Invest in the Progressive Grassroots (Join us, Thu. (11/13) in Newton!)

N.B.: "You, the bedrock liberals of the BMG community, are critical to our long-term success. We need your input as stake-holding members of our organization. We need your energy and ideas as we move forward with our ambitious agenda of a vibrant, engaged, grassroots organization that not only helps elect progressives, but sets the agenda for the work that needs doing. We’re not there yet. But we are on our way. Thanks so much for everything, I really do love being part of this community, you all have taught me so much over the years. I look forward to thanking you in person on Thursday." - promoted by Bob_Neer

On Thursday in Newtonville, Progressive Massachusetts will be joined by allies and activists, as well as Jordan Berg-Powers from Mass Alliance and Don Berwick, to celebrate a successful year, and discuss the upcoming legislative session.

It’s also one of our most critical fundraisers of the year; I am asking for your financial support.

I know this community understands the important resource we provide. For the vast majority of us who can’t spend all our time on Beacon Hill, learning the ins and outs of an opaque political process, Progressive Massachusetts creates a comprehensive progressive scorecard. And you can count on our blog to provide in-depth explanations of the inner workings of public policy making (or not) at the State House. At our core, we believe that having good information is important to building an engaged citizenry.

But we’re not just proud of the education and awareness work we do. In just two years, we have built a statewide network that is recognized in the media, on Beacon Hill and through the work of our chapters. In our first legislative session, we helped pass the most comprehensive election modernization law in over a decade, played a critical role in the grassroots field effort to win the highest minimum wage in the country, and were a lead organization on the earned sick time ballot question that passed last week.

Obviously, an incoming Republican administration only compounds the problems already presented by a conservative, risk-averse legislature, which have been so productively discussed in recent days on BMG. These are exactly the kinds of discussions we have been having — and must continue to have — with members and at the chapter and Board level. We can use your insights and activism as part of our membership.

As we work towards a more progressive Massachusetts, a few imperatives are becoming clear;

  • We need to fight for social justice with a clear message of economic populism. That’s why we will focus on our Shared Prosperity Agenda this legislative session which identifies long term goals and steps along the way to get there. For example, we won’t get a progressive income tax in this session, but the legislature certainly could close a few corporate tax loopholes.

    We are in this for the long term, and we know it  takes the incremental, small victories to build to the big ones. With a clearly articulated vision, and strategic campaigns focused on winning now, we can make the Commonwealth just a little bit more fair, day by day.

  • We must redouble our “outside the building” grassroots engagement with elected officials at the State House. Not only when they are wrong (though it is important) but also to provide encouragement and stand strong with them when our progressive friends when they take a tough stand against leadership.

  • We must also continue to work with them “inside the building” to overcome the top-down dynamic on Beacon Hill. We know the state-of-play in Massachusetts: few electoral challenges, very safe districts for the most part, and a nearly non-existent State House media all mean incumbents are protected.

    We need to continue to develop our progressive power over time, so that when opportunities to change this dynamic (open leadership positions, special elections, retirements, etc.) we are ready to take advantage.

  • We need to keep reaching out to our neighbors and friends, and learn how to better connect people to the goings-on at the State House. We need to give people a reason to care about state government. It’s tempting to blame Tuesday’s results on those who wouldn’t show up to vote, but there’s a lesson we, as grassroots activists, should not miss: It’s up to us, those of us who live and breathe politics, to remind people that state government matters to their lives, and that there are real choices on the ballot (and this work must happen year-round, not just in the 2 months before elections).

    Baker and Coakley ran campaigns that sought to not offend, and hewed as close to the ‘mushy-middle’ as possible: no wonder so many people saw little at stake and did not vote. We need to build voter engagement by authentically telling stories that matter about the issues that matter (Check out johntmay’s diary for a good discussion about this).

Progressive Mass was created by the grassroots for the grassroots.  We are not bankrolled by generous millionaires. We aren’t underwritten by Bill Gates or George Soros, and while we wouldn’t refuse the check — because it will help us get to where we want to be someday — our dream is that someday we are funded by modest yearly memberships by liberals across the Commonwealth. Because big checks come with strings: the only way to have a truly grassroots organization is if we have truly grassroots funding.

Organize_Fish_Money.jpgYour contribution to Progressive Massachusetts goes towards year round progressive organizing and infrastructure building. I believe that January phone banking for a local organizing meeting is just as important as GOTV phone banking for a statewide candidate.

Make no mistake, elections are important, but the issue organizing between when we go to the polls is a huge opportunity for progressives, and the more that we as a movement embrace issue work, the better the Commonwealth will be. And progressive candidates will in turn be better positioned to win elections.

To do our work effectively in 2015, we need to raise at least $150,000 to cover our staff, overhead, office space, etc. In order to hit the ground running next year and support our Shared Prosperity agenda, we really need to raise $50,000 by the end of December

$150,000 can buy a candidate a mid-sized chunk of TV during a Pats game and a few hit shows in October. We use the same funds to instead invest in full-time organizers who stick around after the first Tuesday in November, working with all of you to build a more progressive Massachusetts. (And if you ever have questions about how your contributions are being used, give me a call).

You, the bedrock liberals of the BMG community, are critical to our long-term success. We need your input as stake-holding members of our organization. We need your energy and ideas as we move forward with our ambitious agenda of a vibrant, engaged, grassroots organization that not only helps elect progressives, but sets the agenda for the work that needs doing. We’re not there yet. But we are on our way.

Thanks so much for everything, I really do love being part of this community, you all have taught me so much over the years. I look forward to thanking you in person on Thursday.



16 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'll be there Thu

    I think that it’s critically important that we think about what it means to have a fully funded, grassroots progressive organization in Massachusetts. How it can change the dynamic in big ways, someday, and how it’s already been effective in smaller ways, and make sure we’re funding it accordingly.

    Thursday will be a fun time, and I’m buying a round at the after party.

  2. I really like the direction Progressive Massachusetts is heading in by further incorporating reform into their agenda. Progressive chance won’t happen without reform, as big business lobbyists can just target leadership and ignore the rest of the chamber. Keep up the good work guys!

    • Thanks Max

      You’re right. As Senator Warren is fond of saying, the game is rigged. Rules reform, good government, expanding access to voting, are all tiny things that will make a big difference in creating a more progressive legislature, without even electing more more progressives (which we also need to do). Thanks, for all of your support!

  3. I strongly encourage you to come visit us in Newton

    We’re going to have a great time and Newton is a lovely city!

    • And you can live there if you have a couple million dollars lying around too!

      • A quick review of your BMG history belies a certain disdain for Newton. Which means I probably shouldn’t ‘feed the troll’ but what I will say is; For a statewide organization, Newton’s strategic placement near 128 and the Mass Pike, and with accessible public transit, makes it a great place to be very near to the 2/3s of the MA population that lives in and around Boston, while also being relatively accessible to our members and supporters coming from further afield. The members of Progressive Newton have done a tremendous job pushing me and the rest of the staff and board members of Progressive Massachusetts to take a very hard look at how we build a statewide, economically diverse progressive movement, and I welcome their hospitality.


        • Cost of entry to be part of the grass roots

          Hi Ben,

          My name is Matthew. I spoke with you over the phone a few months ago about a possible campaign here in Medford and getting more progressive candidates elected at the municipal level (but I wasn’t able to followup with you, given some other battling priorities and a planned vacation around that time, and a changing direction/perspective about how best to address some local problems).

          I was very excited to read about this opportunity to meet you face-to-face tonight, and Harmony (who I only know online), and to catch up with Jordan, who I met years ago at a party (before his rise in this group – to which I’d like to congratulate him on his success and the success of his work). I was also ecstatic to see that rather than like so many politicians who enter a race and then disappear upon losing, Don Berwick is still staying with us, and how incredibly happy this makes me to see this, which appears (to me at least) to be a sincere commitment to the causes we believe in, and not just an elected office.

          Here’s the thing though. I see now that while this is ostensibly, a major event, it is a fundraiser (rather than an opportunity to do assessments, planing, and organizing), where the most affordable ticket is $150.

          I’m disabled (rely on countless government assistance programs) and live in poverty. There’s no way that someone like me can afford to attend this event – to spend $150, $250, or $500 dollars for an event that will last just a few hours in order to have the opportunity to meet up with fellow activists and to discover what are the plans going forward. So, i’m hoping that there will be other events that are more affordable for people in situations like mine where these same opportunities will be available, and while this may be a reality of political organizing and advocacy, it’s also very discouraging, including that there is no option on the site for a suggested donation, or even a field where people can pay, say $20 to attend this event.

          • I'd love tho meet you

            Can we chat off bmg space – is there a way I can share my email with you (I don’t want to list my email on a blog where I.Can’t delete it later). Are u on twitter – ling me too follow you and then we can dm?

            My twittername is same as bmg – harmonywho

            • Yes, I'll DM you there.

              We’re mutual follows and talked through DMs just briefly once. I’m @jotaemei. (Same as my handle here, but with an ‘i’ at the end).

              It’s just that I deactivated from the big 2 social network time (and priority) sucks yesterday. So you wouldn’t be able to find me there at the moment.

              I’ll reactivate and send you a DM with my email address.

              BTW, I agree about privacy (and/or spammers) issues and not wanting
              to divulge one’s contact information here). Wouldn’t it be nice if BMG allowed us to send PMs to others on the site? Hmmm (New feature hint to the admins ;) )

  4. Sorry to miss this

    I’m out of town Thursday visiting family — very bummed to miss this & hope you have a great event.

    My major hope is that PM as well as RaiseUp can work together in future. With the earned sick time success, and the progress on minimum wage, I think we’ve seen that a broad progressive coalition united around some key issues can really accomplish amazing things — even in a hostile political environment and a crappy election cycle. Would hate to see RaiseUp wither, and I hope PM can be part of encouraging it to keep going.

    Also we need to celebrate our wins and really trumpet them — to ourselves and to the powers that be. I think RaiseUp has done an incredible job of infusing the campaign with pride & joy of being part of it — and that is the type of thing that sustains people over the long haul, for the next fight etc.

  5. "to celebrate a successful year" - ProgressiveMass

    I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • I’d beg to differ. A year ago, we had no earned sick time provisions for nearly 1 million workers in MA, early voting was a fantasy, and the minimum wage was stuck at $8/hour. Progressives came together and changed all of those things.

      Did the result of the gubernatorial election suck? Yes! Of course. And any of our members who knocked on doors or called for Martha Coakley will whole heartedly agree with you. I felt the frustration at the doors on election day when I was turning people out for earned sick time and I had to have conversations with them about the importance of Martha Coakley as our next governor.

      2 years ago, PM was a pipe dream of a few activists sitting around in a living room bemoaning the current state of affairs (No offense to my beloved board members who are reading this). Since then, PM members and supporters sent nearly 5,000 emails to legislators, generated over 1,000 phone calls on critical issues at key moments, collected 42,000 signatures in support of ballot questions and knocked on over 11,000 doors in support of our endorsed candidates and ballot questions.

      The legislature generally knows and respects our work, and we – as an organization and a movement – are poised to accomplish even greater things in 2015.

      I get the frustration. Election day was a crappy day for all of us, but to deny the progress we have made is just wrong and short-sighted.

      Did PM make some strategic or tactical mistakes this year? Probably… we are all human. But we are building a movement, and on the balance, 2014 was a successful year for us, as an organization and as progressives.

      Methuen is a tough place to be a Progressive, and I hear your frustration. But for us, as progressives, to build a more progressive Massachusetts, we need people from all over the Commonwealth to join us. I hope that you can see the benefit in having a statewide organization pushing for our shared values. If you have any ideas on how we can be more effective, let me know. post them here, or send me an email, Heck, give me a call, 857-203-0897. I’m all ears.


      • To further add to your thoughts Ben

        I can’t make it on Thursday unfortunately (due to other commitments) but I would love to be more active with PM.

        I think your focus on educating the public on how the Legislature works is perfect. That’s the real locus of power in Massachusetts, not the Governor’s office. However, I would add that being acquainted with how state government and its respective state agencies work (and just as importantly, how it doesn’t work) and why the overall budget process matters are all just as important.

        I have some experience with this and I would love to share more about these at a future event or even here in this thread.

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