Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking Back the Economy: A good time was had by all

Seacoast for Change activists joined NH Change That Works organizers and other local volunteers for a street action to protest corporate greed on Thursday, March 19 (in front of the Portsmouth Bank of America branch on Pleasant Street). It was cold out, but kinda fun. The local event, which was part of a nationally-coordinated demonstration to take back the economy for the middle class (, received great news coverage-- check out the excellent pictures of familiar faces, Joan Hamblet, Joan Jacobs and Jane Hoffman from Reuters news service. The Portsmouth Herald, Foster's Daily Democrat, and WMUR-TV also covered the Portsmouth protest.

Follow Up: March 21 Budget Forum and OFA Canvass

Saturday was a busy day for local activists, kicking off at 10:00 AM with the "Follow the Money: Understanding the State Budget" forum at the Portsmouth Public Library. NH House Speaker Terie Norelli discussed the process of approving the state budget and answered questions from the audience about the fate of funding for Health and Human Service programs and other proposed adjustments to state spending. Foster's Daily Democrat reported on the forum in today's paper ("Concerns aired about proposed N.H. budget cuts," Bob Cook, 03.22.09). Organizing the forum was a joint project of the Portsmouth City Democratic Committee and Seacoast for Change.

Several Seacoast for Change volunteers also participated in Organizing for America's Pledge Canvass to draw public support for President Obama's plan to lay the groundwork for lasting prosperity by investing in clean energy, education for the 21st century, and quality, affordable health care for all. Clipboards in hand, we staked out a sunny spot in Market Square between 1:00-2:30 PM on Saturday afternoon. The reception from locals and visitors was pleasantly warm, and 31 supporters signed pledge forms. The Portsmouth action was one of four scheduled pledge project events in NH. For those who want to know more about the pledge canvass, the Washington Post reported on OFA's March 21 national day of action ("Obama's Campaign Army on Road Again"). In the above photo, Doug M. of Newfields (far right) signs up a group of supporters.

We'll be inviting Seacoast for Change volunteers to participate in more actions to support the passage of President Obama's proposals to renew America and create an economy that works for everyone in the coming weeks and months--stay tuned!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Follow Up: "Be the Change" Organizing Meeting, February 25

Thanks to everyone who joined us in Portsmouth last week for our February organizing meeting. We had a full house and covered a lot of ground -- and it was clear from the evening's discussion that there's no shortage of opportunities for Seacoast for Change volunteers to strengthen our community and take action for the change we believe in.

Representatives from several local organizations were on hand to talk about their projects and how grassroots activists can get involved:

David Stylianou, regional field organizer of the NH for Health Care campaign, spoke about the importance of getting a public conversation started about why all Americans need affordable, quality health care now, and how his organization will be working over the next 6-8 months to spread that conversation in New Hampshire and 16 other states.

Karen Marzloff of Seacoast Local was not able to stay and speak to the entire group, but did share information about Seacoast Local's mission to promote community sustainability by supporting locally-owned businesses and environmentally-responsible practices in the Seacoast region.

Robin Albert of the United Way of the Greater Seacoast Volunteer Action Center described her agency's program to match up area volunteers with local organizations, and introduced the newly-launched Seacoast 20/20 Community Vision Project (which you can read more about here).

NH Democratic Party Field Director Ryan Mahoney spoke about NHDP's goal to strengthen local Democratic organizations in preparation for the 2010 election, and how grassroots volunteers can have an important role in sustaining New Hampshire's progressive momentum.

Laurie McCray, Larry Drake, and Joan Jacobs made announcements about two upcoming events to share information about state policy issues and connect community members with local legislators. On Saturday, March 21, Seacoast for Change and Portsmouth Democrats will co-host a community forum with NH House Speaker Terie Norelli and Senator Martha Fuller Clark on how the proposed state budget will impact the Seacoast region. In April, Seacoast for Change invites Portsmouth voters to "Meet Your Legislators" for a discussion of legislative priorities; the event will be moderated by Hilary Niles, editor of Front Door Politics NH. Also in the works: A community forum on working women and families in the NH economy, and a presentation and discussion on affordable health care as a women's issue. More information on these and other Seacoast for Change events will be available soon!

Near the end of the meeting, we had a lively discussion about the best way for concerned citizens to share their views with elected officials and decision-makers. People were so fired up by this topic that we've decided to organize a workshop on how to make your voice heard on policy matters, from calling your members of congress to spending a day at the State House. Stay tuned for more details.