A regional organization for progressive grassroots groups in the Second CD
Why do the progressive grassroots groups need any regional organization at all?
Individual grassroots groups will always be relatively small, informal groups, because that’s what grassroots groups are. That’s the only way they can build the friend-and-neighbor bonds that are indispensable to grassroots organization. However, it also means that their membership, reach, and resources will also always be relatively small. Few individual groups will ever have the resources needed (for example) to buy a projector, or ever have a membership that includes all the skill sets they need to make themselves a strong presence in their community. Sometimes, they want to sponsor events for more than just the people within their own community, or access training that only a few people in their group want or need.
Can’t the Wisconsin Grassroots Network provide that sort of coordination and support?
No. A progressive resident of Darlington who would like to be alerted to upcoming events probably doesn’t want to receive notice of events in Wausau. When the New Glarus group wants to publicize a special event beyond its village boundaries, they don’t need to get the word out to Fond du Lac. A group in Belleville might be able to share a digital projector with a group in Madison, but not Rhinelander. A grassroots activist from Cambridge with legal skills might be willing to go to Evansville to consult with a new grassroots group, but unwilling to travel to Chippewa Falls.
Why can’t Progressive Partners do all that?
The hallmark of Progressive Partners has always been its loose, informal nature--something that many people value. It gathers every quarter for informal networking and connection-building. Its coordinating committee has no authority or organizational ability to make the sort of day-to-day administrative decisions necessary to do things like maintain a website, routinely contact grassroots groups to get info on upcoming events, raise funds, serve as an ongoing clearinghouse for shared resources and a central contact point for anyone seeking information about regional grassroots resources, or other functions.
And if PP were to adopt the sort of structure and governance policies that could make day-to-day administrative decisions and carry out day-to-day operations, it would no longer be the same PP that many people enjoy and depend upon.
Won’t this be a lot of work? We’re all busy already.
Yes, the type of regional organization and support we’re envisioning is not being done now, so some individuals will have to volunteer to do more or different work than they are doing now, or maybe we can pull in some new volunteers. If no one volunteers, the effort will fail, and we’ll have to go back to doing without—no harm done, only a dream not yet realized. But maybe someday, in a few years, if we do that volunteer work well enough, our regional organization will be able to hire a part-time staff person to do some of that work.
Won’t a regional organization co-opt or try to make decisions for the local grassroots groups?
It sure would be funny to see one try. Heard the phrase ‘herding cats?’
Seriously, a regional organization of grassroots groups will not be able to exist if it does not have the voluntary cooperation and collaboration from at least a few grassroots groups. There will be no way to force any unwilling grassroots group or individual to participate, and no way to prevent an unwilling grassroots group from ignoring the regional organization if it feels it’s being pushed around in any way.