Past Progressive Cheverly Retreats and Member Surveys

2012 Retreat Summary

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 noslik@verizon.net and copies will be provided to you. 

Norman Oslik and Paul Thompson
Co-chairs, Progressive Cheverly


2010 Membership Survey

In the fall of 2009, Progressive Cheverly polled its membership to determine the group's legislative goals and issues focus in the coming year.  Top priorities were improving our health care system, building a sustainable future, making a difference in the 2010 elections and protecting civil rights.  Results of that survey can be viewed in a PDF document by clicking here.


Report on Progressive Cheverly’s Retreat
Held June 28, 2008

After more than three years in existence, Progressive Cheverly convened its first retreat on Saturday, June 28.  We are particularly grateful to Larry Beyna for facilitating and to Joyce & Joel Lang for opening their home for our event.

All current members of Progressive Cheverly were invited and actual attendees included: Mary Jane Coolen, Craig Tupper, David Thorpe, Joel Lang, Angela Boone, John Rebstock, Terry Doyle, Gary Frank, Beth Wood, Sonya Gross, Aimee Olivo, Larry Beyna, Madeleine Golde, Lisa Lincoln, June Fair, Cynthia Robinson, Carol Barthel, Joyce Lang, Norman Oslik, Clareen Heikel.

The retreat was an opportunity for interested members of Progressive Cheverly to come together and celebrate past accomplishments while discussing and brainstorming ideas for our future growth and action.  Below is a summary of the discussions, brainstorming and ideas presented at the retreat.  Except where specifically noted, items listed represent individual suggestions and were not voted on or otherwise formally endorsed by those in attendance at the retreat.

Facilitator Larry Beyna posted Progressive Cheverly's accomplishments.

After reviewing and adding to what amounted to several pages of all that Progressive Cheverly has done/accomplished in the past 3 ½ years, attendees were asked to identify what they would like to "make happen" in Annapolis or within Progressive Cheverly next year — if anything was possible!  Ideas included: legislation or other accomplishments on death penalty, slots, global warming, peace, campaign finance, gun control, local sustainability.  Within Progressive Cheverly itself members wished for greater diversity (race and age) and outreach to other groups.

We briefly reviewed Progressive Cheverly's "Mission and Principles" document.  Several relatively minor suggestions were made for additions.  In general, there was a discussion of shortening the document but it was noted that the brochure has a shorter version and that the long version is useful in many circumstances.

In our longest portion of the morning, individual attendees identified short (1-2 years) and long-term (3-5 years) goals and strategies.  We were a prolific group and the individual ideas were then synthesized into broader categories.  While these goals/strategies were widely supported there was no formal vote to adopt them.  Rather, this exercise helped us to see where the members in attendance place their priorities and may help us prioritize for the future.

  •  Educate people (continue forums, increase attendance at forums; teach people why labor unions matter)

  •  Increase membership and involvement, diversify membership (push for inclusive policies for newsletter and other facilities; quarterly movie/discussion potlucks to explore issues while socializing; more active Cheverly residents and expanded leadership; have fun while we're working for change; diversity of both age and race)

  •  Build bridges/coalitions with outside organizations (hold a social event with neighboring organizations; replicate our organization in other Prince George's communities; become a stronger political force in county and state; have stronger working relationships with surrounding communities; racial bridge-building program; develop county-wide progressive coalition for legislative change in Upper Marlboro and Annapolis)

  •  Continue to work to elect progressive candidates at all levels

  •  Legislative Initiatives in Maryland (marriage equality; election reform/public financing; death penalty; gun control; slots; global warming; a financially stable Prince George's Hospital providing first-class health care)

  •  Foster local town/county environmental change (establish in-town food and energy projects; implement storm-drain labeling and education project; decrease Cheverly's carbon footprint; lead in developing and implementing Cheverly Green Infrastructure Plan; move county green agenda forward; make Cheverly a Cool City; halt concrete batching plant; lead in implementing Prince George's "Cool Counties" program; improve Cheverly's energy efficiency and renewable energy; county and town energy and economic localization)

  •  Promote peace (create culture of peace; have another "Month of Peace"; poll members respecting their own personal growth and involvement; make Cheverly a "Community of Peace")

  •  Promote accountability at all governmental levels (monitor delegates and senators; separation of church and state; develop more of a relationship with county council)


After a short break, small breakout groups considered the following topics:

A.  Strengths and weaknesses of our current organizational structure and possible organizational changes.

Suggestions: In an effort to reduce the length of meetings this group suggested we continue to have a monthly forum. The full-length business meeting would alternate with a shortened business meeting (15 minutes) every other month.  In the months with a short business meeting the committee reports and other relevant news/information would be distributed via the bulletin and/or a written report at meetings.

B.  Increasing membership and involvement in Progressive Cheverly

Suggestions: Form a membership committee (initially consisting of June, Beth, and David) to look into initiatives such as welcome baskets to new Cheverly residents; follow up on expressions of interest (Clareen and Lisa will hold a workshop to demonstrate methods learned at Wellstone training); work on racial diversity; work on age diversity (e.g., via internet marketing -- Facebook page, YouTube video); use Obama campaign and environmental activities to recruit youth; have a "teen PC" to network on these issues; offer service hours; advertise forums outside Cheverly; Aimee and Beth to discuss offering babysitting during meetings

C.  Work effectively with coalitions inside and outside Cheverly.

Suggestions: Workshop on developing relationships with other groups (run by Wellstoners Lisa and Clareen); periodic seminars/workshops on specific subjects (race, peace, a film, a book); work on specific issues with other groups (slots, environment, marriage equality, Obama)


We concluded the morning with the following decisions and actions:

1.  Do we want to take a position on Obama and working with Prince Georges for Obama?  We concluded that we would poll the membership via e-mail since there will not be a general meeting until September.

2.  Do we want to take a position on slots?  We concluded that we will have a September forum on the subject, with a membership vote afterwards.

3.  Should Progressive Cheverly restrict its membership to only Cheverly residents?  It was agreed that our continued priority focus regarding membership should be on Cheverly residents.  We would not actively recruit members outside Cheverly, but that we would welcome anyone who wanted to join.

4.  There was consensus to create a new Membership Committee to help build membership and involvement.  This committee will replace the former Outreach Committee.  Beth Wood and David Thorpe have agreed to co-chair this committee.  All are welcome to join this exciting committee!

5.  The Executive Committee will utilize the various recommendations from the retreat to guide planning of future actions for the organization.