From June 8-10, more than 30 Grassroots Ambassadors from around the country came together in the Bronx for 3 days of learning, team-building, and strategizing. The leaders are part of a new “Core Team” of Ambassadors who are taking on more leadership within CCC’s retirement security campaign.
The gathering was different that other retirement security trainings that will happen this summer (a total of 7, with the next being in Louisiana at the end of June) in that the focus was not as much on analysis and activist skills but rather tools to become better leaders and organizers. Indeed, the Core Team of ambassadors was vetted through a process in conjunction with staff from their respective state-based organizations, and the leaders who are participating in the Core Team have already shown some capacity or desire to organize new people into our movement. A session on “Constructive and Compassionate Agitation” led by Akiba Bird had a deep impact on participants and led to intense conversations about how to keep each other accountable within our work.
A special focus was placed on bringing racial justice and gender justice to all aspects of our work, and leaders were especially excited to talk about the intersections of retirement security and other economic justice campaigns, especially raising wages and combating mass incarceration — a new CCC fact sheet titled “How Mass Incarceration Impacts Social Security Benefits for Families” was discussed, along with a focus on reinvestment in communities of concentrated poverty as part of the Putting Families First campaign. The group also met with Juan Antigua, chief of staff of Bronx city council member Ritchie Torres. Juan talked about the need to grow grassroots leaders to run them for public office and led a dynamic discussion with the group, some of whom have already run for office or are considering running.
The Core Team will continue to meet on a monthly basis for the rest of the year, with the idea that they increasing taking on leadership for the overall retirement security campaign.