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Organizing for Long-term Change in Kentucky

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A citizens group in Kentucky is setting up a training academy to spread grassroots activism, such as this march, across the Bluegrass State. (KFTC)
A citizens group in Kentucky is setting up a training academy to spread grassroots activism, such as this march, across the Bluegrass State. (KFTC)
September 5, 2017

Berea, Ky. -- After a close and combative presidential election, a polarized America has battled over everything from health care to border walls to monuments.

The newly elected chair of the grassroots organization, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Meta Mendel-Reyes, said the divisive atmosphere in the state and nation has energized community activism.

"It's a time when people at the grassroots need to recover their voices, and organizing is one way to do that,” Mendel-Reyes said. "It's clearly developed in response to the historical moment that we're in, but I think it has the potential for incredible staying power."

To facilitate increased involvement, KFTC is launching the Organizing Academy, a training over six months for those interested in grassroots leadership. Applications for the Academy are being accepted through October 13, and the training will start in January.

Mendel-Reyes said while activism such as the Women's March and protests against state and federal policies grab the headlines, sustaining momentum is the key to building progressive grassroots power.

"I would say that the large crowds are productive in the moment,” she said, "but to build power over the long term - the kind of power that governments will have to respond to - you need to do organizing."

She said KFTC is committed to training more Kentuckians on how to be leaders in nonviolent activism with the ultimate goal of growing the grassroots movements in the state.

"How can they learn to be active in the most effective possible ways,” Mendel-Reyes said. "Organizing at its key is simply about helping people learn about and undertake collective action."

She said organizing needs to be inclusive of all voices, because these days, too much political and community action is based on division.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY