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How Free Local Programs Are Building Strong Community Leaders (by Rep Sylvia Gale)

Looking for Leaders …..Everywhere
By Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale

We are at that time of year when many schools and colleges are wrapping up the academic year and graduation time looms near.

I have noticed over the past several years that many Leadership Programs have also been established, often by local Chambers of Commerce and other government and business oriented organizations to identify and develop those who are identified as leaders for the future.  Some, if not all of these Leadership programs charge fees for the privilege of participation and these programs vary in length, but often run concurrently with the traditional academic calendar. Over the past year I have become aware of several other Leadership Programs that are cultivating Leadership among much more diverse and somewhat surprising demographics.

One of the longest-standing peer-Leadership programs is the NH Women’s Leadership Series sponsored and developed by New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.  Now in its 7th year, this program offers a 6-week course which teaches skills from Analyzing Power and Fundraising 101 to How to Run a Successful Issue or Political Campaign.  Over the years, more than 200 women from all walks of life throughout New Hampshire have participated, ranging in age from 16-89 years old, and to date at least three former attendees have now been elected to the NH House of Representatives!  Other participating members have gone on to open new businesses and to accept leadership roles in various grassroots organizing campaigns.

This year, the NH Coalition to End Homelessness initiated the NH Granite Leaders Program.   Over the course of six months, more than 25 individuals from across the state who have been homeless in the past, or who are currently without safe and stable housing have participated in this inaugural program.  Through a variety of community and corporate sponsorships and partnerships this program was designed and delivered to build Leadership skills within the homeless and formerly homeless community, increasing their capacity to take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives.

As an elected member of the NH House of Representatives I was honored to host this class at the NH State House for one of their first sessions.  In collaboration with the League of NH Women Voters and Senate President Morse and Senator D’Allesandro the participants were provided with information as to How a Bill Becomes a Law and a vigorous question and answer session as to how voters can bring their ideas  forward into the Legislative arena as well as how to fully participate in that process from voting, to testifying in Committees and how best to convey their concerns and positions to their elected officials throughout all levels of state and municipal government.

Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Graduation Exercises for the Emerging Leaders Program in Nashua that was produced and delivered through a collaboration between the Adult Learning Center and the Granite State Organizing Project, with support from the Greater Nashua Interfaith Council.  During this event each of the nineteen graduates delivered a speech on what the 6-week sessions had meant to them and what they were taking away with them as a result of having completed this program.  Each of these very proud graduates, coming from a vast array of cultural, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds gave the program high praise and expressed gratitude for the self-esteem building and personal goal-setting skills that they had gained from their participation.

What is common to all of these Leadership Programs is the strength of relationship building that goes on throughout the time these program participants are spending together on a shared course of learning and development.   I applaud the accomplishments of all of those who have completed their individual and group course and project requirements this year, and look forward with great excitement to see these emerging leaders take their next steps toward making our local and statewide communities more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all!

Representative Sylvia E. Gale
Hills 28- Nashua Ward 1




Now Is The Time For The AFL-CIO and The USPS Unions To Reach Out To Their Communities

Congress is currently debating issues regarding the Postal Service that will shape the its future for decades to come. The NALC has superior national leadership that keeps all of us informed on the issues and recommends when we should contact our legislators. Our challenge is that this can not be the extent of our activism if we are to survive. We must form alliances with other postal unions as well as the AFL-CIO. Equally important for us is to reach out to other groups that are fighting for economic justice as well as business groups whose survival depends on a functioning Postal Service.

We have a shared battle with our brothers of sisters of the APWU, NPMHU and the NRLCA. Together we are a formidable team. On September 27,2011 we worked with these unions and changed how the entire country views the postal crisis with the Save Americas Postal Service Rallies. This brought the outrageous prefunding issue into the national dialogue. We must recapture that spirit and solidarity if we are going to most effectively fight back against forces that want to dismantle us.

We have to connect with citizens in our rural areas and poor urban areas that will he harmed most by dismantling the USPS. We have to reach out to small business whose very existence is also at stake if the mailing industry sustains much damage. We have to work with senior citizen groups to let congress know they will not dismantle us without a fight.

The AFL CIO is currently working on extending their outreach to community partners and the civil rights, woman’s rights and the Latino movement. This is crucial for the labor movements survival as an effective counter balance to the enormous wealth and power that currently wield much control over the legislative process.

The wealthy, vote for their economic interests every time. They also convince the narrow-minded single issue voter to vote against their economic interests. The last ingredient they need to achieve an electoral victory is convincing enough information challenged voters to join them. This wealthy/uninformed coalition is the right wing base.  They remain a formidable threat. Not because of their ideas or activism just simply their vast money and the politicians they control.

The real reason the right-wing is hell-bent on destroying the Postal Service is because it’s proof that a federal agency with a unionized work force can be highly effective. These facts do not fit in well with the forces that demonize federal and union workers routinely for political gain.

We have to make our collective voices heard not just in the halls of congress but in the streets. This is the time.


Just Another Example Of ‘Those Helpful Union Guy’s and Gal’s (THUGGs)’

Despite what the radical right tries to make you believe, unions are out there helping people and their communities every single day.

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters truly embodies this. They are working to revitalize their community by refurbishing a well known Boston landmark, the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square. The Ferdinand Building was one of the largest furniture stores in the northeast, however it has sat dorment for nearly twenty years.

Now the city of Boston and the NERCC (Carpenters Union) are transforming the Ferdinand Building into the new home of the Boston Public Schools Department headquarters.

The Carpenters Union is also investing in the local community by also hiring local workers.  By taking local workers the Carpenters Union is doubling the investment in Dudley Square.  Workers take the money the city is investing in the project and put it right into the local shops and restaurants.

The Carpenters Union is also pushing for a more diverse workforce that truly represents the community.  This includes many different races and pushing for more women in the trade.   The best thing we can do for our community is to teach people how to earn a honest living with a good wage.  Everyone knows that union jobs pay better. Giving the people of Dudley Square the chance to get in the Carpenters Union, is just icing on the cake!

The Carpenters Union put together this great video showing everyone what they are doing with this historic Boston building.

“Celebrate, Remember, and Act” by Arnie Alpert

jan 21 2013 005 

Talesha Caynon and Marsha Murdaugh make last minute preparations for the 29th annual MLK Day Breakfast.

MLK Day Celebrated in Hollis and Manchester

“Celebrate, Remember, and Act” was the theme of the Rev. Renee Rouse’s message to the Martin Luther King Day Breakfast held in Hollis, New Hampshire jan 21 2013 004this morning.  Yes, today is a day to celebrate freedom.  But what we each do with it is the challenge, the minister from the Brookline Community Church said to a full hall at the Alpine Grove, where Southern New Hampshire Outreach for Black Unity held its 29th annual MLK Day event.

Likewise, Nashua Mayor Donalee Lozeau talked about memory, calling the holiday a day for “thoughtful reflection” on lessons we can learn from history, including what she called “intentional mistakes.”

Surely among those we can count New Hampshire’s stubborn resistance to honoring Dr. King, resistance that was finally overcome in 1999 after a 20-year struggle.  One thing we might learn, I suppose, is the importance of persistence.  Another worthy of reflection is the importance of the holiday itself as a day to not only ponder history but to ponder our own roles as makers of history.  In those roles, Dr. King remains a powerful model.

Every year I  have the privilege of speaking at the MLK Breakfast, giving jan 21 2013 010what OBU calls “the update.”  Back in the day it was an update on the campaign to prevail at the State House for the King holiday.  Now, I get to speak about what is going on at the State House related to the prophetic vision we associate with Dr. King.

Today I began my comments at the beginning of King’s career, before Rosa Parks (and Claudette Colvin) refused to give up seats on Montgomery buses.  The issue mobilizing the Montgomery “Negro” community was the wrongful conviction and death sentence of Jeremiah Reeves, a Black musician accused of raping a white woman.  In his Montgomery memoir, Stride Toward Freedom, King said “the Reeves case was typical of the unequal justice of Southern courts,” where Black men could be executed based on false accusations yet white men who raped “Negro girls” were jan 21 2013 018rarely arrested and never brought to trial.

The fact that King’s activism began with a campaign to stop an execution is little known, but might carry some weight in the only New England state where the death penalty remains on the books.  We are also a state in which the outcome of two recent capital trials demonstrates that the “unequal justice” King described is not limited to the South or confined to history.  Remember and act.

King’s career ended in Memphis during a strike of city workers aiming for recognition of their union, and that was where I took my comments.  While our own legislature finally rejected last year’s poisonous right-to-work-for-less bills, attacks on public sector collective bargaining are back.  Senate President Peter Bragdon has just come out with SB 37, a bill that would eviscerate the power of public sector workers at the bargaining table.  We need the spirit of Dr. King and the Memphis workers atjan 21 2013 028 the State House this year.  Remember and act.

But we can’t forget to celebrate, and this year we celebrate the dedication of the  NH Sisters of Mercy, who were awarded the Martin Luther King Award in Manchester at an event aptly called the Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration.  The “Mercies” have been at the forefront of umpteen struggles for social justice longer than I’ve been in New Hampshire.  While the MLK Day Award has almost always gone to individuals in previous years, it felt great for the Sisters to be recognized as the community they are.  

Selina Taylor, an organizer with the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty andjan 21 2013 041 a member of the leadership of the Manchester NAACP was also recognized with an award. 

Richard Haynes delivered the keynote at the afternoon celebration, where he stressed the importance of education to a full house at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s community hall.  I’m sure he would have agreed with Rev. Rouse, who said we make a difference every day by “leaving footprints behind” for those coming up behind us.

jan 21 2013 026

The post is republished with permission from InZane Times

Solid As Granite Series part 9: AFT-NH President Laura Hainey

New Hampshire Workers “Solid As Granite” rally at Greeley Park in Nashua NH on May 5th 2012. This video is of AFT-NH President Laura Hainey. Laura was a special education teacher and President of the Rochester Federation of Teachers prior to being elected President of AFT-NH.

Laura talks about learning from our past to better our future.  She also talks about working together with members of the community to fight attacks on Labor, Women, and all Middle Class Families.

 “It is through the efforts of our members, their families and concerned NH citizens that we know we can defeat these extremists. “

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