GJLN: Harnessing the "Power of the People" to Move Campaigns Forward

May 18, 2008 -- Citizen Action of Wisconsin Educati...

By Pam Fendt, GJLN Executive Director

As I write this update on the activities of the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition, my mind is filled with the details of our exciting civic engagement plans for the summer.  We will be canvassing and hosting special events to connect people to two public policy campaigns, and harnessing that “people power” to propel these two projects forward.  

GJLN is continuing to staff a group of neighborhood residents that are advocating for transparency in the environmental clean-up of the abandoned factory site of the former AO Smith/Tower Automotive plant in Milwaukee.  The site is an abandoned industrial site that used to provide good jobs to thousands of Milwaukee residents.  We want the re-use of the site to honor that legacy and provide job opportunities for former AO Smith workers and their families.

In addition, we will be actively supporting a City ordinance to enact wage and hiring standards on development projects that receive City subsidies with our partner organization MICAH (Milwaukee's Gamaliel affiliate).

Both of these campaigns promote more accountable economic development in Milwaukee, but it is an ambitious workplan for a staff of two.  We're ready because we know we're doing good work and have the support.

Many of us are just back from the Good Jobs First conference where there were excellent panel discussions that provided factual information and real life examples of community-centered policies that can serve as guides for our work.  From information on the bad practices of Wal-Mart and Cabelas as they seek to maximize access to public subsidies to information on local hiring and first source recruitment programs, the Good Jobs First Conference served as a reminder that organizations in the Partnership network are well-equipped to implement the cutting-edge policy approaches that transform regional economies and alleviate working poverty.

Beyond all the concrete help, the value of the Partnership network is in knowing that our small staff and growing group of volunteers are part of a larger community of activists working to make a positive difference in the lives of working families in cities across the nation.  As we continue to promote public policy solutions for Milwaukee, we know we can reach out to Partner organizations for guidance and encouragement.