Meeting opened at 7:10 pm by President Doug Rawlings.
Attendance: Doug Rawlings, Sally Chappell, Larry Gilbert, Don Kimball, Peggy Akers, Eric Herter, Dan Ellis, Peter Morgan, Lynn Ellis, Tom Whitney, Martha Spiess, John Morris, and guests Mike Tork (VFP member,), Fred Brancato, Thomas Mikulka, and Kathleen Stokes (Elders Third Act), and Kathy Coughlan (Moms Demand Action).
Inspiration – Dan played a video of folk singer Mary Gauthier singing Mercy Now.
Mike Tork reported that he is involved in a fundraiser to build a children’s playground for the small town of Sasabe in Arizona, on the border with Sonora, Mexico, and which has been swamped with migrants from Central America.
Doug proposed a donation of $500 from the chapter and it was moved, seconded, and passed unanimously to do that.
Mike also suggested watching a video featuring Dora Rodriguez, a refugee from El Salvador who has opened a resource center for the migrants, plus stories of migrant journeys to the U S. The video can be found at www.salsalabs.org/borderplayground
Thomas, Fred, and Kathleen, representing Elders Third Act, reported on an action to encourage holders of credit cards issued by the four largest U S banks to cancel their cards. These banks are major funders of fossil fuel corporations and are thereby serious contributors to global warming. They will issue a ‘letter to Mainers’ asking them to cut up their cards and to sign a pledge to do so. The pledge can be found on line at www.thirdact.org.
Fred asked for our support and Doug pointed out that the VFP National website has info on the U S Military contribution to global warming and that our chapter coordinates with Physicians for Social Responsibility, Moms Demand Action, Peace Action Maine, and other organizations involved with climate issues and militarism. Mike mentioned that VFP National has allocated $20K for chapter use in addressing issues such as this.
Kathy Coughlin of Moms Demand Action asked if we would take part in a seminar (Zoom) on veterans and gun violence prevention. No date has been selected and no commitment was made to participate. Peggy suggested a family member of an overdose victim for the panel.
Secretary’s Report – July minutes accepted as written.
Treasurer’s Report – Lynn reported the following balances: Savings – $4,933.49, Checking – $4,891.58.
Doug reported on the Rob Shetterly Truth Tellers Project. A meeting with Maine high school teachers who are interested in showing the film will be held at Thomas College on Nov. 5. The ten schools that will be selected from those that apply will have to show how they will use the film in a unit on the peace activists featured in the film and the subject of peace in general.
The chapter is providing $4,300 for the project which includes $1000 for speakers on November 5.
Lynn reported on the Buzz Fitzgerald dinner on November 17. This event honors Maine leaders in promoting gun safety. Peggy moved to pay $750 for our sponsorship and seven tickets to the dinner (same as last year). The motion was seconded and passed unanimously and four people indicated they would attend. Lynn will have more information at the next meeting.
Lynn also reported that a gun violence program will be held at the Brunswick Unitarian Universalist Church on December 14 and asked for our co-sponsorship. It was moved, seconded, and passed to do so.
Doug reported that we have a staffing problem for the Common Ground Fair. A minimum of three people will be needed for each of the three days of the fair and so far only Peter and Doug have made a commitment. COVID is an issue with many of us and if not enough people sign up we will not have a table. Let Doug know by next Wednesday if interested.
Doug reported that he will be taking part in a fundraiser by Project Renew, which is a project to remove unexploded ordnance in Vietnam.The fundraiser will be held in DC on September 21 with a goal of $100,000. The chapter will contribute $500 toward the project.
Dan mentioned Peace Trees Vietnam, an organization devoted to cooperation between the U S and Vietnam and suggested that we might look into the possibility of the chapter becoming involved with it in some manner. Its website is www.peacetreesvietnam.org
Doug reported that we, along with many other chapters, have signed on to an effort to cancel the F-35 fighter plane project due to its exorbitant cost, operational defects, and environmental impact. It is another example of the military-industrial-congressional complex run amok.
Discussion was held on the use of the chapter website and Facebook page. Dan pointed out that, in spite of the fact that the website is an excellent one (thanks to Jeff Peterson), it is experiencing very little use. He expressed the opinion that the content on the website should be limited to activities and policies of the chapter, including our interactions and coordination with other organizations (MDA, Maineshare, etc.) and not simply re-posting information from their own websites. This sentiment was echoed by others in the discussion. Peter pointed out that information from other organizations that we support could, and should, be posted on Facebook, and that at present he is the only one doing so.He also said that care must be taken to ensure that Facebook should not be used to advance the agenda of any particular individual or group. It was agreed that any information on either platform should be carefully monitored and Dan and Doug will attempt to come up with some guidelines between now and the next meeting.
Don reported on the National convention.While he could not cover everything that happened, he said that the organization is in financial straits, mainly due to COVID, which has resulted in staff and budget reductions, and he urged everyone to pay their dues to National. Three resolutions were passed (which must be voted on by the membership). They are: 1) U S hands off China policy, 2) opposition to the trilateral military alliance of the U S, Japan, and Australia, and 3) support of bill HR 767 which would require the DOD to report greenhouse gas emissions. Also, associate members will now be allowed to be members of the Board of Directors. Last but not least, he congratulated Doug on being the recipient of the Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by Peggy) and led a (rather feeble) chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” (debatable), but nevertheless well deserved. The ceremony can be viewed on our website.
Martha asked about the upcoming election of officers and Mike replied that voting can be done by mail or on line. He encouraged on line voting if possible (on the VFP website).
Peter and Peggy asked about the possibility of providing something to Reality Winner and the widow of Peter Woodruff beyond just giving them honorary chapter membership. Discussion evolved into the question of printing T-shirts with a chapter logo (which has already been designed by Dan) which could be then given to them as well as being available for purchase by members. Doug will contact a company that he knows of and he and Dan will work on the details.
Mike will send Doug photos and info on the border playground project for inclusion on the website.
Best wishes were extended to Eric for safe passage to Vietnam to complete work on his film, which we all eagerly await for viewing.
Meeting adjourned at 9:09 pm. Next meeting on September 29 at 7:00 pm