Building a regional reform agenda in the Midwest

February 23, 2012

Last week, the Midwest Democracy Network, one of the Campaign’s organizing committee members, held its winter planning meeting in Chicago. Twice a year, the Midwest Democracy Network convenes its regional and national partners to discuss some of the current developments in democracy, the happenings on the ground in their states, and how best the groups can work together.

This time around, the Campaign was able to fully participate in the two day meeting. “Harnessing the moment and building a regional reform agenda” was the theme of the conference, and to that end, the organizations gathered in Chicago discussed the best ways to move forward, and lay out the regional priorities for the years ahead.

Some of the biggest takeaways from the meeting, via Campaign staff members Peter Hardie and Brandon Lee –

  • The session on social media planning not only laid out the most effective ways to utilize social media, but it also laid the foundation for other program planning.
  • Conversations that connect organizations with the political realities of democracy proved immensely helpful, and also opened up new questions. How do we choose a path forward as organizations, as a field, and as a movement? How does the movement grow and evolve?
  • We looked deeper into the current developments of some more specific issues. In particular, we learned some of the finer points of state level redistricting, discussed the best ways forward to reduce the influence of bit money in politics, and increase campaign disclosure.
  • We also learned more about one of the things the Campaign touched on late last year: how do we ensure that voters in 2012 go to their polling places with the things they need to vote? This means a photo ID, in many states. Eric Marshall of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, David Becker from Pew Center on the States, and Ruben Castilla Herrera of the Latin@ Action Circle and Nonprofit Vote all shared their insights on the best ways to reach out to voters as well as the resources organizations can tap into for November.

The Midwest Democracy Network is also preparing to bid farewell to its executive director, Leah Rush, later this year. The Network is currently conducting a search for a new director – for more information, please see this page.

For more about the Midwest Democracy Network, visit their website.

(Full disclosure: Brandon Lee, the Campaign’s communications coordinator, also serves as the communications and program coordinator for Midwest Democracy Network)


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