Thank you so much for writing! And for outlining your concerns. To me, that tells me that you care a lot about this issue…that you cared to write and provide so much detail about your concerns.
I'm an ex-elected official (Acton), and I've been an activist for almost all of my adult life, in one form or another. And while rallies, protests, and art projects are great for raising awareness, that's not where my heart is. If YOU want to engage in stuff like that, for/with/without PassMass, I totally encourage you to do that. I can certainly connect you with friends who really love to do that work.
For me, however… I intend to help build a network of VOLUNTEER petitioners across the state. If people do not want to stand up and run their government, so be it. But I'm going to give it a hell of a shot. I have the professional skills used to help building/operate logistics networks for large armies. And I'm not getting paid. I got 3,200 signatures by myself last year, while holding down a full time job. You can do that math… 30 of us could do it ourselves. But our team has decided not to do it that way. The group decided that it would be better to engage lots of groups that could contribute 10-20 people each. The group decided to focus on building regional networks. If we don't do it this year, we'll just continue to try. Each year, we will be bigger and stronger. And in the end, we will be able to make change, because we do not intend to stop at just this one issue. We intend to engage in a roadmap of change. I showed meeting members the Top 10 changes that the Occupy National Strategy working group developed last year. I did this as proposal for such a roadmap for Massachusetts. And while the group may not decide to go after those specific things in that order, they all nodded that if a small group of people could coordinate a roadmap plan with hundreds of people participating…then YES, PassMass can do the same thing to decide which ballot initiative to go after next.
So you can definitely say that we're untraditional. And unprofessional. And that we may not have a strategy that you can recognize. But you can't deny the fact that armies of people have been built before the internet, and before paid lobbyists… and that those armies of volunteers changed the course of a nation. And that's what we intend to do.
Last year was the dress rehearsal for this year. And this year is the dress rehearsal for next year.
In the past couple months, we have been contacted by various city Democratic Town Committees to address their members, give presentations, hand out materials, get emails from people who want to petition. In that process, delegates to the Mass Dem Convention suggested that we propose to the 2014 Convention that they endorse PassMass…even if it doesn't pass, we will have informed 5,000 delegates about our work. The word is spreading, and the strategy is to continue doing what we are doing.
Remember… last year this time, we were four people without a web page. And now you've heard of us, and have been compelled to write…even if to ask us to change course.
I hope that what we are doing appeals to you. We won't ask you to do more than you can. If you can get us on an agenda in your community group's meeting, great! If you can take a few forms and get some sigs, great! If you can coordinate petitioners in your town, great! If you want to jump in with both feet! AWESOME! Come on Down!
But what I don't do is to back off, give up and join up with some group of letter writers, or artists, taking direction from a central group of professionals. I will certainly support the other colleagues in the struggle. For sure! Movies! Lectures! Non-binding referenda! All great! Go for it! I'm happy to help where I can… But PassMass is where my heart is… I want to MAKE change… I don't want to spend my time urging others to…
Love your slogans, by the way… Nick's on the bumper sticker team… Maybe you can help design?
Oh, with respect to GRP? I'm working with them on their petitions to get a statewide slate of candidates on the ballot. They need 5,000 certified, and I think the last count I heard was that they are at 3,000… I'm personally committed to 500, and may do even more.
I like petitioning for binding law. Bottle Bill, Minimum Wage…all good. But they have networks of paid people and/or union people who do it as part of their union membership. That's not really for me. I love what PassMass represents. It's freedom from the paid lobbyists and advocacy groups that hold our causes hostage.
With all due respect and thanks for your having written and provided so much detail… Please let us know what you can do to help…
Thanks for the typed snail mail letter. I agree that this is the “Battle of
our Age" and I think it is great that you are seeking an amendment to the MA constitution to end corporate personhood. As Terra knows, I was a key member of the 2009 effort to get Instant Runoff Voting ("Ranked Choice Voting") on the statewide ballot. We leveraged the existing network of Jill Stein and the GRP and had over 200 volunteers collecting massive numbers of signatures throughout the state. We hired two field organizers plus a brilliant, passionate campaign manager who had won several ballot initiatives in Oregon. In the end, we failed spectacularly, on track to collect about 30K signatures. Our volunteer army was 4x too small, and our funding base was over $50K too short. I cannot in good conscience lend time or money to the effort if there is not a clear and realistic strategy to actually get the requisite number of signatures. For activists of whom this is not their first rodeo, it is not good enough to make any moral or spiritual appeals, you must convince us that you have a strategy to actually meet these incredibly difficult thresholds. I didn't see that in the letter and I didn't see that in the FAQs. I want to know how big your list is. I get the sense that this inconvenient truth that this is a big-numbers game and, if you are to win, you are required to enter the campaign with these numbers (money or people), has not been directly and realistically addressed. Of course, please correct me if I'm wrong. What you are attempting is a REALLY REALLY difficult thing to do in Massachusetts, and 90% of groups who do a statewide ballot initiative always collect a large fraction or even the whole set of the 90K signatures using paid signature-gatherers, to the tune of $1-$3 per raw signature. It is tens of thousands of dollars, and often over $100K. To say you are "totally grassroots, all volunteer, and no one gets paid" does not bode well for your ability to win. I know I am dispensing unasked for advice, but I would recommend you take the same concept and ratchet it down to something like a change.org petition, or some really creative mailer that everyone sends to their rep where everyone sends: 1) miniature megaphones saying "money is not speech, money is an amplifier -- and they're drowning us all out" 2) little biohazard signs or warning label stickers that say "Health Warning: Unlimited corporate spending in elections is correlated with higher rates of obesity, etc etc" (obviously substantiate this -- just an example) 3) etc or team up with MTA, Common Cause (who already blew us all away by winning over 182 city and town petitions -- now THAT is a network!!!), Represent.us, or other groups that are effectively getting the issue out in front of the public. Understand that I write this because I do appreciate your intention and effort and I deeply wish for the movement's success. In solidarity, *Adam Friedman* 617.784.8993