The Week Ahead September 9, 2019

  • Hi Indivisible GGR. Below is this week’s edition of “The Week Ahead”. I hope everybody that was able to, had a good Labor Day weekend.
  • We have officially scheduled the start of our reoccurring monthly meetings. The first will be on September 29th at 4pm and located in Fountain Street Church. We’ll be hosting a candidate forum for the City of Grand Rapids Commissioner election coming up on November 5th. So far, we have the following people as confirmed attending:
  • Milinda Ysasi – Ward 2
  • Wendy Falb – Ward 2
  • Allison Lutz – Ward 1
  • Jon O’Connor – Ward 1

We have invitations to the remaining candidate and would love for them to participate. We will be locking this down this week. Running time on the forum will be around an hour and 15 minutes.

Please check our Facebook page for event details and be sure to let us know you are coming. We are excited to begin meeting again and we are planning on doing so monthly at least up until October 2020.

National Updates
Congress was still in recess but will be returning this week. A number of things are on the agenda but the one thing we’ll be watching closely is if any movement will happen on guns. Per usual, there has been a lot of talk after the recent tragedies but little in the way of meaningful action. Let’s see if this time will be different.

On interesting bit of news that got swept under the rug this week as there appears to be a whistleblower regarding Trump tax returns. This person came forward with evidence of the following:

“On July 29th, 2019, the Committee received an unsolicited communication from a Federal employee setting forth creditable allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct”, specifically, potential “inappropriate efforts to influence” the mandatory audit program…”We’ll have to see how this works it’s way through the courts but it seems the House is getting closer and closer to getting a hold of that which Trump has fought the hardness to protect.

Statewide Indivisible Michigan (SWIM) Updates
A small team met in Lansing this weekend to discuss the state house strategy. We feel focus on the Michigan state house races offers a number of benefits including the following:

Building a bench of progressives candidates
Driving voter turnout to up ballot and races and not the other way around
Encouraging more local engagement

I’ve included a few pictures from the event so you can get an idea of what was discussed. We are working with Indivisible Chicago to help drive resources to our state. A proposal will be put together for a meeting in early October to discuss the path forward. More details will be shared during our meeting at the end of September.

Local Indivisible Updates: We held another steering committee meeting this week to further prepare for the upcoming meeting at the end of September. We finalized the details of the candidate forum along with some discussion on the content afterwards.

Additionally, we started future detailed planning on the meeting in October. We are considering holding this meeting in Kentwood. Details to follow.

Michigan Legislature

HB 4642-4649: A package of financial disclosure bills were approved with bipartisan support (there are 63 co-sponsors) in the House Elections Committee. The eight bills that would require candidates and office holders for state House, Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals to file financial disclosure forms with the Secretary of State. The candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general also would also have to file federal tax returns for the three preceding calendar years.The Center for Public Integrity ranks Michigan 50th in the nation in terms of transparency and the Michigan Legislature has tried for years to extend transparency to the state House of Representatives, the Senate and statewide elected officials .The bills now move to the House Ways and Means committee before they’ll get a vote in the full House of Representatives.

MEETINGS/TRAINING
***If you would like an event added, please let a member of the steering team know. Events listed do not infer endorsement***

MONDAY – September 9th

– Meet Hillary at the Mitten! – 7:00PM – 9:00PM – The Mitten Brewing Co. – 527 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
– County Fair Parade! Hosted by Allegan County Democratic Party – 6:30PM – 315 Hubbard St, Allegan, MI 49010
– League of Women Voters Grand Rapids Unit Monthly Meeting – 7:00PM – 8:30PM – St Andrews Episcopal Church – 1025 3 Mile Rd NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

TUESDAY – September 10th

– Grand Rapids City Commission Meetings – 9:30AM & 7:00PM – 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
– Sierra Club Monthly Meeting – 6:30PM – 8:30PM – 159 Woodward Ln SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
– Pink Heart Day – i understand – 5:00PM – 8:00PM – City Flats Hotel Grand Rapids – 83 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

WEDNESDAY – September 11th

– 9-11 Community Day of Remembrance Hosted by Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation – 7:00AM – 8:00AM – Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation – 303 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
– Fall Fundraiser for Milinda Ysasi – 4:30PM – 6:30PM – Lions & Rabbits – 1264 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
– Ottawa County Democrats Monthly Meeting – 6:15PM – 8:00PM – 451 Columbia, Holland, MI
– Kent County Democrats Monthly Meeting – 7:00PM – 9:00PM – 301 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

THURSDAY – September 12th
– DEMOCRACTIC DEBATE NIGHT
– We Demand an End to Kent County’s Cooperation with ICE Hosted by GR Rapid Response to ICE /Respuesta Rápida al ICE – 8:00AM – 10:00AM – 363 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
– Bernie Sanders WATCH PARTY – 7:30PM – 10:30PM – Vitales Sports Bar on Leonard – 834 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
– Kent County Dems Debate Watch Party – 7:00PM – 11:00PM – Kent County Democratic Party 301 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

FRIDAY – September 13th

– Coffee and Conversation with Senator Winnie Brinks – 5:30PM – 6:30PM – Linc Up – 1167 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507
– Disability Agency and Sexuality – 4:00PM – 5:30PM – Little Space Studio – 111 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

SATURDAY – September 14th- Ionia County Democratic Party General Membership Meeting – 9:30AM – 11:00AM – pinSt John Lutheran Church – 617 N Jefferson, Ionia, MI 48846
– Stewardship Workday at The Highlands – 9:00AM – 12:00PM – The Highlands – 2715 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
– An Evening with Doug and Bryan Hosted by Bryan Berghoef for Congress – 214 Bay Circle Ct, Holland, MI 49424

SUNDAY – September 15th

– Cosecha Ally Working Meetings – 3:00PM – 5:00PM – 25 Sheldon Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503
– Grand Rapids Out of the Darkness Walk – 11:00AM – 3:00PM – Millennium Park – 1415 Maynard Ave SW, Grand Rapids, Walker, MI 49534
– Art Party! Hosted by GR Rapid Response to ICE /Respuesta Rápida al ICE – 4:00PM – 5:30PM – 25 Sheldon Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

On the Horizon

September 18th – MI House Dems Staff Septemberfest Party
September 23rd – National Voter Registration Day
September 24th – Flipping Red Seats Blue: A Success Story
September 25th – Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan Climate Change Conference
September 25th – Drinks with Brinks
September 29th – Indivisible of Greater Grand Rapids Monthly Meeting – Check our the events page for details
October 1st – Protest New Immigrant Detention Facility in Baldwin, MI
October 24th – Drinking Water Summit – Grand Rapids

Thanks to Shellie Jeffries and all the other event organizers for providing this information. If you have an event or topic to share, please reach out to a member of the steering team.

The Week Ahead August 26, 2019

Hi Indivisible GGR!

Here is this week’s edition of “The Week Ahead.”

Just a reminder, we have officially scheduled the start of our reoccurring monthly meetings. The first will be on September 29th at 4pm and located in Fountain Street Church. Again, we’ll be hosting a candidate forum for the City of Grand Rapids Commissioner election coming up on November 5th. So far, we have the following people as confirmed attending:

Milinda Ysasi – Ward 2
Wendy Falb – Ward 2
Allison Lutz – Ward 1
Jon O’Connor – Ward 1

We have invitations to the remaining candidate and would love for them to participate. We will be locking this down though in the next couple of weeks.

Please check our Facebook page for event details and be sure to let us know you are coming. We are excited to begin meeting again and we are planning on doing so monthly at least up until October 2020.

Federal

Congress is still in recess. Justin Amash though held a series of constituent meetings with his usual two day notice. Various reports suggest he is sticking to his same routine of blaming the two party system for all of our ills and really pushing his independence. While there is some truth to this, we have to remember where he stands on multiple issues.

  • He doesn’t believe Climate Change is a true emergency
  • He thinks regulation of campaign finance is a free speech issue
  • He believes in free market healthcare solutions that do not guarantee coverage as a right

We appreciate his stance against Trump. However, his stances on our core values are very much in opposition to our beliefs. We need to remember that in 2020 and stay focused on the larger goals.

In other news, it was widely reported this week that the Federal budget is expected to have an ongoing yearly deficit of over a trillion dollars for the foreseeable future. To the surprise of nobody, the primary reason is the massive tax cut that in no way paid for itself as Republicans have been claiming the last few times this was tried. Today it is also widely reported that Trump and GOP senators are openly discussing cutting Medicare and Social Security. Make no mistake, this was the plan all along. Claim the tax cut will pay for itself to pass it. Pay off the donors and then cut spending to end up balancing the books.

State and Local

Statewide Indivisible Michigan (SWIM) Updates

We have a small team that is meeting in Lansing on Saturday, September 7thto discuss the statewide races we want to look at. The goal is to identify around races we can look to devote some resources to in an attempt to both flip the Michigan House to a Democratic majority and also assist in US Congressional races.

Michigan Legislature Update

More shenanigans from the Michigan Republican representatives as they once again seek to dilute the Governor’s power. Last week, Sen. Aric Nesbitt introduced Senate Joint Resolution J (or 10), proposing “an amendment to the state constitution of 1963 to require the advice and consent of the senate for gubernatorial appointments of justices of the supreme court of the state of Michigan….the foregoing amendment shall be submitted to the people of the state at the next general election.” The resolution has been referred to the Committee On Advice And Consent, where it is hoped it will stay.

Local Indivisible Updates

We’ve done some good work this week. We are close to rolling up an expanded social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and a public facing Facebook back.

We have also successfully updated our website. If you aren’t familiar with it, go check it out.

https://indivisiblegr.org

Lastly, we’ll be meeting again on September 4th to continue preparing for the end of September meeting.

Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission lawsuit update

Well, Republicans are feeling very threatened by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks in their efforts to prevent its formation. This past week, the state GOP asks a U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to invalidate the amendment to create the redistricting commission — stopping Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, from seating any members. The lawsuit argues the structure of the 13-member commission –billed as politically independent–violates the GOP’s freedom of association by barring political parties from picking their own representatives.

Attorney General Dana Nessel vowed to “vigorously defend Secretary of State Benson and the legality of the redistricting commission, preserving the will of the people and their right to adopt amendments to Michigan’s Constitution at the polls.”

According the Ralp Owens, the difference between this new lawsuit and the previous one, is that “the first one is specifically challenging the ineligibility of partisan elected officials and their immediate family. This one is challenging the self-identification of party association and the ability of the state legislative leaders to strike applicants from the pools.”

MEETINGS/TRAINING (Thanks to Shellie Jeffries and all the other event organizers for providing this information. If you have an event or topic to share, please reach out to a member of the steering team.)

MONDAY August 26

  • Kent Dems Meet Up – 5:30PM – 9:00PM – City Built Brewing Company – 820 Monroe Avenue NW suite 155, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Advocacy Engagement Series: How to Run for Office – 7:30AM – 10:00AM – Grand Rapids Chamber 250 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 150, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • It’s time you draw the line! – Grand Rapids – 6:30PM – 8:00PM – Fountain Street Church – 24 Fountain St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Grand Rapids Moms Demand Action Membership Meeting – 7:00PM – 8:00PM – Plymouth Congregational Ucc – 4010 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
  • No Complicity with ICE – Phone Zap! – Check the Facebook event for details.

TUESDAY August 27

  • Kick-Off Event for Kent County I-Bond Fund Fundraiser – 12:00PM – 2:00PM – Taquería El Rincón Mexicano – GR – 2055 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
  • Grand Rapids City Commission Meetings – 9:30AM & 7:00PM – Grand Rapids City Hall – 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • No Complicity with ICE – Phone Zap! – Check the Facebook event for details.

WEDNESDAY – August 28

  • HCWM Community Conversation/ Conversacion Comunitaria – 5:30PM – 8:00PM – Hispanic Center of Western Michigan – 1204 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (Pre-registration required)
  • Getting the Word Out: Media Services for Nonprofits – 11:30AM – 1:00PM – Johnson Center for Philanthropy at GVSU – 201 Front Ave SW BIK 200, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Meet and Greet with Nick Colvin (running for 3rd US Congressional District) – 11:30AM – 1:00PM – Taquería El Rincón Mexicano – GR – 2055 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
  • No Complicity with ICE – Phone Zap! – Check the Facebook event for details.

THURSDAY – August 29

  • Cosecha Ally Training – 5:30PM – 8:30PM – 25 Sheldon Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Grupo Auxilio!!! & the Grand Rapids Red Project – 6:30PM – 8:00PM – Hispanic Center of Western Michigan – 1204 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

FRIDAY August 30

  • Grand Rapids Red Project Fundraiser – 5:00PM – 8:00PM – Apartment Lounge – 33 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Labor Day Retreat & Skill Share Weekend – August 30th 5:00Pm – September 2nd 8:00PM – Ticketed Event

SATURDAY – August 31

  • no events scheduled

SUNDAY – September 1

  • Cosecha Ally Working Meetings – 3:00PM – 5:00PM – 25 Sheldon Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

On the Horizon

  • Road to 2020 Grand Rapids Regional Kickoff – September 5
  • Fall Fundraiser for Milinda Ysasi – September 11
  • Coffee and Conversation with Senator Winnie Brinks – September 13
  • MI House Dems Staff Septemberfest Party – September 18
  • National Voter Registration Day – September 23
  • Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan Climate Change Conference – September 25
  • Drinks with Brinks – September 25
  • Indivisible of Greater Grand Rapids Monthly Meeting – Check our Facebook page for details – September 29

Thank you,

Toby and the Indivisible Steering Committee

Toby Langworthy’s Summary of the National Campaigns Network meeting, Part 2

Hi All,

Day two wrapped up yesterday. I would have posted earlier but I took some time to walk and see the monuments. I did it mostly at night and I would definitely recommend it as there was hardly anybody around and the buildings look amazing at night.

Anyway, back to the NCN gathering. Day two was just as excellent as day one. We began with the Indi-Awards. They were to call out Indivisible groups doing amazing work around the country. They rewards categories such as red district resistance, visibility for our values, cohesive coalitions, electoral power and birddogging the hell out of them,

Next, Leah and Ezra gave some further details regarding the upcoming We Are Indivisible book. They are asking we get least 5000 pre-orders so that it shows up on the best sellers lists. We were given a copy of the forward of the book as well. You can pre-order from Amazon or other sources.

We then attended a regional work shop that drilled into the details regarding democracy reform. Remember, this was the third overall national objective beyond Resist and Win. If we don’t reform how democracy functions, we simply cannot accomplish anything else. Beyond some of the specific items regarding reform, the filibuster was discussed in detail. The view from the national team appears to be that they support removing the filibuster so that we can implement needed reform. However, I expressed some concern in the room regarding the possibility of significant see-saw in policy and that this would allow Republicans, if they ever take control of the house and the White House again, to implement polices that most of us would agree are terrible. I’ve included a number of images from the presentation. You can review and let me know if you have any questions but this will be a big focus depending on the 2020 results.

Next, we attended a panel discussion regarding the Defund Hate campaign. In attendance were:

Avideh Moussavian from National Immigration Law Center
Richard Morales from LA RED
Juan Manuel Guzman from United We Dream

It was a very informative session from groups that are very deeply involved in this issue.

The next session was involving basic group management and how to boost attendance and involvement of members. There were many good shares from other groups regarding the types of events they do and how they engage with their members. We’ll be discussing some of those best practices to see what we can put in place here.

We then had a quick closing event where Leah and Ezra shared some closing thoughts on the way forward along with some time to reflect on the two days we spent together.

Overall, it was a wonderful couple of days and I am still trying to process everything that I learned. We’ll be compiling this information to share during our meeting in September in greater detail so I hope to see you all there.

I want to close this out with some reflections on the Lincoln memorial. When you are walking up to it, the steps towards the bottom are darker and lined on both sides with stones embedded in the concrete. As you ascend, the stairs get lighter, the view becomes clearer and you feel as though you accomplished something. This struck me as it seems to reflect the times we are in now. We are in a dark place at the moment, but we a little hard work, we can rise to a better place. The path may be rocky sometimes but as MLK said “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Toby Langworthy’s Summary of the National Campaigns Network meeting, Part 1

Hi Everybody,

Instead of a The Week Ahead update this week, I’ll create a few posts based on the experience with other leaders here in Washington D.C.

Day 1 from DC and the National Campaigns Network has just wrapped up.

It was a jam packed day filled with very informative sessions. First, we heard from Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin about some guiding principals of the movement and how we go forward in 2020 and beyond. To sum it up, it breaks down into three parts:

Resist
Win
Accountability to deliver election reforms

The first two I think we all have a good handle on though winning can be different things to different people. We’ll talk more about how we define winning during our September meeting.

The last one though I want to go into a bit. The message from Leah and Ezra, one I totally agree with, is that we really want to focus on demanding accountability to deliver reforms to the electoral process. Let’s be frank, Republicans have been very successful in the past 30-40 years of having a laser like focus on controlling the rules of the game and restricting voting access. They have done this to entrench their own power. We’ll be demanding that any candidate we support commit to enacting laws that return democracy to the people.

Next, we heard from Maurice Mitchell from the Working Families Party as our keynote speaker for the day. There were a number of takeaways from his valuable speech. The two biggest ones for me where that we have to avoid cynicism and apathy. We also have to recognize having unapologetic moral clarity is what we need to counter the party of fear, anger and resentment. We are not in the business of making people comfortable though. It ultimately takes a movement to make a majority and movements often push people out of their comfort zones, at first.

Next, we had a smaller session to share some best practices in other groups specifically in the area of events and meetings. Other’s discussed membership, partnership and communications. All were valuable discussions and we have some good ideas we can implement locally.

Next, was a very informative sessions for me personally called ‘Intersectionality and the Pitfalls of Allyship. I fully recognize and acknowledge that this is an area I struggle with. However, it was a very effective session that built the basics as to how to be an effective ally to marginalized communities. This session is going on the road as well and we’ll see if we can get this in our area.

The last two sessions before the closing dealt with endorsements. We went through an extended session as a full group on the prospect of a presidential endorsement during the primary season. I’ve included two pictures in particular that highlight the positives and the negatives of such an endorsement. I’d like to have this conversation as a group as well during our September meeting to see how everybody else feels about such a prospect so I’ll save my own comments on the matter till then. I’ll just say, I came out of that meeting less opposed to the idea then I did going in. If you would like to know more, please contact me directly.

We also talked about the congressional endorsement process. The process is more complex than this but it boils down to the following:

Local group nominates a candidate based on their own vetting process
National team sends said candidate a questionnaire
Assuming no issues come up with that, an endorsement is then given

This can then invoke support from National in terms of money and direct advertisement.

Finally, to wrap up the day, we heard from inspiring stories from groups around the country and how they flipped their local house races by employing multiple creative methods. Overall, it was a great first and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Let me know if you have any other questions.