Meeting opened at 7:05pm

Attendance: Doug Rawlings, Dan Ellis, Don Kimball, Kristina Wolff, Peggy Akers, Peter Morgan, Seth Berner, Lynn Ellis, Kathy Coughlin, Tom Whitney, Martha Spiess, John Morris

Moment(s) of inspiration:
Wabinaki greeting (Don Kimball)
Congratulations to Lynn Ellis for being the winner of the 2023 Fitzgerald Award (Don)

Secretary’s Report: Oct. minutes amended to reflect that Peggy’s suggestion of a $100 donation was for Madeline’s Mission and not for the Golden Rule.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasury balance is currently $2390.43.

Armistice Day: Good VFP member turnout with flags and banners for a short and very forgettable parade.Richard was interviewed by the Portland Press Herald and his remarks were an eloquent statement of our position on war and militarism. They received notice in several news sources and also (thanks to Lynn) in the most recent MaineShare newsletter.

Peter reported on the November 12th showing of the film “What I Want You to Know” at the Portland Media Center. Attendance was meager but the film was accompanied by a robust question and answer period with VFP member Garrett Reppenhagen who was one of the subjects of the film and also by Peggy’s moving rendition of her poem, inspired by her personal experience as a nurse during the Vietnam War. Videos (thanks to Martha) of both can be watched on our website: vfpmaine.org. Additionally, (thanks to Peter) $46 was collected and donated to Moms Demand Action. Peter also attended showings of the film in Brunswick and Orono.

Perhaps the most significant segment of the program was the announcement and presentation of Peace Action Maine’s “Peaceworker of the Year” award to none other than Peter Morgan for his tireless efforts in working with the many organizations allied with our goals of peace, nonviolence, and environment protection and their connection to US militarism. Congratulations Peter, the award is well deserved,

Don reported on the homeless situation in Portland and the fact that the number of homeless veterans is increasing both in Maine and nationwide. He and Bill Higgins both advocated for not removing homeless encampments at a recent meeting at Portland City Hall. Don also mentioned a gathering to be held at Monument Square some time around the Winter Solstice to commemorate the homeless who died in 2023. He also said that Mr. Bagel in Westbrook had contributed food for his Saturday distributions and suggested that we patronize Mr. Bagel should we be in the area.

Kathy Coughlin reported that four hundred pairs of boots were distributed at St. Luke’s Church in Portland, which also operates a weekly soup kitchen.

Doug reported that a documentary film about Rob Shetterly will be shown on PBS stations in the near future and highly recommends its viewing by everyone.He also mentioned the statements from VFP National, on Israel – Palestine and Gaza in particular, especially those by Susan Schnall and Mike Ferner. They can be read on the National website.

Peter reported that Women in Black has made an appeal to anyone who has knowledge of ongoing Women in Black vigils to notify them of these vigils. Their email is wibinfo@gn.apc.org. and their website is womeninblack.org.

Don requested that we continue to call our senators and representatives to request their support for a cease fire in and de-escalation of the conflict in Gaza.

Doug reported on his involvement with Third Act in its effort to persuade financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels. He is part of a group that targets TD Bank in Farmington on a weekly basis to alert customers that the bank is aiding and abetting climate destruction by financing oil and gas companies. Let Doug know if interested in becoming involved with Third Act.

Peter reported that Bill Rixon (email is rixonw9@gmail.com) is part of a group that demonstrates on a regular basis at L L Bean in Freeport for their partnership with Citibank which is another fossil fuel financer. The group has more demonstrations planned in December at L L Bean and also at Chase Bank in Yarmouth and Costco in Scarborough. Contact Bill for more info if interested in taking part in any of these actions.

Discussion was held on the gun industry in Maine and the positions of our politicians on the issue. Peggy referenced an article in the Portland Press Herald on the manufacture of the AR-15 here in the state and its relation to Senator Collins. Some good news however, the last major gun manufacturer in Maine (in Windham) has announced that it is going out of business.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to brief reports and discussion on actions and events which were held in November as well as ones that are scheduled to take place in December and January. In addition to those already mentioned they are as follows:

November 1: Don’s “Friendly Fire” show featuring antiwar activist and author Norman Solomon. Listen at noon on www.gmcr.org.

November 4: Rally in Augusta for gun control legislation.

November 14: Slideshow presentation to the Sierra Club on the VFP Climate Crisis and Military Project (Peter)

November16: Lecture and slideshow in Norway (courtesy of Tom Whitney) by Doug on his recent trip to Vietnam as part of Project Renew (unexploded ordnance remediation and bomb victim assistance in Vietnam). Doug also gave presentations in Winthrop, Blue Hill, and Old Town.

December 2,9,16,and 23: Advent vigils at BIW from 11:30 -12:30

December 6: Maine Gun Safety Coalition vigil at the UU Church in Brunswick (Lynn).

January 3: Opening session of the Maine Legislature in Augusta. Lynn requests being there to give support for gun legislation.

January 10: Arraignment for Dud Hendrick, Rob Shetterly, and five others in Bangor for their arrest at Jared Golden’s office for demanding a cease fire in Gaza.
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January 23: Meetings with Senators Collins and King in Washington DC.

Meeting adjourned at 8:16 pm.