This past Sunday, Progressive Massachusetts held it’s first annual policy conference and over 150 activists, elected officials and policy experts attended. What a great day! Check out pictures of the event.
People from as far away as Amherst and Sandwich mingled in the halls of the Winslow Center at Lasell and connected on the issues that matter to us as a community – social, economic and environmental justice.
Business cards were exchanged. New relationships were built. And plans were made to shape a progressive movement across the Commonwealth. We overheard conversations where prison reform activists made connections with suburban organizers. We saw new immigrant advocates productively plugging in with the economic reform experts. We saw a 10-year-old inspire a room of tired grown-ups to phone bank for Ed Markey. And more and more.
Our Board president, Jim Weliky, framed the day by asking over coffee:
- If we’re so liberal, how come we don’t have a progressive income tax?
- If we’re so liberal, how come we don’t have same day registration and vote by mail?
- If we’re so liberal, how come it took a Republican governor to sign health care reform? And why don’t we have single payer or at least a public option?
Good questions! The answer — because too often Beacon Hill doesn’t work for us. So, we need to put the same kind of organizing muscle into issue and policy advocacy that we do for elections – and we need infrastructure and resources to bridge that gap.
That’s the Progressive Mass wheel-house: we work to elect good progressive representatives — and help keep members engaged afterwards to keep those representatives accountable and continue to fight the good fight for progressive change.
State Treasurer Steve Grossman kicked off the day, inspiring the crowd with his vision of our future and the role that Progressive Mass can play. And then 23 policy experts in fields as diverse as election reform, health care, criminal justice, gun control, the environment and education shared their perspective about what’s working, what’s not working and the policies we need to make a difference.
The overarching take-away from the wealth of information we learned and resources that were shared? We have our work cut out for us: we have a long way to go in economic, education, health care and social policy before Massachusetts is truly as progressive as her citizens.
But that’s why we organize and mobilize — and by the level of commitment, skills, and passion of all of you at our conference on Sunday, it seems clear that when we work together, we can bend that arc.
Over the next few days, we will post the formal presentations from our panelists – and, over the weeks and months ahead, we will let you know which of these policies the State House is working on. We intend to be the source of quality and timely information for progressives across the Commonwealth.
For our first big act — we will be publishing later this week the first-ever record of progressive roll calls from the last legislative session — finally giving progressives an accessible means to see how their legislators voted, which is an essential first step to accountability.
Sunday, our members showed us we have the will and skill to shape a more progressive Massachusetts. We are grateful to have such amazing partners in the fight! Onward!
– Deborah Shah, Executive Director