By Stephen Sacks
Since the Jim Hightower event last October, many progressive groups in the Central Valley have been working together to make an impact. Meeting once a month, representatives are discussing ways to become more politically effective.
The first specific event that many thought was important to support involved saving Jesse Morrow Mountain. Cemex, a Mexican multinational mining company, is seeking approval from the Fresno County Planning Commission for a 50-year plan to mine the mountain. When I arrived at the hearing on Feb. 9 at 8:45 a.m., the meeting room was filled to capacity. More than a hundred people were there in opposition to the mining proposal, and many were unable to enter the room. Because of the overwhelming support for Jesse Morrow Mountain, a hearing that could have been a slam dunk for the developers turned into an all-day hearing and the planning commissioners postponed their decision for a month. The meeting will be continued in March with more supporters of the mountain scheduled to share their viewpoints.
The Progressive Umbrella Group is not a group as such but a coalition of groups, all of which have their own agendas. However, at a recent meeting to see if some common ground could be identified, nearly 100 people brainstormed many possibilities and then placed colored sticky dots on items they thought most important. The three highest-ranking issues involved economic justice (do we think that Occupy has had an effect?), the environment and healthcare. The top strategies involved electoral issues and developing a think tank. Paul Pierce, facilitator of the meeting, remarked that he wants to see Fresno as the Progressive Think Tank capital of the United States!
The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, March 4, at 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., Clovis.
Steve Sacks is the chair of the Social Justice Committee at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Fresno. Contact him at email@example.com.