The Georgia Rural Urban Summit was founded in December of 1994 with the goal of implementing new strategies to create a statewide movement for progressive social change.
In the early 90's the political landscape was increasingly dominated by the right-wing, ultraconservatives who promoted issue after issue from their agenda. Progressive groups were always good to come together as an issue arose and coalition together in opposition to the extremist proposals. But as a way of operating, the idea of developing partnerships to put out "fires" was not the most efficient. The need for connecting and sharing agendas and resources on a continuous basis became apparent.
The Georgia Rural Urban Summit (GRUS/Summit) thus was organized to promote communication, cooperation and coalition building among diverse people, groups and communities in support of positive, progressive change. The work of the Summit involves many different organizations representing a wide range of issues, including but not limited to environmental, labor, education, civil rights, health care, women’s rights, voting rights and others.
We promote pro-active public participation in the impacting of public policy, making government more accountable to grassroots citizen advocacy and educating elected officials on key issues. We bring our network of groups together to coalesce around an issue, we support our groups in their agenda goals and we take the lead when an issue arises for which there is no already established member group responsibility.
Over the years, the Summit brought groups together in efforts to change the Georgia State Flag, pass the Hate Crimes Bill, save Affirmative Action, write and introduce a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill, pass the Fair Lending Act (Anti-Predatory Lending), advocate for an increase in the minimum wage, preserve the separation of church and state, promote publicly financed campaigns, limit special interest campaign contributions, oppose public school vouchers and many other issues of the day.
In addition, on-going statewide outreach to bring rural Georgia organizations to the table has always been a way for the Summit to let progressive organizations know that they have a place to “connect” with resources and support. Some of the finest and toughest battles have been fought and won on the local level by small organizations with big needs. Currently, GRUS has a concentrated program to mentor emerging Latino organizations as this population grows all round Georgia.
Special on-going projects include a statewide education program that seeks to correct the widespread misinformation surrounding the voting rights of ex-offenders and partnering with the ACLU of Georgia to bring the Freedom Train (in defense of civil liberties) to cities around Georgia.
All these and many other efforts have brought the Georgia Rural Urban Summit into it’s 10th year as the states largest progressive network. “Connecting Progressive Georgians” is not just our tagline, it is our job!