“Grassroots Agenda” Starts With Jobs

Hundreds of residents came together December 3rd at the City-Wide Community Leaders meeting to identify and find collective solutions to New Haven’s most pressing problems. In a packed school cafeteria, people from across New Haven held small group discussions framed by some common questions about what they thought the city’s priorities should in the coming year.

“Grassroots Agenda” Starts With Jobs, 12/10/11, Thomas McMillan, New Haven Independent:

Picture this: A new “jobs pipeline” funnels cash from big development projects into community centers that train young people for jobs created by the new projects. Employment goes up; crime goes down; everyone wins.

That’s one vision of tackling several big New Haven problems at once. Over 300 people applauded the plan in the cafeteria at Conte-West Hills School in Wooster Square, where it was pitched at a “Citywide Community Leaders Meeting.”

The event was put on by Connecticut Center for a New Economy (CCNE), a 10-year-old grassroots group of union, clergy, and neighborhood leaders, affiliated with Yale’s unions. According to leaders, the organization has an annual budget of $300,000. Half of that money comes from unions, the other half from grants from progressive foundations. Organizers affiliated with the group (acting in other organizational capacities) played a crucial role in helping to elect a new incoming majority on New Haven’s Board of Aldermen—a majority in search of an agenda.

At Saturday morning’s three-hour event, people from various city neighborhoods—including a significant number of local and state lawmakers—talked about the problems they’d like to see addressed in New Haven.

They then got a sneak peek at CCNE’s “Grassroots Community Agenda,” a report that the group has been working on for several years, which will be officially released on Thursday.

The document seeks to distill public opinion—expressed in door-to-door research and in many small community meetings—on what New Haven’s priorities should be. At the top of the list: jobs and public safety.

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