ORGANIZING NOTES

March 20, 2024

        When We Organize We Win

Join Community and Labor Struggles That Make A Difference

 

 

Western MA H&LJ Collaborative

Over the last two years, a group of people who care about shared equity housing and equitable land access in the Connecticut River Valley, including folks from existing and nascent community land trust groups, began meeting to explore both how we might collaborate and support each other. The focus is on how we might scale up community land trust work in this place and increase the availability of affordable, democratically-governed, shared equity housing. Participants include members of Valley CLT, Franklin County CLT, the Lower Valley CLT initiative, and Amherst CLT, along with representatives of three nonprofits supporting one or more of these CLT projects (Neighbor to Neighbor, Wellspring Cooperative, and Equity Trust) and Willow Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, members of several housing cooperatives, both formal and informal, and other interested individuals. 

 

This housing and land justice collaboration formed a 12-person Steering Committee to move the

process forward. Both the wider group and the Steering Committee met several times in 2022 and 2023. Then last fall, in partnership with Franklin County CLT, the Steering Committee applied for a grant from MA Department of Public Health’s Root Cause Solutions Exchange, to request funding to advance this housing equity work. We were pleased to be awarded $40k to continue this exploration in a more formal way! Franklin County CLT is the formal recipient of this grant, with the housing & land justice collaboration’s Steering Committee responsible for guiding the work. Some of the funds secured will be used to contract with Burlington Associates, who will bring our collaboration group through a process to:

 

  • Assess the shared equity ecosystem here, the current work and goals of the participating organizations, and how a collaborative approach could build existing capacity as well as be supportive of a broader effort.

  • Create a two-day in-person retreat with the members of the collaboration to further shared understanding of the multiplicity of needs, visions, and concerns.

  • Develop a strategic plan of action for the collaboration moving forward.

 

This is an exciting opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with many industry stakeholders and make progress on shared goals. Once this process is complete in July 2024, the collaborative will be exercising the strategic plan to further connect with additional stakeholders and execute plans to ensure even more housing and land is perpetually attainable for all.

 

If you’re interested in learning more, donating, or are curious about getting involved in a near or future capacity, contact Martin.M.Omasta@gmail.com, Treasurer FCCLT, or sign up through the FCCLT website.  To find CLTs in other parts of the state, check this link.

 

Boston on the Cusp of Adopting Ranked Choice Voting

“Mayor Wu and most of the City Council understand the improvements to our democracy that Ranked Choice Voting, (RCV), brings to the city. Our Ranked Choice Boston campaign has been endorsed by 40 partner groups across the city and we know from the unsuccessful statewide RCV referendum in 2020 that in Boston, 62% of the population is in favor,” says Ed Shoemaker, campaign director.  

 

When asked if people in the neighborhoods understand how to rank their votes, Ed responds, “At our last assembly in East Boston we held a ranked choice empanada election. After a brief explanation in English and Spanish, local residents marked their ballots, ranking their flavor preferences without difficulty. No empanada received over 50% of the votes in the first round but when ” vegetarian” was eliminated and second choice votes distributed, beef was a clear winner. Most notably out of over 70 ballots only 2 were spoiled meaning nearly 100% of the participants were able to successfully fill out a ranked ballot.  You will find it very hard to convince these people that the process is hard.”

 

As in all ranked choice elections, no single seat candidate will win without a majority of the votes, voters can vote for their favorite candidate without worrying about vote splitting, and negative campaigning is reduced because candidates frequently need those second and third choice votes to win – impossible to get if the candidate is trash-talking competitors. Click here for a fuller explanation of the At-Large election.

 

While Ed Shoemaker leads the campaign on the ground, three local luminaries in the world of Democracy use their bully pulpits to champion the cause of Boston RCV in the media and at public events. Tanisha Sullivan, former Secretary of State Candidate and Boston NAACP President; Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, ED of MassVote and Rahsaan Hall, President of the Urban League of Eastern Mass Ed, all bring their vantage point and extensive experience to advocate for the advantages of RCV,

 

The City Council and the mayor are expected to endorse a proposal to bring RCV to Boston this Spring. The next step will be a home rule petition which will go to the state legislature where it will join seven other pending municipal ranked choice voting petitions . Because of Boston’s size it is expected that there will be greater momentum to pass all these home rule petitions.

 

Sign up to volunteer to help bring RCV to Boston or to help persuade state legislators to pass the home rule petitions: https://vcma.nationbuilder.com/volunteer

 

Stop MA Subsidies for Dirtier-than-Coal Biomass!

Massachusetts ratepayers should not fund burning trees for energy! A bill recently emerged from the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) with language that increases subsidies for dirty biomass facilities under the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS) and eliminates a biomass study mandated by the 2021 Climate Roadmap Law. 

Scientific studies show that burning biomass—wood pellets and woodchips, mostly produced by cutting down forests—is more polluting than coal, ineffective at reducing forest fires, and also expensive and dependent on subsidies that take resources away from truly clean energy alternatives. See for example:

This is an unacceptable step backwards in our efforts against climate change. Click here to tell the members of the TUE committee to remove sections 8 and 22 of H.3216 (included in the new proposed legislation), and to add the policies outlined in S.2136 /H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211.

The full text of this recent letter (signed by organizations only) contains detailed background information including citations if you are interested.

As Bill McKibben has said:

“We’re breaking the back of the climate system in real time and, as we’ve known for years, burning wood hurts, not helps. So far, large-scale biomass-burning to produce electricity has not become a major factor in the United States, but the fight is on: in Massachusetts, for example, where there’s a proposal to build an enormous wood-burning plant in Springfield, opponents are trying to insure that biomass isn’t counted as renewable energy under state guidelines.“

We have stopped them before and we can do it again, if we raise our voices now. Please join us and tell TUE to do the right thing, send your letters.

Thanks for all you do. Every email makes a difference!

The ORMA Climate Crisis Working Group and the TreesPG Network

  • The working group meets on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month for information contact us at: climate@ourrevolutionma.com

  • The Network meets every other week via zoom to plan legislative means to protect trees, at both the state and local levels, and to discuss what actions can be taken to address specific trees under threat. Next online meeting : Thursday, March 21. Please fill out this short form to get the zoom link, and join the Trees PG Network. For information contact us at: treespublicgood@gmail.com

 

Join others with Progressive MASS to take action with our partner organizations to protect democracy and promote civic engagement, in the company of your friends and neighbors. You will write postcards, make phone calls, and take other actions on a range of issues ranging from voter registration, voter turnout, and progressive state policy.

                 SIGN UP HERE

An Act to Ensure Legal Parentage Equality, or The Massachusetts Parentage Act (H.1713/S.947), will update Massachusetts’s outdated parentage law to be clear and equitable and provide legal protection for all families. 

 

 

Massachusetts is the only New England state without updated parentage laws

Massachusetts families should not have to wait any longer to access necessary family protections. Use this form by the Massachusetts Parentage Act Coalition to urge the Judiciary Committee to move forward with Mass Parentage and move the bill out of committee on April 30: https://www.glad.org/massparentage/.

 

One Fair Wage Coalition Info Session


Click here to register!



Join MA One Fair Wage this Friday, March 22 at 2 pm via Zoom for a coalition info-session to learn more about the issue, learn about the campaign in Massachusetts, and how you/your organization can get involved in winning One Fair Wage in MA this year!

 

Join the Progressive Mass Gala (online!) on Sunday, April 28 at 7:00 pm. Come celebrate the great achievements and contributions of progressive leaders from across the state and be inspired for the work ahead as we all push the progressive movement forward!

When: Sunday, April 28, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Where: Online

REGISTER HERE

 

Governor Healey Announces Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis

Governor Healey announced a blanket pardon for those convicted of simple marijuana possession. The exact number of people impacted is not known, but the action is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of people once approved by the Governor’s Council. While some are already able to expunge certain marijuana-related convictions, this pardon will be automatic for most individuals removing the burden of initiating and completing the bureaucratic process made available by the 2018 criminal justice reform law. It is an example of the common sense reforms that not only improve the lives of many citizens, but also improve the functioning of state institutions. While there is more work to be done to improve the criminal justice system to make it more effective and equitable, this is a welcome step in the right direction. For more details follow the link here. 

 

      If you would like to work with ORMA Members on

  • Climate Change
  • Community-Based Alternative Emergency Response Teams
  • Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Housing For All       

ORMA depends on your support to continue Bernie’s Political Revolution to create a society, a politics, and an economy that works for everyone, not just billionaires, corporations and the political elite.

If you value Organizing Notes and its twice a month distribution schedule, please make a donation to ensure its continued existence.

Invest in Change Now!

 

Please send requests for action items, articles or upcoming events

for the next Organizing Notes to 

beccobrien.orma@gmail.com by Thursday, March 28th

We’d love to have you send us your favorite pictures of Bernie here in MA!

 

Campaigns End, Movements Endure


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