Image from “Proposals For The Feminine Economy,” by Jennifer Armbrust. A holistic vision for a new economic paradigm, founded on feminine and feminist principles.
Over the past forty years, entrenched systemic injustices in Bridgeport broke our civic institutions, our grassroots leadership, and our people power. Decades of corruption and generations of systemic racism are directly tied to economic inequality in Bridgeport. Power is closely held in the hands of a few, and distributed by politically-motivated gatekeepers.
These systems create – and then rely on – shutting residents and families in Bridgeport out from the civic, political, and economic systems. As power continues to be “handed out” rather than “built up,” the people who sit in civic, democratic, and institutional positions to effect change often lack the political will and courage to do anything. The final result is that Bridgeport residents and families feel apathy, cynicism, helplessness, and disgust for our collective civic life.
So, in the early winter of 2016, Callie Gale Heilmann called together a diverse group of ten people to start meeting to form Bridgeport Generation Now, with the simple vision and commitment that we needed to take some kind of positive action if we wanted to be the change we wished to see in our city. Those original people were Razul Branch, Kate Rivera, Callie Gale Heilmann, Ashli Giles-Perkins, Niels Heilmann, Maggie Gotterer, Marcella Kovac, John Torres, and Adhlere Coffy.
The model for Bridgeport Generation Now came from San Bernadino Generation Now, after Callie learned about that group from an article in The Atlantic Magazine by James Fallows, titled “How America Is Putting Itself Back Together.” Callie spoke with the founder, Michael Segura, for several hours about the power of community organizing. San Bernadino, CA and Bridgeport share many characteristics, including a post-industrial landscape, communities of color who are shut out of economic and political power, low voter engagement, and lack of investment in and opportunity for young people.
San Bernadino Generation Now was founded by young community organizers, with the simple mission of increasing civic engagement in their city. With their blessing, we adopted their model and held our first meeting in May of 2016.