anything i can't justify as a remotely connected to web development will go here instead of

I am thrilled to finally be with a credit union in Minneapolis, but my experience joining one illustrates the need for credit unions to rethink their approach and be ready to serve all people.

I've stopped waiting for Village Financial Credit Union to open in North Minneapolis. (As i went to link to i see that Google hosting took their site down). My pledge of membership is still good if the community pulls off a miracle and resurrects this essential project.

When Village looked like it was going to come to fruition, it was set to be the first credit union chartered in the United States in a decade. That is the first sign of a systemic crisis; there should be many new member-controlled organizations being formed to meet the banking, investing, and lending needs of diverse communities. North Minneapolis, and much of the United States, very much needs a Black-directed co-operative financial institution, as Village set out to be, for some of the reasons i experienced joining one of the credit unions we do have.

There was no problem with any particular person; the problems are on a level of policy and possibly procedures and implementation, which are undoubtedly common across credit unions.

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union was the credit union that came up most often in recommendations from friends and in searches for nearby branches or ATMs— especially for credit unions that didn't appear to require me to get a job with city government or move across town to be eligible! Not that it means it was close. There's almost no credit union presence on the Northside, and not many banks either— we mostly have check-cashing and payday loan places here.

I applied online for Affinity. This was frustrating for technical reasons— their integration with Plaid was broken and that stymied the required step of paying for membership in an organization to ensure eligibility and making an initial deposit. Given my further experiences, i find it bad form to be asked for payment before being approved. But that's minor. The real problem was when the Paid integration was removed and i was able to apply a few days later.

Got through everything, and then later got this e-mail:

Dear Benjamin,

We’re sorry, but we can’t open your account and/or add your name as an owner/signer on an account. At least we can’t do it via the online account application process.

The Reason Why

We couldn’t verify sufficient details about your credit history.

This is all because i refused to get one of the hundreds of scammy credit card offers shoved at me when i was in college, and proceeded to live my entire life without borrowing or lending money outside of friends and family.

But it's also a damned stupid reason to be turned down for a savings account or a checking account, which involve me putting my own money in.

I have gotten multiple bank accounts without having a credit inquiry run on me. For Affinity, it was the only way to identify me when applying online— which is bad enough, but even in person with photo ID, my credit was checked again for no good reason (and found non-existent again, but in-person i was able to open the account).

Credit unions are in the habit of running a hard pull on your credit when you apply for membership. This practice has to stop, period.

For all that our Affinity representative who ultimately helped us with car-side service said it was to “get a birds eye, 360 degree view of you, know what you need” and that “credit is important to us”, it serves nothing so much as to exclude people who need the services of a credit union the most.

The other problems were not being clearly informed of the credit check while submitting the application online; not being immediately informed that i could continue with the online application if i made it to the credit union in person the next day; and being mis-informed that i would need my social security card.

But the main problem is reliance on the unaccountable, error-ridden, and hack-prone credit rating agencies.

If this was so much trouble for me, a middle-aged business owner (also cooperatively, of course) with multiple existing accounts at financial institutions and relatively plenty of money (compared to twenty percent having no or negative wealth) to move into a new account, how does this work for someone with less documentation? With no time or trust to try a second or third time for approval? With bad credit because one of the dozen parasitical monopoly corporations added fees equaling thousands of percent in interest to a returned payment on a water bill, with the big evil bank that credit unions should be replacing putting their own pile of fees for bouncing a check or falling below a minimum balance, sending people from scraping by to being cast out as financial lepers?

Whether Village rises again, Affinity comes to the Northside, or other credit unions step up, there is a vast need here and in neighborhoods throughout the United States that requires credit unions to do more than add physical locations. Credit unions need to design policies and practices for inclusion.

Then maybe with representation in democratic financial organizations, people who are currently excluded and marginalized will have a vehicle to help work towards equity, towards economic justice.

We need credit unions to support many creative and crucial correctives to the cruelty and brokenness of our current economy, including community currencies and other ways of connecting people to economic activity. Wealth as it is currently distributed, based on great crimes of the past and present, from slavery to redlining to discriminatory insurance rates to wage theft to the simple coercive exploitation of having to sell labor to capitalists who can hoard wealth without limit while we have to work to survive the next month, needs to be bypassed to the greatest extent possible.

Credit unions can be a huge part of a fair future, of building a solidarity economy, but first they need to become representative of the people with the greatest stake in this future.

As a small business owner, the whole idea of sending Payroll Protection through the business makes no sense. That money should be sent directly to every person and if they choose to stick with a company (like our worker-owners would) or to spend their money at a business, great.

If your workers don't want to help keep your company going (perhaps you'd have to grant ownership as an incentive), your business doesn't deserve the money.

Everybody deserves what is needed to live, no questions asked, and in the United States that's US dollars.

Really curious what the capitalist justification for giving relief money to corporations instead of people is. Because the answer has got to be some steps along the way toward a need for central planning, and socialists will happily eat that answer as a free lunch.

People can't be trusted with their own spending decisions? But the companies competing in the allegedly free market which is allegedly the outcome of such decisions are sacrosanct and must be preserved?

There's no logic to opposing giving people equal money—now in the pandemic/depression and always—that's not at core about preserving inequality, about ensuring that there's a class of people to be exploited.

Workers need to take control and run things well, no matter what their sabotaging capitalist-appointed bosses say. (This goes for every business or organization but especially the postal service right now.)

'Friday Night Massacre' at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a Trump crony—Ousts Top Officials

Healthcare is a Human Right, but other ways to convince?

Amy Vaz:

How can we do a better job selling #MedicareForAll ? I have been thinking about this quite a bit over the past two years. Our main line, “Healthcare as a human right,” Doesn’t speak to people on the other side. It just doesn’t, But there are many other untapped elements, that do.

The bottom line is that there are not enough of us lefties to really move the needle on this, BY OURSELVES. Healthcare is something, around which we should be able to coalition build, across the ENTIRE spectrum... A little bit of introspection: I don’t think we’ve done this well.

This is one of the topics @AnandWrites and @AndrewYang discussed in this great interview.... I agree with their approach of making the business case for it, although that is often frowned upon on the left, I think we need to do it, In order to expand the support base.

I also think there is something that is going to be a necessary step in this project, which I don’t believe we have done well or even at all, and that is to sell it to doctors, or at a very minimum actively work to dispel the myths / industry talkingpoints, geared towards them.


It might need to be rephrased, but healthcare IS a human right and reaching people who truly disagree will be as inefficient as our current health insurance disaster. The large majority even in the US believe this and we need to make achieving universal healthcare seem possible.

That said, @stephen_verdant's Cognitive Politics has some excellent thinking on reaching across divides from very different ways of thinking, and definitely the coalition for health care for all will need to reach more people. The book is worth getting:

Interested in who you hope to reach in more detail, @amyvaz3, and i'll re-read parts of Cognitive Politics with that in mind.

But like occupying a hospital only serving wealthy people, if any are left in COVID-19 times (the system's not entirely broken), will move the needle most!

Amy Vaz:

That looks interesting. The book looks good. I agree that Covid should definitely move the needle, but that aside, I still think we didn’t really get our story straight, during the primary season, and that is when it really mattered. That being said, the fight is NOT over...

Healthcare is a human right, but that is not a talking point that speaks to everyone. We can talk to people about different aspects of it, and it can still be a human right. That doesn’t make it any less so.

I’m not saying to get rid of the phrase, “healthcare is a human right,” I’m saying to ADD on to it, for different audiences.

There are other untapped aspects of having universal healthcare, which could be successful, in different ways, speaking to different people...

I feel like there was kind of a vacuum created during the primary, and what filled it? Unfortunately, this: “How are you going to pay for it?” And we never really recovered from that. We didn’t have enough of a compelling story to counter it.


oh yeah that was painful. The key answer was not made plainly by any primary candidate: the money we're spending badly on the sector can easily cover everything. Your personal costs will go down. We need more, taxes on billionaires go up. But agree more is needed beyond that.

Message i most want out there: The world has been made disastrous by people profiting from it. Unfortunately no one has the trillions of dollars worth of damage done to the environment through global warming and more, but there's still a ton of ill-gotten gains out there.

Before another person dies from lack of medical coverage, before another child's growth is stunted from housing insecurity, before billions of people risk starvation or drowning from global warming— we start to take that stolen wealth back. We build systems that meet our needs.

that's not a direct 'how do we get Medicare 4 all passed in 2021' but being consistent on that larger framing may do two things. 1) scare rich people into granting concessions 2) prepare us all to build power collectively and not scapegoat poor people or immigrants or jews.

Note i said occupying a hospital before. Threats to privilege are the only things that will get the powerful to voluntarily grant us rights, and building power through mutual aid is both a way to do that and to make the powerful not needed— to not have power.

This analysis is not @stephen_verdant endorsed ;–)

Nor is it endorsed by my co-op agaric nor necessarily by me— before we can take over, run, and hold onto a hospital, we need to be able to protect ourselves from eviction, including from public parks:



Amy Vaz:

M4A does not enable us to “take over” anything. Everything would still be privately owned. It’s just a single payer program. It is definitely the compromise/bare minimum. We might in fact, actually need something much more far-reaching, but this should be a doable starting point.


i know; i'm talking about direct action to move the political needle (and to build the skills we need to survive). It's an entirely separate tactic and any effect of getting scared CEOs to push for m4a as they get convinced its in their business interests would be incidental!

There's an old comedy album on Internet Archive called My Husband Doesn't Know I'm Making This Phone Call: Starring Fannie Flagg as “Little Martha” and i looked up who this John and Martha were— Richard Nixon's attorney general John Mitchell and his wife.

The album is from 1971, and makes fun of Martha Mitchell's outspoken reactionary views— real-life examples including quoting her husband saying protests to end the war against Vietnam looked like the Russian revolution, and reportedly saying Senator Fullbright should be crucified. Politics was never polite.

She also regularly shared gossip with reporters. And in 1972, despite attempts by her husband to isolate her, she recognized one of the Watergate burglars as part of her husband's Committee to Re-elect the President and called legendary White House reporter Helen Thomas. The phone was taken from her, and she was beaten. She died less than four years later, at age 57.

Her 'handler'—her captor—at the time was former FBI agent Steve King (apparently no relation to the fascist U.S. Representative), and King repeatedly assaulted her. This violent kidnapper who covered up for Nixon's crimes was appointed to an ambassadorship by Trump, and i didn't even know it until reading Martha Mitchell's Wikipedia page.

Martha's story in detail at Necessary Storms' The Silencing of Martha Mitchell.

If one person or family loses their home—the place they live, be it a mortgaged house or rented apartment or squatted bit of park—because of an unfair and uncaring economic and political system, that is an injustice.

If 9,000,000 (again— see 2008 financial crises) or 90,000,000 people are about to, that is fuel for a rebellion against the unjust system.

Tell your neighbors and people in your community they are not alone. Find on organization – – or find or start a solidarity network – – to help organize eviction defense.

Letter to the directors of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board – 2020 June 12

Thank you for allowing some of the gathered houseless in Minneapolis to gather in Powderhorn Park.

We all know that it is morally abhorrent and practically disastrous for people to go without housing, nutritious food, medical care, and opportunities to live a full life.

But if we keep police around to push it out of sight, we'll never make the other big structural changes we need— whether the police kill some people in the process of holding us down or not.

It's not fair that your parks, our parks, is where this is playing out— but that is the smaller unfairness. We need to tackle the problems that are bigger than anything park police can clear out of a park (and abolish policing in parks, too).

What can you do, individually and as organizations, to work for real justice?

Speak out on these larger issues is a start.

What does this broader fairness even look like?

Here are some ideas:

Thank you,

benjamin melançon resident of Minneapolis (Near North)

Redistribute wealth

Abolition has always been tied to economic justice. Intertwined with white supremacy, inequality is one of the root causes of the problem of policing.

Even aside from the 'protection of property' basis for policing, aside from the injustice of arresting people who shoplift and not people who underpay wages, there's another question: why do people from one population shoplift (for survival, not for fun, as the latter transcends classes and groups) while people from another population commit wage theft?

We all know this is a matter of wealth inequality.

Even though economic injustice is global and nations hold most geopolitical power, Minneapolis can take significant steps to address the unequal and unfair distribution of wealth that is a key driver of racial inequalities.

A resident dividend (payments to every person living in Minneapolis) funded by increased property taxes would leave most property owners paying a net lower tax rate (with the increased taxes more than offset by the dividend). Houseless people and renters, meanwhile, would receive money that can be put toward housing. At the same time it would make it economically unfeasible for anyone, especially non-resident/corporate owners, to leave properties empty and unused.

Pay reparations

Black and indigenous people in Minneapolis (as everywhere in the US) are owed reparations for harassment and physical harm by police, for past and ongoing discrimination, for slavery and genocide.

There are models for doing this locally, chiefly Chicago. (See How Chicago became the first city to make reparations to victims of police violence and Slavery reparations seem impossible but in many places they're already happening )

For one option in Minneapolis, city land (and land abandoned by out-of-town owners because of the property taxes funding the resident dividend) could be turned over to a Black and indigenous-led cooperative land trust.

Universal basic income

Money doesn't solve all problems, but that's no excuse for not giving enough money to people to solve what problems it can.

The modest wealth redistribution of a resident dividend can also be considered to serve part of this purpose, as it can and should be paid out at least quarterly.

But Minneapolis should further raise what it can towards a weekly or monthly guaranteed minimum income.

An excellent source of revenue for that is charging people for the harm their pollution causes.

Minneapolis could impose a fee for all potential waste coming into the city, literally everything from natural gas to be burnt to soda cans. Similar to how some states have bottle bills, people get a refund for turning things in, but for anything that is littered and lost or wasted or used up the paid-in money is distributed to everyone equally.

Neighborhood connectors

Another form of prevention, organizers or coordinators who are paid to simply know their neighborhoods, and connect people to resources formal and informal.

Community security

Different people trained to respond to intervene in different situations of crisis.

Different crisis call for different responses. You've already started to identify this in the analysis of calls to 911, but lets not forget how rarely many people call 911 at all. There's lots of situations, such as the majority of domestic violence, that aren't reflected in current data.

Crisis situations can be handled in part with a central number dispatching the relevant professionals for mental health emergencies, interpersonal disputes, physical altercations, injuries, etc. These professionals would be drawn from or at least required to live in the immediate neighborhoods they serve, allowing both rapid response and an increased chance of cultural awareness and knowledge of particular people.

This must be supplemented by broad training in the community so we can all help each other with first aid, peer therapy, and the like.

If we have a generic all-purpose first responder, they will not have a gun, and de-escalation and first aid will be the main training.

Much like a having a standing army leads to its use and abuse, at home as well as abroad, we cannot repeat the mistake of having even a small full-time armed force in our city. For the relatively rare occasions when physical intervention is needed to stop someone in the act of doing harm, we can turn to people trained and paid to be on call. But people with physical intervention training (weapons-trained or not) will neven be on a full time patrol, as that leads to viewing every person they interact with as a potential threat.

Above all, there can be no special rules that apply to people in the role of protector. We can never again be in a situation where the person with their knee on someone's throat is “doing their job” and someone rushing in to stop this harm could be killed or arrested for assaulting an officer.

The law must apply equally to all.

No harm, no crime

Make clear in policy (and update local ordinances accordingly) that there will be no restriction or imposed cost on acts which do not coercively harm others.

Most obviously this brings interactions between consenting adults, including selling drugs and sex work, into the realm of using the same dispute resolution practices that are (or will be made) available to everyone.

Restorative justice and community accountability

Policing has failed people facing intimate partner violence so thoroughly it is where some of the most thought and work has gone into alternatives:

Our communities' capacity for restorative justice must be sown and grown to replace prosecuting people as criminals.

Free therapy

If we're all going to be more able to help people with their own mental wellness challenges, we're all going to need therapy.

Mental Health Minnesota's “warmline” may be a model to adopt/expand.

Guaranteed jobs

For people aged 16 to 30, the City of Minneapolis should guarantee a job for anyone who wants to work.

The city should borrow massively at close to zero percent interest to invest in public works, including along the lines of the Green New Deal, as part of the way of fulfilling this jobs guarantee.

Support what's already working

Women's shelters, substance abuse programs, youth enrichment and employment programs, mentorship, and so much more, should find their work much easier with everything else the city starts doing for its residents. Nevertheless, Minneapolis should be sure to continue and expand support for anything with evidence that it's working.

Paying for neighborhood connectors, community security, community accountability facilitators, free therapy, guaranteed jobs, and other social supports

How to pay for for all this? Having the entire police budget will help a lot, but continually re-creating a wonderful city that has all its key needs met should not be done on the cheap.

A community currency to supplement taxation can help the critical need of paying people for helping their fellow city residents. Indeed, Minneapolis could have its first income tax, steeply progressive but payable solely in our own city-issued currency, to kickstart demand for the alternative currency money we can in part use to pay people for all this local work— there's no need for anyone to fight for mal-distributed US dollars to pay for local needs.

Continuing the visioning and learning process

We'll need to deepen our democracy to succeed. In the immediate term we need to publicly collect people's visions and collectively work on organizing these resources for our near-term abolitionist future.

Agaric technology cooperative can help with quickly setting up a wiki for that.

Note: This was written with input from just a few other people and does not represent any community consensus. It is just one response of the thousands undoubtedly elicited by the call for visions put out to in-person and remote attendees of the Path Forward Meeting last Sunday in Powderhorn Park organized by Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.

Do it. Dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and lead us into a non-violent future

Dear Mayor Frey and City Council Members,

My name is benjamin melançon. I am a resident of and homeowner in North Minneapolis, in Ward 5 and the soon to be former 4th police precinct.

I can't get the video of the meeting to work unfortunately and during COVID-19 we shouldn't be there in person, but i wanted to send my strong support for dismantling the police department and local jails, and putting the money saved into support for all residents, especially youth 16-24.

We will continue to come together to protect each other, just as we have this past week— when we had to protect ourselves from the MPD and opportunistic outsider racists.

Further, i urge you to look into taking strong measures to ensure that every person can live in Minneapolis in prosperity, health, and mental well-being, including:

  • a resident dividend funded by increased property taxes, which would leave most property owners paying a net lower tax rate, houseless people receiving money that can be put toward housing, all while make it economically unfeasible for anyone, especially non-resident/corporate owners, to leave properties empty and unused.
  • a fee for all potential waste coming into the city, literally everything from natural gas to be burnt to soda cans, just like some states have bottle bills, where people get a refund for turning things in, and for anything that is littered or wasted or used up the money is distributed to everyone equally.
  • a community currency to supplement taxation and help the critical need of paying people for helping their fellow city residents.

Please above all adopt a budget that defunds the police and funds community-led health and safety strategies that do not use violence.

Have courage, and thank you greatly,

benjamin melançon

For any buildings that burn down tonight, there will be no question where the blame falls: squarely on the multiple levels of repressive government whose military branches—National Guard, state police, sheriff's forces, and still the god-damned Minneapolis Police Department—claiming sole right to be out in public.

It would not be hard to station people at every potential target, especially Black organizations and houses of worship, if even protecting property were higher on law enforcement's priority list than targeting protesters.

People out defending their neighborhoods were, at one point at least, not being harassed by law enforcement, which seems to be taking the threat of white nationalists seriously for once.

But already what i feared is coming in from reports across the city— the various police focus, coordinating together, are focusing on driving protesters out of sight in their own city. Suppressing dissent, at the risk of harming or even killing people, is more important to the police than protecting buildings.

That's not what we mean when we say lives are more important than property.

THIS WAS OBSOLETE BEFORE I HIT PUBLISH, DAMN: Indications so far tonight are good— people out defending their neighborhoods are not being harassed by law enforcement, which seems to be taking the threat of white nationalists seriously for once. (Not seriously enough to remove the white supremacists in their ranks, but still, a welcome shift in focus.)