keep you actively informed. And above all, I will transform the culture of Nehalem’s City Council from defeat to optimism.
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you at the next Nehalem People’s Association community meeting at 4 pm on Sunday, September 4, in the NCRD’s Riverbend Room. In celebration of Labor Day, there will be a free ice cream social before the meeting, beginning at 3:30pm.
Founder of the Nehalem People’s Association and candidate for Mayor of Nehalem
Kick this open letter to your activist network:http://micahmwhite.com/nehalem-update
Dig deeper into the Nehalem People's Association:http://peopleofnehalem.org/