The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is committed to creating opportunities for our members’ ongoing leadership development, and to deepening our collective political analysis. We believe in the power of connecting individual experiences to larger systems of power and oppression, and we utilize the human rights framework to guide our analysis. We know that a shared and nuanced understanding of the systems that oppress us results in better strategies and movements of resistance. We also know that everyone has something to learn and something to teach; we ask that all members be active learners and take on leadership roles to share what they already know with others.
SMWC has participated in both formalized learning opportunities – such as The Catalyst Project’s day-long anti-racist organizer training–as well as coordinated member-led discussions, trainings, and workshops focused on issues ranging from media-making to survey collection to how US militarism intersects with our struggle for the human right to healthcare.
At our 2015 Annual Meeting, SMWC set a year-long goal of developing an organization-wide Political Education Committee. This committee meets regularly to identify educational priorities for our membership’s political development, and to coordinate opportunities to engage members and the broader public.
From Fall 2020 – Fall 2021, we focused on a collaborative study of the Political Economy. Check out this summary of what we learned in English and en français!
- We have deepened our shared understanding of the world, shared research skills, and lifted up the intimate knowledge we all carry with us from our own experiences about how power works in our world.
- We’ve focused on issues we all think about and experience every day… like how COVID-19 is impacting our economy and how, for a long time, Maine has had some of the nation’s worst healthcare disparities. We’ve also dived into some of the less obvious connections… like how Bath Iron Works workers face a struggle at the intersections of corporate power, climate justice, and the USA’s global military empire that only a just transition plan based in Indigenous knowledge can address. Along the way, we’ve learned so much from holding member conversations at workshops (like this one on Medicare 4 All that you can watch)!
- Going forward, we will use what we’ve learned to help SMWC “develop a strategy that responds to our particular time, place, and conditions rather than merely hoping, wishing, or assuming that what we are doing will make the changes we need.” Campaign criteria charts and SWOT analysis are a couple of the tools we can use to do that.
This Fall, we are diving into SMWC’s first ever Solidarity School! This seven-session political education event is focused on understanding SMWC’s core values and theory of change. We’ll learn about human rights and how, through organizing, we build the collective power necessary to win them. We will also examine the root causes of oppression and how we build solidarity for our collective liberation. Through this school we hope to support new leaders to have the tools we need to guide SMWC’s future and build the power of human rights organizing in Maine (and beyond!) Through poems, art, readings, games, and conversation, this program will examine the myth of scarcity of resources in the United States, and how there really is enough for all.
The Political Education committee meets every first and third Tuesday of the month from 5:30 – 7:30pm. If you’d like to come to a meeting you can either fill out this form or send an email to email@example.com – we’d love to have you!