Theme: Talking with journalists and media. We'll reflect on power of stories and New Power frame, discuss best practices for conversations with media and practice responding to questions from media, using personal stories, the New Power frame, and key talking points.
Theme: talking with our neighbors. We'll discuss the importance of one-on-one conversations and share some best practices.
Florida is like Kentucky in its need for a strong and visionary grassroots organization to influence the political tide.
For Kentucky, that organization is KFTC. For Florida, it’s the Florida New Majority. Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority, and volunteer Johann Joseph talked about their work to build a healthy democracy at KFTC’s recent annual meeting at General Butler State Park.
“We are really excited to learn from their experience for many reasons,” said KFTC member Linda Stettenbenz in introducing Perera and Joseph. “Florida, as we know, is a complicated place that has its share of challenges when it comes to democracy. Like Kentucky, Florida is among a handful of states that permanently take away a person’s right to vote when convicted of a felony. It’s a state that has a history of schemes to suppress, discourage, purge and otherwise restrict people from voting – especially if they happen to be people of color. And like Kentucky, Florida is also home to a remarkable, determined, visionary and effective grassroots organization that is building power, growing community leaders, and making change for the better.”
“Community building is a movement that transcends the moment,” said KFTC member Ray Tucker in a workshop called "Everyday Democracy" at KFTC's annual meeting.
Tucker of Pulaski County described what growing a healthy democracy looks like in his community.
To bring people together around a common vision, Tucker starts conversations. “It starts with one-on-one conversations. It’s ‘What do you want our community to look like?’” he said. Once people have a shared vision to work toward, they can see beyond a single issue and begin to see a bigger picture of what’s possible.
KFTC members and friends from across Kentucky gathered at General Butler State Park near Carrollton August 16-18 to explore the theme “This Is What Democracy Looks Like.” In workshops and informal conversations, they broadened the concept of democracy beyond voting to encompass other ways in which grassroots organizing by ordinary Kentuckians can strengthen our democracy.
Kentucky author, farmer and KFTC member Wendell Berry delivered the keynote address on Friday night, focusing on the importance of connecting people, land, community and work. For more about his speech, look here.
Gihan Perera and Johann Joseph of Florida New Majority described their work to build electoral power in Florida during the Saturday morning plenary. Inspired by the energy and momentum of the 2008 presidential campaign, Florida New Majority was formed in 2009 to find common ground among diverse communities in the state and then help those communities exercise their collective power. To read more about their presentation and watch a video, click here.
Other workshop topics included campaign finance reform, economic democracy, immigration reform, voting rights, media and democracy, movement building, powerful citizen lobbying, art and democracy, grassroots fundraising and more.
At a workshop on citizen lobbying, members talked about the power of meeting with legislators on their home turf, rather than only meeting in their offices in Frankfort. “We as an organization need to invite them in,” said Harlan County member Bennie Massey.
A workshop on building people power through elections focused on KFTC’s work to build a large, diverse, informed, active, organized base of political muscle that transcends any single election. Members talked about the importance of voting and expanding voting rights so that many more people are represented in elections.
“Working class people are really the only ones who can think clearly,” said Louisville member Kimble Pendley, alluding to the influence of big money on political decisions. “Voting is so critical. It’s the one common denominator for us all.”
Chris Woolery of Lawrenceburg lifted up the need to push back against forces that would limit voting rights, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision weakening the Voting Rights Act. “I just think there are so many forces lined up to disenfranchise and disempower people. … We need to be pushing back on things like this.”
The annual meeting, held for many years at the Kentucky Leadership Center at Jabez, moved this year to General Butler to accommodate steadily rising numbers of folks. This year, attendance was 35% larger than last year with about 250 people.
See our next issue of balancing the scales for more details.
Interested in learning how to faciliate a group discussion, workshop, or meeting? Join us at this workshop to learn best practices for good faciliation, how to get good participation and discussion going in groups, how to handle challenging situations while faciliating, and more! This workshop is being offered by KFTC and free and open to all KFTC members. Lunch will be provided.