Devolution was created by Dr. Pop in collaboration with SCOPE (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education). While the story is centered around Los Angeles, it shares a common experience with the many cities in the U.S. that have experienced the consequences of deindustrialization, disinvestment, and deregulation over the past thirty years.
The content was derived from a popular education presentation prepared by Gilda Haas and Albert Lowe about the history of tax policy in the U.S. for the April 2014 Residency of Antioch University Los Angeles’ Urban Sustainability M.A. Program in partnership with SCOPE. The cartoon was first presented at SCOPE’s 2014 Summer Academy where grassroots leaders from several organizations engaged in educational and storytelling activities in preparation for upcoming campaigns around tax reform.
Devolution starts out as a fairy tale about Los Angeles, a city that was once an industrial powerhouse where working-class people could graduate from high school, learn a trade, and earn enough money in a unionized job to buy a house and send their kids to college.
The city, however, was also very racially segregated, and thus the benefits of the economy were not equitably distributed. People organized for fair access to jobs, better public education, and better public services in their communities and things got better.
But one morning, people woke up to find that the good-paying industrial jobs had disappeared, the quality of education had fallen from best-in-the-country to 49th out of the 50 states, and many public services had been reduced or eliminated.
Devolution answers the question of “What Happened” by looking at the history of the policies and ideas that produced a future that none of us wanted.
Devolution was made to be used as a springboard to conversations and actions led by communities organizing in defense of a more robust and fair public sector, corporate accountability, and a more progressive and equitable tax system.