We have important info to share. Our reporting on the Avangrid merger is having an impact. But we need to expand our reach, educate more of our community on this merger and on an array of potentially transformative policies and legislation. Join us!
On Monday, we sent an email to our bimonthly “Huddle” participants about how Retake/Rethink can expand the impact of its work. We are at a critical juncture in relation to the Avangrid merger and the possibility of advancing groundbreaking new initiatives. We received input from those receiving the email and have incorporated their thinking into the plan below. Read on!
Rethink Rethought: A Community Education Campaign is Launched & We Need You!
Over the past month, our readers have shown their deep appreciation for the investigative work we have been doing with New Energy Economy about the proposed merger between PNM and Avangrid-Iberdrola. We are seeing the impact of that work, as other publications pick up the story and as we share what we’ve found with state legislators. We will soon begin preparation for advocacy at the PRC, as the pubic comment period begins on Aug. 9. The impact of this work and input we have received from you has caused us to reconsider the purpose and format of our Rethink Huddles.
Even if you have not participated in our Huddles, please read through this post. We want to emphasize that the shift in Huddle format being proposed is fluid and there are roles for folks attending to be simply listeners or be writers and advocates. Read on!
When we launched the Transformation Study Group (TSG) over a year ago, its clear purpose was to provide a framework for sharing ideas about transformative change in New Mexico, with members drafting and sharing research briefs in the TSG Zoom meetings. TSG Zoom meetings were an opportunity for writers to get input, while the resulting conversation was informative for all participating.
We transitioned the TSG to Rethink Huddles during the 2021 legislative session with the idea that the research and writing would be educational for advocates but also would be fodder for “policy briefs” designed to build deeper understanding of issues among our readers and stakeholder allies and introduce legislators to issues that could be addressed through legislation. In short, we wanted to bring our ideas to the legislature, not just react to their ideas.
In both the TSG and the Huddles, that process worked reasonably well. But the research being developed was generally quite long, so it took writers a while to get something to the group, certainly not at a pace to conduct twice monthly conversations.
A New Approach
The input we’ve received from participants is moving us toward returning to the structure we used for the TSG with a few changes. Most importantly, we want to use the Huddles not just to develop policy briefs, but to provide a fun, supportive framework for other members to develop letters to the editor and op-eds and publish them in local papers statewide. If we are going to introduce legislators to bold policies like public power, public banking, and divesting of gas and oil, we want to educate the voters on those policies and their potential impact on NM. We want to extend our reach beyond those who subscribe to the blog and motivate more New Mexicans to become engaged in legislative advocacy.
With that dual purpose in mind (legislator and community education), we plan to reshape our Huddles in the following ways:
- We will meet once monthly, every 3rd Tuesday from 5:30-7pm. If folks find 5:30 too early, we can adjust to 6pm, but a 6-7:30 start time resulted in late dinners for those who chose to eat post meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 5:30-7pm. Find a link to register near the end of this post.
- We will announce a topic in advance of each session and we will either discuss a draft of a policy brief, an outline for a brief, or a brief “concept” offered by someone in the group. We will share the draft, outline, or concept a week or so in advance of each meeting. We will encourage participants to review the draft and, as they can, draft their own 100-150 word Letters to the Editor on the topic.
- If we don’t have a brief or concept ready to review, we will pick an “issue” from our list of 17 priority issue areas and provide 1-2 articles on the issue for review. While not everyone would be required or expected to do so, we would encourage participants to review the article(s) and draft 100-150 word letters to the editor to share in the meeting.
The transformational policies we are researching and planning to advance will require broad community education, something that our Huddles can advance both through policy briefs for legislators and blog readers but also in community newspapers through LTEs and Op-Eds. We hope this format will encourage people to join who want to write letters to the editor or op-eds and provide a fun framework for encouraging that effort. We have an abundance of tools and resources to support that work and links to those resources are at the bottom of this post.
If you’re interested in writing a policy brief, we’ll ask you to choose an issue from our priority list. To learn more about our vision and to see our list of priority issues, go to this link. If you’re passionate about an issue and you don’t find it on our list, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a case for your issue.
There will be one other change to the process and that relates to the “briefs” being developed. In the Transformation Study Group, we had “briefs” between 15-35 pages. We have come to understand that we really need to “consider our audience,” and that audience is legislators and other elected officials, NM department leaders, advocacy leadership (e.g., Common Cause, Voices for Children, ThinkNM), and members of impacted communities. None of those audiences will have the time to review “briefs” longer than a few pages. The purpose of the briefs is to generate interest in learning more, to opening minds, to identify concerns or opposition, not to address every aspect of an issue.
Writing Effective Policy Briefs. We identified a great publication on how to develop policy briefs and it emphasizes the need to keep things short and to the point. So when we seek briefs from you, we will insist that you keep them to six pages or less, including citations. Click here to review this publication. If you find that your topic warrants more words, we ask that you consider narrowing the focus of your work or creating more than one brief on different aspects of the issue.
Writing Effective Letters to the Editor. We have developed a guide for writing Letters to the Editor that includes suggestions about approach, offers sample letters, and provides links to over 30 local publications statewide and the submission requirements for each. We have a separate guide for writing 600-word Op-Eds.
Exploring Rethink Policy Priorities & Tools for Advancing Them. To learn more about Rethink, our vision and priorities, and some of the articles and research we are reviewing, you’ll find an array of resources and information at this link.
With the support of Huddle colleagues, participants will begin publishing their views on important policy issues on a regular basis, which will educate our communities and motivate New Mexicans to learn more through the blog, radio show, and Zoom webinars. But we need people like you to dig in, learn more, and share what you learn to broaden our base.
Our first meeting will be the third week of August (Tuesday, Aug 17, 5:30-7pm) and we will announce in our blog each month’s topic and provide links to the article(s) or brief to be discussed. We currently have a couple of briefs in the pipeline.
If you want to be part of this process, please register for the first Huddle Aug. 17, by clicking here. In addition to notices in our blog, we will send reminder notices, topics, and drafts to all who register.
I hope this makes sense to all of you. To be clear, people can participate in the Huddles without writing anything. We need people to respond. But we also want people to join the Huddle to be supported in their writing letters to the editor, op-eds, and policy briefs.
Thanks for your patience as we try to figure out the best way to manage this process.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne