"AS THE legislative session draws to a close, the team at Ocean State Action is continuing to work toward fairness in our tax structure, working to improve women’s health and fighting to ensure that the civil rights of all are equally respected and protected," said Kate Brock, executive director of Ocean State Action
Kate Brock, executive director of Ocean State Action and a Providence native, has, since June 2010, helped the local nonprofit fight to advance progressive social change within Rhode Island. Formed as a community/labor coalition, Ocean State Action targets issues of economic justice, consumer protection, and human and civil rights.
PBN: What are the biggest issues Ocean State Action has on its radar right now?
BROCK: As the legislative session draws to a close, the team at Ocean State Action is continuing to work toward fairness in our tax structure, working to improve women’s health and fighting to ensure that the civil rights of all are equally respected and protected. This summer and fall we’ll be continuing our public education and organizing work on health care reform, launching an organizing project with unemployed Rhode Islanders, and making sure Rhode Islanders turn out to vote for who candidates who will advocate for social and economic justice on Election Day.
PBN: Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee recently signed an executive order that Rhode Island shall recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Is this cause for celebration?
BROCK: One thing is clear: the tide has changed, and there is real momentum moving our state and our nation towards full marriage equality. This executive order will go a long way toward eliminating those problems, and make it clear that there is no longer a gay exemption to the kind of protections and responsibilities that only marriage can provide. Governor Chafee has moved us one step closer to full marriage equality and we encourage the General Assembly to stand with him, on the right side of history, and grant same sex couples equal access to marriage.
PBN: Can residents really make a difference by trying to actively engage their political representatives?
BROCK: Yes! Each and every time we bring volunteers and activists up to the Statehouse the first two things I tell them are that the Statehouse is our house and never doubt the power of your personal story. Whether we’re fighting for a fair and equitable tax structure or marriage equality, we get to see elected officials change their minds on the critical issues effecting people’s lives in Rhode Island every session.
PBN: How can residents become more involved in issues that affect their daily lives?
BROCK: It starts with voting, and that means in the primaries in September and the general election in November. Primary elections are often decided be a couple of votes. Obviously it doesn’t stop there. One of the great things about Rhode Island is that most of our elected officials are very accessible, especially in an election year. Write a letter, pick up the phone and call your representatives, invite them to your living room for a coffee hour with you and your neighbors. It’s a lot easier than you think!
PBN: What are the greatest operational challenges facing your organization?
BROCK: At Ocean State Action we face the same challenge most advocacy organizations deal with: too much to do and not enough time or people to do it. There are always injustices to fight and people who need help but the number of hours in the day is finite. We wish we could do so much more for social and economic justice in Rhode Island.