Neighborhood Networks conference wrap-up
The heart of the meeting was a 2-hour break-out into small regional groups, who then brought their ideas and priorities back to the general session, where they will serve for the basis of (much longer) discussions by the interim Steering Committee (for which they also picked delegates). There were also a slew of presentations, from general cheerleading (by Tom Hughes of Democracy for America, and by Hoeffel, Pennacchio, and Ortiz, more locally) to discussion of specific causes that can be given more leverage by grassroots involvement (by representatives from labor, the women's movement, and poor-empowerment organizations who have had local successes). People in the room seemed upbeat about the level of interest in a long-term attempt to rehabilitate the term "liberal" and to make elected officials responsive to the issues that matter to us. There was also enthusiasm about getting active immediately, with the result that many will start to contact their neighbors immediately, both with a general introduction and with a call for involvement on the issue of the statewide minimum wage.
There will be much more work needed in reaching out to the unrepresented neighborhoods, in figuring out how to structure the organization and identify its priorities, and in developing constituencies for action. But for a one-day starting point, based on the hopes and efforts of a handful of motivated bodies, this was a mighty heartening outcome. Onward, ho!!
(p.s.) for some other takes on how the conference went, see these two responses over at Young Philly Politics.
Update: another participant's viewpoint has sparked some interesting conversations...