top ten reasons to look forward to 2013
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Top 10 Reasons to Look Forward to 2013By James Haslam, VWC Director
I have always believed that Vermont can lead the way. Over the past year, you and thousands others have participated in countless ways to bring us to this unique moment in Vermonts history. From our breakthrough victory on universal healthcare to the groundbreaking work with the Peoples Budget we are advancing human rights in Vermont. Together, we are building one movement for people and the planet.
Heres my Top Ten list of reasons Im excited about the work we are doing. Weve never been in a stronger position to pursue our goals and have positioned ourselves to do some incredibly exciting things in the year ahead. Please send a donation and contact us to help out any way you can...
James with his family at the May Day rally in 2012.
10. Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Council
On Labor Day weekend, hundreds of people gathered for the Peoples Convention for Human Rights. One outcome of the convention was the Vermont Declaration of Human Rights which describes the crises experienced by Vermonts communities, identifies common root causes of these problems, describes a shared vision, and proposes a plan of action.
Several of the organizations which co-hosted the Peoples Convention have since formed the Vermont Peoples Human Rights Council. With a common vision, this Council will truly build one movement for people and the planet!
9. People's Budget Campaign: Re-envisioning Democracy
We need to change the states budget process to be accountable to meeting the needs of all people and our communities.
In Spring 2012 the Peoples Budget campaign successfully passed a law that mandated that Vermonts budget address the needs of the people of Vermont in a way that advances human dignity and equity. The law also also requires that [s]pending and revenue policies ... recognize every persons need for health, housing, dignified work, education, food, social security, and a healthy environment.
Establishing this clear purpose is only a first step in creating a participatory democracy grounded in human rights, healthy communities, real democracy and collective responsibility.
On December 7, 2012, Put People First delivered our proposal for a Peoples Budget to the State Administration.
Read about our vision for a new way to do the budget.
8. Building a National People's Movement: VWC helping bring Put People First nationally
The vision behind our Put People First campaign is spreading. We must organize in our communities, and win as much as we can on a state level, however, we need a national and global movement to truly turn things around to set a course toward healthy communities and a livable planet.
The VWC has just been nominated to help anchor a national organizing process to build a new grassroots movement for human rights called Human Rights At Home. Our partners in Pennsylvania have launched a new effort called Put People First PA. We have just got started and in 2013 things are really going to start taking off!
Northeast Human Rights Dialogue, Philadelphia, PA June 2, 2012
7. Building a National People's Movement: HCHR in MD, OR and ME
As we move forward in Vermont, we are thrilled that other states across the nation are building Healthcare is a Human Right Campaigns. Right now, HCHR campaigns are underway in Maine, Maryland, Oregon, and other states. As more states pick up the unique mix of grassroots organizing, human rights policy, and changing the story that helped us win in Vermont, we gain new hope for transforming healthcare in the United States. We call on our peers nationwide to support us and our partners in this growing movement in 2013.
Vermonts success has inspired us to re-invigorate the universal healthcare movement in Maine. We believe it will take states leading the way for our
country to establish a universal healthcare system. In the coming months we hope to launch a Maine Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign to change
what is politically possible like they did in Vermont.Ben Chin, Maine Peoples Alliance
Public launch of Maryland Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign, Dec 15, 2012. Columbus, MD
6. HELP: After Irene and Sandy we need to build One Movement for People and the Planet
As a parent of two young children there is nothing more important to me right now than stopping climate change. The right to a Healthy Environment and Livable Planet (HELP) is a fundamental human right. Around the world and here in Vermont, the climate crisis threatens many other fundamental human rights, such as the rights to food and water security, shelter, and personal safety. We must transform public, economic, and environmental policy to put people and the planet first.
In the coming year, VWCs HELP working group will work with our partners to take action to put people and the planet first.
Over 50 VWC members participated in the stop-the-tar-sands- pipeline
protest at the Governors Conference in Burlington this past July.
5. Veteran Leaders and a Movement of Families
Our veterans in the movement have always helped us realize that building the world we want is not a sprint, but we have to be long distance runners in the movement. Building a movement is not just a commitment of individuals, but of families and generations that take up the struggle for human rights and social justice.
Peg joined the VWC in 2003 as a Hotline volunteer and most recently served as President for the last three years. Joyce Werntgen, Pegs partner, has been a bedrock for the VWC, undertaking most of the unheralded, yet key roles that make for a strong organization. In 2013, incorporating their wisdom and the experience of other veterans in our movement will be critical for us to meet all of our challenges in the road ahead.
Peg and Joyce were honored with the Human Rights Heroes Award at the VWC 14th Anniversary Celebration
on Dec 8, 2012.
4. The Next Generation of New Young Leaders
I became a VWC volunteer in 1999 at a time in my life when I really wanted to help bring about transformative change for our country but didnt know where to start. I was given a tremendous amount of opportunity to hit the ground running, organizing to help build and grow the organization. One of the huge strengths of the VWC is that we have always prioritized bringing in the next generation of young leaders into our movement.
The VWCs Peoples Media Project and Peoples University for Learning & Liberation have become great ways for the next generation to grow as new leaders and we are grateful to all of our interns.
Power to the youth! Marah and Sierra- both high school freshmen- getting ready to testify at the
3. Biggest Year Yet: Right to Organize Struggles in 2013
We support early childcare educators and home care workers who are struggling to win the right to organize from the state legislature. A victory will redefine the labor movement and be a major advance for thousands of low-wage women workers in Vermont.
These are the struggles of people who are teaching our children at the most important stage of their development, supporting our family members to fully participate in community life, and nurturing generations of neighbors and friends.
Early educators fight to organize isnt just a fight to support childcare providers, but its also a fight for the right for quality affordable childcare for
all children in Vermont. It is essential that we have the support of parents in order to win the rights to be decision makers on policies that affect our ability to provide
for our children. Weve come a long distance in the last two years and thats directly related to the organizing efforts of the VWC.
-- Anna Gebhardt, early educator
Members of Vermont Early Educators United-AFT Kids Count on Me at the Vermont
Statehouse, April 17, 2012.
2. Biggest Year Yet: Re-envisioning Membership & Participation
In our early days, we called ourselves a rapid response network, to mobilize support for workers rights. Over the years we have created a membership-run democratic organization. Today we have organizing committees in nearly every county of the state, multiple statewide work committees, and over 10 staff members. As we keep developing an ever-growing base of grassroots leaders, our organization has reached a new level of capacity to achieve tremendous victories.
This year, were working with our members across the state to develop a new membership and organizational structure, with clearer roles for all, to maximize this potential.
VWC Membership at the 2012 Membership Assembly on December 8, 2012.
1. Biggest Year Yet: People's Agenda
Through the Peoples Agenda, we will declare in unity that the balance of power will be shifted back to the People! Key demands for 2013 include:
Guaranteeing that everyone gets the medically necessary care they need, including dental care, not limited by any benefit restrictions, by ensuring equitable financing of healthcare as a public good.
A peoples budget, grounded in human rights principles, with equitable spending and revenue policies, that meets the fundamental needs of everyone in Vermont.
The right to organize a union and bargain collectively for early childhood educators and independent providers of home and community living services.
Access to drivers licenses for all Vermont residents regardless of immigration status.
Workers rights to basic workplace protections, including paid sick leave.
Policies that advance our right to a h