Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 1
Minutes from Business Meeting
June 30, 2011
CTN 5 Offices, Portland, ME

PRESENT: Dud Hendrick, Nicole Moreau, Bruce Gagnon, Doug Rawlings, Rita Clement, Richard Clement, Tom Sturtevant, Clarence Smith, Dan Ellis, Peggy Akers, Herb Hoffman, Peter Woodruff, Bill Laidley, Dave Crowley, Tim Blanchette, and Ed McCarthy GUEST: Dawud Ummah

  • President Dud Hendrick began the meeting by acknowledging previous honorary members of our chapter (Rob Shetterly, Mariah Holt, Seth Berner, and John Branson) as he introduced Bruce Gagnon, who is sponsoring the honorary membership of Peter Woodruff. Bruce pointed out that Peter has worked for Bath Iron Works for the past 30 years, and has often “put his job on the line” working for peace and justice. His good work includes being arrested in Washington this past March, constantly posting articles on the BIW bulletin board about the dangers of D.U., for example, and maintaining a creative and spirited dialogue with his fellow workers. He has been a persistent and eloquent proponent for the economic conversion of BIW from warship manufacturing to more constructive infrastructure work. In addition to being a presence at BIW vigils for peace, he has been a regular on Bruce Gagnon’s radio show. As Dud presented Peter with a VFP hat, a 25-year pin, and a plaque commemorating his new status with VFP, Peter stated that this moment was “a real, cherished honor.” Congratulations, Peter, and welcome.
  • Dud next introduced this evening’s guest, Dawud Ummah. Dawud is an army veteran of the First Gulf War who is currently working with young immigrants, many of whom come from war torn countries. His recent project involves farming – these young people are working plots in Falmouth. Our chapter’s interest comes from the opportunity to work with these young people and also to help them navigate the process of dealing with military recruiters. Dawud’s gardens provide vegetables for the Portland school system as well as, possibly, the Good Shepherd Food bank. As Dawud says, “it’s an opportunity for them to give back to their communities.” Dawud invites our VFP chapter to join him in working with these kids and possibly providing them with information about alternatives to military service. He also mentioned that each youth worker makes $1250 for 10 weeks of work (he pays them $5/hour), and that organizations are encouraged to offer the project financial assistance if possible.

    After Dawud left the meeting, we discussed some possible projects. Perhaps on the date of our next chapter meeting we could arrange to meet with Dawud and his “crew” for a dinner and to scope out the project. Dud will make arrangements. Peggy suggested that our chapter might want to sponsor a ½ plot. Bruce suggested that we visit the site before making any financial commitment. Tom suggested that we look into MOFGA’s internship program to see if any connection could be made there. We could even take the young people to the MOGFA fair. At the close of the discussion, many of us thought that the connection between Dawud’s project and our chapter could be a beneficial one for all involved.

  • MAINESHARE REPORT: Tom Sturtevant represented us at the annual meeting. The organization decided to ask member groups to sponsor their own Bike and Hike Fundraising events. It is hoped that each group will raise $5,000 for MaineShare. Tom and Dud will arrange our event (scheduled for July 30th).
  • NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT: Prior to the meeting tonight, the committee (Dud, Tom, and Doug) met with two possible candidates for a co-presidency – Peggy Akers and Clarence (Smitty) Smith. The candidates are considering the offer and the committee will meet with them again prior to our next meeting.
  • MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Dan informed us that our chapter now has 183 members with 116 current dues paying members. His letter campaign to encourage those delinquent in their dues generated 12 renewals. Eventually, Dan will eliminate non-responders from the chapter data base. Dan also led a discussion of Bob McElwain’s generous offer of a lifetime membership donation. Since this is unprecedented for our chapter, Dan wanted to know how to respond. He had already sent Bob a letter of thanks and a membership card. Peggy suggested that we write him a more detailed letter of thanks and recognize him at the next meeting. Peggy will take care of this.
  • WELCOME HOME PROJECT (PTSD SYMPOSIUM POSSIBILITY): The video that Dan is referring to will be featured at this year’s national convention. Bruce suggested that we use it as a centerpiece for our next PTSD Symposium in the coming spring. Essentially the video looks at the work of Michael Mead and others as they held a retreat for PTSD victims. The film costs $150.00, and the chapter has given Dan permission to purchase it from Bill McMillan.
  • BRING OUR WAR DOLLARS HOME: Bruce reported that last weekend’s meeting in Waterville drew 18 participants. He mentioned that the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution using BOW$H material. Bruce also announced an initiative starting September 11th and running October 10th called THE 30 DAY CARE-A-VAN.” Local events will be organized around this state-wide action. Nicole agreed to draft a flyer for college students. There will be a meeting on July 16th in Hallowell to discuss further plans (perhaps a meeting in Augusta at noon at 126 Soule Street that day? Call Bruce if you’re interested in joining in the conversation). One event that will be coordinated with this action is the David Rovics concert at the University of Maine at Farmington on September 20th. Contact Doug if you want more information. Another possibility is the action folding into the planned October 6th action in Washington, DC. In any event, Bruce is encouraging all to give this action your creative attention. Make something happen in your community!
  • OCTOBER 6TH ACTION WASHINGTON, DC: Dud mentioned that VFP will be a major playerb in this action that will focus on occupying Freedom Park in D.C. There will be many from national peace groups participating in this event. There’s a possibility that our chapter could rent a van to go down to it. More discussion about this at our next couple of chapter meetings.
  • BLUE ANGELS ACTION: Tom Sturtevant is the driving force behind this planned action. He called Steve Levesque, one of the organizers of the show, to get him to cancel it. Steve declined, claiming that there will be 100,000 attendees at the air show in Brunswick. Tom is trying to see if we could have a table there to counter the recruiting activities (there’s a possibility of that since the grounds are now a “civilian space”). Tom will see if we can have a booth at the show. The show takes place August 27th and 28th. Bruce suggested that we meet at the BNAS main gate at 11:00am on the 27th; Tom is planning on leafleting and other actions there on the 28th. Tom, Nicole, and Richard will work on further plans; Bruce will contact the police.
  • CROSBY, STILLS, AND NASH PERFORMANCE: Richard, Rita, and Bob Lezer were there to staff a merchandise table. They got some good action at the table and garnered some donations. Bob gave VFP material to the CSN manager but hasn’t heard anything back yet.
  • MEMORIAL DAY PARADE IN BRUNSWICK: Six VFP members joined Brunswick PeaceWorks. Generally, the group received a positive reaction.
  • GLOBAL NETWORK CONFERENCE: Dud, Tom, Nicole, and Tim attended the conference in Andover, Mass. Dud called it a “tour de force,” as Bruce Gagnon was recognized repeatedly for his good work at directing an increasingly important international organization. Nicole spoke and her remarks were received very positively. Over 100 people attended the well-organized event, displaying deep and relevant expertise on matters relating to the use of nuclear weapons. Sixty-five attendees gathered at the gates of Raytheon to protest its role in making these weapons.
  • FACEBOOK: Nicole has put together a VFP chapter Facebook page. It can be used to create events and/or to publicize actions. Ads can be placed on the page as well. Many of us who are unfamiliar with this technology asked Nicole to give us a lesson or two at a forthcoming chapter meeting
  • ISRAELI/PALESTINIAN PEACE RESOLUTION: Ed McCarthy presented the resolution he’ll be proposing at the VFP national convention in August. It is modeled after Lee Hamilton’s idea that urges the U.S. government to push hard for a settlement of the issue. Ed mentioned that there will be a couple of other resolutions on this issue proposed at the convention and that his resolution differs greatly from theirs. Ed calls for a two-state solution; the others dismiss U.S. government involvement and call for sanctions against Israel. Ed would like us to consider all three and, possibly, have our chapter endorse his resolution. The three resolutions were posted on the list-serve for members to consider.
  • BRUNSWICK PEACE FAIR TABLING: Dan told us that we need to send in an application for a table immediately, along with a $30 check to Brunswick PeaceWorks. The fair takes place on Saturday, August 6th (10:00am to 4:00pm). Dan, Nicole, Peter, Smitty, and Tom agreed to be there to help out. Tom Sturtevant moved that we provide $30 for a table at the fair (Tim seconded). All agreed. We should also design a page for the “Peace Passport” that will be circulating at the fair – in it we should provide two actions we’ll be taking and relevant contact information. It was suggested that VFP announce the Blue Angels Demonstration and the Care-A-Van action.
  • NATIONAL VFP CONVENTION: It was announced that this year’s convention will be held in Portland, Maine instead of Portland, Oregon, starting in early August. All members need to work on this. Just kidding. It does seem strange, though, that a year has passed since we devoted much blood and sweat to last year’s national convention. Whew. This year’s promises to be equally exciting and meaningful. We asked if our two nominees for the chapter co-presidency would like to attend. Peggy can’t make it, but Smitty can. Doug moved that the chapter provide Smitty with $1,000 to cover the costs of representing our chapter at the convention. Bruce seconded. Passed unanimously. Doug also moved that we provide a full-page ad for the convention booklet ($125) and Bruce seconded. This also passed. Dan will provide the ad to the Oregon chapter. Tom(?) will write the copy, I think.
  • DUD’S CLOSING REMARKS: Dud closed off the meeting by reminding us that we need to somehow beef up our chapter recruiting efforts. We need to develop a serious strategy for recruiting younger people into the chapter and, perhaps, a more diverse membership. Nicole suggested we create VFP pens and pencils to distribute to schools; Tom brought up the notion of having book covers designed for students; perhaps water bottles with the VFP logo? In any event, we need to develop a plan and not just do quick brainstorming about marketing strategies. Further discussion will follow.
  • The meeting adjourned at 9:10pm.