December 31, 2012
Dear Progressive Cheverly members:
We wanted to provide all our members some feedback from the Progressive Cheverly retreat and the associated on-line survey. Twenty members met on December 1st at the home of Paul and Paulette Thompson. We had a lot of lively discussion and heard many heartfelt comments about the organization and our work. As an organization, we have made a difference and there is strong support among our members for what we do. At the same time, there are many challenges if we are to reach our full potential. Many of these challenges are not new. The key take-away messages from the retreat are summarized below:
1. Based on the survey results and people's comments at the retreat, our members strongly support Progressive Cheverly's primary areas of work (education, access to elected officials, issue advocacy, electing progressive candidates), believe our work makes a difference in the broader community, and are glad to be a part of that work.
2. We have been an incubator – for ideas (e.g. Community Garden, storm drain decals) that may ultimately be accomplished under the auspices of a different organization, and people, who sometimes move on to new opportunities. These are both successes for the organization but as to the people, it is also problematic as we lose talented and committed participants/leaders.
3. As a group we are not sufficiently representative of the demography of our community. In particular, our African-American, African and Hispanic membership is well below their relative numbers in Cheverly. The same is true for younger members (whether with or without children). This may affect our perceptions/assumptions about issues and priorities most relevant to our community.
4. We need to market ourselves better.
5. To be more effective in our work, especially in the County, we need to help create new coalitions and/or expand our work with existing organizations.
6. It is time to review our policy and project goals and priorities.
7. There is recognition that finding people willing and able to serve in key leadership positions for the organization remains a challenge.
8. There are different views in the organization about the relative importance of representing a political perspective while also pursuing social aims and services. Some participants seemed most comfortable with Progressive Cheverly pursuing many of our activities without promoting political positions.
At our Dec. 17th Executive Committee meeting we began follow-up discussions based on the retreat feedback. We talked about doing better outreach to new attendees at our forums and began discussion on our organizational goals and legislative priorities for the coming year. You will hear more and have a chance to provide more specific suggestions at upcoming meetings. If you have any specific feedback or are interested in receiving the full retreat minutes or a copy of the pre-retreat survey results (completed by 40 members), please email Norm at firstname.lastname@example.org and copies will be provided to you.
Norman Oslik and Paul Thompson
Co-chairs, Progressive Cheverly