Over the past three decades, we have witnessed a dramatic change in how our political and economic systems work.
Nearing two decades into the 21st century, in the United States and globally, it is clear that we are at the forefront of cultural, economic, and environmental transformation. One that threatens people’s livelihoods, our institutions of governance, and the planet. Social, racial, and political justice movements have erupted across the country, awakening America’s legacy of confronting cultural change, white supremacy and distorted wealth creation. This time, as in the past, there is a toxic mix of racism, xenophobia, and sexism. In the face of transformative demographic changes and perceived social and economic progress of people of color, the response from some across the country is one of resistance, persistence, and and in some cases unfortunately, hate.
Rivera Consulting, Inc. understands that the challenges we are confronting now are part of a long cycle of oppression, and it may be one of the biggest crises in human history. We are presently facing:
A government that continues to neglect the root and intersectional causes of our economic, social and environmental crisis;
A safety net that has become a spider web for working class and low-income communities;
A planet that can no longer sustain the physical destruction imposed upon it by generations of consumption and accumulation-driven economic models; and
An awareness that the paradigm has shifted, yet continuance of past frameworks and solutions to tackle complex social problems.
While we cannot ignore the progress and periods of investment of the last one hundred years, the clear majority of our neighborhoods have been passed over repeatedly, leaving generation after generation trapped in poverty. This is the case both in urban and rural America. Economic anxiety is not new, those living at the margins of our community – the undocumented, the sexually trafficked, the criminalized - are facing much starker challenges and cruelty (walls, bail bonds, contaminated infrastructure and cages).
Although people’s movements such as Black Lives Matters, the Women’s March, and March for Our Lives have come together recently to fight this current and structural injustice, as social justice practitioners (and country!) we have fallen short in both reversing this problem and advancing alternative solutions. This reality is made clear by the triple threat of the current United States President (let's call him #45), coupled with the complicity of the Republican Party and their corporate cronies. Let’s face it - the emergence of Trump did not begin in 2016, it is connected to decades of lost Democratic seats at the local, legislative, judicial, and state level. Democrat control of state legislatures and governor’s office is the lowest since the 1900s. In 2008, Dems controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent. In the same time period, Democrats held 29 governor’s offices and now have only 16. We also must be cautious of holding the Electoral College solely responsible. Democrats lost well over 1,000 seats over the course of the Obama Administration, most of which do not involve the Electoral College. By successfully redrawing districts, Republicans have tilted the electoral map to their benefit, but the party is losing seats. With current Midterm elections as well as the 2020 census and 2021 redistricting looming, we need some control of that process or it will get structurally harder.
At Rivera Consulting Inc. it is our deep democracy toolkit that drives our donor advising, political campaigns, and strategic change management services. We have a successful history of working at the intersection of people, planning, and politics. We seek to unlock the hearts, skills and minds of our clients using our deep democracy toolkit to produce multi-dimensional social interventions, political, and community empowerment strategies to transform engagement, political campaigns, and cross sector collaboration.
Too often, the lives of too many become bounded by their zip codes and shaped by their race, sexuality and/or gender because of deliberate decisions made by policy and decision makers. This means they can be reversed and re-constructed to account for an emerging future - whether its social financing, advancements in mobility, or replenishing the public commons. It is the intersectionality of people’s lives that drives our consulting work at Rivera Consulting, Inc. to produce tangible strategic solutions in order to have a measurable impact on social change, collective prosperity, and sustainability. Nonetheless, founder Wilnelia Rivera chose to act in the face of challenge and is committed to a journey (with clients and community) that will take many years and many miles. What sustains this action? “The wisdom lies in knowing that it is a marathon with key milestones we have to hit along the way to get to next stage in process,” says Rivera.
To enable this transformation requires sustained and relentless organizing, advocacy, and finance to activate the political will, workforce and systems to make it happen. As technocrats, decision-makers, strategists, and agitators, we must become fully aware that to win we must lead with the spirit and leadership of those most affected. To make change happen at the street level to the State House, we must be accountable to the past to lean into the future. Going with the same playbook simply does not work any more. Whether its education reform, ending the school to prison pipeline, eliminating poverty, or increased social and climate resiliency, this is a unique moment to either retreat or resist. If history is an indicator, resistance and bold perseverance will translate into just sustainability. Just sustainability is “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.” A just sustainable community one that understands that to enable the political will and courage to make the kinds of investments we all discuss today, we must be accountable to the legacy of structural racism across the local planning and political history of our cities, towns, and country.
Rivera Consulting, Inc. is a firm with proven alternative results to achieving just sustainability. We align these solutions with indigenous leadership as well as the mapping and operationalizing of those resources to inspire and enable social change in the 21st century. We connect and work from the corner office to the corner deli because we are a movement building firm committed to a bold reimagination of the American social contract.
As we continue to forge a new collective vision and social contract, we can leverage policy, research, the ballot box, and people to transform communities. But who wins and who loses is the responsibility of all us – every day folks, organizers, planners, and decision-makers.