William Ladd Chapters 1 & 3
Minutes from Retreat
January 22 & 23, 2010
Point Lookout, Northport, ME
PRESENT: Suzanne Hedrick, Judy Williams, Dana Williams, Rob Shetterly, Bob Lezer, Tim Blanchette, Dan Avener, Frank Donnelly, Bruce Gagnon, Tom Sturtevant, Herb Hoffman, Kristina Wolff, Peggy Akers, Dan Ellis, Clarence Smith, Miles Freeman, Dud Hendrick, Michael Uhl, Doug Rawlings, Jean Hendrick, Mary Beth Sullivan, Mary Sturtevant, Judy Rawlings, Tom Whitney, Ian Collins, Mariah Williams, Susan Connery, Rita Clement, Richard Clement, Rob Pfeiffer, Loukie Lofchie, and Stan Lofchie
Editorial Comment: Before I launch into the minutes and observations, I’d like to comment on the overall retreat experience. Although I attempt to be as objective as possible in the minutes (not so much in the observations), allow me to succumb to total subjectivity here. First off, I want to recognize the quality of character so evident in the members who attended the retreat – a finer bunch of brothers and sisters could not have gathered under one roof. To be active members in a group that espouses to gain a peaceful world through nonviolent means is no small feat; but to do so with an openness and genuine compassion for the well-being of all involved requires a level of caring and patience that isn’t found very often. I salute you (no pun intended).
The Friday evening potluck brought us together to enjoy good food and good company – literally breaking bread—and then some good-natured jousting at the bowling alley. Saturday brought us together to share brief glimpses into our personal lives and then to hack through a prolonged business agenda. The latter experience involved camaraderie and contention, patience and pigheadedness, fraternity and frustration, and, well, I’ve run out of alliterative references.
The tension involved in the meeting could probably be considered the result both of a breakdown in communication over the past few months (as we labor to plan out a national convention via e-mail, telephone, and the occasional small meeting) as well as to some real confusion about the roles that the national group and our chapter play in this whole thing. As Dud has said, we all need to improve the lines of communication. We also need to clarify what those roles are to move forward. That said, please remember that there have been 24 conventions before this one, and I dare to venture the thought that each one had this dynamic involved too. You’d think there would be a clearer path laid out for us but apparently there isn’t. We who are in charge of this convention (Dud, Michael, and me) are tasked with interpreting the host chapter’s needs and demands for the national and vice versa. In that process, I’m afraid some confusion will reign and some ideas/thoughts/concerns will be left by the wayside. We will muddle on, though, because we believe in the importance of this 25th anniversary convention, and we believe in you.
So the tension was there; but there was also a palpable sense (at least to me) that we really do care for each other and we care for the organization – enough, anyways, to let these personal differences and systemic frustrations run their course. We have been together for a long time. A cliché, perhaps, but we are a “family” of sorts. Think of Saturday’s retreat as a kind of Thanksgiving dinner when the family gathers together for the only time of the year to eat and squabble and laugh and, in the end, to reinforce (one hopes) the true caring for each other and purpose in life that bind us together. I walked away on Saturday proud of us and, yes, with a sense that much has been accomplished. I said it before, but I’ll say it again – if it weren’t for the consummate organizing skills of Dud, for the experience, perseverance and savvy of Michael, we would be in big trouble. We were able to (some of us, anyways) glare at each other, to throw out some not so congratulatory words, to disagree, to demand further clarification, to call into question each other’s motives at times, but we were also able to recognize each other’s worth and basic goodwill.
On that note, let me close by referring to a conversation initiated by Peggy and joined by Bob Lezer and Dan Ellis at the lunch break. Peggy is concerned about setting the right “tone” for the convention. She recognizes that oftentimes gatherings of political activists can quickly take on a predominantly adversarial tone that colors the whole meeting. We need to consciously and intentionally remind ourselves that we are pledged to “nonviolence,” which has at its core compassion for others. Our convention has to be as inclusive as possible; has to welcome and honor diversity; has to acknowledge the contributions of everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual preference; has to allow all to give voice to their particular concerns. But, at the same time, has to remain true to the basic mission of VFP – working for world peace (not just racial rights or gender rights or even civil rights, although all are included). We need to work together and not allow one agenda to highjack the whole enterprise while showing compassion for all. Nonviolence means not just being conscious of physical action that is harmful but also being vigilant about using harmful (exclusionary and abusive) language. Our convention will be one known for its right tone.
NOTE: What follows is what I wrote down during the day. Since my infallibility clause does not cover note-taking, I admit to some frailty here. Might not have caught everything. Might have misrepresented your words. If you have any editorial suggestions or additional comments, please direct them to me, and I’ll ask Dan to post them on our convention website page dedicated to meeting minutes.
THE SATURDAY RETREAT BEGAN AT 8:00 AM.
- Dud started us off with his thanks for those attending the retreat but also a thanks for being members of VFP or supporting the organization. He then asked everyone around the table (32 of us) to share a quick vignette about why we are who we are and do what we do. Surprisingly, we pulled that off in the time allotted. As with past retreats, these personal commentaries enriched us all as we deepened our knowledge of each other’s personal journeys.
- The Business Meeting (totally dedicated to convention planning) began at 9:30am. Dud informed us of the process to date: Jack Bussell, the original chair of the convention, had to step down in late November because of health issues. That compelled Dud to form a “three-headed” convention “chair” that includes himself, Michael Uhl, and Doug Rawlings. He reminded us that the convention is, indeed, a national convention that we, Chapters One and Three, have agreed to host. The dynamics of that relationship are fluid, to say the least. The 25th Anniversary Planning Committee consists of two members of the national board, three members of the host chapter Dud, Michael, Doug), Mike Ferner (the current president of VFP), and Michael McPherson (the current Executive Director of VFP). Although the host chapter has a voice at the table, the ultimate decisions for most of the convention agenda have to be approved at the national level. We who represent you on the committee will attempt to convey your concerns and suggestions as well as relay decisions, comments, etc from the national board.
Dud reminded us that the Eastland Hotel was our original site for the convention, but our concerns about the facility’s lack of total compliance with ADA regulations for handicap access forced us to cancel the contract. We are currently attempting to recoup our $500 deposit with assistance from attorney John Branson. We’re pretty confident that we’ll get the money back. We reviewed three other Portland sites and concluded that the Holiday Inn by the Bay offered the best venue for the convention. We have contracted with them to hold our convention there from August 26th to August 30th 2010.
- CONVENTION THEME
Dud posted the suggested themes from the list-serve. Michael shared the past experience of the National Board (the final arbiter of the theme) struggling with suggestions and finally coming up with a theme that the board itself generated. He fears that the same process will take place this year. That said, we encouraged members present to post some language we might use that could capture some key points : that it’s a 25th year celebration; that the plight of our national economy is directly linked to the wars we are waging and preparing to wage. We will use that language to craft a recommended theme to the board that we will share with the chapter before doing so. We will keep the chapter informed of the decision-making process as it evolves.
- VOLUNTEERING AT THE CONVENTION
Smitty has agreed to be in charge of this facet of the convention. Both Dud and Smitty urged significant others to feel free to participate (a sheet was passed around asking for volunteers). We’ll need people to help with tabling, assembling convention packets, transporting people to the lobster bake, etc etc. We’ll arrange volunteers by days needed and by activity needed as well. Smitty mentioned that we’ll have a better sense of our needs as registrations start coming in. Smitty presented seven categories for volunteers:
- Housing: alternative housing for those who can’t stay at the Holiday Inn. Tim will help with this.
- Transportation: we need to be sure that handicap accessible transportation is available. Volunteers needed to help people get around if requested.
- Registration: tabling, welcoming, directing people to places, etc
- Lobster Bake: ferry assistance
- Set-up in various conference rooms, tabling site, welcoming ceremony, closing session, etc
- Disability coordinator – perhaps have a “signer” available in key spots – plenaries, banquet, etc.
T-Shirts will be distributed to all volunteers.
Dud will send a letter to other chapters as well as ours asking for volunteer assistance.
Mariah mentioned that “free chair massages” could be made available to attendees.
During this discussion, Dan mentioned that he’ll post a link on our website entirely dedicated to the 2010 Convention with a link to the national website.
We need to be concerned about establishing a liaison with Portland City officials.
- THE CONVENTION SCHEDULE
Note: We are anticipating 200 to 300 attendees.
Wednesday, August 25
The National Board meets in the morning.
Social Hour at the hotel starting at 5:30pm.
Poetry reading at 8:00pm probably lasting three hours?
Thursday, August 26
8:00am: National Board meets
10:30am: Opening Ceremony
Lunch on your own?
Dinner on your own
7:00pm Community Town Hall Celebration at the UU Church on Congress St.
Friday, August 27
10:30am: First Plenary
5:30pm: Lobster Bake at Peaks Island. Ferry leaves at 5:30pm.
Saturday, August 28
9:00am: National Business meeting
5:30pm Social Hour at the Hotel
7:00pm: Banquet at the Hotel
Sunday, August 29
March leaves Hotel at 9:00am
Rally at Monument Square
Closing remarks at the Square
Kristina reported that we currently have $6,000 set aside for the convention (we anticipate that the national will provide between $80,000 and $100,00 for the convention). There is $8,000 in our general fund to date. Doug proposed that we take $1,500 from the general fund and transfer it to the convention fund to bring our total to $7,500. Dud asked that the proposal be tabled until later in the discussion.
Michael pointed out that the national is chiefly responsible for funding the convention and that it always “runs in the red.” The deficit, if there is one, is not our chapter’s responsibility. Again, in the past, local chapters have not contributed much funding to the convention. Our chapter would like to break some ground here and fund a portion of it and, therefore, gain some control of the convention; that’s why we have set aside $6,000 to date and plan on raising more. We’d like to make this convention special, and we’d like to help out financially strapped members who might not be able to afford housing, registration, etc. He provided some examples of how we might use our funds: lower the cost of the lobster bake by covering the ferry costs for attendees; help defray some of the costs of staying at the Holiday Inn (at this point, Michael shared the funding formula – if we can get 90% occupancy [about 900 beds – 125 rooms– over the course of the whole convention], we can get all function rooms at the hotel for the entire convention for $1500. Plus, we do want to have as many VFP members “under one roof” as possible). Note: We will ask all chapters to subsidize the attendance of at least one member
At this juncture, Kristina pointed out that we have already spent around $1500 on the convention: the $500 deposit; $500 for the Board’s preliminary visit in November; and $350 for rental of the UU hall (reimbursed by the National). Dud pointed out that the national will reimburse us for these expenditures. He reiterated that the more money we as a chapter have at our disposal, the more we can influence the convention. Michael pointed out that we cannot “profit” from the convention; it is a national convention hosted by our local chapter. Money we raise for the convention must go to cover the convention’s costs.
Dan Ellis pointed out that past conventions have not successfully used the program booklet ads to fund their conventions because they went about it too late into the process (on average, two months before the convention was to begin). We’re going to do it differently – we are going to produce a profitable book, which will generate money that we can dedicate to the convention.
After a little more discussion, we called the question to close off the conversation (Bruce motion, Rob Pfeiffer second). We then revisited Doug’s motion: “Chapter One takes $1,500 from its general fund and places that amount into the Chapter’s Convention Fund (currently at $6,000), bringing that total to $7500 for use towards convention expenses” (Kristina 2nd). Tim objected to this because he considered it “hocus/pocus” accounting that doesn’t really change anything for the better. The motion was voted on and passed (12 votes for; two votes opposed).
Dud then acknowledged the gracious beneficence of honorary member Rob Shetterly, who has agreed to help us raise money. First, Rob proposed that we ask the “Voices for Peace” singing group to present a fundraising evening for the convention. Two members of the group , Judy and Dana Williams, agreed to ask the group to present a concert either in Portland or mid-state in May. The usual format is to have some songs, then have a speaker (in this case, a VFP member), and then more singing. Rob agreed to use a past format: he would “mix in” his portraits with the songs and with the speakers to round out the evening’s event. Dud said that he’d be willing to chair a committee to set up a venue for the event. One possible venue is St. Lawrence Church in Portland (Bob Lezer and Peggy agreed to help Dud with this). Rob Shetterly then agreed that he’d allow us to use his portraits for another calendar similar to our past calendar. It would be another 18 month calendar beginning in August of 2010 and closing with December 2011. He would work to include featured convention speakers (he already has Chris Hedges’s portrait as well as Bruce Gagnon’s). We agreed that the calendar itself would be considered “chapter merchandise” and sold for the sole purpose of supporting our chapter and not the national, but that money generated from the sales would go to help with convention expenses if possible. Kristina and Dan Ellis agreed to work with Rob on this project. We would sell the calendar in addition to Rob’s postcards and book at the convention along with on-line pre-orders. Rob also agreed to have his portraits featured all around the convention site. In the spirit of the previous calendar, we will also donate a number of calendars to selected Maine schools. We would have some postcards and order forms available for distribution at the May “Voices for Peace” concert if that takes place.
Michael announced that he is pursuing funding through the Maine Initiative Lightning Grant for $1,000 to $2,000 to help us cover the costs of the public event (note: if he were to raise $2,000 that would cover the expenses of Inanna and the UU church). Dud will research possible grants through RESIST (who gave us $3,000 toward the previous calendar project), the A.J. Muste Foundation, Haymarket Foundation (Kristina will help with this), and Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. Ian, who has considerable fundraising and grant writing experience, will also help out.
Dud will send out a letter to peace communities around New England asking for funding to subsidize the convention. We do have to be careful here, however, because we can’t necessarily open up all events to the public for fear of excluding VFP members. Tim asked that Dud request housing possibilities in the letter as well to help members with alternatives to the Holiday Inn.
Michael mentioned that the National Newsletter will soon be going out, which will have a feature about the convention and will mention that we are working on subsidizing members’ housing costs or registration fees to encourage attendance. He also mentioned that each one of us who wants to attend will have to pay at least the convention registration fee; so, perhaps, some of the money we raise could be used to help defray those costs for Chapter One and Chapter Three members.
We began this discussion by suggesting that members consider the various events offered throughout the convention and the number of “speaker slots” available. Again, we were reminded that the National Board has “last say” on this set-up and they’re inclined to follow past conventions’ formats unless they can be convinced otherwise.
- OPENING CEREMONY (lasts 1 ½ hours). This is where we’ll recognize Jerry and Judy Genesio and charter members of the organization. Jerry will speak. Maja Kazazic, a Bosnian War victim who was given medical assistance through VFP, will also speak. She is currently living in Florida. National has located her. Chris Hedges will be the keynote speaker here. Suzanne recommended the Munjoy Hill Gospel Choir as possible “entertainment.” Gerald Talbot, Avi Chomsky, Kelly Dougherty (from IVAW) were mentioned as possible speakers as well. Doug will emcee the event. We’ll have to decide how much time will be available here for speakers – probably ½ hour for Hedges; 10 minutes for Jerry; 10 minutes for Maja; 20 minutes allotted for music?; 15 minutes for another speaker?
- OUR PLENARY (lasts 1 ½ hours). The National’s Plenary will be dedicated to VFP developmental issues, so that’s no concern of ours. Bruce will chair our plenary and emcee the event. Theme: will link war to the economy. Bruce recommended the following possible speakers: Robert Pollen (UMass Economist), Jaribu(?) Hill (Mississippi Human Rights Worker) , Perry O’Brien (IVAW), and someone else from Maine (Lisa Savage from CodePink? Rob Shetterly? Michael Brennan?)
- PUBLIC EVENT (2 ½ hours to 3 hours). Dud is chairing this event. He’ll emcee it. Inanna (drumming group) tentatively lined up for a couple of 15 minute sets. Each speaker will be limited to 7 minutes. The goal here is to introduce VFP members to Maine activists who are working on Peace and Justice issues (gender, labor, civil liberties, etc). Possible speakers include Peggy Akers (homeless veterans?), Rachel Talbot-Ross (local NAACP chapter), Wells Staley-May (immigrant communities), Perry O’Brien (IVAW), someone dealing with labor issues, Lance Tapley (Stan mentioned him as an eloquent spokesperson for prisoners’ rights, Shenna Bellows (Maine Civil Liberties Union), Rob Pfeiffer (healing Maine veterans), Gerald Talbot, Michael Brennan (education), Betsy Smith (Maine Equality). Herb pointed out that it’s important to maximize audience participation – perhaps there could be a chance for a Q&A session although Michael pointed out that, traditionally, there is no open mic at these events because people attend to hear from the “movers and shakers,’ not to listen to the general public. Herb agreed to work with Dud on this event. Mariah asked if there were any networking possibilities available for attendees. That usually takes place at workshops, in the hallways and bars, at the tables and sometimes at this event. At this moment, we have no keynote speaker for this event.
- BANQUET (3 hours) Since this is a sit-down affair, we have to consider our speakers and entertainment carefully. Attendees will be eating and chatting, a situation not really conducive to introspective speakers and lyrically complex singers for the most part. It was recommended that we limit ourselves to one speaker and one entertainer at this event, probably taking place after dessert is finished if possible. Possible speakers/entertainers include Michael Blecker (Homeless veterans), John Pilger, Amy Goodman, Andrew Bacevich, Alan Nairn (worked with Amy Goodman), Harry Belafonte, Martin Sheen, Kris Kristofferson, Rachel Maddow, Jeremy Scahill, Sean Penn. We also considered not having anyone since people might want to hit the town on a Saturday night. More than likely, the national Board would nix the idea of not having a speaker at this event.
- CLOSING DAY MARCH AND RALLY (2 HOURS) We have not come up with any ideas for speakers or entertainment yet. The march itself (from the Holiday Inn to Monument Square) will probably take about ½ hour.
LUNCH BREAK FROM NOON TO 1:00PM.
Dan Ellis and Rob Pfeiffer are co-chairing this committee. Dud began this discussion by musing about how we’re probably not going to get the prominent, exciting, and expensive entertainers we’d like to get because we couldn’t afford them and they probably wouldn’t want to play for a set or two. So we have to limit our expectations somewhat. Dan pointed out that we won’t get anyone through agents; our only chance is if we know someone who knows someone who can ask….Or if we luck out and get someone passing through or vacationing in Maine who might want to “drop in” for a song or two. That has actually happened at past conventions. Rob suggested that we get someone to play a major concert before the convention as a fundraiser.
Dan is concerned about the lack of communication between committee chairs and the convention executive committee (Dud, Michael, and me) and the confusing signals being sent: who signs up the entertainment? How much money is there? Who decides? How much say does the local chapter have with the national? For example, the suggestion that we sign up Inanna for $1200 was decided by the executive committee without feedback from the entertainment committee or other members. Dan thinks others should have been brought into that discussion. After much discussion, we agreed to request $600 from the National to pay for half of Inanna’s cost and $600 from our chapter’s funds (this is an example of how we can use our convention funds). We would set aside a total of $3200 as an entertainment budget, leaving $2,000 available for four other musicians as a base budget. We should remain flexible here; one suggestion is that we work with this as a “base” budget and re-visit it accordingly.
Bruce commented that he was concerned about the executive committee’s decision-making process and was offended by what he perceives to be a heavy-handed approach that only seeks out “rubber stamping” from members after decisions have already been made. He is concerned that we’re asking for volunteers without giving members much say in the whole process; he is concerned that the “information flow” from the executive committee to the general membership is seriously flawed. Doug responded that he took exception to Bruce’s characterization and that we on the executive committee have no intent to “railroad” anything through. Michael also took exception to Bruce’s characterization and pointed out how difficult this planning process is for all involved – it’s time-consuming; it’s fraught with inconsistencies generated at the national level as well as at our level; and oftentimes we on the chapter executive committee are consigned to passing on messages that the National Board has already decided. We feel that we have some say in the process, but we are somewhat constrained. Members need to trust in the executive process and in the executive committee. The executive committee needs to work on communicating more frequently and more clearly to the general membership and to committee leaders.
Herb pointed out that we need clarification from the national about financing: what are we at the chapter level responsible for? How much money are we allocated to work with? Who and when are final decisions made about speakers, entertainers, etc? Dan presented a motion that we approve Annanna for the public event contingent upon the National paying $600 and the Chapter picking up the balance. Rob Pfeiffer seconded the motion. Motion passed.
Bob Lezer insisted that committees have to know what budgets they can work with. Here we agreed that the Entertainment Committee now has $2,000 to use to fill 4 entertainment slots. Bruce pointed out that there are plenty of local entertainers who would probably play for the convention just for travel expenses. Rob Shetterly pointed out that we have to be careful about exploiting musicians who are living pretty close to the bone. He also mentioned that he knows Noel Paul Stookey and will ask him if he’s willing to play at the banquet.
We finally agreed that Dan Ellis, Rob Shetterly, and Rob Pfeiffer will have “full authority” as the Entertainment Committee chairs. All decisions are still subject to National Board approval.
- HOTEL LIASION
Michael is in touch with Melissa, the sales representative from the Holiday Inn. Tim recommended that we ask the hotel to make this a “green convention>” Tim also said that he’d contact the hotel to make sure that they have a handicap accessible van available for us. Tim will join this committee and also be the “point person” for alternative housing.
- PROGRAM AND AD SALES
Bruce, Dan Ellis, and Bob Lezer are responsible for this committee. Bruce distributed an ad rate sheet that can be sent out and distributed on-line as well to businesses, peace groups, and the like throughout New England and nationally.. We agreed to sell full page ads at $125; half page at $75; quarter page at $50; and “patron’s listing” at $25. We also agreed that full page inside covers will be sold at $300 each (Shetterly motion; Ellis 2nd. Passed). Dud mentioned that some people on the National Board think that these rates are too low; we disagree and will continue to lobby for the prices established above. The back cover of the program has to be dedicated to promoting next year’s convention.
Michael, Bruce, and Bob Lezer are responsible for this committee. Bob suggested that we develop a sign for shopkeepers to put into their windows saying that they support VFP after they purchase an ad. Kristina suggested that the sign be a decal that could be attached to a window or a door. Bob agreed to work on this signage. Bob will start canvassing Portland businesses at the beginning of March, focusing on the Old Port district. Bob will also approach the Flatbread Company – they hold “non-profit nights,” when they dedicate 5% of their proceeds to a given group. We will also encourage people to check out the restaurant on Thursday night of the convention. Rob Shetterly mentioned that we should get involved in a graphic design competition for the best sign (perhaps through colleges or Mecca[?]).
Bob Lezer is responsible for this area. Holiday Inn charges $35 per table, providing us with a table cloth and two chairs for each table throughout the convention. If electricity is needed, there will be an extra charge. It was suggested that we set up a three-tiered system for charging for tables: merchandising tables should be charged $100(?); non-VFP non-profits should be charged $50(?); and VFP chapter tables should be charged cost ($35). Bob Lezer will put together a draft of fees and will be responsible for checking table material for our chapter (including Rob Shetterly’s work). We agreed that we would have two tables set aside exclusively for Rob’s work (postcards, posters, and books). Also, Rob’s portraits should be predominantly placed around the convention site. Tim wondered if we could have some tables set up at other places besides the tabling area. Bob will pursue this idea.
- AUDIO VISUAL SUPPORT
Dan Ellis is responsible for this committee. Dan has contacted Headlight, Inc., the company that Holiday Inn usually deals with. Although the hotel offered to do this, we thought it would be best that we have a VFP representative work with the company directly. Dan has agreed to do this. He will be in charge of booking AV equipment, etc. Nate Goldshlag, from the National Office, would like to have the convention activities “streamed live.” Dan will work with Nate on this.
- POETRY READING
Michael and Doug are responsible for this committee. The plan at this point is to feature two luminaries from the Vietnam Veterans poetry movement (WD Ehrhart and Jan Barry) and then ask other contributors to the WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS and DMZ anthologies to read. Then there would be an open mic set up (poets register before the reading). Past conventions have found this event to be very popular.
- OPENING CEREMONY
Doug is responsible for this committee. At this point, the plan is to feature Jerry and Judy Genesio as the driving force behind the founding of VFP. Charter members will also be recognized. It was suggested that a Portland City official be on hand to welcome and thank Jerry. Herb suggested that Maine’s Congressional delegation be invited to the ceremony. Kristina suggested that Janet Mills, the state district attorney also be invited. Perhaps the mayor could be there as well. Dud will send out an invitation to the congressional delegation and others. Herb suggested that Pingree and Michaud should submit a resolution to the House Floor recognizing VFP that could be officially read into the Congressional record.
Doug, Dud, and Michael are responsible for this committee. No new developments. The only decision to make at this point involves food. The National is responsible for most of the registration process.
Kristina and Doug are responsible for this committee. We agreed to use the on-line format from the 2009 convention to register workshop presenters. Doug and Kristina will work with National to clarify processes and roles in selection of workshop participants. Rob Pfeiffer would like to have a main workshop featuring the work of his “healing professionals dealing with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” We also suggested that Rob have a table set aside for his group’s work.
- LOBSTER BAKE
The bake will be on Peaks Island, catered by Casco Bay Lines for $41/head (not including ferry charge of $7.70 for a roundtrip ticket/$3.85 for seniors). The ferry leaves at 5:30pm. Returning ferry times are 8:45, 9:45, and 10:45. Water taxis are available. Peggy warned us that in August, on a Friday night, the ferries will be packed and water taxis tough to come by. Alcohol is available on the island, but is not included with the catering. We could set up a cash bar. Peggy will work with Casco Bay Lines to sort out the logistics. Peggy suggested that we use some of our convention funds (chapter’s funds) to pay for some of the lobster bake and/or to cover the fee for the ferry. Rob Shetterly suggested that we invite homeless veterans to join us. Perhaps we could contact the Vets Center in Portland or the National Guard to get a list of returning veterans. Perhaps we could set up a mechanism whereby VFP members could sponsor a homeless veteran at the bake. That initiated a discussion about who the bake will be for: VFP members and their families? Other community members who support VFP? Perhaps Dud’s letter to members and peace communities about the convention could ask contributors to sponsor a homeless veteran. Entertainment for the bake is still up in the air. At one point, it was suggested that a Native American group provide that; perhaps other local musicians? We agreed that this would be a difficult venue for a musician since people will probably be focused on conversations, etc.
We still have to determine what fee to charge for the banquet. Attendees at the convention will be offered a package registration fee that will include a ticket to the banquet (perhaps $200 for all events?), but others will choose just to attend the banquet. We have to figure out how to handle inviting members from outside VFP for the banquet. As discussed earlier, we have to be cognizant of noise levels and wandering attention spans as we choose speakers and entertainers for this event. We know that the national president and the executive director will want to speak. Perhaps Noel Paul Stookey could be the headline entertainer at the banquet. We could have a string quartet playing during dinner.
- MARCH AND RALLY
Bruce is responsible for this committee. The march will leave the hotel at 9:00am and the rally will end at 11:00am. Originally, we thought the rally would take place at Monument Square, but after the retreat Bruce found out that that site has already been booked. We will try to hold the rally at Tommy’s Square at the head of Exchange Street. We’ll need a permit from the city for the march. We’ll also need to use our own sound system. We’ll plan to have three or four speakers and some music. We should also plan to have shuttle vans available before, during, and after the march/rally.
MONTHLY BUSINESS MEETING
After convention logistics were discussed, we held a brief chapter monthly business meeting.
- Bob Lezer announced that the Afghanistan/Vietnam bumper stickers are still available for a donation.
- Dud asked us to join in celebrating the good work that Tim Blanchette has done as our treasurer. He received a well-deserved round of applause and a handsome plaque from the chapter. Thank you, Tim.
- Dud recognized our special allegiance to Chapter Three of VFP and thanked Dan, Dana, and Frank for attending the retreat.. Kristina moved that our chapter provide $500 of our MaineShare funding for Chapter Three to use in their operations. Stan seconded the motion. All agreed. Dan Avener thanked us for the donation and announced that they’ll probably use most of it to fund their poetry project.
- Herb announced that he and Tom Sturtevant have been working on the “Bring the National Guard Home” campaign here in Maine (it’s a national movement). Essentially, the goal of the movement is to have each state’s governor determine if the guard should be federalized for a particular reason. Right now the governors do not have that authority. Herb has found a sponsor for a Maine bill to that effect – Senator Peter Bowman. Herb is also interested in lining up more co-sponsors (perhaps the representative from Brunswick who is also a VFP member – Alex Cornell de Houx? Or Herb Adams from Portland) Suzanne pointed out that former governor Joe Brennan refused to federalize the Guard in the 1980’s during the central American wars.
- Stan informed us of a movement to finance digging local wells in the Gaza Strip. To that end, Stan made a motion that VFP support the MidEast Children’s Alliance well digging project in Gaza. Bob Lezer second. Motion passed.
- Stan also urged us to remain aware of returning veterans who are in our prison system. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, yet there is no regulation of how this punishment is meted out. Stan asked if someone from VFP could attend the February 17th legislative session in Augusta. The motion to support that (Stan) was seconded by Rob Pfeiffer and passed. Either/or Stan and Herb will be in Augusta on the 17th.
- Tom Whitney distributed three handouts about Latin American bases in Colombia; the coup in Honduras designed to protect U.S. bases; and the racial realities of the Haitian crisis. Tom eloquently pointed out that real change can only occur if we recognize that the American Empire exists.
- Bruce pointed out the work being done with South Korean activists as noted in his blog.
- Bruce spoke of the “Bring the War $ Home” campaign. Dan Ellis has set up a beautiful website to help out with that. The news conference in Augusta was a great success. There will be a February 13th artists and poets event in Bath and one in Augusta on the 18th. Bob Lezer made a motion to use $200of VFP funds to support these events (Miles second). Passed.
NEXT MEETING: FEBRUARY 25TH IN PORTLAND (SITE TBA).
The meeting adjourned at 4:10pm.