Memorial Day Thought: Be the kind of person worth fighting for.
Hello fellow RUWMI activists!
This was a busy week – lots of activism on top of an already full work-life and home-life schedule. Lots of activism that (TBH) I didn’t really have time for. But then again, who among us really has extra time? So, I went. And you know who else was at those events? Lots of other people who had busy weeks without “extra time” too. I was in good company and it felt good to be in that company.
CD1PC Platform Convention – Saturday, June 1, 1:00-3:00, Mason Square Branch Library, 765 State St, Springfield.
As part of the CD1 Progressive Coalition, RUWMI is one of the groups planning this important event. We’ve already hosted 3 “empty-chair” Town Hall events, with Neal declining to attend any of them (or schedule his own). One thing we learned at each of those events was that Neal’s constituents are concerned and engaged citizens who want their elected representative to take concrete actions on progressive policies that reflect the needs and values of our district. It’s too bad that Neal wasn’t there to hear any of that for himself.
The 2020 elections are coming and we as a district need to start preparing now so we can find and support candidates that will listen to constituents and truly represent our needs in Washington.
The first step is to coalesce our thoughts and prioritize our needs and create a progressive platform for CD1. Then we will know exactly what questions and “asks” to present to potential candidates, so we can make informed voting decisions.
WE NEED YOUR INPUT! Join us as we review the draft of our platform. Speak up about the issues that matter most to you. This event is open to all residents of MA First Congressional District. YOU NEED NOT BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE TO JOIN THIS EVENT. First timers WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED! View the event on Facebook here and please share widely.
- RUWMOneSmallThing – We are continuing with our theme of actions to help us become a more informed (and thus more powerful) electorate. This week we are learning about The Dream and Promise Act and how this bill would help secure the futures of over 2.5 million people and strengthen all our communities. This week’s #RUWMOneSmallThing, one small thing you can do that will make a difference is to watch (and then share!) this video explainer from the National Immigration Law Center.
- Urge Congress to Fund Gun Violence Research – (h/t Everytown for Gun Safety). Gun violence kills 100 people, and injures hundreds more, every day in our country. More than 20 years ago the NRA fought aggressively to persuade Congress to block funding for gun violence research, and, as a result, funding for gun injury prevention fell by over 90 percent over the last two decades. Now, the House Appropriations Committee has allocated $50 million in a 2020 federal spending bill to study both the causes of gun violence and the solutions to help prevent it. Add your name to support this research funding
- Donate to Support a Woman’s Right to Choose – (h/t Indivisible MA) There are many organizations doing important work to preserve a woman’s right to choose. One in particular that is getting a lot of attention is The Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, due to the passing of Alabama’s recent draconian law. They provide funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics and will help with other barriers to access (travel, lodging, etc.) as well as able. You can also use this link to access other abortion funds.
- Demand an investigation into CBP’s mistreatment of children at our southern border – (h/t RAICES). Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is responsible for a fifth child’s death while in their custody at the Southern border. This is the fifth child who’s lost their life in recent months. When we read of individual deaths, we see them as isolated cases. But clearly, we have a huge systemic problem. CBP is mistreating migrants in their custody. We need answers, not excuses. Children dying in US custody is a national emergency, and should be treated as such. Can you PLEASE tweet the Head of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, and demand he launches an investigation into CBP’s mistreatment of children at our southern border?
- Donate Airline Miles or Credit Card Points to Help Immigrants Reach Their New Homes – (h/t Indivisible MA). You can watch this video to learn about Miles4Migrants, an organization that uses donations of miles or points to help migrants pay for reunion flights. Use this link to donate.
- Sign the petition: tell Congress to shut down Donald Trump’s child prison camps – (h/t Senator Jeff Merkely). Six young lives snuffed out. Six immigrant children, dead on our watch. The latest: a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died in U.S. custody last year. It was unreported until now. The heart of this shame, this national tragedy: Donald Trump’s cruel immigration policies and the child prison camps run in our name. I visited a camp in Homestead, Florida, earlier this year. It was chilling and part of a that stems from the administration’s strategy of criminalizing flight from oppression. Let’s restore basic humanity: tell Congress to shut down Donald Trump’s massive, unregulated, for-profit Homestead prison camp once and for all.
- Help Grow Indivisible – Indivisible has a book! It is the hope that this book will bring more attention to our movement and grow the movement nationally. We can help by working to get this book onto the NYT bestseller list so everyone sees it. If you are able, pre-order a copy of the book. You can use this link to find online places to preorder – best to choose one that isn’t Amazon if possible. If you have some extra money to spare, order a second copy and get it on the shelf of your local library, or college or community center!
- Want even more action items? You can get additional action items delivered directly to your inbox by signing up with Rogan’s List, Americans of Conscience Checklist or Wall-Of-Us.
Mark Your Calendars – Upcoming Events
- No Bans, No Barriers: ROE Act Lobby Action – Thursday, May 30, 11:30-2:00PM, Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St, Boston. Abortion rights are being threatened across the country. Here in Massachusetts, we are fighting back with the ROE Act. This legislation will remove unnecessary barriers to abortion and ensure that anyone, regardless of age, income, insurance, or legal status, can access safe, legal abortion. We need you with us. Join us at the State House Room 222 on May 30 to lobby your lawmakers about why it is critical to expand and protect abortion access NOW. RSVP here. This event is free, open to the public, and handicap accessible. View the event on Facebook
- Postcard Writing Opportunity – Thursday, May 30, 6:00-8:00PM, 15 Cortland Drive, S. Amherst, MA (private home). Ellen Schwartz is holding a postcard writing even for two projects. First is writing to the Joint Committee on Transportation to support H.3012 and S.2061 – the Work and Family Mobility Act. This bill would make Massachusetts standard driver’s licenses available to all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status. The second is to write to Democrats in Florida to remind them to vote in the special election on 6/18. We are hoping to get support for Kelly Smith who is running for State House 38. She’s a great candidate with endorsements from the Sierra Club and several other local Progressive organizations. Questions? Email Ellen.
- Holyoke Pride March & Flag Raising – Friday, May 31, 4:00-5:30PM, Holyoke City Hall, 536 Dwight St, Holyoke. Mayor Alex B. Morse invites the community to attend the Annual Pride Flag Raising at Holyoke City Hall on May 31st. This ceremony will begin with a small march starting at United Congregational Church at 4:00pm where it will head and end at City Hall.
We are very excited for #HolyokePride! Our goal is to honor and celebrate diversity, and inclusiveness in the City of Holyoke. We encourage all to attend and to invite friends! View event details here.
- Medicare for All in Mass. Info Session – Friday, May 31, 5:30-7:30, 640 Page Blvd, Springfield. Are you a supporter of Medicare for All? Are you curious and want to learn more? On Friday, May 31st, the Springfield Hub of Western Mass. Medicare for All will host a presentation of the legislation presently on Beacon Hill to institute Medicare for All in Massachusetts. View event details
- CD1PC Platform Convention – Saturday, June 1, 1:00-3:00, Mason Square Branch Library, 765 State St, Springfield. At each of the 3 Town Hall events the CD1PC held this year, Congressman Richie Neal’s constituents spoke passionately about issues such as Medicare-for-All, The Green New Deal, getting corporate PAC money out of politics, infrastructure, accessibility to our elected officials and more! It is clear that residents of CD1 want progressive policies that reflect the needs and values of our district. Unfortunately, the Congressman did not attend those town hall events, so we gathered those important questions and comments and delivered them to his office. Now, as we prepare for the upcoming election cycle, it is time to coalesce our thoughts and prioritize our needs and create a progressive platform for CD1.We want your input! Join us as we review the draft of our platform. Speak up about the issues that matter most to you. This event is open to all residents of MA First Congressional District. Please RSVP using this link. You can also view the event on Facebook
- MA – Holyoke – Wear Orange – Friday, June 7, 5:00-6:00PM, Holyoke City Hall, 536 Dwight St, Holyoke. Come join us with the Holyoke Mayor’s office as we remember gun violence victims as part of National Gun Violence Awareness week. RSVP using this link. View Facebook event details
- The Mass Bail Fund & Abolition Network Fundraiser & Celebration! – Saturday, June 8, 1:00-4:00PM, Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton. Hey Western Mass! Mark your calendars, yell it from the rooftops – Saturday June 8th, come on by the Northampton Center for the Arts for an incredible silent auction filled with art made by local artists, grab some good free food, meet your neighbors, learn about prison abolition work and bail fund organizing happening in the valley, and give money to support the most marginalized people in our community. View the event on Facebook
- MCLA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference – Tuesday, June 11 – Friday, June 14, MCLA, 375 Church St, North Adams. MCLA presents its first conference on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Presenters from across the United States, as well as globally, will share their expertise and experiences from varied perspectives on race matters in higher education, K-12 Teacher/Administrator, government, and community/nonprofit groups. Conference participants will spend four days in the historic Berkshires in the city of North Adams on the MCLA Main Campus, as well as locations to include the MCLA Gallery and Mass MoCA. Each year presentations will focus on both historical and contemporary issues in varied formats: plenary sessions, panel presentations, round table discussions, poster sessions, exhibitions, and performances. Click here more information
- To get the most up to date list of events, go to Rise Up Western Mass’s event calendar here. Also bookmark the National Resistance Calendar for additional events. Also, to be “in the know” about what Indivisible groups are doing across Massachusetts, sign up for the MA ACTION newsletter by sending an email to: email@example.com.
Notes from a conversation with Ezra Levin
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining other MA Indivisible group leaders for a dinner meeting with Ezra Levin, co-founder of Indivisible! He came to MA to hear directly from local leaders about our organizing, our plans and our concerns. He also came with a wealth of knowledge, great ideas and answers to our questions. Here are some highlights of that conversation:
Growing a grassroots movement: Ezra first talked about the lessons Indivisible learned from 2018 Election, and that was that organizing and data management are the two significant boons to grassroots success. To that end Indivisible is hiring more organizers both nationally and regionally and they have invested in ways to increase data sharing among Indivisible groups. Ezra stated too that “advocacy pushes elections” and that advocacy work is essential to direct elections work – they are just different parts of the same political cycle.
MA is Purple! We spent a fair amount of time talking about state-level politics. Most surprising was that Ezra (and Indivisible) view MA as a purple (NOT blue) state! Even though we have many progressives in the state pushing for progressive legislation, many of those bills die on Speaker DeLeo or Governor Baker’s desks. He encouraged all MA Indivisible groups to push to get progressive legislation to be voted on in the house and then to Baker’s desk. He noted that our power in doing this is to put pressure on our own State Reps as DeLeo will act when he feels pressure from the House to do so. We need to shift power from House Members fearing DeLeo to House Members fearing the loss of votes from constituents! The best way to do this he said, is for the groups to rally around 1 or 2 really popular progressive bills and gin up lots of publicity for them so that if DeLeo or Baker kill them, the public response would be overwhelmingly negative and widely known.
2020 Elections – We (as groups in MA) need to identify the ‘DINOS’ (Democrats in Name Only) and brand them as a group, which will help in our efforts to unseat them in the next election. Several other districts around the country have done this successfully and we can learn from their success. Ezra also talked about the importance of using social media campaigns to educate public on the lack of transparency and the dysfunction within the MA legislative process. We need to bring this into the light and make the public aware. We spent a lot of time talking specifically about Richie Neal and the work of the CD1-Progressive Coalition and how best to organize and mobilize on that front moving forward.
Indivisible National Book – Ezra spoke a bit about the Indivisible book releasing on November 5, 2019 – 1 year prior to Election day 2020. The book was meant less to raise money for Indivisible and more to bring attention to and grow the movement nationally. The strategy is to make the book a New York Times Bestseller. We can help by pre-ordering the book (from small book sellers and not Amazon where possible).
Impeachment – Lastly, (because he was asked directly), Ezra spoke about Impeachment. Indivisible is fairly closely connected to the Progressive Caucus and there is obvious talk of Impeachment there. However, he does not believe that Nancy Pelosi has a plan or an interest in it yet. She responds to her caucus and until they overwhelming demand it, she isn’t likely to do it. Ezra did note however Justin Amash’s announcement for impeachment seems to have shifted the situation slightly. We can help by pushing our own elected officials on this issue so they can put pressure on her.
The More You Know
Do you know Katie Porter, freshman Congresswoman from CA? This attorney and former law professor brings her A-game to congressional hearings. Check out her amazing work here.
- Katie Porter Schools Housing Secretary Ben Carson on Key Real Estate Term
- Katie Porter (D-CA) Uses Her Own Textbook to School Director of the CFPB on The Basics
- Katie Porter grills Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan
Check This Out
The Survivors Interview with Sarah Silverman – Sarah Silverman spends the day with a hardline anti-choice group.