All Politics is Loco: Policy Summit breaks new ground

by Sean Kosofsky

LGBT community has a real chance to impact these discussions if we are in the room. This isn't just a place for lobbyists and professional policy people. If you have a story to tell you should be there.

All Politics is Loco

How great would it be if we really started taking back our government? What if people who cared deeply about their communities stood up and said "enough is enough...we want action?"

Well, it is happening. On Sept. 8, a groundbreaking new event is hoping to move Michigan forward instead of allowing this current legislature to spin its wheels. Our state is in crisis and we need brave political, business and community leaders to stand up and say that Michigan needs to climb up from the cliff it is hanging from. The event is called the Michigan Policy Summit and it aims to pull together some of the top minds in our state to chart tangible, concrete and sensible goals for success.

What is Michigan going to do about global warming, reliance on foreign oil and alternative fuel? How are we going to make sure that every single resident has health insurance? How can we make sure that public schools deliver on their promise and that colleges remain affordable? These are big questions and we are never going to answer them through columns, and articles and town halls. We need action. We need to save our hemmoraging state from indefinite financial collapse. The Michigan Policy Summit is ground zero for this new focus. We need to roll up our sleeves and do what is necessary. If that means we initiate ballot measures, or increase revenue, or invest in new technology -then we need to discuss it and the time is now.

Some of these issues may not appear directly relevant to the GLBT community, but of course they are. We wouldn't need to bother with domestic partner benefits if everyone had health insurance. Our struggling community organizations would see donations rise if we had 200,000 new high tech jobs moving to various parts of our state. Many of our families wouldn't be forced to leave the state they call home, because the future was brighter in the Texas, California or Arizona. Solving our state's economic crisis should be one of our top concerns. Because nothing else is getting done at the Capital until the state budget and gets resolved. And that budget...is everything.

Leaders from labor, environmental groups, reproductive health, service providers, think tanks and political activists came together with a vision that everyone could agree on - Michigan should be the land of opportunity once again. And Michigan can only get there if everyone is committed to a vision of hope and creativity instead of stale and failed strategies.

The keynote speaker is Donna Brazile, the inspirational and trailblazing community organizer turned political powerhouse who became the first African American woman to run a major presidential campaign (Al Gore's). There will be opportunities for people around the state to meet other organizers from their neck of the woods. Exhibitors will have educational materials about pressing issues of the day. Political leaders will be on hand to lead and to listen. The LGBT community has a real chance to impact these discussions if we are in the room. This isn't just a place for lobbyists and professional policy people. If you have a story to tell you should be there.

Most Michiganians have a common narrative. We love our state, we love our universities and we love the scenic beaches, dunes, lakes, forests and streams. Hell, we even love a beautiful snowfall. We are proud of the history of our state and of Detroit. We love when celebrities and current events have a Michigan connection. But, we like to feel like winners and we like to brag. But there will be less to celebrate and brag about unless we start injecting hope into the collective narrative of our state. We won't know what is possible until we try.

If you think you have creative ideas about how to advance strong and smart policies in Michigan or even if you are just a student or observer to the process, please consider attending. You can find out more information and register at www.MichiganPolicySummit.org.

Sean Kosofsky is the Director of Policy for Triangle Foundation, Triangle Foundation is one of the founding members and major sponsors of the Summit. You can see Sean's blog at http://www.BlogOQueer.com.

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