New Power, New Coalitions: California Calls Convenes 2011 Collaborative Strategy Sessions

“We hang together or we hang apart…”

– Benjamin Franklin

California Calls believes that coalition-building is an essential component to winning progressive reform.  One of California Calls’ key strategies for “tipping point” change is to assemble a vibrant mosaic of groups and networks from different sectors that collaborate over the long haul with increasing synergy and clout.  Toward that end, the first of three all-day strategy sessions planned for 2011 was held January 27 in South LA, hosted by alliance anchor group, SCOPE.   The goals were to develop a shared analysis of the statewide political and policy landscape, particularly as shaped by the November election, and to generate active collaboration for long term solutions and strategies to the state’s Tax and Fiscal crisis.

Nearly 70 individuals from 44 groups participated, representing unions, health and human services networks, single-issue advocacy organizations, and faith-based networks, along with California Calls member groups. Clarity of purpose and a strong spirit of trust were in the house. “The day was productive and invigorating,” said one consumer advocate: “The many brilliant young leaders kept me there all day!” A union leader noted the “unusually honest and enlightening dialogue” between labor and community groups. Three main proposals emerged from the January session:

1. Develop a common vision, values and long term agenda to solve the state’s tax and fiscal dysfunction;

2. Share best strategic communication practices and thinking toward shifting public opinion about the role of government and taxes;

3. Organize a united progressive movement effort around the potential Special Election.

Currently, California Calls is shifting its policy development efforts into high gear, leading to a second strategy session in July focused on how to close the $28 Billion Budget Gap. The state policy debate is teetering on a narrow political axis, with momentum growing for ideas such as “realignment” (shifting current state responsibilities to local government, but leaving the question of systemic funding sources to support these responsibilities unanswered), and a flat tax system (with the acknowledgment that such a system is regressive).  There is a disturbing trend to ignore equity issues in these policy conversations. California Calls, in coalition with our allies around the state, will work to insert progressive alternatives based on social justice and equity into the public debate.