Facing our Challenges in Dangerous Times
Sat December 3 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm EST
Saturday, December 3, 2022
9:30 am to 5:00 pm
All Virtual Event
*** NOTE: The Event has been changed from a hybrid conference in Worcester to an all-virtual event. ***
Featuring analysis of election results by (clockwise from left) John Nichols and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and strategy presentations by Phyllis Bennis; Prof. Jackson Lears; Lindsay Koshgarian; Jean-Luc Pierite; Jordan Berg-Powers; and Mallory Hanora.
We live at a time characterized by numerous dire threats to justice, peace, and the very stability of our country. Among these threats are rampant militarism, galloping climate change, growing inequality, an ongoing and divisive pandemic, and the emergence of a dangerous right-wing extremist movement. The goal of this Conference is to explore with activists and thought leaders how to address these enormous obstacles to the fulfillment of a progressive vision.
Among the questions we will examine are: How do we speak about militarism as we address inequality, climate change, racism and threats to democratic processes? And how do we understand and overcome the political vacuum which not only led to the exponential growth of corporate power (including the military industrial complex) but also destroyed belief that a collective or government can solve the problems currently undermining our societies?
But we will also draw lessons and encouragement from positive developments brought about by our progressive movement in the face of neoliberal and reactionary onslaught.
This one day Conference will have 2 panels with breakout groups after each. The first panel will address militarism and how the ideology of militarism has impacted all aspects of U.S. society. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made this task more complex and more critical. The Ukraine War has greatly strengthened NATO specifically and militarist ideology in general and has set off divisions in the peace and social justice movement. Under these difficult circumstances, as political activists, we need to address how the buildup of military resources drains the public treasury, puts us at risk of nuclear holocaust, and short circuits democratic and collective responses to problem solving.
The second panel will address organizing for political power in communities often overlooked by many progressive groups and the Democratic and Republican parties: Black, Indigenous and people of color who have reason to doubt that elected officials will ever deliver for them; and urban and rural communities where working families experience economic insecurity, anger at progressive and Democratic Party elites, and struggle with family instability, drugs and depression. We will hear from organizers in such communities, how they empower residents working with them to adapt progressive policies to meet local needs. We will hear about how union organizing efforts are showing how collective struggle can overcome adversity and build the power needed to make the changes needed.
We invite you to join us and send representatives of your organizations and communities to help grow our movement and to confront these critical issues together.
John Nichols is National affairs correspondent for The Nation. His most recent book is Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis.
Jamie Eldridge is State Senator representing the Middlesex and Worcester District, which includes Ayer, Acton, and Marlborough.
Phyllis Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. The seventh edition of her Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict : A Primer was published in 2018.
T. J. Jackson Lears is an American cultural and intellectual historian with interests in comparative religious history, literature and the visual arts, folklore and folk beliefs. He is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers and Editor in Chief of Raritan. He is author of Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920.
Lindsay Koshgarian is Program Director for the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is an expert in dissecting the Federal budget including the contrast between Pentagon spending and domestic needs.
Jordan Berg Powers is Executive Director at Mass Alliance. In his over a decade there, he has helped elect new progressive leaders across the state, recruited progressive champions to run, and trained hundreds of grassroots organizers. Jordan is active in campaigns for saving public education, environmental justice, and a more progressive tax system for the Commonwealth.
Jean-Luc Pierite is President of the Board of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB). A member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and originally from New Orleans, he resides in Jamaica Plain.
Mallory Hanora is Executive Director of Families for Justice as Healing, a Roxbury based prison abolitionist organization led by incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated women, and women with incarcerated loved ones, which works to move Massachusetts towards community based solutions rather than constructing a new women’s prison.
9:00 am – Gathering and informal conversation for early birds
9:30 am – Welcoming Remarks; Political Updates by John Nichols and Jamie Eldridge
10:35 am – Militarism and its ideology, with Phyllis Bennis, Jackson Lears and Lindsay Koshgarian
11:40 am – Breakouts on militarism
1:00 pm – Lunch Break
2:00 pm – Organizing for Power, with Jordan Berg Powers, Jean-Luc Pierite, and Mallory Hanora.
3:00 pm – Breakouts on organizing — choice of topics: Climate change, labor activism, white working class, Indigenous solidarity, policing and prisons, youth organizing, electoral organizing, state legislation, or Poor People’s Campaign.
4:20 pm – Closing remarks / reportbacks
4:35 pm – Adjourn
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Progressive Action Organizing Committee, whose constituent groups are: Massachusetts Peace Action, Our Revolution Massachusetts, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Massachusetts, North American Indian Center of Boston, and Incorruptible Mass.
Massachusetts progressive organizations are invited to cosponsor or endorse. See details and sign up. One person’s registration is included with the endorsement fee.
Payment can also be made by check payable to Massachusetts Peace Action. Mail to 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 and write “Facing our Challenges” on the memo line.