Our January meeting was held yesterday at the library in Clinton, with 30 participants discussing the current and future direction of IGSV. It was such a positive and thoughtful discussion. Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Vicki Fresolone summarized the Vision 2020 conference that occurred a few weeks ago. The perspective discussed there was that grassroots groups tend to be issue-driven and ideal for pressuring representatives. Their message was that we need to think about moving from Challengers to Champions. This means recognizing that we now have a Congressman who represents Garden State Values, and we need to think about ways to continue to hold him to that standard while supporting him when he does.
We then transitioned into a group SWOT analysis. Small groups rotated through stations in which they were tasked with describing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of IGSV. Themes about the group (strengths and weaknesses) that recurred included:
- The amazing dedication of our talented, knowledgeable members to this group and multiple other groups in the area (with the downside of everyone wishing for more time in the day);
- A strong commitment by all to defending Truth and Equality (but a strong desire to increase our numbers and especially our racial and age diversity);
- Our mission of including people with differing political identities;
- A commitment to educating ourselves (and potentially others); and
- Our struggles to be more visible and to find consistent meeting times and places.
Themes about the broader context of IGSV (opportunities and threats) included:
- Needing to make our group more inclusive, perhaps through childcare at meetings and better publicity to untapped groups of people (other grassroots groups, high schools, RVCC);
- Needing to delve more into state issues, along with identifying/supporting state candidates;
- Needing to continue to put pressure on our Members of Congress, despite no longer having Lance to push around, by continuing to show up for town halls, make phone calls, and write letters; and
- Needing to find ways to educate ourselves about national or regional issues but also personalizing the issues so we see how we are personally affected.
Participants felt that IGSV makes a few unique contributions to the grassroots and political landscape of this area. We are one of the few non-partisan groups that are not about a single issue. We have a mission about educating ourselves and others about political issues. We have a mission about lobbying our Members of Congress, and we do not have to always agree with them. And we have a strong commitment to being an in-person community coupled with our online presence. These are areas that we will look to maintain and strengthen moving forward.
Finally, we discussed what the leadership should look like moving forward. Everyone was very kind about my leadership (I’m touched by the cards and flowers!). The good news is that I will not be walking away from the group. Instead, we agreed that we should have a leadership team moving forward. The team members would have designated roles, but rather than fixing them now, I suggest that the leadership team decide those roles. Please send me a DM if you are interested in contributing, and in what capacity. I believe that so far, Sarah Morgan, Tina Nixon, Laurie Gneiding, and Barbara Chilmonik have offered to help in different capacities. I’ll do my best to continue on as well. Please email email@example.com if you would like to be part of this team. At the end of the week, I will contact everyone with a Doodle poll to find a leadership meeting time. Thanks for those of you who are willing and able to step up!
Thanks again for all of your thoughts, efforts, and enthusiasm!