Sunday, April 23, 2017

Our Revolution Livestream, 4/23/17

South Hampton Roads for Bernie is a group now officially affiliated with Our Revolution, a spin-off from Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. Our meeting was lightly attended with participants from Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. After watching tonight's live-stream featuring speeches by Larry Cohen, Nina Turner, Mike Connolly,  Lucy Flores, and Ben Jealous, we had a brief discussion using Our Revolution's guiding questions.

What issues are most important in your community?

The environment and climate change was the top issue for all of us. Norfolk is increasingly affected by flooding. Virginia Beach recently suffered due to Hurricane Matthew. Chesapeake faces threats from the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline and from coal ash dumped by Dominion Power near the Elizabeth River, which is a watershed to the Chesapeake Bay. Both of these most affect a portion of Chesapeake called Deep Creek. Flooding and rising waters caused by climate change makes the coal ash an even greater threat to our watershed.

Other important issues were raising the minimum wage, improving education with at least free community college for all, improving and expanding our health care system, and limiting corporate influence and dark money with increased government transparency.

What are some possible solutions?

The successes of the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump have been a wake-up call and are galvanizing many progressives. We realize that local and state elections are important. If we don't get involved with these, we leave them to others whose agenda will not reflect our own.

Democratic Primaries are coming up on June 13 for Virginia's Governor, Lieutenant Governor, House of Delegates, and local offices. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017. The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Voters not sure of their district can check most accurately through the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Progressives are running for state delegate in South Hampton Roads. Among Democrats, Tom Brock and Kelly Fowler are running in the 21st House District. Kimberly Anne Tucker is running for delegate in the 81st House District.

In the 77th House District, Jeff Staples of the Green Party is running for state delegate. As the Green Party nominee, he does not face a primary, so he is working on getting on the ballot for November and welcomes volunteers. He is a strong environmentalist.

As far as the race for Virginia's Governor is concerned, both Democratic candidates,  Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, have progressive credentials. Both Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution have officially endorsed Perriello.

We agreed we should all check on who is running for the House of Delegates in our own districts and be prepared to make good choices, where available, on  June 13th. We need to get candidates elected who are willing to bring change at the state level. Good sources for information on state candidates and office-holders include The Virginia Public Access Project and  Richmond Sunlight. For finding progressive female candidates, Emily's list was mentioned as helpful.

A suggestion from is to invite neighbors to neighborhood-level events or "training at the street level." Many people gripe about our political situation but need to know how to mobilize this dissatisfaction into positive political movement.

Social media are another way to help spread the word and organize.

As a group we would like more information about Arcadia Power in our region as an alternative to Dominion Power.

If progressives joined and got actively involved in our local Democratic Committees, we could increase our influence. Others have decided to work outside the system, or prefer to remain independents.

Another approach is to encourage our local mayors to join the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The idea is to try to effect change at the local level.

Who or what are the roadblocks/allies?

 Roadblocks are the big corporations and sometimes the political establishment. Negative media attention is a roadblock. Progressives need to be unified, since we can't afford splits.

Allies are environmental groups like The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Sierra Club, neighborhood groups, women's groups like Motherboard757, Mothers Out Front, and Moms Clean Air Force Virginia. Indivisible 757 on Facebook and Virginia Beach for Bernie Sanders were also mentioned.

How can Our Revolution Support Us?

We shared that our Revolution has a number of tools available to local groups:
  • Event promotion
  • Sanctuary tool
  • Transform the part
  • Endorsements
  • Trainings

We did not have time to discuss this piece, but every participant received a handout listing them for future reference.

All participants said the meeting was valuable, they learned something, and they had something to bring back to their local groups. We certainly raised awareness of the upcoming primary in Virginia. South Hampton Roads for Bernie on Facebook is the easiest means for participants to reach Mary Lou or to coordinate in the future, since tonight's participants were more interested in working within their own cities rather than regionally.