Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hundreds Gather for Progressive Policy Summit in Lansing

Stewardship, transformation and hope emerged as key themes yesterday at the Michigan Policy Summit in Lansing. Hosted by Michigan Prospect, the event gathered hundreds of activists and concerned citizens from around the state with the purpose of drafting action plans for health care, clean energy and education.

David Hollister, Executive Director of Prima Civitas, summarized the economic and cultural challenges facing Michigan. Hollister served as a state representative, mayor of Lansing and director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth. He assured participants that Michigan is "not facing a fiscal crisis," but rather a crisis of "political will." Hollister presented challenges and opportunities for Michigan. Among the challenges, an aging population, accelerating technological change, and "devolution in decision making" rendering the state processes nearly "irrelevant."

Among areas of opportunity and hope--the research corridor of University of Michigan, Wayne State and MSU; the 21st Century Jobs Fund; MSU President Simon's vision for a "World Grant Philosophy" in higher education; and the Venture Michigan Fund.

Keynote speaker, Donna Brazile, encouraged participants to move beyond single issues and build alliances among disparate groups and issues. Advocating inclusion, she said that working across interests will require trust and compromise. Progressives must "fight cynicism and negativity with hope for all."

She counseled,"Do not grow weary in doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Yes, that's scripture--Galatians 6:9.