Some “Local Progress” to share with you
As we wind down the year, I’m glad for the chance to reflect on some of the work we’ve done together, in NYC and beyond.
We’ve witnessed a lot of suffering. Just this week, we saw the death of a second child in ICE detention, separated from his family, another casualty of a terribly cruel policy carried out in our name. Closer to home, some of our neighbors in NYCHA’s Wyckoff Gardens spent Christmas week without cooking gas. More than 60,000 of our fellow New Yorkers, including more than 20,000 kids, spent it in a homeless shelter, and several thousand more sleeping on the street.
Still, our work, together with partners, has made a real difference this year.Nearly 80,000 Uber & Lyft drivers won a big pay increase and will now earn a living-wage. More fast-food workers secured stable schedules and full-time jobs. Tenants in over 1,000 buildings will see new protections against harassment and displacement. We are moving forward to integrate our middle-schools in a truly hopeful & collaborative way. We won citywide participatory budgeting & a new civic engagement effort to strengthen our local democracy. We pushed NYC forward toward becoming the first big city to require building retrofits for energy efficiency to combat climate change. And we will very likely end this year with fewer pedestrians, cyclicts, drivers & passengers killed on our roads than any time in the last 100 years.
Oh, and (together with lots & lots of others) we did pretty well in our door-knocking, text-banking, phone-calling, postcard-writing, and GOTV to elect progressive candidates all across New York -- so hopefully we’ll have many more policy successes to celebrate next year.
As some of you know, I’m also honored to be the board chair for Local Progress, a national network of progressive local elected officials across the country. I don’t often share that work with you, but this week seemed like a good time, so I’m forwarding the Local Progress 2018 year-end progress report that Helen Gym (Philadelphia City Council Member & vice-chair of Local Progress) and I sent out to members.
We’ve got a long, long, long way to go. This week calls for humility, and a deep breath before we start again next year.
But I do believe our work together represents the “hopeful, collective struggle” that Ady Barkan (who helped to create Local Progress, which is how I met him) calls us to.
And I really could not be more grateful for the chance to do this work together with you.
P.S. This is not a fundraising e-mail, more a chance to share some work I’m proud to be part of. But if you’d like to contribute, either to Local Progress, or tomy campaign, we would of course be delighted.
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Brad Lander and Helen Gym <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Toward a Hopeful, Collective Struggle in 2019
It’s tempting to turn the page quickly on the past year -- on cruel immigration policies that abused children and separated families, on a vindictive ideologue and accused abuser confirmed to the Supreme Court, on escalating white supremacist violence -- and to skip ahead to our hope for 2019’s new political possibilities.
But 2018 has also been full of unprecedented victories, imaginative campaigns, and the kind of inspired efforts that will blaze the trail we’ll follow in the years to come.
Just look at this month alone: In Philadelphia, we won a fair workweek for more than 100,000 people working in our service industries. New York became the first city to guarantee a minimum wage for Uber & Lyft drivers. The Minneapolis city council, led by nine Local Progress members, approved a historic comprehensive plan centered on racial equity, affordable housing, and fighting climate change. In Portland, Maine, Councilor Pious Ali led the city in speaking out against the Trump administration’s inhumane “public charge” rule. And from Florida to North Carolina to Maryland, we’ve rolled out our Governing as a Progressive leadership training for newly elected officials.
None of this is possible without your leadership, your courage, and your commitment to the vision of what we’re building in Local Progress. We ask that you join us as Sustaining Members of Local Progress by contributing at any amount.
A Growing, Powerful Network
Our Local Progress network now counts as members more than 850 local elected officials in more than 500 localities in 45 states. We’ve got staff on the ground in Florida, Texas, New York, and North Carolina. Despite a winter snowstorm, dozens of progressive leaders from across the Empire State met in March for the third annual Local Progress New York Convening. In the summer,we held our biggest national convening yet as 150 members gathered to strategize together in Minneapolis, where both our Women’s Caucus and Black Caucus met, and we brought together our first-ever Minnesota statewide meeting.
As we grow in strength across the country, we are thrilled to see progressive local elected officials ascend to higher office. Local Progress’ former board member Latoya Cantrell became the first black woman to lead New Orleans as Mayor. Congratulations also to Local Progress members who won higher office in November, including Congressmembers-elect Ayanna Pressley and Chuy Garcia as our budding alumni caucus in the House, as well as New York State Senator-elect Jen Metzger, Colorado State Senator-elect Faith Winter, Adams County Commissioner-elect Emma Pinter, and many more.
When our network acts together, we can shift state, regional, and national politics. More than 200 local and state officials signed our letter in support of the movement to Abolish ICE, giving strength to federal efforts to hold the rogue enforcement agency accountable to our communities. In partnership with the Center for Popular Democracy, we launched a unique police reform evaluation toolkit currently being utilized by members in dozens of localities. We harnessed the power of our network on a number of economic justice issues, from protecting the rights of public sector workers in the wake of a malicious Supreme Court decision to standing up to Amazon’s bullying of our colleagues on the Seattle City Council.
Winning Local Progress, From Coast to Coast
Progressive local leaders fought back against the attacks coming from the federal government and state legislatures, from the Trump Administration’s increasingly cruel immigration policies, to state efforts to stifle local democracy.
But it’s also been a year of tremendous local policy advances on affordable housing, police and criminal justice reform, economic justice, and much more. Here are just a few of the impressive gains you won this year:
Seattle passed the first municipal Domestic Worker Bill of Rights to ensure minimum wages, rest breaks, and an organized voice on a city standards board for domestic workers.
In Pittsburgh, the school board rejected arming school police officerswith guns in a strong step to redefine the meaning of school safety.
Toledo creatively expanded voting rights by establishing voter registration at city offices and the municipal court.
In another victory for inclusive, transparent democracy, Tempe moved to require disclosure of dark money political spending.
Kingston, New York followed Albany in passing “Right To Know” legislation that requires police officers provide identification when they stop people.
Nashville achieved a landmark community benefits agreement on its new professional soccer stadium that will ensure good jobs for local residents, affordable family-sized housing, and more.
St. Paul became the latest city to pass a $15 minimum wage, one that includes all workers including tipped employees.
In DC, Councilmembers overhauled the elections system with public financing and pay-to-play prohibitions, while also severely limiting out-of-school suspensions to curtail the school-to-prison pipeline.
Members of our growing network also led some groundbreaking statewide, cross-jurisdiction organizing, both in support of bold new policies and against regressive attacks.
Local elected officials across Texas declared their intention to pass a $15 minimum wage for city employees through their local budgets.
North Carolina leaders in Local Progress organized statewide opposition to regressive constitutional amendments on the ballot for November.
A Maine delegation of local and state officials organized by Local Progress Action traveled to DC to implore Senator Susan Collins to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Arizona members in Local Progress spoke out and marched alongside striking teachers in the “Red for Ed” movement.
What's Coming Up in 2019
As we turn to 2019, we find ourselves in a remarkably different political environment. Democrats now control the House of Representatives and the Congressional Progressive Caucus is posed to set a proactive bold agenda as the largest values-based caucus in Congress. Many state governorships and legislatures have changed hands. This means that Local Progress is in an even stronger position to move forward with a bold, progressive vision.
We can guarantee it’ll be a busy year for the Local Progress network. We’re planning our first Texas state convening, more work together on housing and renters’ rights, our biggest ever national convening, governance trainings at a much larger scale, a roll out of the data from our policing toolkit evaluations, and much more.
Help us achieve that vision together. Local Progress is free and open to all local elected officials who want to learn and share ideas. But we can’t sustain that big vision ourselves. So it would mean a lot if you would join us as a “Sustaining Member” by contributing to support Local Progress at any level. You can make a one-time contribution, or even better, a recurring one. You can do it personally, or from a campaign committee.
As we close out the year, we find ourselves returning again and again to our founding director Ady Barkan’s words in his essay for The Nation:
“Sometimes, oftentimes, white supremacy, violent misogyny, and rapacious capitalism rip apart our families and destroy lives, regardless of how well we organize. And sometimes, oftentimes, our stories are not powerful enough.
Yet it is in these moments of defeat that hopeful, collective struggle retains its greatest power. I can transcend my dying body by hitching my future to yours. We can transcend the darkness of this moment by joining the struggles of past and future freedom fighters. That is how, when we reach the end of our lives and look back on these heady moments, we will find peace in the knowledge that we did our best.”
We wish you peace, strength, and love this holiday season. Together, we resolve to heed Ady’s words: we will do all we can to build a hopeful, collective struggle in 2019 for all of our communities.
Brad Lander and Helen Gym