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The story goes that when FDR was president, a group of progressives presented him with their agenda, and he responded: “I agree with you. Now make me do it.” Roosevelt summed up activism for us. Today we face a president who has given us health care … and who is promising to support destructive changes to Social Security that the co-chairs of the Deficit Commission are recommending. Some progressives argue that Obama does what he can for us in an impossible political climate; others rant that he has used us and abandoned us. But in one sense, what we think of him or his policies isn’t the point. What matters is whether we can make him do what we want. And right now progressives are insufficiently organized to twist the political arms we need bent.

Three events in St. Louis in a three week span, though, show that some progressives get it and are taking steps to organize. A couple of Saturdays ago, a small group met at Rea Kleeman’s house to discuss the disarray in the Missouri Democratic Party. They agreed on three steps the party ought to take, and they sent a letter to Gov. Nixon requesting that the state party:

  • appoint a paid full time director
  • organize an active group in every township
  • appoint a public relations person to get our message out using the internet, mailings, and contacts in traditional media

The activists in Kleeman’s group are so frustrated that they vow they won’t contribute to or work for any campaigns until Nixon meets with them and takes steps to rectify the party’s weaknesses.

I figure they need a few thousand–or at least a few hundred–more signers to a follow-up letter, and I can recommend a couple of places where they can look for like minded folk.

Tuesday night, Dec. 7th, Democrats without Borders will meet at Jefferson Grill in Kirkwood from 6:30-7:30 (127 W. Jefferson Ave., 63122). It’s a new group that I know little about, but I know a couple of people who will attend. They or I will report on what that group plans to do.

But the best place to connect with other activists bent on organizing is this Saturday at a day long workshop called the Online Organizing and Community Building Workshop. All right, the title isn’t as catchy as, say, Twisting Political Arms and Outing Republican Liars, but who needs a snazzy title if the content and the contacts promise to be worth your time? Adam Shriver, who does yeoman work exposing Tea Party craziness at St. Louis Activist Hub, headed up a group of local activists (including some of us at this blogsite) and came up with this program:

The basic plan for the workshop (at the wonderful event space of the Regional Arts Commission on the Delmar Loop) is as follows:

9:00 AM Welcome and Introductions

9:30 – 10:30 Panel Discussion of the Current State of Missouri Politics

10:30 -11:00 Discussion of the Current State of the Media (and its many flaws)

11:00-11:30 Introduction to the Basics of Online Organizing and Community Building

11:30-12:30 Workshop Session A

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 Workshop Session B

2:30 – 3:30 Workshop Session C

3:30-4 Wrap-up and follow-up plans

Workshops will include: blogging 101, social networking, covering friendly events, covering unfriendly events, working with the traditional media, videography, and online community-building.

We will also try to leave open space during the last workshop session for people to suggest and even lead their own workshops. We have an opportunity to change the conversation for the better: let’s make sure we use it!

Assistance for this event was generously provided by the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and St. Louis Jobs with Justice.

Cost is Free but you do need to RSVP! RSVP by sending an email to washupeacecoalition@gmail.com.

The workshop is at 6128 Delmar. I hope to have a chance to sign that Kleeman petition. And I know I’ll see some of y’all there.