Sound Alliance Assemblies: Gathering Different Perspectives - and Being Flexible!
Sound Alliance leaders held two separate geographically-based assemblies last week to promote Best Starts for Kids, gain public recognition with decision makers, and start dreaming about where this campaign could lead the Alliance after the election.
There were many lessons learned about organizing at these assemblies:
From the October 14 assembly in Kirkland:
A strength of a broad-based organization like Sound Alliance is our ability to look at one problem from many different perspectives. Testimonies from diverse Sound Alliance constituents all pointed to the conclusion that Sound Alliance members do not like the direction our community is headed in, and see Best Starts for Kids as a vehicle to change that direction in the long run.
For example, Barb de Michele, a former Issaquah school board member and education activist, challenged stereotypes about the East Side of Seattle as a place with no problems, and testified about the very high rate of alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety among students. She said, “We need Best Starts for Kids for our children here on the East Side”.
To be involved in community organizing is to be prepared yet flexible. Last minute changes make this work alive. The day before the assembly, State Representatives Roger Goodman and Patricia Kuderer, and County Council Candidate (and Mayor of Bellevue) Claudia Balducci informed Sound Alliance leaders that they could in fact attend. Leaders reacted swiftly and shuffled the agenda to accommodate the new additions.
October 14 Assembly, Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church, Kirkland
From the October 17 assembly in Seattle:
Surprising things happen with public pressure. Four City Council candidates were asked in front of the 100 assembled if they would commit to meeting with the Sound Alliance within 50 days of taking office if elected to work on issues important to our members such as criminal justice. Candidates not only committed, but they started to “one-up” each other. One said they would commit to meeting with Alliance leaders within the first 30 days, then another promised to meet quarterly!
In addition, candidates committed to promoting Best Starts for Kids as part of their own campaigns. Sandy Brown (District 5), Michael Maddux and Rob Johnson (District 4) committed to bringing materials door-to-door, and Pamela Banks (District 3) agreed to promote Best Starts for Kids at her events in the next few weeks.
Best Starts for Kids is just a Start – We need Tax Reform! Lorelei Walker gave powerful testimony of the Sound Alliance strategy team’s vision for moving beyond funding public needs with property tax levies.
She says, “Let’s be clear, the mechanism of relying on property owners alone to protect us from the systematic attack and defunding of social services will not solve our larger state problem. The language from decision-makers is that as a state we can only fund one or the other, education or public health, transportation or safety – assuming a reduced budget has become the status quo and it is stretching us on every front. Homelessness numbers climb, prevention funds are cut, and the state’s substandard education funding is so low we are in violation of our own constitution. Our situation is unacceptable… unsustainable… unjust. For many it is downright deadly. But this is a FALSE DICHOTOMY.”
Read more of the vision here.
Many kudos are due to leaders from University, Northlake and Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Churches, the Health Equity Circle, and other Sound Alliance institutions, who worked hard to make these Assemblies a success.
Press coverage: Action assembly rallies support for Best Starts for Kids - The Daily,10/18/15
Health Equity Circle members at the October 17 Assembly, University Unitarian Church, Seattle
GET INVOLVED WITH BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
Interested in getting more involved with Best Starts for Kids as we make our final push towards Election Day?
Passing the Best Starts for Kids levy would fund proven, preventative programs for children, giving them a better opportunity to reach their full potential in life. Healthier kids become healthier adults, benefiting our whole community and addressing the root causes of issues important to Sound Alliance members.
Best Starts for Kids Campaign Team Conference Call
10/23 - 8:00AM-9:00AM
10/30 - 8:00AM-9:00AM
Call-in number: (712) 432-1500
Access code: 728925#