Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Monday, November 30, 2009

MINUTES OF MAINE AFGHANISTAN ORGANIZING PLAN MEETING

November 28, 2009

Present:
Sally Breen, Michael Cutting, Bruce Gagnon, Gary Higginbottom, Selma Sternlieb

Time Frame:
We recommend a three-month statewide campaign on the Afghanistan war funding issue from January 18 (MLK's birthday) to April 15 (tax day). Key events happening during that period: The New Spring Peace Walk thru Maine (March 24-April 1); the February caucuses; and the spring roll-out of another Afghan war supplemental (likely before next May) due to Obama's surge.

Goals:
1. To convince Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud that it's safe to vote no on the war supplemental and urge them to take stronger leadership roles in the House, Michaud with the Blue Dogs and Pingree with the Progressive Caucus, in persuading other representatives to vote no on war funding.

2. To expand our activist base in Maine, moving together as a statewide movement.

3. To participate in and offer the national peace movement a model for statewide organizing that targets House members on Afghan war funding.

4. To bring the general public deeply into the war funding debate and make connections to Maine's fiscal crisis.

Establishment of Implementation Committee:
We suggest the immediate formation of an Implementation Committee to refine and put this plan into effect. Committe would consist of 12-15 people from around the state. Bruce will send out another call for Implementation Committee members. Anyone willing to work on the Implementation Committee should contact Bruce ASAP. The five people (listed above) on the visioning committee are willing to be on the Implementation Committee. The first meeting of the Implementation Committee will take place on Saturday, December 19 at 12:30 p.m. at the Addams-Melman House in Bath (212 Centre St) following the 11:30-12:30 BIW Advent vigil. Bruce will provide veggie soup. Participants are asked to bring sandwiches. Subsequent meetings will be held in other parts of the state and/or through conference calls. (The committee will suspend after the 3-month period is over.)

Responsibilities of the Implementation Committee:
1) develop the literature for the campaign including door hangers, a tri-fold leaflet, postcards.

2) organize a news conference to launch the campaign. Hold it in the Hall of Flags in Augusta. Mike Brennan has volunteered to help identify other Maine leaders to also speak at the news conference which would make connections between state fiscal crisis and war funding.

3) coordinate the final campaign action weekend events, recommended for April 10-11, when we would go door-to-door in towns all across the state. This would be right before Tax Day when folks are thinking about how their $$$ is spent.

4) handle fundraising and budget: calculate the cost of the campaign and draft a fundraising letter. People are more invested in a campaign if they've put money into it. (Only think one such appeal will be necessary. A 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor will be needed to accept and disburse all funds.)

5) act as a clearinghouse for reports from groups around the state on their activities during the 3-month campaign

6) make a list of suggested local activities including radio ads; letters to the editor; cell phone calls to Pingree/Michaud; public affairs programming (radio/TV); public comments to town councils; disseminating leaflets at post offices and libraries; comments at school board budget meetings; speak at union meetings, in churches, schools, clubs and organizations; providing people with the tools to write a letter to their representative and promising to return the next day to pick it up.

7) oversee creation of a basic website containing the downloadable literature, contact information, and planned schedule of events.

8) decide on identifying clothing or color for door-to-door campaigners: scarf, hat, sweatshirt, etc.?

Co-Sponsoring Organizations:
Groups must be willing to make serious organizing efforts. The groups should see this work as a way to expand peace activities in their community. No financial donation required by co-sponsors but would be gladly accepted.

Suggestions for Recruiting People to Work on the Campaign:
Invite people in your community to a meeting. Review the statewide plan. Have a map of your town and divide it up among the people. Ask them to canvass the people on those streets during final campaign action weekend (the culmination of the 3-month effort). Involve them in other local events during the 3-month effort. Invite one of the Implementation Committee members to your community early-on to speak about the campaign in order to pump up the jam.

Door Hangers:
We recommend door hanger literature for final campaign action weekend on April 10-11. They are easy to drop, look good, are different from the usual leaflets, and get people's attention. Gary will find out the cost of 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 hangers. Global Network willing to pay for design if necessary.

Title of Campaign:
The Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home is the title we suggest. Bring Our War $$ Home could be the slogan on the literature. Trying to make direct connection between war and the sinking economy.

Subcommittee to Draft Wording of Leaflet & Hanger:
Gary will work on the wording of the door-hanger. Bruce and Selma will work on the wording of the leaflet. Michael and Sally will send ideas.

What the War Costs Communities:
Gary will look into the current cost of war for each of the communities that participate in the campaign. We can then be ready to go to a school board meeting, for instance, and show how dropping a particular school program is directly related to how much the community is sending to the military.

Next Steps:
We urge all local peace activists and peace groups in Maine to share and discuss these proposals submitted by the Visioning Committee. Send feedback to Implementation Committee via Bruce Gagnon at globalnet@mindspring.com or 443-9502. We also urge locals to select a person to serve on the Implementation Committee for this 3-month campaign - first meeting to be in Bath on Dec 19 at 12:30 following BIW vigil. Please also discuss locally if your group will become a co-sponsor for this campaign.

Thanks for your support.

Minutes by Selma Sternlieb

2 Comments:

Blogger heddwch a chyfiawnder said...

This is extremely impressive. What exactly is a door hanger?

11/30/09, 4:19 PM  
Blogger Bruce Gagnon said...

It is a post card stock flyer with a cutout to fit on a round door knob that is narrow but fairly long and can be printed on both sides....usually with a screaming headline or graphic to get attention.....

11/30/09, 4:27 PM  

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