Over 125 people gathered together on Feb. 10, at the second Southern Ohio Progressive Movement (SOPM) meeting with one goal in mind: to create change in the community.
“Personally, I had a hard time excepting the reality of America the morning after the election was over. Not just because of who had won the most important office in the American government, but because of how out of reach we are from making informed decisions, myself included. The general election felt like a game show in which we were force-fed this hyper-real slop everyday. I feel that neither candidate ran on a platform of any true substance, it was a sound bite race to the bottom,” explained SOPM Co-Chair, Cody Leightenheimer. “I am tired of waiting for a savior from the top. It’s hard to vote to affect change when, we the foundation, can’t agree. I wanted to get folks together to find common ground. I didn’t envision a progressive organization, which is quickly what it is evolving into. I wanted to see a voter education and voter awareness movement. I made the event “Putting Down Roots” as quickly as I had thought of it. I wasn’t sure if anyone would show but they did, thirty of them. The next time, it was 125. That shows me that people want to be apart of this and that my feelings are valid. I’m letting their vision reign and they want a progressive movement that will stimulate specific changes and pressure local politics.”
The group is currently developing bylaws and is in the process of defining their mission statement and identifying issues in the community to target.
“Right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen next, you see your friends on Facebook, you see them driving down the road with their bumper stickers and their flags and you think ‘I am alone, I am alone in Scioto County, nobody thinks the way that I do,”” said New Boston Council candidate, Ryan Ottney. “So then you turn on the news and you see however many people marching, you see how many protests happening, and you think, ‘maybe I’m not alone, maybe I’m just isolated in Scioto County,’ then you get a call about the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement, and you see that things are changing. It shows us, that we are not alone. We can make Scioto County change its ways and we can make a real difference.”
SOPM is not affiliated with any party and welcomes those of all backgrounds. Progressivism, as defined by SOPM, is a problem-solving method, not a political party.
During the meeting, members discussed what they feel needs to be accomplished in the community, some ideas included: creating activities for families, working to protect Shawnee State Forest, cleaning up public areas, assisting families in need, addressing food insecurity and creating accessible information about political issues and candidates.
“It is necessary, not just to depose (president Donald) Trump or to place pressure on the contingency in local, state and federal places of power; it’s much more important to help local citizens feel agency again. We are all struggling with apathy but that is the greatest tool of the powers that be. We all have a voice and it becomes a demand when we voice it, intelligently, together. To reach folks who voted for bottom up change in this community means crossing age-old lines of social and party politics,” explained Leightenheimer. “We can only do that by being around people, discussing, disagreeing and finding common ground. The need for this organization is the need for a path toward a working class movement that transcends dogmatic differences in order to uplift all of us. We can be that locally and we can link up to that state wide and nationally. I truly believe we have answers that a lot of people are unaware of and could benefit from. It’s possible now; beautiful, intelligent people are involved from all sorts of backgrounds and we can utilize our group craft to influence and outright demand a new path for Southern Ohio.”
The group plans to conduct monthly meetings, the next being held in March is to be announced. For more information about how to become involved and to stay up-to-date on meeting and topic information, please search “Southern Ohio Progressive Movement,” on Facebook.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.