Progressive grassroots groups exist in communities all around Wisconsin, but nowhere more than in the Second Congressional District, an area gerrymandered after the 2010 census to concentrate most of Wisconsin’s progressives in one place, with a Janesville carve-out to put Paul Ryan’s house in the 1st. We won’t stop working for better redistricting, but as long as we’ve got it, we might as well make the best of this progressive hot spot.
So let’s power up the progressive grassroots in Wisconsin’s second most solidly progressive district. (Hats off to Milwaukee’s Fourth!)
Grassroots members active with WGN and with several of the district’s grassroots groups have long felt the need for a well-organized regional group to provide a supportive hub through which:
+ grassroots activists can strengthen and support progressives through the exchange of ideas, collaboration, and mutual support;
+ existing grassroots groups can publicize their events;
+ newly forming community grassroots groups can find support and connection; and
+ interested people not yet affiliated with a community group can follow progressive grassroots activity in their area.
So, several of us started meeting in late 2014 to form this regional organization. As of March 2015, the South Central Grassroots Alliance (Alliance) is still in the formative stages. John Stanley (DAP) and Karen McKim (GROW) have been organizing the planning meetings.
Any interested progressive grassroots activist who wants to help us make this dream a reality is welcome to read through the main documents we’re working on (linked above and below) and to join us at a planning meeting. To find out when the next meeting is, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In short, we are envisioning an umbrella group transparently governed by a steering committee consisting of representatives sent by participating grassroots groups. Activities of the Alliance will depend on what the Steering Committee decides, but could include:
- a website of our own, and a Facebook page that will contain information about the progressive grassroots movement in the Second Congressional District;
- a continuous opportunity for interested people (candidates, media, citizens looking for civic involvement) to contact the Alliance to be put in touch with existing grassroots groups;
- a notifications network (email? MailChimp? Twitter? we don’t know yet…) onto which individuals or groups can sign up to be notified of developments and events in area grassroots groups;
- a sharing/lending library of resources often useful to grassroots groups, such as a digital projector or a button-making machine, and a skills bank of progressive grassroots activists who are willing and able to share specialized skills such as legal, web, or graphic design;
- organizing and sponsoring regional training sessions in organizing and civic-action skills; and
- any other activities that participating grassroots groups believe could help to grow and strengthen the progressive grassroots movement.
Some have asked how the Alliance will differ from the long-established Progressive Partners, which organizes informal quarterly gatherings of grassroots groups and their progressive allies. The Alliance will support Progressive Partners in continuing these quarterly gatherings. But where Progressive Partners cherishes its informality and organic leaderless style, the Alliance will be much more organized with a continuous presence on the Internet; a clearly identified steering committee and officers so that activities can be organized and people can know who to contact with issues or suggestions; and written bylaws that will enable people who have not been regular participants to understand how decisions are made and to participate if they wish. Where Progressive Partners cherishes its independence, the Alliance will be clearly and actively affiliated with the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, will send a representative to participate in WGN governance, and will work with WGN in its efforts to create and support new grassroots groups around the state.
Again, please contact us at email@example.com (at least until we get our own email account) with any questions or suggestions; if you want to know when and where the planning committee will next meet; or if you’d like us to come meet with your grassroots group to discuss the plans and get your input.