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Monday, March 9, 2020

March 9, 2020: Last Week Recaps: SSN Boston and 2020 in Massachusetts

[Last week was one of the busiest of my professional career, featuring a series of great Boston events, culminating in the 51st Northeast MLA convention. So this week I’ll recap that convention and those other events, leading up to a special weekend post on what’s next for NeMLA and how you can get involved!]
On the first of two great events, and how you can contribute to the second!
It’s been a bit since I’ve written here about my work with the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN) and specifically my role as a Boston Chapter co-leader, alongside my awesome colleagues Tiffany Chenault and Natasha Warikoo—it looks like the brief mention in this November post was the last time—but SSN has continued to be an important part of not just my professional life, but also and especially my sense of solidarity, my feeling that I’m not alone in the fights that all of us who care about America are fighting these days. That means engagements with public narratives and collective memories, the kinds of conversations I’m hoping to influence and help shape through my own public scholarly writing; but it also means another central side of SSN: direct conversations with policymakers, activists, researchers, and all those who help shape political and social efforts, at the local as well as the national level.
Last Tuesday we had our first event of 2020, and it was a perfect example of those latter goals, as we brought together folks in all those categories for panels on three crucial 2020 Massachusetts policy priorities (and proposed legislation related to each): the climate crisis and carbon tax legislation; deep poverty and a bill that addresses it; and ranked choice voting and a proposed ballot initiative to bring that to MA elections. I was fortunate enough to moderate the climate conversation, which featured State Representative Dylan Fernandes, the economist and self-proclaimed “climate hawk” James Stock, and the community leader, non-profit director, and activist Dwaign Tyndal. Our really excellent conversation moved between practical efforts, philosophical questions, and expressions of collective solidarity in this work (as well as frustration with aspects of it, of course, but you know what this critical optimist is gonna emphasize!). As I know was the case with the other two panels, most of all that conversation modeled the kinds of connections and crossovers that make SSN such a vital organization, for public scholars and everyone else in these fights.
Sound good? Well fortunately for you (and all of us) that was just the first of two such Spring 2020 events! At the next, to be held on Wednesday May 6th, we’ll do the same for two other significant issues and three proposed bills: funding for public education at both the secondary and higher ed levels (and the proposed Cherish and Promise Acts); and immigration (and the proposed Safe Communities Act). If you’re in the New England area and would like to be part of those conversations, please let me know and/or plan to join us on May 6th at Suffolk University! But wherever you are, you can and should add your voice, not only as part of those conversations but in the planning stage. So please let me know if you have thoughts on those topics that we should make sure to include, folks or types of folks we should make sure to invite (either as panelists or audience members), or any other contributions to these ongoing and vital 2020 discussions!
Next recap tomorrow,
PS. If you were at NeMLA 2020, I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways as well!

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