Networking our Community
On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of New York City were attacked by two planes, toppling in flames. That date has haunted America for the last four years, outcries against war and an unjust government have been shunted in the name of God and country.
In the Fall of 2005, all that will change. Progressives begin to speak out with one voice.
On August In the wake of Katrina, starving children, dismantled houses, the abandoned sick, and the unclaimed dead shocked the American viewing public. Could this be on American shores? Communities across America cried out in despair against the systematic dismantling of our welfare and health care system in this country that left so many of the neediest utterly vulnerable to disaster.
Hear the prophecy: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
On September 24, 2005, hundreds of thousands of protesters in Washington, London, San Francisco, and New York voiced their sustained protest against an endless war and a government equally unconcerned for the lives of its own citizens, its armed forces, and human suffering abroad.
Hear the prophecy: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
On October 13 to 15, 2005, hundreds of Christians will turn out at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, where preachers, lay-people, soup-kitchen workers, peace-protesters, prison-visitors, visitors to New Orleans, progressive journalists, and politicians of both parties, will gather to call for a reformation of the country with one voice, shouting down the government that has abandoned its poor.
Hear the prophecy: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
A conference on Progressive Christian Values to be held October 13-15 at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC will gather Christians together to actively condemn the moral failures of the right-wing government and issue a comprehensive strategy for reform.
Panelists at the conference will present an array of ongoing faith-based media and policy responses towards Hurricane Katrina, poverty, the war in Iraq, health care, the environment, and racism.
Talks and meetings will take place at the National Cathedral, St. Alban's Church, and the Marriott Hotel. Registration is $265/head, including all receptions, meals, and a banquet with Jim Wallis. We've realized that the cost would be prohibitive for a lot of people we want to attract. The daily door fee is now at $20, or $10 for students, with a "pay what you can" clause attached.
BIG NAMES, BIG NETWORKS
Our confirmed participants include political and social justice figures Jim Wallis, former Senator John Danforth, Jonathan Schell, and Richard Parker; journalists E. J. Dionne, Amy Sullivan, and Steven Waldman; and intellectuals Michael Kazin and David Hollinger.
The conference will also host leaders from the major think tanks on religion and politics, including the Bliss Institute, the Henry Institute, The American Center for Progress, and the Center for Public Justice.
Leaders of the progressive Christian activist groups CrossLeft, The Christian Alliance for Progress, the Center for American Progress, The Center for Progressive Christianity, and CrossWalk America will be panelists for discussion groups on sharing local strategies for permanent, nation-wide social and political change.
BLOGGING AT THE CONFERENCE
One of our three major activism panels is about "New Strategies," and includes a major representation of net activists like Kaliya Hamlin, one of San Francisco's major thinkers about new kinds of community structure on the internet. She'll be giving a talk about the possibilities of linking net communities to real communities through new blog technologies like those from Civic Space Labs (which gives possibilities for sharing calendars, chatspace, etc etc to this kind of a format).
We've also wired the conference, and alerted every blogger whose email we could get that we'd like to have them there blogging.
Bloggers, famous or not, are encouraged to come, meet each other, speak out at the discussions of strategies for long-term change, and document the conference real-time. You're right that the press-release probably doesn't play up the blogosphere activity as much as it should; alas, our media effort is probably less well coordinated than it should be!
Anyone able to come is encouraged to let me know so that I can introduce myself at the event, and lend any assistance or introductions that would help! jo (at) social redemption (dot) com.
GRASSROOTS AND BIG CHANGE
Most of our panelists are grassroots leaders with a major presence on the internet -- the Pres and VP of the Christian Alliance for Progress, the entire leadership of CrossLeft, representatives from CrossWalk and the Center for Progressive Christianity. We've made a big deal to participants, panelists and speakers alike about the need for netroots, church, media, think-tank, and pundit to start talking to each other about a common stream of values, and a shared vision of how internet/media/politics can help us promote real social and political change.
The networking of a larger community is a problem progressive Christianity faces before it takes back the country from the radical right fringe. Conference organizers are adamant about helping the whole community start talking to each other, facilitating discussion over the internet, and enabling grass-roots groups with strategies for contacting larger media and political players.
The media panel, for instance, will offer activists information about what gets covered in the mainstream press and what doesn't. We're working from the position that most progressive Christians are sick of reading the headline "church splits over gay issues," with interviews of all the radical right-wing clergymen, every time the Episcopalian church issues a proclamation saying that they're trying to make peace between right and left without having anyone leave. How to get more even coverage? Seems like a good start.
We'd noticed, when talking to grassroots organizers around the country, that very few had access to media and politics on the one hand, or other groups of other denominations / other websites / other geographic locations on the other. Several of the activist participants are involved in longer-term initiatives to make effective the groundwork laid at the conference. CrossLeft's plan for the next year is to set up such a clearing house on the web -- with links to the different grassroots sites by geography and political initiative, with a craigslist-type information/people/needs sharing pool, and with an rss stream of progressive Christian news & blogs.
I welcome more ideas and help in spreading the word! Let's help our community to act with one initiative and reform the country.
-- Jo Guldi, jo (at) socialredemption (dot) com