This post quickly covers Trump’s sinking ship and introduces Retake’s plan for a 6-month community conversation designed to build a progressive People’s Platform and Budget for Santa Fe. We can’t do much about Trump, but we can build a city based on equity.
For details about new events and opportunities, click here, including:
- Tonight’s Research planning meeting where you can learn how to help us design a research-based plan for revitalizing Santa Fe without displacing low-income working people;
- A new training coming in communication, reframing, listening, and building your own public narrative explaining why you are engaged in activism in deeply personal terms;
- An information session with the sponsors of the Health Security Act, an event co-sponsored by Democratic Socialists of America and Retake Our Democracy;
First Calls from GOP for Impeachment. From The Hill: “Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Wednesday said if the reports about Trump’s pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment. According to a memo written by Comey after the February meeting, the president told Comey ‘I hope you can let this go.’ Asked by The Hill if the details in the memo would merit impeachment if they’re true, Amash replied: ‘Yes.’ Asked by another reporter whether he trusted Comey’s word or Trump’s, Amash said: ‘I think it’s pretty clear I have more confidence in Director Comey.'” In an interview late Tuesday night with CNN’s Don Lemon, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) compared the pressure applied to Comey with Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, both of whom had impeachment proceedings for obstruction of justice. These are the first, and likely not the last, GOP representatives to broach the “I” word. Click here for the full story. Trump’s response: “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.” Not sure about that, but I am sure that none has earned this treatment more than Trump.
Special Counsel Appointed by Justice Department. More bad news for Donald Trump as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced appointment of former FBI Chief Robert Mueller as a Special Counsel charged with heading up the investigation of “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” Click here for a Politico report. Then late last night, Trump added to his woes with this: “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special council [note his misspelling counsel] appointed.” Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the greatest single witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Taken together, it certainly seems that the Trump administration is besieged with so much controversy, it is hard to see moderate GOP Senators and House Representatives sticking their necks out to vote for much of Trump’s highly unpopular healthcare and tax “deform” proposals. Oddly, Trump himself is our greatest ally in resisting Trump.
Retake Our Democracy Launches Grassroots Community Conversations
to Inform Creation of The People’s Platform & Budget
Retake is frankly sickened by the national political scene and not much happier with the state situation, what with a Governor who simply is incapable of working collegially. So we are excited to launch an opportunity to do something positive, something participatory, something community-driven, a really exciting, block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood grassroots community organizing project with a clearly defined purpose: By November 2017, we will have developed a grassroots People’s Platform and Budget using a highly participatory process that engages residents throughout our entire community. What follows is a draft of the entire strategy. Today I will be meeting with representatives of partners to this process and together we will refine what follows, but given a plan for a June 10 training, we wanted to make sure the entire Retake community was informed and I strongly encourage comments at the end of the post.
The best part of this process is that we are not entering it with the intent of pushing a specific agenda on anyone and we will begin by doing something unheard of: listening to each other. After a six-month process comprised of block-by-block canvassing, phone calls, partner-driven outreach to their constituencies, and a series of town halls, community meetings, and training, we will end with a facilitated process designed to achieve broad community consensus about our City’s most important priorities.
The strategy for achieving this end is being developed in a highly collaborative process beginning today with a meeting of leadership from Chainbreaker Collective, New Energy Economy, Earth Care, Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America, and Retake Our Democracy. Somos Un Pueblo Unido is also a partner, but is unable to attend today. A plan is developing to expand this partnership to include faith groups, youth groups, cultural groups, the artist community, schools, and labor.
At the core is a plan to engage in what Retake calls Community Conversations, a process that will begin with the Santa Fe Listening Project.
For the past two years, we have been engaged in a highly volatile, highly partisan shouting match. Each of us was involved to some degree as there was no choice. If you turned on the news; if you went onto social media; if you read the paper; if you talked with friends; you were subject to shrill assertions, defensive responses and damn near zero listening; damn near zero effort to really understand each other’s viewpoint. It began with the primaries, continued through the general election, and then while we got a brief respite — if a Trump administration can be called a respite — we got another dose in the Soda Tax campaign. Throughout all of it, there was little search for common ground and we did very little listening to each other.
Community Conversations and the Listening Project will provide a remedy to those months of discord.
A range of outreach and engagement strategies will be used including canvassing, phone calls, town halls, and community meetings where trained volunteers engage members of the community in a series of community conversations first focused on listening, hearing, and recording people’s concerns and aspirations about our neighborhoods, city, and state. Augmenting the information collected through this process will be the results from an online, community survey.
Once Retake compiles the community’s concerns and aspirations, we will prepare a descriptive summary report that will profile areas where there is consensus across the city and identify where different neighborhoods have differing priorities. This information will inform a second round of community conversations around possible policy and program strategies that could address our community’s highest priority concerns and aspirations. The last series of community conversations will be organized in city council district-defined community meetings where the various policies and programs will be prioritized. Then in the last step in the process, a participatory budgeting process will assign specific funding streams to support the highest priority initiatives.
To be adept at this work requires training in listening, the use of language, framing and reframing, and developing what is called a public narrative, essentially the personal story that explains why you are involved in the movement. Retake has organized just such a training on June 10, where three extraordinary trainers will introduce invaluable communication tools and afford opportunities for everyone to practice these strategies in pairs and small groups. The communication strategies you will learn will prepare you for all forms of political activism and political conversation, from canvassing and participation in community meetings, to conversations with your GOP uncle. We will also organize training in a process called participatory budgeting through which community members can learn to use existing city funds to budget for community-identified projects. To ensure that these budgets are realistic, training will be offered to learn how the city can increase its revenues by employing progressive revenue generation options.
This is certainly an ambitious project, but frankly Retake has heard again and again: ‘the world has gone mad, we want to do something.’ Our position is that you can sign petitions until hell freezes over and our state and national leadership will simply not care. So let’s work where we can have an impact. And the best part of this initiative is that we will have developed a process through which we can come together as a community, develop skills and relationships that will ensure that we can conduct the civic process in a respectful and dignified manner, and we will have created a budget and policy framework with which we can hold our elected officials accountable.
Let’s do this here in Santa Fe and maybe, just maybe, someone else will notice that politics doesn’t have to be dirty, doesn’t have to be about proving your point, but could actually be about trying to understand your neighbor’s point of view and working together to build a community focused on equity, justice, and sustainability instead of profit.
More details are coming, but put June 10 in your calendar if you want to be part of something different, something dignified, something noble. It will be like taking the spiritual shower I think we all need.
Roxanne and Paul