Hub opens for progressive activist teams in Colorado Springs | Colorado Springs Information
For the first time, left activist groups in Colorado Springs have a central place to meet, hold events, and promote like-minded social, economic, and environmental causes.
“The progressive community never really had the infrastructure here – we can organize more efficiently now,” said Jonathan Christiansen, founding member of the Chinook Center.
The non-profit organization was founded a year and a half ago and in recent weeks has achieved its goal of securing a building for different groups under one roof.
The organizers held an open house last weekend in the new center, a former church on 2551 Airport Road on South Circle Drive in the so-called “K-Land”, based on a Kmart that has been a staple for the southeastern part of the city for decades was closed.
“I am optimistic that this will expand the capacity of progressive social change organizations,” said Christiansen. “Groups will not only have access to resources, but we will also be able to build a stronger sense of community among left-wing activists in the city.”
The Chinook center examined about 20 local groups and asked if they would be interested in placing their efforts at the hub. According to Christiansen, nine groups have signed up to become members of the center, and several others are considering joining.
Constituents include the local branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, the Empowerment Solidarity Network, which provides education and leadership to eradicate social inequalities, the SouthSide Alliance, which emerged recently from the protests against Black Lives Matter, and others.
Most operated from home, reserved space in libraries for meetings and used copy shops for office purposes, Christiansen said.
In the center they have access to a large large room, a stage and a conference room for meetings and events, as well as a kitchen, copiers and printers, a sound system for protests and other resources.
“Members of activist groups must constantly strive to find resources,” said Christiansen. “Colorado Springs really needs something like this.”
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A regular weekly event began on the open house, People’s Grocery – a free grocery distribution in the center every Sunday from 12pm to 2pm.
Christiansen says that not many organizations offer grocery freebies on Sundays, so the center meets a community need, primarily with food from Colorado Springs. The distribution is based on the promotional gifts of the Black Panther Party and is asked without questions. Everyone who shows up gets free food.
A monthly People’s Potluck and new courses from People’s College are also planned.
Local residents and workers in the neighborhood volunteered to help remodel the building before the center opened, Christiansen said.
Local artist Shanah Cooley painted a three-part mural in honor of De’Von Bailey, a 19-year-old Colorado Springs resident who was shot and killed by police while investigating a robbery in August 2019.
Curious passers-by stop to discuss future democratic strategies, strategies and tactics, Christiansen said.
Two grants and small donations are funding the cost of the operation, Christiansen said, adding that the organizers have not attracted large donors such as prominent supporter of democratic ideals, George Soros.
Christiansen, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a PhD student, expects a lot of local support.
A fundraising appeal designed to help people arrested during the Black Lives Matter protests pay more than $ 10,000 in bail, fines and legal fees in just two weeks, he said.
The new center is designed to challenge the long history of Republican politics in the city.
“It will change the arithmetic of politics here,” said Christiansen.
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