Common Threads
Labor and community activists plan weekend of work and play at historic Penn Center

The South Carolina Progressive Network has joined with the state AFL-CIO to hold "Common Threads, a Progressive Strategy Conference," Nov. 15-16 at Penn Center near Beaufort.

The Network, which has kept a low profile this past year, has been energized by the infusion of new blood, talent and enthusiasm.

Among the newcomers have been union organizers, including state AFL-CIO President Donna DeWitt. "There is a lot of excitement about the possibilities that can come from organized labor linking up with other groups involved in various issues across the state," she said. "We are looking forward to the conference at Penn, and expect good participation from the unions."

Network members from South Carolina met with activists from other states involved in statewide grassroots coalitions last year at a national conference in Washington, D.C. They discovered that the most successful networks were those which included a strong labor component.

South Carolina has the country's lowest percentage of union workers, and the broad public support for the recent UPS strike here was something of a surprise. The workers' victory revived debate about the relevance and future of organized labor. Given recent events, the participation of labor at the fall conference should make for spirited discussion.

The gathering is a chance for progressives from across the state to get to know each other, and to find ways to share resources and support one another's work. It is a chance to look ahead to the coming year and the challenges it will bring to groups in South Carolina dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice.

The Progressive Voter Coalition, SC ProVote, will also meet during the weekend. The session will be open to groups and individuals not constrained by their nonprofit status.

Conference organizers want the weekend to be a productive but informal gathering -- a chance to network, to share ideas and resources and to recharge batteries. Don't miss the chance to meet others of like mind and to spend time at historic Penn Center. Penn was founded in 1862 as the first school for freed slaves. In the 1960s, it served as a retreat and meeting space for civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Today it is a cultural and black studies center.

The conference begins at noon on Sat., Nov. 15. S.C. ProVote meets Sunday at 10 am. Conference registration is $10 for one or both days.

There will be an concert and oyster roast following the meeting on Saturday evening. Entertainment will include a performance by grassroots organizer and folk singer Si Kahn. The food and concert costs $10. Overnight accommodations at Penn Center are $50, which includes breakfast on Sunday morning. Space is limited. Some financial help is available.

Call 803-808-3384 or write PO Box 8325, Columbia SC 29202 for details or to register.

© Copyright by POINT, 1997
Last modified 10/15/97