How did this group get started and who leads it?
Suit Up Maine originated as a closed Facebook group that served as a regional offshoot of Pantsuit Nation shortly before the 2016 election. When Pantsuit Nation sought non-profit status, restricting chapters in the forms of action they could take, we ended our affiliation and changed our name to Suit Up Maine Action Network, to make it clear that we are an independent, action-oriented group. We later shortened our name to Suit Up Maine, or SUM. Karin Leuthy and Kelli Whitlock Burton are SUM’s current co-leaders. They are joined by a talented team of administrators and working group leaders from all across Maine.
Does SUM have a mission statement?
Yes. Suit Up Maine is a statewide, all-volunteer, progressive, grassroots group of more than 5,400 Mainers that seeks to create and foster a more informed and engaged electorate. We raise awareness of and advocate for policies and legislation that promote equity and equality in civil rights, social justice, health care, the environment, education, the economy, and other areas that affect the lives of all people. We are beholden to issues and action, not parties or politicians, and we aren’t engaged in fundraising. Suit Up Maine fosters collaboration among our state’s progressive groups and organizations to collectively connect, educate, and motivate Mainers to rise in non-violent resistance to a regressive agenda.
Is anyone associated with SUM paid?
No. We are an all-volunteer group of dedicated Maine constituents. While we occasionally recommend other nonprofits and organizations that we think are worthy of your financial support, we never solicit donations or funds for ourselves or for SUM.
Are all SUM members Mainers?
Our Working Groups and Member Forum are only for those who live in or are from Maine. If you don’t have a Maine connection, you are welcome to see and share what we do on this website or on our public Facebook page.
Does SUM coordinate with other progressive groups?
Yes. In spring 2017, Suit Up Maine created The HUB, a forum for leaders of Maine’s many progressive grassroots groups, advocacy organizations, and political parties. Now operating independently, it’s a place for leaders from all 16 counties to connect, collaborate, and help amplify our movement. Members of The HUB network with other leaders, share ideas and events, and brainstorm issues. It’s a pretty fantastic place! Our admin team also regularly coordinates with statewide and national organizations that are already doing great work, such as Action Together Network, ACLU, Natural Resources Defense Council, Maine Family Planning, Planned Parenthood, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine Gun Safety Coalition, Maine Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, and Equality Maine, and many of our calls to action support their efforts. We encourage all of our members to be involved in any groups that are active in their towns. If you are a leader of a grassroots group, or if there is a group or organization you think we should be connected to, please send us a message!
How are calls to action created?
Our issue-based working groups discuss current issues, debate where action is most needed, and then help research our calls to action, which are written by our admin team. Shorter actions are often shared via our social media channels while longer actions, including our explainers and guides, are posted on this website. We share our actions with our members via our public Facebook and Twitter pages, in our closed member forum, and through our member email list. We also share actions with our network of other progressive groups around the state, who pass them on to their members. If there is an issue you’d like to see some action directed to, please email us at email@example.com. Previous action items can be found on the Issues and Explainers & Guides links in the menu at the top of this page.
Who decides what working groups are formed?
The first four working groups were determined by a poll of our members. Since then, we’ve added more, based on requests from members. Our working groups currently focus on a number of issues, including federal government; Maine government; health care, reproductive rights, and disability rights; environment; prevention of gun violence and violence against women; education; media and fighting propaganda; immigration; elections and voting rights; and civil rights, social justice, and equality. We are open to adding more working groups at any time, as long as there are motivated members who are willing to lead them and do the work of researching action items. If you would like to join one of our working groups or have ideas for new ones, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is SUM considering becoming a nonprofit or forming a PAC?
We have discussed these possibilities on several occasions and have determined that, for now, avoiding formal organizational structures and financial regulations allows us more time and flexibility for action.
Is SUM affiliated with the Democratic party?
No, although many of our members would describe themselves as Democrats. We keep an open door to Mainers of all political stripes who stand in support of civil rights, social justice, environmental stewardship, a free press, constitutional checks and balances, and are committed to pushing back against a regressive agenda. We are beholden to issues, not political parties or candidates.
Suit Up Maine is a statewide, all-volunteer, progressive, grassroots group of more than 5,400 Mainers that seeks to create and foster a more informed and engaged electorate. We work to raise awareness of and advocate for policies and legislation that promote equity and equality in civil rights, social justice, health care, the environment, education, the economy, and other areas that affect the lives of all people. We are beholden to issues and action, not parties or politicians, and we aren’t engaged in fundraising. Suit Up Maine (SUM) pursues our mission through calls to action and connections with more than 100 other progressive groups and organizations in Maine who are rising up in non-violent resistance to a regressive agenda. We believe our government works better with a more informed and engaged electorate and all our actions are designed to foster civic engagement.
HOW do we do that?
- Our Facebook Member Forum serves as a support network for members to share ideas, discuss issues, and organize collective action. This website and our Facebook and Twitter and Instagram pages serve as a gateway for new members or those who are not in Maine to connect with us and learn more, as well as a central location for listing progressive events happening in the state. We also maintain an email list for those who prefer to receive their information off of Facebook.
- Our Calls to Action (also known as C2As) transform concerned citizens into activists and build the confidence and capacity of members to find their voice and speak out. Our actions are curated, vetted, Maine-centric, and address national and state concerns.
- In March of 2017 we created “The HUB,” which now operates independently, as a forum connecting local and regional group leaders in each of Maine’s 16 counties. These groups are already doing the critical work of bringing concerned citizens together in our villages, towns, and cities. The HUB supports and amplifies their efforts and events, encourages collaboration and coalition-building, and helps more Mainers connect with the groups that are closest to them.
- Our issue-based working groups bring members together to focus on specific issues of concern to the group. They filter through news and information, dig deeper, and determine the most effective actions our members can take to move the needle on that issue, whether it be action that originates with us, or by supporting action being led by another group.
- We keep our eyes trained on our legislators in Augusta as well as DC, and work to promote new and existing opportunities for members to connect with them, track where they stand on the issues, and hold them accountable for the positions they take.