Well, what do you know? Today I get this email from the Patrick administration:
Governor Deval Patrick today signed into legislation a bill creating the Commonwealth Corps, a program that will allow residents across Massachusetts to improve and rebuild their communities through service. “Massachusetts has a strong history of community service, volunteerism, and civic action and I am proud that the Commonwealth Corps will become a new chapter in that history,” said Governor Patrick. “Through volunteerism, citizens have the ability to alter lives and communities while also experiencing the pride that comes with such service. I am excited about this new opportunity and look forward to the work ahead.”
The legislation signed today was the first bill filed by the Governor after taking office in January. By establishing a new model for large-scale, locally-managed service projects, Massachusetts will lead the nation in civic engagement.
The Commonwealth Corps will include 250 individuals in its first year, with a goal of expanding to 1,000 members over the next five years. Members will dedicate at least one year of service to a nonprofit organization, civic initiative, or public entity, providing direct service to people or communities in need.
It's definitely a step in the right direction. Patrick needs to get back to the gritty, grassroots type of politics that gave him his landslide victory last November - instead of throwing proposal after proposal on a Beacon Hill wall and seeing what sticks. I can't think of a better long-term goal than getting people more involved in government and Massachusetts society to start the even longer process of changing our state for the better. We need to build the coalitions and elect the new wave of progressive leaders to get the job done - and maybe some of these new people will be the very first who join Commonwealth Corps? Because I'm sure they'll be among the people who really care about what happens to all of Massachusetts.