KPIRG Teams with Organizing for People Power
Culture / February 16, 2017
Community-based organization comes to KPU to ask “You down with OPP?”
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor
“It’s an organization that is aimed at uniting sections of our society that are very disempowered, to find their strength and unity together, and demand fundamental changes to this society, starting locally in Newton,” says Tom Warren, about Organizing for People Power.
Warren is a member of OPP, the community group talking to citizens in The Fraser Valley about the injustices faced by the working class and minorities in order to find solutions. Recently, OPP has been on the streets, engaging with commuters at bus loops, and knocking on apartment doors to learn about what local people would like to change in their area.
By keeping their ears to the ground, OPP members have identified some of the Fraser Valley’s most common issues as workplace misconduct, police violence and criminalization, unsatisfactory transit, unaffordable housing, being a working parent, and bigotry towards marginalized populations. Some of these opinions were heard at discussions, such as the one held at KPU on Jan. 7.
A collaboration between OPP and the Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group, the discussion brought students and community members around the Surrey campus together to talk about grassroots organizing for reform and revolution, the Black Panther Party, learning from the Philippine Revolution, and Surrey-specific concerns.
The connection between KPIRG and OPP developed through members’ personal connections and flourished because the two organizations share justice-based values. KPIRG Director of Campus Life Lincey Amora started going to their meetings in fall 2016 and continues to now. Meetings are not regular, so anyone who attends them must stay in touch with the rest of the membership for details.
“The people are great—the OPP members, they’re very warm and inviting,” says Amora. “They’re just very knowledgeable on issues that I care about, but they know more about them,. So I was just keen to know more about what can be done in our community and how to raise awareness on different struggles in the community, like homelessness and housing justice and worker’s rights.”
She says that an average OPP meeting would revolve around “collecting and exchanging ideas,” and brainstorming potential action.
“We’re trying to figure out what are the most prominent issues so we can begin to organize community members around finding community solutions to these problems,” says Victoria Chen, another member of OPP. “Alone, as individuals, we can’t meaningfully change the world in the way that we need it to. It’s only by working together and building off of each other that we can figure out what the best solution is to our collective problems in a collective way.”
“It could be pooling of resources and helping one another directly. It could also involve pressure against politicians. It could involve picketing a bad work site,” says Warren. “It could involve a whole range of things tactically.”
Both KPIRG and OPP are hoping to collaborate again in the future, but no events are currently scheduled for Organizing for People Power. Anyone interested in getting involved with OPP can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are similar, but it’s nice because we do have differences,” says Amora, about KPIRG’s ties to OPP. “Like, KPIRG is KPU-based and we focus on the campus for our students. OPP is community-based and focuses more outward. They both focus on community of course, but they’re still different and we can bring different things when we work together.”