FEATURES From Brooklyn to Bryan BY KAREN OLSSON Gloria Pitchford ‘s’ Brooklyn apartment is a small dimly-lit unit in a city-owned building, where Bill sitting on the couch and listening to Pitchford tell him that some of the PCB members”not m you understand, but some people”think he,’s pushy. 1 t’s late on a Monday, and Lipton, who’s been sick all weekend, looks worn out. He’s come here to update Pitchford on what happened at a recent school board meeting at which several PCB members and community activists argued for greater parental control over the schoolsand to review the agenda for a chapter meeting later in the evening. “Am I pushy?” asks Lipton, sounding dismayed. The hint of a smile appears on Pitchford’s face. The two of them continue to talk about this evening’s meeting, where members will discuss the school board at greater length and go over some procedural issues, like setting up a phone tree and finding a new place to assemble. The group has been meeting in a back room at the Brooklyn ACORN \(Association of Community Organizations the two organizations. “And you’ve got to find a halfway nice surroundingwho wants to come there?” says Pitchford, speaking of the dingy ACORN headquarters. As Lipton nods in acknowledgment, Pitchford, who can see that he’s tired, changes her tone: “It’s gonna take time,” she says. “You’re reaching for the stars.” After leaving the apartment and heading off for another appointment, Lipton, a Columbia graduate in his late twenties, is still worried about being seen as pushybut he is trying to organize a political association, which takes some nudging. If not pushy, he’s certainly intense. In the past few months, Lipton and a committee of members have held twenty house parties and developed a tenpoint PCB platform. Their top concerns are making schools better and more accountable, and bringing living-wage jobs to the community. So far the chapter has pulled in close to a hundred people “ordinary folks,” says Lipton, “who feel that we should be the force, and reward politicians for doing the things that we need.” Ulti mately the group hopes to run progressive candidates of its own for school board and other offices, as the four-year-old New Party has been doing in cities across the country. Grassroots political work has its glitches, its homely meetingplaces and down days, but what the New Party’s local chapters also have is the backing of a strategically smart, growing national organization, whose goal is to resuscitate electoral politics from the ground up. Currently the New Party has raised close to $1 million and enlisted about 9,000 members, half based in local chapters and half at-large; organizers estimate that about 40 percent of the members overall are nonwhite. The party’s ranks are doubling each year, according to Adam Glickman of the party’s national office, and an increasing percentage of the membership is chapter-basedthat is to say, working-class members organizing around local issues. In founding new chapters, the party has set its sights on mid-size cities where it can work with existing organizationslike ACORN, environmental justice groups and unionsto recruit low and moderate-income supporters. “We’re not going after the sort of free-floating liberals,” says Glickman. “It’s through the unions, the ACORN chapters, that we target where we want to be.” And by being choosy, involving themselves in local races in which a progressive candidate ‘1.4 tie ittiP GRASSROOTS POLITICAL WORK HAS ITS GLITCHES, ITS HOMELY MEETING-PLACES AND DOWN DAYS, BUT WHAT THE NEW PARTY’S LOCAL CHAPTERS ALSO HAVE IS THE BACKING OF A STRA-TEGICALLY SMART, GROWING NATIONAL ORGANIZATION. Twin Cities Area New Party iVicKenna, Democrats and continue to play a role most important party rights case in in major parties while asserting its 34beligve that it o1 the change it using on mern-.. pendence. Labor could take a small
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