By Ryan Miner
About 40 or so engaged progressives picnicked together today at Rosedale Park in Frederick for the “First Annual Picnic for Progress,” hosted by the newly-minted Our Revolution – Western Maryland group, a progressive organization born out of Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign to carry on Sanders’ progressive grassroots work.
Progressive activists from Western Maryland – that is, Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick Counties – gathered together over a smorgasbord of picnic-style food and live music.
Our Revolution – Western Maryland was originally formed three days after the 2016 November election that witnessed the crusading populist outsider, Donald J. Trump, assume the title of president-elect of the United States – much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans alike.
Adam Umak, a Thurmont resident, who has served as the chair of the organization for the last six months, kicked off the event standing before the group, exclaiming, “in six months time, we got organized… we’ve had a number of our members seek office.”
Umak continued, “we’ve stood up to fracking and made sure that Annapolis heard our voices as far as banning fracking.”
Umak’s declaration that former NAACP President Ben Jealous, a progressive Democrat who traveled the country with Bernie Sanders during Sanders’ presidential campaign, announced his own bid for public office – to seek Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018 – garnered a loud applause from the picnic goers.
Umak concluded his remarks and introduced the first of three speakers of the day, Andrew Duck, a declared Democratic candidate for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.
Following Duck’s speech was Maryland State Senator Roger Manno (District 19), an undeclared but tentative candidate for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.
Last up to speak: Frederick County Council President Bud Otis.
Watch the speeches below:
After the official speeches concluded, several of the group’s members stood up and spoke about progressive activism in Western Maryland, including congressional write-in candidate and Hagerstown resident Ted Athey as well as Randy Barber and Valerie Hartman.
Group leaders say they intend to tackle two critical issues that directly affect Western Maryland: Opioid usage and the proposed Hancock pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that would run under the Potomac River and a portion of the C&O Canal in Hancock, Md.
I requested comment from Mr. Umak, who forwarded me the following statement:
My original intent in leading OR – WMD in its infancy was to shape the organization’s structure, bylaws, meetings, and norms as closely to a worker’s union as I could. To me, it is critical that while elected leadership is responsible for administrative issues, the direction of the organization is purely in the hands of the voting body of its membership.
So, today’s Picnic for Progress was a way to stop and take a breath after eight months of organizing and mobilizing all of Western Maryland. We’ve done a lot and worked hard on a number of national, state, and local issues since our first meeting in Thurmont, Maryland.
- 2/11 – Rallied in Baltimore to elect Rep. Keith Ellison (D) as the Chair of the Democratic National Committee
- 2/11 – Stood for Women’s Rights in the City of Frederick
- 2/27 – Lobbied the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis for a ban on fracking
- 2/28 – Co-signed support to a comprehensive policy protecting the rights of transgender students in Frederick County Public Schools
- 4/1 – Defended Planned Parenthood
- 4/30 – Marched for environmental justice
- 5/3 – Confronted the hypocrisy of the Democratic establishment in Maryland
And, today was also a chance to say “thanks,” break bread, and have fun with our membership. Also, today was time for the newly-elected Steering Committee to take over the reigns of the organization. The Steering Committee has wisely chosen to focus in on solutions to the opioid/heroin crisis as well as opposing the destructive gas pipeline slated to go under the Potomac River in Hancock, Maryland.
OR connected me with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ network of activists and supporters across the Maryland. We are now able to build strength and capacity whereas before we were just strangers who happened to vote for the same candidate. Our progressive future is looking better every day.
For my part, I am beginning to work solely on Frederick County Fact Check, which I promise you will absolutely change the face of politics in Frederick County and beyond.
Please continue to follow AMinerDetail.com for in-depth coverage of Western Maryland news and politics.