Listening is often an underdeveloped skill, yet it is critical for mutual understanding and working together for meaningful change. That’s why Arise is committed to listening to our members, to our allies and most importantly, to those directly affected by the work we do together. We depend on what we hear from you to guide our issue work and our strategies.
This year’s COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to be creative in finding ways to listen. Instead of our usual face-to-face meetings around the state, we hosted a series of six statewide online Town Hall Tuesdays. We held events every two weeks, starting in June and ending Sept. 1. We averaged 65 attendees at each session. Here’s some of what we heard from members and supporters:
- Affirmation for Medicaid expansion, untaxing groceries and other current Arise issues as important for achieving shared prosperity.
- Empathy for those who were already living in vulnerable circumstances further strained by the pandemic.
- Concern about ongoing, intentional barriers to voting, especially during the pandemic.
- Desire to see more resources to meet the needs of our immigrant neighbors.
- Alarm about payday and title lending and its impact on people’s lives and our communities.
- Passion and concern about many other issues, including housing; living wages and pay equity; prison and sentencing reform; gun safety; juvenile justice reform; defunding the police; the Census; environmental justice; quality and funding of public education; and food insecurity and nutrition.
- Willingness to take informed actions to make a difference in the policies that impact people’s lives.
- Hope that Alabama can be a better place for all our neighbors to live despite systemic issues and ongoing challenges.
Notes from each town hall
Overviews of the town halls are below. Click the title for a PDF of the notes from the breakout sessions at each town hall.
June 23 – Money talks
We examined how to strengthen education, health care, child care and other services that help Alabamians make ends meet. And we explored ways to fund those services more equitably.
July 7 – Justice for all
We discussed Alabama’s unjust criminal justice system and how to fix it.
July 21 – Getting civic
Discussion focused on protecting voting rights and boosting Census responses during a pandemic.
Aug. 4 – Shared prosperity
We looked at policy solutions to boost opportunity and protect families from economic exploitation.
Aug. 18 – Feeding our families
We explored ways to increase household food security during and after the recession.
Sept. 1 – Closing the coverage gap
Discussion focused on how everyone can help expand Medicaid to ensure coverage for hundreds of thousands of struggling Alabamians. We also heard about the expansion campaign strategies of the Cover Alabama Coalition, headed by Arise campaign director Jane Adams.
Get in touch and stay in touch with Arise
Remember, we didn’t stop listening because the town halls ended. We want to hear from you, and we encourage you to contact the Arise organizer in your area:
- Presdelane Harris (): Southwest Alabama and Mobile.
- Stan Johnson (): Northwest Alabama, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
- Mike Nicholson (): Southeast Alabama, Auburn and the Wiregrass.
- Debbie Smith (): Northeast Alabama and Huntsville.
We hope to see you at Arise’s online annual meeting Oct. 3!