Polifit had its second meeting February 22, 2107. In attendance were Rene Kane, Tony Canata and Katie Byrne.
The meeting began with a question about what direction to take the meetings, since there may be different people attending each week, or inconsistent attendance. Tony compared this to a CrossFit regimen, saying that he’d like to dedicate at least one hour a week to this work, which would make him feel good – like after a CrossFit WOD!
Tony discussed the Pioneer Valley Workers Center meeting he attended. He’s interested in being a ‘rapid responder’ and thought the group was well organized, but this particular format may not be the way he’d like to spend his time, aside from responding to ICE raids or targeted deportations that happen locally.
Renee shared that Bill Dwight, Northampton city councilor, could speak to the group about the political process. She also could ask Bill Newman, from MA ACLU, and Josh Silver from Represent Us, to speak to our group.
We discussed a bit about how we got to this point, as a country, and if there are any lessons to be learned to prevent this from happening at the state level. Even though our state is blue, and historically has been, are there decisions being made, or is there groundwork being laid, for a ‘republican takeover’? Since many people may be taking our blueness for granted, are we missing important resistance that is needed at the state level to keep Massachusetts blue?
The purpose and structure of the group was discussed for most of the meeting. Three main pieces of work or ideas for the group came out of this dialogue. The idea of this being a “Think Tank” was briefly discussed.
- Creating an ‘influence map’ for different issues and policies. The idea is that an influence map would layout the players for each issue, and what decision making power they have, and how to contact them. Our senators and reps, who are Democrats, certainly do have influence, but they are not the only players. This map can be created to represent a local, state and federal level picture of influence. Creating this would require people to take on research, writing or technology roles. There was also an expressed desire to see real time decision making happening, so someone could look at what legislation is filed, or voted on and can see how respective legislators voted or if they co-sponsored the legislation. Could there be real time email or text alerts about votes?
- The group recognized that different participants could have certain areas of interest. Renee shared that her passion is preventing gerrymandering and preserving 1st amendment rights. This group could serve as a platform to share what actions people have taken personally, and could possibly inform the influence map.
- General discussion at each meeting. How should we develop an agenda for the group? For example, is our overall agenda to rethink and try to reshape the distribution of wealth in this country? Is it worth dedicating time to theoretical thinking, or is time better spent in operationalizing reform efforts, or both? Do we chart out an agenda?
Tony tried offloading his secretarial duties to Katie. Katie fell for it. It was decided that the minutes could be a collective effort; we’ll see how that goes 😉
Though we agreed to meet again next week, we did not set a time for a next meeting.