Franklin County CPR (Continuing the Political Revolution) emerged out of the local Bernie campaign in Franklin County. Franklin County is very rural, consisting of 25 towns of which Greenfield is the largest. With 70,000 people, it is one of the smaller counties in the state, and it is also one of the poorest. In the Democratic primary, 70% of the county’s voters voted for Bernie.
From early on in the campaign, some of the local organizers saw the opportunity to build an ongoing organization that would outlast the campaign, regardless of who won the nomination or election. This shaped how we did our work, keeping good lists, discussing the primary in a broad and long-term perspective.
After the Massachusetts primary, the group continued to work on Bernie’s campaign through phone banks and trips to New Hampshire, but also began planning for the long term. Meetings typically had 20-30 people, with a smaller hard core planning those meetings. In the spring and summer, the group worked on principles, structure, and an outreach plan for the new organization. The name was selected, a brochure produced, and plans made for a float in the Franklin County Fair parade and a booth at the Fair itself.
We recognized that there would be similar efforts elsewhere in the state and around the country and that we might eventually affiliate. But just as this group did not wait for the official Bernie campaign apparatus to start campaigning for him in the county, we also were not going to wait for a national effort before starting our group.
Some key early decisions were that:
- We would take some of the main principles and goals of the Bernie campaign and work on them at the local level;
- While we would participate electorally, we would only support candidates who were movement builders and activists;
- We would not only do electoral work; we would also educate, organize and demonstrate around issues;
- This would be a membership organization, with nominal dues and quarterly general membership meetings; and
- We would not duplicate good work already being done in the county
A 2,000 piece mailing of our brochure was sent in late August 2016. It included a statement of who we are, our principles, and highlighting our booth at the Fair and the Kickoff meeting. It included a tear-off for people to send in if they wanted to become a member.
The Franklin County Fair was September 8-11, and the official launch of the organization was on September 18. 35 people attended the launch, at which we listed 11 issues and asked each attendee to select the 3 they thought we ought to prioritize in our early work. That narrowed the list to six, and in two sets of breakout sessions, groups discussed those six issues:
- Electing Progressive Candidates
- Campaign Finance Reform
- Climate Crisis
- Single Payer Health Care
- Racism and Labor
Each group answered 4 questions
- How is this issue playing out in Franklin County?
- What groups are already working on this issue?
- How can we be most effective around this issue
- Where do we start?
Notes were taken to provide the foundation for work by CPR task forces going forward. We had a sheet cake to celebrate the launch.
Attending the first General Assembly meeting on November 13 were 65 people from 18 different towns — a few millennials, a few Gen X’ers, and the balance made up of folks who rocked the American sensibility during the 1960’s – many of who have been political activists since then. At the meeting, people shared their reactions to the election, heard a ½ hour MA-focused presentation about single payer health care, 6 task forces based on the above issues were formed and set first meeting dates, and a coordinating committee was elected (5 men, 5 women, mostly older). 21 new people joined. Now, as the year draws to a close, CPR now has over 120 dues-paying members and the potential to become significantly larger quite soon. Haven’t joined yet? Click on the ‘Contact us / Join FCCPR’ link to join today!