York Progressives look to grow

Greg Gross
  • The York Progressives group started in July.
  • The group holds public meetings on the second Saturday of each month.

There's a new political group in York County and its members hope to make a difference

The group, York Progressives, is a coalition of various organizations and activists — described as "enthusiastic rookies" by one member.

The group aims to create network that allows the organizations to share resources while raising awareness of issues, such as social justice, said Carla Christopher, a co-chair of its steering committee.

"We really want to make change happen," she said. "The end goal is we want people involved."

Issues: As the group's name — York Progressives — implies, it's members have taken on a platform on moving issues forward.

But progress is often slow. One example Christopher cited is openly gay members of the military.

The controversial "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy that banned the discrimination of gays but barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexuals from serving was instituted in 1994. It wasn't until 2011 that the policy was fully repealed and the ban was done away with.

"That whole idea of 'let's meet in the middle and take a conservative approach;' hasn't worked," Christopher said. "I think that the time of sitting on the fence is over."

The group tends to embrace ideas Democrats hold dear, such as increasing the minimum wage. But, Christopher pointed out, some issues, like gender and race equality, don't toe party lines. The group also aims to increase voter registration and turnout, among other things.

"As a Republican, you can be progressive. It's about looking out to the future," she said but added there haven't been many, if any, conservatives to attend the group's meetings. "We're open to everybody. The doors are open."

Working together: All too often organizations overlap in their missions and sometimes don't ask what the other is up to, Christopher said.

The York Progressives looks to connect organizations to work together and share resources to get more done, faster.

"We have to create the infrastructure to make change possible," Christopher said. "We just want to give people the tools they need."

The group also plans to take a more affirmative role in politics by working to find candidates for offices and teaching supporters how to run phone banks.

Chad Baker, head of the York County Democrats, and Alex Shorb, chair of the York GOP, said they aren't familiar with the group but added they like to see people becoming politically active.

"I really believe in any group that works toward getting the word out there," Shorb said.

Baker echoed Shorb's comment.

"Anything that gets dialogue moving is a good thing," he said.

Meetings: The group was created a few months ago and held its first public panel meeting earlier this month. Its next meeting will be held in February.

Representatives from organizations such as Pennsylvania Working Families, the ACLU and one that's against the use of the death penalty, spoke at the last meeting.

The topic of the next meeting, slated for 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, will the state budget crisis and will include a panel discussion.

Meetings are held the second Saturday of each month at the Centro Hispano, 221 E. Princess St. in York City.

Christopher said she hopes the group will grow beyond meetings and will branch out to hosting instructional meetings on activism and other topics.

"We just want to get things done," she said. "We have to save ourselves."

To learn more about the York Progressives, go to its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/yorkprogressives.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.