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Nearly fifty movement politics organizers came together just outside of Philadelphia to chart a shared path towards what we call Movement Politics – identifying, developing and supporting real community leaders to run for public office and advance real policy solutions to the problems we face. It may sound like a dream, but we’re gaining ground all across the country!

What if elections weren’t about getting more for the greedy few? What if we could find, support, and elect candidates who come from our communities to advance real solutions to the greatest problems we all face? 

In our current political climate, this may sound like a pipe dream – but it’ s not. It’s what People’s Action member groups have been building towards already for nearly a decade. And in many parts of the country, this approach is starting to bear fruit. 

It’s what we call Movement Politics.

“It’s about building a political home,” said Juanita Lewis, the executive director of New York City-based Community Voices Heard, who is also the chair of People’s Action’s C4 political board. “What we’re talking about is how we want to shift the landscape.”

“And that work doesn’t stop on Election Day,” she added. “The real work begins the day after. And that’s where the fun is – that’s where you get to see the transformation.”

Lewis was speaking to the dozens of movement politics organizers from People’s Action member groups who came to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center just outside of Philadelphia, from all across the country from June 3 through 6 for People’s Action’s first-ever Movement Politics Trainers for Trainers retreat. 

Nearly fifty organizers from a dozen states – including the key electoral battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as states including Nevada, Texas, New Hampshire, Illinois, New York and North Carolina, attended the event.

Some of these states have well-established electoral programs, with multiple allies at every level of government – from the City Council to state legislatures to the U.S. Congress. Others came from member groups with brand-new electoral programs, or from states with deep-Red majorities in government. 

All dug in to share the lessons and best practices they’ve learned for developing and supporting candidates, then maintaining a co-governing relationship with elected officials once in office to advance policy goals. 

“The biggest part of movement politics is to really invest in people from within our base to actually run and win elections, because that’s where we’re really going to see transformational change,” said Isra Allison from Down Home North Carolina. “We’re doing it so we can achieve governing power, so folks from our communities who are directly impacted are the ones having a seat at the table and doing it all across the country.”

“”It’s really exciting,” said Marta Popadiak, Movement Politics director for People’s Action. “We’re learning what it was that got us to this particular political moment in time, and how to make a decision about what we’re going to do about it.”

“Elections are one tool in our toolbox in order to get the things we want and need for our communities,” said Danielle Fitzgerald from the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “And I absolutely refuse to leave any power on the table then there’s already an outsized imbalance between us and corporations.”

“People are tired of transactional politics,” said Adonis Flores from Michigan United. “People are tired of politicians breaking promises. The only way we’re going to change that is if regular folks like us come together and build enough power to demand that they prioritize our needs over the needs of corporations.”

Guest speakers included hometown hero Rick Krajewski, who represents West and South Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House. 

“I think of myself as an organizer-elected, or elected organizer, whichever way you’re situated,” Krajewski said with a smile. “I’m trying to marry my position in a local government structure, with the organizing principles of Movement Politics that we create at People’s Action.” 

Krajewski first attended People’s Action training in 2018, before being elected to Pennsylvania’s State House in 2020. Since then, he has  worked closely with other key Movement Politics allies in the state, including State Senator Nikil Saval and Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, to create enough progressive power to both stand up to Pennsylvania’s corporate-funded interests and to advance innovative solutions.

This has put him at the forefront of advancing progressive policies in the state, such as the Whole Home Repairs program, which has made federal funds destined to pave the way for a transition to green energy available to households across the state to make basic upgrades and improvements for energy efficiency.

“Early on in my time as an organizer, I got pretty clear about the role of elected government structures in the things that we care about,” said Krajewski. “It was at a People’s Action training where I got clear about my path to power, and how being clear about that path was necessary for my liberation, and for the liberation of my community, and my loved ones.”

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