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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Progressive Potluck 10/20 Minutes and Discussion Topics

Once again, we had a great time at the potluck Thursday night! There were plenty of new faces along with returning regulars--all appreciated contributions to the space. We explored a variety of subjects, which will be summarized below. Our vision is to provide an ongoing interpersonal (rather than just internet) hub for progressive activists to share ideas, policies, and events and to support one another.

The next potluck will be Thurs 11/3 starting at 5:30 for getting acquainted, eating, and catching up. We plan to sit down for a more focused discussion at 6:30. We are going to try having one individual speak and facilitate discussion for 10-15 minutes on a subject they are passionate about, a project they are working on, or any other item you feel would be a good tool to share. The first volunteer for this is Lewis, who will be talking about budgeting in the city of La Crosse and how we as community members may impact city spending. Please let us know if you would like to educate the group on and invite engagement from other activists. We think it would be best to keep it at 1-2 planned speakers for now, so that people who can't stay very late can still listen and participate; additional ideas can of course be explored after the speakers. As always, please let us know what you think of the potluck and organization feedback so we can keep evolving to better serve everyone, be inclusive, and have fun!

Below summarizes our conversations with a few ongoing ideas revisited and several upcoming events highlighted that are brewing excitement. Some are ideas in infancy (consider if/how you want to see them progress), and some are upcoming events we want to encourage people to show up for and support.

Anti-Racism Film Discussions - There are two movie showings and discussions this week with racial justice themes. The first is is on cultural appropriation, showing a film by Philo, Wednesday 10/26 at 6:30-9:30 at Pearl Street Brewery. Please show up with an open mind to listen and learn while supporting the Ho Chunk La Crosse Youth and Learning Center. Then Thursday 10/27 at 5:30-8:30 at City Hall, anti-racism advocate and sociologist James Loewen (author of Lies My Teacher Told Me) will discuss sundown towns and how La Crosse fits into that (based on research, it IS a sundown town). More info can be found under the events section on the right hand side of this blog. Both nights should be sure to have great discussion, and we hope that many of you can make it out to support these events. Please consider these as important opportunities to better educate ourselves on past and present iterations of racism in ourselves and in our community.

Joining the Democratic Party of La Crosse County - We are still calling progressive voters to consider joining the county party to work on change from within (think of it as an experiment in entryism). We need to try getting involved en masse and pushing real action rather than empty promises.

Volunteering on Election Day - According to City Hall, volunteers for election day this year are lower than usual, and they really need more people to help register voters (if you are an SRD) or just work the polls. I believe they pay at least a bit above minimum wage if anyone wants to make some money and help others perform their civic duty. You can contact city clerk Teri Lehrke at (608) 789-7510 or lehrket@cityoflacrosse.org to get more info or to sign up.

Pearl Street pedestrian walkway - There is ongoing talk of Pearl Street becoming a pedestrian thoroughfare. It is in accordance with the city's plans for transportation changes, but not much has been happening. If we can get momentum behind this, it could be a great change to our city in favor of biking and walking, a step away from car culture.

Divided We Fall showing and millennial march - Kevin is working to get a showing of Divided We Fall with the director present in La Crosse. Cathy is also working to see if their is interest in a Millenial March, possibly connected to the showing.

Running for common council - Jess had mentioned a possible workshop for running for local offices, and there is also the resource posted a few posts back in this blog about an opportunity for women. Every common council seat in La Crosse is open to election this April, and this could be a good opportunity to fill our local political offices with folks who will represent people-focused progressive policy. If anyone has ideas, wants to run, or knows someone who would be great for the council, please share, as April is not as far away as it seems.

Citizens Action Co-op - Some of you have certainly heard about Citizen Action of Wisconsin and their organizing coops. If you have not, it is a group of 200+ individuals in a community each paying a small monthly fee to pay a full time salary to an organizer in their community to fight for the causes they believe in. It is a great asset, and still something that many of us would love to see in La Crosse in the (hopefully near) future. In the meant time, Jeff Smith is the organizer employed by western Wisconsin, and spends most of his time in Eau Claire doing great things. If you want to support this model, please go to their website and sign up to contribute to the western Wisconsin Co-op. If they get big enough, they can hire a second organizer and station them where there are the most supporters needing an organizer. (Hint: That means if we could get all our friends to join, we could get a full-time organizer in La Crosse!)

DAPL Fundraiser - The fight to protect our water and land in the Dakota's continues, and it is quite literally a watershed moment. The need the support of everyone who understands the fight for clean water and air, the fight against the fossil fuel industry, the fight against institutional racism and the abuse of indigenous people in this country. The number one thing we can do is make sure we know what is going on, keep track of it, and speak out. We also need to do everything we can to make their lives easier and help them keep the fight going. with that in mind, I have been brainstorming about having some kind of fundraiser to get our community revved up and collect donations. I was thinking we could have some speakers get together, and have a some bands as well. I have zero experience with event planning at this level though, so I am very open to any support/leadership role people want to take on this. I am working to contact the Root Note owners to see if they are interested, as I think that would be a great venue and I think they are supporters. If anyone has ideas/connections with this please let me know.

Progressive state of union - Cathy, Obbie, Kevin, and other long-term locals shared about this event in years past and proposed having another one in the next month or two. It would be an opportunity for interorganizational collaboration and more long form talkers.

Book Club - In the late night crowd, we heard interest in starting a book club. I will be making a facebook group to invite interested parties. Please let me know if you want to participate. If you don't use facebook, I will make sure that you are included as well so please reach out to me personally.

Solar La Crosse - There was talk of getting a Solar La Crosse project going for 2017. The more people we can get together to commit to going solar, the cheaper it should be to get big projects installed. We need to do more research on this one, and it is a great opportunity that will ultimately pay for itself.

If you hear of other events you think should be on our collective agenda, please share! Stay aware and involved, friends. Hope to see many of you at upcoming events and the next potluck!

Monica and Peter

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