Last week Town Hall Summer launched — a campaign of unity and civic mobilization — in Fresno California.

The event was a great coming together of progressive groups and people. Many of them — from the immigrant rights struggle, anti-war organizations, environmental groups, civic organizations, fair trade networks, voter registration powerhouses, labor unions, and other movements — said that they were happy to meet fellow activists and organizers because, while living in the same town, they rarely meet up or find ways to work together.

That is the idea of Town Hall Summer:  In the face of an unprecedented attack on immigrants, the environment, workers, and the very foundations of democracy and civility we are coming together to strengthen our movement and build a different future; A future where all of us can live together, work together, and show respect for one another.

The Fresno Town Hall started with wrenching testimonies from immigrants who shared painful stories of abuse and separation. You can read more the stories shared in the Fresno Bee or watch it online here.

Their stories underlined the urgency of the crisis we are facing and the need for unity, civic participation and massive voter turnout this fall to turn our words into action and start to turn our country around.

Movement leader, Armando Gudino, from Drug Policy Alliance, took the stage to demand an end to the War on Drugs, because it’s clear it’s “war against the people, and particularly a war against people of color and immigrants. This can’t continue”.

Amy Arlund, from the California Nurses/National Nurses United, said that the separation of families “is an attack on our health system, because it affects the health of thousands of migrants. Health is a basic right that everyone should have access to”.

And Samuel Molina from Mi Familia Vota called the public to act, register to vote and help others getting registered, so we can change the current state of things.

All the many speakers were all clear about this: while participation means a lot more than voting, voting is one of the few ways we can all come together to have a voice and collectively transform our communities. Many speakers exhorted those who can vote to remember that voting is a privilege not everyone has – and that those who can need to exercise this right on behalf of those who cannot.

The day ended in a spirit of unity and good vibration as the band La Meta serenaded the crowd and got lots of folk on their feet and dancing.

Town Hall Summer continues — next in Arizona and then in Florida and Texas.  And for those of you who are at a distance, we will have virtual Town Halls online that you are invited to join.

A big thank you to all of our local and national partners who supported this event:, SEIU-USWW, Drug Policy Alliance, Alianza Americas, Democracy Initiative, LEAP, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, California Trade Justice Coalition, Central Valley Partnership, California Nurses/National Nurses United, Mi Familia Vota, Californians for Justice, ACT for Women and Children, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, United Farm Workers, WILPF, ILRC and FIOB.