Ex-Nation intern Chris Kromm and the Institute for Southern Studies–a “think tank/act tank” founded by civil rights veterans, which publishes the award-winning Southern Exposure magazine–have launched a new blog, Facing South.

The Institute has been at the forefront of campaigns for economic justice, campaign finance reform, environmental sanity and most recently the defense of voting rights and the reigning in of war profiteers (over 40 percent of military contracts go to corporations operating in the South).

Why Facing South? Because the South is far from a lost cause for social change. Progressives in the region are getting energized, laying infrastructure and finding openings that draw on the region’s populist streak and unbroken history of movements for justice and dignity.

And there’s much to build on recently: A campaign for economic justice in Florida won a 71 percent vote to boost the minimum wage last November. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s recent contract victory for 8,000 North Carolina farm-workers was an important victory in the struggles for immigrant rights. Successful efforts to ward off corporate encroachment, like the Public Safety and Justice Campaigns to halt prison privatization in several states. Progressives are getting more serious about electoral politics, too–one third of the delegates at South Carolina’s Democratic Convention last May were members of a growing Progressive Caucus.

Facing South will chronicle these sources of inspiration–as well as the inevitable outrages– to move forward the debate about progressive prospects in the red states. Click here to check it out.