Friday, February 09, 2007

NEWS RELEASE: Report on Berkshire PDM Regional Meeting

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2007 16:00:23 -0500
From: Michael F. Wilcox <>
Subject: Report on Berkshire PDM Regional Meeting

[Reminder: the regular monthly meeting of the south Berkshire chapter
of PDM (Berkshires for Progressive Change) will take place tonight at
the Friends Meeting House in Great Barrington from 7 to 8:30 PM. For
more details, see
{} ] The Progressive Democrats of
Massachusetts {} (PDM) Regional
Meeting in Pittsfield on January 27 was a great success, in my book.
About 40 people crowded into the Blue Iguana Room on North Street to
share conversation, camaraderie, refreshments, and our hopes for the
future. We left there with a new sense of what is possible, and with
plans to take concrete steps to work toward our shared goal of a
better, more progressive society. Those who wish to continue or join
the discussion on-line (or just listen in) are welcome to join our
Yahoo group by replying to this email with a request, or sending a
blank email to
{} After brief
introductions, several people shared their stories of hope, of how
and why they had gotten involved in the Deval Patrick campaign, and
what brought them to this meeting. We were then reminded, by PDM
Executive Committee member Peter Enrich (of Lexington), of the
guiding principles of PDM, to wit: electing progressive candidates to
public office providing leadership training in relational organizing
educating ourselves on issues so as to define the "progressive
agenda" (and to help identify candidates who support that agenda)
advancing that progressive agenda through public education and
initiatives to bring pressure on the legislative and executive
branches of state government To that end, we broke out into four
groups to brainstorm ideas about what we should be doing over the
next few months. Three groups were for general discussion, and one
group focused on how to involve minority communities. We reconvened
to get reports back from the breakout groups (see the bullet points
below), and to discuss what common themes had emerged from these
groups. There was general agreement that the most effective model for
us would be to hold regular town meeting style forums (probably in
Pittsfield), with our legislative delegation in attendance. We would
rotate issues, so that over time we can touch on the various
priorities that hold the group's attention. These meetings would be
open to the public and would offer action items for people interested
in the issue under discussion. In preparing for these meetings, we
would probably hold (at least) two preliminary meetings (one in south
county and one in Pittsfield) to invite various experts in the
relevant field to lay out the issues for us so that we can educate
ourselves and come up with an action plan to present at our public
forums. Although many issues were raised as possible topics (see the
list below the line), there was general agreement that the topic of
healthcare would be a good place to start. The arguments in favor of
this as our first issue include: healthcare affects everyone it is an
issue that involves youth a solution to the current crisis requires
collective action it also touches on other important issues, e.g.
lobbying jobs fairness We already have an active group (Berkshires
for Progressive Change) in south county, so our challenge will be to
establish a group in north/central Berkshire that will meet on a
regular (monthly?) basis (probably in Pittsfield) to compliment the
south Berkshire group and to collaborate on planning countywide
issue-oriented public forums (and the associated action agendas).
Several people expressed an interest in making that happen. All in
all, this meeting was a great way to keep alive the spirit of the
recent triumphant election cycle, as we move into the governing
phase. Our new Governor has asked us to stay involved and to help him
govern, and we plan to do exactly that. Many, many thanks to all who
participated or sent their good wishes. I know we have a strong core
of people who are committed to carrying on the work at hand. MFW
Reports from the breakout groups: Group 1 (Rinaldo reporting)
Short-term concerns: Universal healthcare Cure for apathy, especially
among youth (bring them into the process) Tools for grassroots
participation in government Shared parenting Publicizing PDM
Long-term goals: Taxes Transparency Fairness Environment Reform of
the referendum process Lobbying reform (fair elections) Energy
independence Group 2 (Vivian reporting) Healthcare implementation
Clean elections Repeal of Real ID Act Equal marriage Group 3 (Al
reporting) Healthcare Education Suggest PDM sponsor an educational
forum on healthcare Group 4 (Nakeida reporting) Lack of involvement
in political process among minorities Need for Civics education,
especially among youth and minorities Encourage minorities to run for
office Invisibility of minority cultures Other ideas that emerged from
the general discussion: Prepare legislation on issues of concern (e.g.
Al has done so on his idea for Land Value Taxation) Support WHEN's
efforts (they will meet on February 8 at Mazzeo's Restaurant at 7 PM)
Educational forum on how state government operates: how does it affect
us? what services are available? and how does one qualify/apply? how
can we influence our government? how can we politicize communities
that are underserved? Addressing and countering the drug culture in
Berkshire County jobs education transportation Other miscellaneous
issues: Affirmative action Connectivity (broadband internet and
cellphone coverage) public transportation, both within the county and
connecting beyond


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