Political progressives from all across Florida are gathering tomorrow for a day-long conference in West Palm Beach under the banner "Agenda 2014 - Policy Positions for Progress."
The group will focus on issues rather than candidates, though according to the meeting's mission statement: "The conference will serve as a launching point for the recruitment of candidates to these positions." How to get from issues to candidates to the passage of legislation is defined only in broad outline, and is to be decided at the meeting.
While not formally affiliated with the Florida Democratic Party, Agenda 2014's ranks include a high proportion of Democrats, and the Palm Beach County Democratic Party has advertised the event.
An attendance list on the meeting's website includes activists from organized labor, student groups, environmental, immigration reform and women's issues groups -- what reactionaries would call the usual suspects. One event organizer, Katy Burnett, a leader of Gainesville Area NOW, told New Times "Anyone can attend who gives us 35 bucks! We have put no requirement other than that for attendance."
Burnett said Agenda 2014 grew out of a earlier series of similar meetings that began with RootsCamp Florida, a 2010 event in Tampa. The meetings' are run on the OpenSpace conference format, a/k/a the "unconference," which has no preplanned list of topics or policy positions, only procedures to propose them and brainstorm their implementation.
Asked if Agenda 2014 was meant to result in the creation of a ongoing organization, Burnett said this:
That is completely up to the participants. One of the greatest strengths (and arguably weaknesses) of events like this is that it depends on what is decided at the conference. If we start a project and people want to pick it up and run with it, that would be great. If participants just pick up skills that they take back to other organizations, that would also be valuable. This event exists to collaborate and share and it is natural for partnerships and cooperation to form out of this, but that is not necessarily the goal.
Agenda 2014's website indicates the meeting will be about already-existing legislative proposals, prioritizing them and strategizing about how to turn support for the measures into election campaign planks. But according to Burnett:
That is the main idea we are walking in with, however, what we walk out with might be something else entirely. This is an organic movement, so we shall see what happens when we put the ingredients together.
Sounds like fun to us. Serious fun, and well worth the $35 admission price.
Agenda 2014 Saturday, August 24, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Embassy Suites of West Palm Beach 1601 Belvedere Road West Palm Beach
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