On February 16th Philadelphians from across the city who are active or interested in joining Thrive gathered for the first Movement Assembly. Around forty people attended to hear reportbacks from action circles, discuss Thrive’s strategic direction, and build community by sharing food, laughing, and taking deep breaths together.
It was a powerful sight to see so many people united behind the Right to Breathe campaign Each of Thrives action circles had members who came. There were also Thrive members still in the process of forming their circles, and a group of our allies from Action United who came to participate. Some folks there had built deep connections over months of working together. Others were meeting for the first time.
Early on in the evening we celebrated what we have accomplished in just four short months. There have been four Movement Trainings orienting over 150 people to the Right to Breathe campaign and two direct actions at PES’s headquarters. We got our website up and our first outside media coverage. Action circles began forming and taking powerful action to advance the Right to Breathe campaign. The facilitator reminded us of the importance of celebration, and folks shared the different ways they like to celebrate.
We spent the majority of the evening building up our action circles. Those who aren’t yet in an action circle got to “shadow” a circle, learning about what work they’ve been up to and what it’s been like to build community together. Active circles reported back to the full movement on what action they’re taking. Reportbacks included one circle working on an infographic illustrating the facts about PES, another circle taking on a “Supporter” role assisting other circles in their development, and another circle organizing in the Wilson Park neighborhood. At the end of the assembly, folks were invited to mingle around connecting with others who they may want to be in an action circle with.
On a couple logistical notes, the facilitator shared contact information for those serving on the Coordinating Team, the circle that handles details that must be centralized. You can find that information here. One representative from the “Supporters” circle also reported that the website is becoming a place circles can find resources, including ideas and materials to take action with.
Finally, we discussed the Strategy Group presented their vision for a strategic arc over the next three months. First, one Thriver told a story about the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins of 1960, and the assembly got to reflect on how direct action was used as a powerful tool. Then the idea for Thrive’s strategic arc was presented, which will be detailed in a forthcoming post published by the Strategy Group. The assembly got to voice opinions the strategy’s potential to work through an activity of voting with our feet. The last question asked if those present would participate in a mass action in May, or if folks needed more time to think. The decision was unanimous: we are ready to fight for our right to breathe.
An immediate next step that was given for folks new to Thrive to attend the next Movement Training on March 5. Circles were asked to make outreach for that training a priority as a key way to grow the movement.