From the Backstage: What Connects Us

When I first got involved with WHYR’s parent organization,  the Baton Rouge Progressive Network (BRPN), in 2009, I kept meeting people who expressed how oppressive Baton Rouge felt when it came to simply voicing their progressive or liberal beliefs. These stories echoed the sense of silencing and isolation I had long felt growing up in Baton Rouge. Seeing as I had since connected to a community that dissolved my own sense of isolation, it seemed appropriate as a board member of BRPN to advocate for and create spaces in which others could connect and do the same – especially since the practice advances the “unite” portion of BRPN’s mission to educate and unite our communities to advocate and establish progressive policy and social action. The “P.S. Progressive Social” was born.

From the beginning, the socials were a hit – and not just for the attendees, but for us organizers as well. We at BRPN discovered that the P.S. was not just an antidote to sociopolitical isolation and frustration, but also an important practice in avoiding burnout for those of us who dedicate much of our “free” time to unpaid work. The socials were invariably fun, energizing, and life-affirming. (Later, I came across the formal concepts of community building and bonding social capital, which immediately validated the seemingly fluffy practice of hosting socials as a substantial service to Baton Rouge progressives, one that fulfills a true need.) Unfortunately, the socials have sometimes taken a backseat to the other business of running an all-volunteer nonprofit and community radio station, but we’re once again committing to hosting these quarterly socials to connect progressive-minded individuals and community activists across organizations and issues.

This leads to another question that’s been posed over the years: what does “progressive” mean to us? For many, being progressive means caring about specific issues like the environment, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, economic justice, etc.  Yet typically, a single individual who considers themselves progressive cares about many of these issues. As an organization dedicated to strengthening Baton Rouge’s progressive community, we began looking beyond the issues themselves to the underlying values that connect us in our seemingly varied concerns. To finally arrive at some sort of answer to this important question for ourselves and others, we as an organization engaged in a process of developing core values (ideals, principles and standards to guide our actions and programs).

To construct this set of core values, we naturally started with a social, inviting attendees to indicate which progressive values resonated most with them.

values of change

We then conducted a “values scan” among board members and volunteers to gauge their top personal and progressive values. From there, we met to discuss, condense, synthesize and prioritize, leading to our list of values. What does “progressive” mean to us? Find out here. If this set of values speaks to you, I encourage you to join us on Thursday, October 23 from 6-8pm for our next Progressive Social. We are not alone. There is much that connects us, and shared values and opportunities for social connection are something to support and celebrate.

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Strengthening the network of progressives in BR is our cause. Our mission is to educate and unite our communities to advocate and establish progressive policy and social action.

Have questions for us? Visit our WHYR website, BRPN website, or email info@whyr.org.

Interested in volunteering on a committee or contributing something specific according to your skill set? Email us at volunteer@whyr.org.

Want to connect with other progressives in BR? Join us for our next Progressive Social in October.

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