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Keystone Progressive Summit Preview

Harrisburg-HiltonThe Keystone Progressive Summit is meeting for the first time under President Trump.  Tensions between the progressive movement and conservative Democrats are high, and this gathering is the first chance to find a new direction after the 2016 elections.  

The Summit kicks off at the Harrisburg Hilton today with featured speakers Janice “Jay” Johnson, Bree Carlson, Thomas Frank, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.  Johnson is the chair of People’s Action, an action network Keystone Progress recently joined.  Bree Carlson is the Assistant Executive Director of People’s Action, garnered national attention in 2015 when she climbed a flagpole at the South Carolina state capitol to remove the Confederate flag.  Frank is the author of “Listen, Liberal” and “What’s the Matter with Kansas.”  Gabbard is a Democratic Representative from Hawaii, and an early support of Senator Bernie Sanders.  

“With the new administration, our communities are facing dangerous times. While we are saddened, angry and afraid, we are stronger when standing together, collectively. Join us as we stand together, and pledge our mutual solidarity to forge ahead and lean on each other in this critical moment,” Michael Morrill, the Executive Director of Keystone Progress, said in an email announcing the speakers.  

The full agenda for the weekend is listed below:

Friday, February 17, 2017

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Building a Movement Politics Grassroots Campaign Led by Laurel Wales, Deputy Director of Movement Politics for People’s Action.

12:00 PM Good Jobs Nation.  The Change to Win labor federation will be presenting their new program, Good Jobs Nation, their national campaign to hold Trump accountable to the working class. No charge, but pre-registration is required. Lunch provided.  Sign up here.

6:00 PM  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will be speaking on Friday night at the 6:00 session, not Saturday morning.

Get Out of Town: Rural organizing as the key to winning a progressive mandate. For too long, rural communities across Pennsylvania and the nation have been neglected by progressive organizations, and in that vacuum Trumpism has flourished. The problem is exacerbated by Republican gerrymandering and the electoral college.  For organizations seeking substantial policy and cultural shifts, the hard work of organizing the countryside is long overdue. Panelists will share successful strategies, insights and stories of organizing in rural communities across the nation. Daniel Doubet, Lead Organizer, Keystone Progress; Janice “Jay” Johnson, National Chair, People’s Action.

7:30 PM  Keystone Progress Fundraiser, Harrisburg Hilton. Drinks and appetizers with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and other special guests to be announced.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

7:30 AM Summit Registration begins         

9:00 AM Morning plenary with PA Rep. Chris Rabb and other inspirational speakers.

10:45 AM Session I

Stopping Polluters with Local Ordinances. Communities across Pennsylvania are fighting polluters by enacting local ordinances that can withstand court challenges. Find out how you can use this strategy to keep polluters out of your community and control those who are already there. Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network.

How to Support Immigrant and Refugee Communities in the Trump Era. The last year has seen a spike in hateful rhetoric targeted at immigrant and refugee communities, and a new President who has publicly expressed his disdain and contempt for immigrant and refugee communities. Now more than ever, allies are needed to push back against this hateful rhetoric and support targeted communities in their fight for liberation. Sundrop Carter.

Buckle Up, Buttercup: Reproductive Freedom in the Trump Era. Attacks on reproductive freedom will multiply in 2017 at the Federal level, however progressives have a chance to advance reproductive freedom where we have control locally. To learn about what we face in 2017, this panel will first do a recap of 2016 trends in reproductive freedom which will help us identify emerging threats and opportunities in 2017. A brief overview of expected attacks at the Federal and state level will be covered, as well as opportunities for proactive wins. National and local reproductive freedom/justice organizations will share plans they have to mobilize the pro-choice majority. Travis Ballie, NARAL.

Fighting Gun Violence in the New Era of American Government. Given the electoral results, how do gun violence prevention activists move forward? What are the biggest dangers, challenges, and opportunities? How can we grow and be relevant when policy fights will be tough and progress hard to measure? Shira Goodman, CeaseFirePA.

Building Economic Security and Health Through Energy Efficiency. Having a safe and comfortable home is more than a luxury: it is a necessity. A stable home is closely linked to education, health and economic security. Engaging in energy efficiency retrofits can make all the difference. This is particularly true in multi-family affordable housing, which has been vastly neglected for energy upgrades, but whose residents are often disproportionately impacted by environmental toxins. Significant reductions in asthma and other diseases have been seen with even basic weatherization efforts. And, when the retrofit is done using U.S.-made products, U.S. workers benefit as well. Learn how the BlueGreen Alliance is fighting for healthy, U.S.-made energy efficient products as one component of a nationwide initiative to facilitate more retrofits in affordable housing. The Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, one of BGA’s partners, will add the outlook for advancing this issue in our state. Lauren Asplen and Khari Mosely, BlueGreen Alliance; Eric Miller, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance.

PA School Funding: Inadequacy, racial disparities in opportunities, school choice, and advocacy in the era of Trump. An attorney from the Public Interest Law Center, a researcher from Research for Action, and a grassroots education activist will discuss the education funding lawsuit against the state; the stark racial disparities in opportunities for PA students; the costs and threat of a new push for vouchers and “school choice” under the Trump/Pence/DeVos administration and a very ideological state legislature in PA; and best practices for parents and community members to join together in a statewide movement to stand up for system of public education that provides ALL children with essential resources and an opportunity to learn. Moderator: Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA. . Panelists: Dan Urevick-Acklesberg, Staff Attorney, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; David Lapp, Director of Policy Research, Research for Action;Larry Feinberg, Founder and Co-Char, Keystone State Education Coalition.

From Recruitment and Representing: How to Get More Women Elected. We’re looking for a few good women– to run for office! From recruiting, to running, to representing, in PA it seems like we can’t find enough women to step into elected office. But is that really true and what does it take to find the right women to run? This panel will explore these topics with women who’ve recruited candidates, run, and represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Rep. Mary Jo Daley PA House of Representatives District 148; Terry Gillen, Board, RepresentPAC; Christina Hartman, 2016 Congressional Candidate PA-16.

Crisis Communications in the Trump Era. We will explore the messaging People’s Action and Keystone Progress are using to advance our work during the Trump Administration. Participants will learn methods that can be employed in order to “protect the fortress” on the communications front.

Why Labor’s Issues are the Progressive Community’s Issues. Deindustrialization and the attacks on public sector employees are threatening to destroy the labor movement and America’s standard of living. This workshop would explore how and why Labor and the progressive community need to work together to protect workers, women, the LGBTQ and immigrant communities and people of color. John Meyerson, UFCW 1776; Laurel McLeaish, PA State Education Association; Ike Gittlen, United Steelworkers

12:00 PM Lunch Program  – Author Thomas Frank

1:00 PM Session II

The Rest of the Story- the response of the political Left to the New Right. For the last eight years, Rachel Tabachnick has told the story of the “New Right” or the project of building permanent conservative infrastructure from the 1970s to the present. This year she is addressing the rest of the story – the response of the political Left to the New Right. The first half of the session will be a brief history of the regrouping of the “New Left” after the 1980 election loss of President Jimmy Carter and net loss of 12 Democratic Senate seats, including: the Atari Democrats; the self-declared Neoliberals; the Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC); and the affiliated Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). The second half will be comparing and contrasting the New Right and the New Left approach to winning hearts and minds in order to learn from this history as we face the outcomes of the 2016 elections. Rachel Tabachnick.

Five Things Every Nonprofit Should Know About Advocacy. We know 501(c)(3) public charities are planning and engaging in conversations and actions with the new Federal administration, Pennsylvania executive officials, the state legislature, administrative agencies, and local city councils and school boards. Join Alliance for Justice for an interactive training on the types of advocacy we can and can’t do as public charities. The trainer will give concrete examples and invite the audience to think through hypothetical situations to develop a deeper understanding of the rules that apply to 501(c)(3) public charity advocacy. Keely Monroe, Counsel, Alliance for Justice.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health: What Now? Launched in late 2013, the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health is a collaboration of 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to improve the status of women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, which routinely ranks among the lowest in the country. In this panel, we will review the Campaign’s strategy, 2017 priorities and related proactive legislation, and discuss new opportunities for organizations and citizens to advocate for equality. Tara Murtha, Women’s Law Project.

Redistricting Reform in Pennsylvania. Learn what you need to know about gerrymandering, who it harms and how to fix it. Get informed and join the movement to end this conflict of interest and restore government of, by and for the people. Carol Kuniholm of Fair Districts PA.

Dirty Gas Has No Place in a Clean Power Plan. A Clean Power Plan that puts natural gas in the clean column will only institutionalize fracking in a state like Pennsylvania that has gone all in on natural gas. Rather than transition us away from fossil fuel-generated power, the Clean Power Plan, as written, will just trade one climate-killing fuel for another. That is just the tip of a melting iceberg of problems with the Clean Power Plan. Pennsylvanians Against Fracking launched a campaign called Dirty Gas Has No Place in a Clean Power Plan to examine all of the issues in detail and educate the public, policy makers, and elected officials. We’ll present those issues during this panel. And we’ll discuss real solutions. Karen Feridun, Tracy Carluccio, Diane Sipe.

Good Jobs Nation. The Change to Win labor federation will be presenting their new program, Good Jobs Nation, their national campaign to hold Trump accountable to the working class. Joseph Geervarghese and Tara Young from Change to Win.

How to fix the broken PA Tax System (and Budget). Pennsylvania faces serious and deepening budget deficits2 now and into the future. This panel will (1) show that the source of those deficits is a broken, upside down tax system; (2) Propose a new path forward that would fix Pennsylvania taxes and enable us to fund the public services necessary to make our communities thrive; and (3) Introduce the PA Choice campaign in support of that proposal. Marc Steir and Jeff Garis, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Direct Action. What is it and when and how do we use it? Direct action gets the goods is an old labor slogan. While it’s true, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to do direct action. National staff from People’s Action will guide a discussion about why, how and when to use direct action effectively in our issue campaigns.

2:30 PM Session III

Saving our Democracy from a “Post-Truth” World. How we can #MakeAmericaThinkAgain America’s long-simmering irrationality problem finally boiled over in the election of Donald Trump, whose campaign dialed up the fear, conspiracy and misinformation of the right-wing media echo chamber to 11. In a “post-truth” world, a rage in the hand beats a reality-based program in the bush. It’s a new era requiring new organizing strategies. Persuasion isn’t enough. To eliminate the market for fake news and take away the audience for demagogues like Trump, we have to #MakeAmericaThinkAgain. Learn how in our immersive, interactive workshop. Erin Ninehouser, Dave Ninehouser, Sue Kerr.

The People’s Action/Keystone Progress Long-Term Agenda. The 1% and corporations developed a long-term agenda to take power, resulting in the 1% economy that we have today. This works for the 1%, but not for the rest of us. To do that, the 1% had to make us believe it was for the good of everyone. To win their structural reforms, the built an infrastructure to advance their ideas. To fight back, People’s Action/Keystone Progress is proposing a Long-Term Agenda that will build the progressive infrastructure to create a People’s New Economy. Find out what the agenda looks like and how we can make it a reality. Bree Carlson, Cynthia Ward-Wikstrom, People’s Action National Staff.

Why We Must Protect Governor’ Wolf’s Moratorium on Executions. The death penalty system is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with our justice system. It’s racist, arbitrary and targets the poor and most vulnerable. Nationally, 157 people have been exonerated after being sentenced to death. Philadelphia is the only major city in the northeast that still has a death penalty. As courts and state legislatures across the country grapple with a system that is broken beyond repair, Pennsylvania are in the best position for repeal in decades. This is a fight we can and must win. Come learn more about the perfect storm that’s developing and engage in dialogue about how we can work together to put an end to the death penalty. Kathleen Lucas is the Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and a member of the PA Democratic State Committee. Chuck Pascal is a practicing criminal defense attorney, a member of PA Democratic State Committee and served as a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee.

Understanding the Culture of Poverty. If organizations are charged with “solving” poverty, shouldn’t we first look to understand poverty? This presentation will base off of the information found in the Bridges Out of Poverty series that takes an in-depth look at what drives people in each class, what hidden rules they have and how language differs. All of which will be covered in this presentation. Ginny Crake, Dwayne Heisler.

The Muslim Ban: Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim Bigotry. How a nearly two-year campaign of bigotry and hate led to a Muslim Ban. Discussions on the impact of inflammatory rhetoric in public discourse, the policy repercussions and human impact of bigotry in politics. Marwan Kreidie, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Arab-American Development Corps; Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab-American Institute.

Lobbying and the Legislative Process. This session will consist of an overview of the legislative process in Pennsylvania and how to influence the legislative process. This overview will explain how laws are actually passed (or stopped) and not the version found in textbooks. The session will also provide an understanding of how to lobby the members of the General Assembly in each phase of the legislative process. Laurel McLeaish, PA State Education Association.

Resistance Assemblies and Chapter Building. Communities across Pennsylvania are holding mass meeting and small group gatherings to plan the next steps in resisting the Trump agenda. This session will discuss ways to make sure we don’t fizzle out in a few months. We’ll discuss ways that we can build an expanded progressive infrastructure without stifling the enthusiasm of the current organic growth in the movement. Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress.

Power Training Learn the fundamentals of community organizing – how will you build power with your community? This training will encourage participants to reflect on the nature of power and what they can do to get it! Lev Hirschhorn, Lead Organizer, Reclaim Philadelphia.

Issue cutting training for students. A workshop geared toward students that will help you take big problems and cut them down into winnable issues. Aija Nemer-Aanerud, Director, Student Action.

4:00 PM Session IV

If Trump Repeals Obamacare, Let’s Replace it with Single Payer. President Trump has promised the repeal of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. What damage can Trump actually do? And what is his replacement plan? This is likely to be an evolving topic as he will only be in office for one month. Nevertheless, he has promised a better health system that will cost less and provide universal health care. The only plan that can fulfill such a promise is single payer and we believe all Americans, including Republicans can unite around a single payer solution. The program will discuss efforts that can advance this in Pennsylvania. Walter Tsou, Bob Mason, Rick Bloomingdale, Cindy Purvis.

Sanctuary and Other Immigration Issues.

Holding the National Right Wing Network Accountable. Across the country, we have seen a coordinated national effort to defund the progressive left through State Policy Network affiliates and other Koch funded entities. In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Fairness Center are the state affiliates continually making the intellectual arguments under the guise of policy analysis and legal accountability for labor. These organizations work outside of the Republican Party structure and often conduct their work without much accountability. They played a pivotal role in flipping Wisconsin and Michigan from blue to red. The national network is growing in size and continually evolving its strategy now moving into field programs designed to have union members opt of dues. We have seen expansion in deep blue states like Washington, Oregon, and California. After the 2016 election, many of these organizations feel emboldened to continue carrying out these attacks on the funding mechanisms of the progressive left. It’s important to analyze their strategy and go on offense against them. Increasingly, we are seeing these organizations ramping up staff throughout many states that are considered deep blue. Many of these organizations tread the line of what is legally permissible under the tax designated status. dIt will be important to inform progressive partners of this work and what steps they can do to inoculate their members, bring legal accountability, and organize against them. Eric Rosso, Molly Chapman Norton, Rodell Mollineau.

All in the Family Exploring the Trump phenomena and effective ways to communicate with his supporters. It is not really about Trump. There will be other “Trumps”. It’s about the people who support him. Dwayne Heisler.

Running for Office in the T. Our session will focus on how to run as a progressive in the conservative areas of the state. We will explore messaging, campaign tactics, networking, and more. The panel will also analyze recruitment efforts to get more individuals to run for office. We will also look at the process to run in the 2017 municipal elections. In addition, a discussion will be had on how to run for local committee positions. Chuck Black, Emily Gale, Jennifer Black.

Increasing Diversity in Advocacy Groups. Many, if not most, advocacy groups support the concepts of diversity in society. You when we look at the demographics of many of the groups, we find that members are all white or all black, all gay or all straight, all Hispanic, all Christian, all women, all elderly, etc. To use the cliché, is it important to “Practice what we preach. “If we believe that diversity in society is important, should we spend time recruiting diverse individuals in our organization? If we decide that diversity in our organization is important, what are some way to achieve diversity? Michael A. Sand, Nathaniel Gadsden, Michael Alexander, Shaashawn Dial-Snowden.

Pricing Carbon – An Effective Response to Climate Change. The panelists will explain the carbon fee and dividend proposal and its projected impact on greenhouse gas emissions, the economy, and household finances. They will present ways to create the political will for climate solutions through the exercise of personal and political power. Communication techniques with Congress, NGOs and the conservative community will be addressed. Rachel Mark, Randy Gyory, Michael Mark, Stephanie Doyle, Cindy Burbank.

Funding Our Progressive Work. How can progressive organizations get the funding they need from mainstream foundations? Hear directly from representatives of some of PA’s most influential foundations. Khalif Ali (Pittsburgh Foundation), Matt Barron (Heinz Foundation), Diana Bucco <(Buhl Foundation), Mac Howison (Sprout Fund), Pat Clark (Chair, Keystone Progress Education Fund).

Relational Organizing. This session will focus on organizing for long-term change. How do we move from mobilizing mass-movements to the ultimate goal of organizing? Gain key insights and tips to build strong relationships with volunteers, leaders and partners. Join us as we explore how developing relationships is a foundation for building power.

6:30 PM Dauphin County Democratic Committee 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance

AFSCME Conference Center, 150 S 43rd Street, Harrisburg

Sunday, February 19, 2017

9:00 AM Keystone Progress Leadership Assembly.  (For KP members only)

9:00 AM Student Action Resistance Assembly.   

2:00 PM Leadership Assembly and Student Assembly close.

8 Responses

  1. Trump certainly takes any money he can get from wherever he can get it, but refuses to disclose from whence it came. How about those Russian connections, Donny boy?

  2. Seneca– none of the groups you listed are funded by Soros. Stop the #alternativefacts nonsense.

  3. “Funding Our Progressive Work. How can progressive organizations get the funding they need from mainstream foundations? Hear directly from representatives of some of PA’s most influential foundations. Khalif Ali (Pittsburgh Foundation), Matt Barron (Heinz Foundation), Diana Bucco <(Buhl Foundation), Mac Howison (Sprout Fund), Pat Clark (Chair, Keystone Progress Education Fund)."

    Many such "progressive" funders are networked directly or indirectly to George Soros or groups funded by him. Simple google searches can show a lot about the relationships involved.

    That said, it's a free country and people and groups can take money from whoever waves it at them, as long as it is done legally. The problem comes when for some reason or other the recipients don't want to acknowledge their donors, or talk about the obligations they accrue as a result, or the common agendas they share.

  4. Point well made, Passing Through. You’d expect that such paragons of ideological purity and self-proclaimed selfless causes would find a ramshackle, abandoned factory downstream from center city to spread their bedrolls. Doesn’t look like such austerity is a good fit for them, though. We might expect the Hilton to have some scruples regarding its guests, but in the end they’ll take the green no matter who waves it at them.

    Of course, in reality the so-called Progressives are well-funded for such events. Some actually have the money and try hard to hide this fact from their publics or even their colleagues, while most of the others have found some gullible sponsors to give them a few days to bother the good citizens of Harrisburg.

  5. Tea party of the left but unfortunately not as effective – out of touch. They get louder and we keep losing seats and now the White House to an authentic lunatic.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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