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August 25, 2005

Launching Agenda for Justice Website

Today, we are launching the public website of Agenda for Justice, a new organization supporting and publicizing local and state campaigns for economic and social justice. The front page of the site is at http://www.agendaforjustice.org/.

Here is the motivation for the site and the organization. Right now, progressives face a Catch-22 at the national level; they can’t implement policy, except in totally compromised forms, and it is hard to build support for political change or fully articulate an alternative vision without being able to demonstrate a progressive agenda in practice.

That’s where local political action comes in. In many cities and a number of states, progressives have the political support to implement a range of progressive policies. By highlighting examples of existing and proposed policy options, and helping pass them in additional local communities and states, Agenda for Justice will contribute to framing those policies as part of a national agenda for progressive change.

And with the growth of online activism, there are a lot of activists out there that should be channeled into such local work, supplementing the work by traditional community, faith-based and union organizations. A large part of our goal as an organization is to appeal to these new activists and give them the tools to campaign for these kinds of progressive policy changes in conjunction with traditional organizations.

A core part of the site is a catalog of initiatives framed within an overall progressive agenda, supplemented with a range of model legislation and policy reports for each issue. While over a hundred issue areas are outlined on the site currently, with more to come, the site is still a work in progress, but the site will be expanding in weeks and months to come.

Check out the core essays on the goals of deepening our Democratic Society, promoting broad-based Economic Growth, offering Rewarding Work, supporting Strong Families, building Vibrant Communities, and ensuring Safety and Security for all. Our purpose is to frame all of the issues within broad basic common sense goals before moving on to specific policies.

And for a few good issue examples on the site, see Paid Family Leave, Contingent Work Reform, and Employer-Provided Insurance. Eventually, there will be short essays with links for all the different subpages and issue pages.

There is also a newsfeed that in some sense is intended as the progressive "good news" network, with the focus on progressive successes around the country and the creative ideas being proposed.

Promoting such news of successes and creative proposals is key to inspiring other activists to replicate these policies in their home states and communities, while emphasizing to the broader public that progressives have an agenda that we are implementing at the local level—and that could be even more effective with progressive government at the national level.

Original policy analysis by Agenda for Justice itself, our “blog”, will be posted at http://www.agendaforjustice.org/aj_analysis/. This will also be the page where longer explanations of policy options on the site will be posted as they are developed.

There is also a state-specific Taking It Local section of the site, with news and resources targeted for states and eventually specific regional and city activists. Over time, the goal is create more and more interactive tools to encourage local policy coordination in these campaigns.

There is also the beginnings of a Message area for the site where we will pull together the best analysis from across the web and nonprofit world on how to deliver a successful message to deliver our agenda to the public.

All of this is just the website of course. The key will be working with various groups and networks to encourage its use, while providing specific legal and policy support for those campaigns that need help to move forward. Along with helping activists find specialized organizations that can help them on specific issues, Agenda for Justice will be helping groups draft legislation, recruit policy experts to testify at local hearings, and help defend successes from legal challenge by conservative opponents as resources permit.

If you want to help, the first thing you can to is help publicize the website and the resources available-- and if you feel can encourage people to link to the Donationpage, that's all will obviously be helpful as well.

Secondly, as importantly, we can use volunteers to help develop and expand the resources available and, over time, give support to local campaigns needing help.

We are excited to be launching this effort and hope you will join in.

Posted by Nathan at August 25, 2005 10:19 AM