Announcing the new 2021 Priority Action Area

The National Advisory Council (NAC) and the Network Team are excited to announce that we’re adding Policing as a Priority Action Area (PAA) in 2021. In selecting this topic, we heard input from the NAC and other Network members about the need to work in tandem with organizations already doing this work, and to focus on our particular strengths.

Creating technical assets, data visualizations, and providing data analysis and accessible resources are some of strengths we bring to support local stakeholders that advocate for alternatives to the incarceration movement.

Some of the ways we feel that we can contribute as a Network are by:

  • Auditing our local police budgets to help community groups identify areas of overspending
  • Making local budget processes and documents more accessible and available to the public
  • Helping local advocates strengthen their call for distributing funds to areas such as social services, education, community enrichment programs, etc, and;
  • Working with local governments to help implement accountability measures – called for by frontline communities – that make policing practices safer and designed towards equity.
  • Help with efforts to decriminalize, decarcerate, and reinvest in communities, including by working on projects that are a part of and/or tangential to the larger policing system (like 911 or fines and fees).

If you’re interested in the Policing Priority Action Area, join the #policing-paa Slack channel to engage in discussion around projects, resources, and information about this PAA.

A refresh on what Priority Action Areas are

Priority Action Areas – first piloted in 2020 – are designed for the Network, by the Network. They are shared areas of focus for Brigade projects that emerged in response to Brigade members and leaders asking for increased project support, ideas and tools for projects that have impact, and opportunities for cross-brigade collaboration on projects. In late 2019 and early 2020, the National Advisory Council (NAC) led the way in creating a framework for harnessing shared project interest and energy, providing needed support for increasing our impact, and fostering collaboration. Thus, Priority Action Areas were born.

Priority Action Areas are distinct issue areas where the Network determines we can have outsized impact. It is where we will focus shared projects and resources via our distributed Brigades across the country, making it possible for projects to impact several places at once. Resources like toolkits, workshops, partnerships and project management assistance are provided to Brigades by the Network Team to support collective work in these prioritized areas. We also select our National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) from our Priority Action Areas. They are designed to be nimble and responsive to the evolving needs of our communities and country; thus Priority Action Areas are selected annually.

The four Priority Action Areas chosen by the Network for 2020 were: Rapid Response, Voting Rights, Creating Pathways to Record Clearance, and Court Notifications. You can view the Priority Action Areas Announcement here, and read more about the selection process here.

We found in 2020 that we can effectively and collaboratively streamline energy that exists within the Network towards outsized impact. In 2020 we reached over 5 million people through Priority Action Area work. To read a full account of the progres made in Priority Action Areas in 2020, read this post.

Selection Process

Moving ahead to 2021, we looked for feedback from the Network to decide how to continue Priority Action Areas in a new year. Based on the feedback received about Priority Action Areas, particularly at 2020 Brigade Congress, it was clear that the Network didn’t want to lose progress on a lot of the work we launched in 2020. There was also clear energy to get behind new topic(s) for 2021. We decided to keep working on three of the 2020 Priority Action areas, and pick one new topic area for 2021.

To choose the new topic area for 2021, we engaged in a three phase process:

  • Phase 1: Sparking Ideas & Interest 7: December - January: The Network submits ideas for 2021 Priority Action Areas through Pol.is & votes on their favorites
  • Phase 2: Narrow the Selections: End of January: The Network Team pulls the top submissions, and asks Brigade leaders to vote among top ideas
  • Phase 3: Make a Selection: February: The National Advisory Council uses the information from the Pol.is, the Discourse vote, and information from their work with the Network to select the new 2021 Priority Action Area

*We also went through a process of sunsetting one PAA from 2020 to make room for this new PAA. Through a voting process, NAC chose to sunset the Rapid Response PAA from 2020.

You can read more about the NAC selection processes here. Some of the reasons NAC gave for their decision to vote for Policing as a PAA were:

“I think that this is an important issue, and to the extent that we can support on the ground efforts and be true to those movements - this is something we should organize around.”

“It would be amazing if we could move the needle on this issue…. My hope is that by collaborating, we can approach this work effectively and thoughtfully.”

We’re excited about the opportunity to make an impact in this area of work, and we welcome ideas below about how you plan to work in this area in your community, or what you’d like to see us focus on in this topic area as a Network. If you’re interested in being a part of a working group in this topic area, please comment below or join the #policing-paa Slack channel!