Monday, June 06, 2005

Neighborhood Networks conference wrap-up

Well, after weeks of pestering my readers to show up for the NN launch this past Saturday, and months before then helping plan and brainstorm for the organization and the event, I finally got to be part of the conference itself. I have to say that from our point of view, it was a huge success: we had over 200 people in attendance, representing half the wards in the city, and everybody who came seemed ready to get down to business -- thinking about the organization itself and how it might function, putting forth issues and ideas that mattered to them, getting to know the other folks from their neighborhoods and developing working relationships.
NN logo

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...


Blogger TommyWonk said...

Three cheers for Philly citizens for taking on leadership roles in the cause of reforming Philly.

11:20 PM  

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