COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS STRENGTHEN US ALL

By Anita Saville

When leaders of Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left of Western MA (IN-SLWM) planned a rally to protest the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in 2022, they again reached out to their allies at the Amherst Young Feminist Party. The two groups have been working on rallies together since 2020 – blending supporters and expertise for their mutual benefit.

“It’s been win-win,” says Larry Pareles, part of IN-SLWM’s leadership team. “We’ve gained rally speakers who engage a younger audience as well as activists from other backgrounds. In return, we help the Amherst Young Feminist Party with their rallies and other work. Our partnership has  successfully increased awareness of the many current threats to women’s rights.”

In the past, IN-SLWM also organized rallies for reproductive rights and womens’ freedom of choice with local members of Women’s March. In addition, the group has engaged with the IMC Feminist Action Team in its efforts to expose the dangers posed by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” including local standouts.

Partnerships stem from common goals

Crowd with signs "Remember Jan 6", "Stop the Hate" and more.

IN-SLWM itself is a good example of groups that connect for a common purpose. Since Indivisible Northampton merged with Swing Left of Western Massachusetts two years ago, local activists have increased their opportunities to join postcard and letter-writing campaigns. They also work together to support fundraisers for candidates and other grassroots organizations, such as Vote Forward and Movement Voter Project, that they can offer to their members and to members of nearby organizations – including the local Unitarian Church.

The merger was easy because we had similar progressive views and goals,” Pareles says.

Other partnerships include 413 Staying Connected, a coalition of progressive groups in Western Massachusetts that local Democratic town committees have organized to sponsor writing campaigns and phone banks for swing-state Congressional elections. IN-SLWM also cooperated on canvassing for Congressional campaigns in nearby New York and New Hampshire.

In 2020, Indivisible Northampton spearheaded a coalition of more than two dozen local groups to protect the voting results in the presidential election. The coalition – which included a wide range of Progressive organizations, youth groups, and church groups – held rallies and educational events to inform the community about everything that was at stake. IN-SLWM and its allies will reconvene the coalition for this November’s elections, Pareles says.

Other plans include a youth outreach team to connect with students at Smith and the other nearby colleges, learn about their concerns, and help them engage with local grassroots groups. IN-SLWM has also asked the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence to help with its work in protecting reproductive rights.

As in the past, IN-SLWM will collaborate with other Indivisible Groups – including Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, Indivisible Williamsburg, Rise Up Western Massachusetts Indivisible, Valley Action Indivisible, Indivisible Worcester, and others.

Meet partners on their own terms

Two women holding signs supporting women's rights.

“Most of our partnerships are joint efforts built around specific projects,” Pareles notes. His advice for other Indivisibles who seek meaningful and effective relationships? “Listen carefully to what the groups are doing and learn from them. Meet them on their own terms, rather than asking them to meet you on yours. This will help make the most of your mutual interests by building strength in numbers, increasing engagement, and adding more diversity of ideas and action.”