Sunday, March 5, 2017

Our Revolution Organizing Call, Sun. 3/5/17

The purpose of this meeting was to go over a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Our Revolution and affiliated groups and to lay out a vision for the future.

The solution for recent Democratic losses is progressivism and the types of policies Bernie Sanders laid out. One key idea is the idea of "all for one and one for all," a need for solidarity by our movement in response to attacks vs. a variety of vulnerable communities. What we are doing is important, because victories are going to be won at the local level. Our Revolution plans to use a distributive and lean organizing model like that used by Bernie's political campaign, giving tools, training, and resources to the people, so they can lead. This will stretch resources by depending on grassroots volunteers and become a people-led movement. Our Revolution National will serve a similar role to Bernie's campaign, connecting local and regional groups to drive work on the local level., doing more with less.

The MOU is a simple document and pretty straightforward. Groups agree to align with the Our Revolution Platform, available online. The MOU outlines the national group's expectations of partner groups and what they can expect in return. Each group will have a point of contact, to be filled out in the MOU paperwork, to be sent by DocuSign and signed off after the organizing phone call.

The "Roles and Responsibilities" section outlines what Our Revolution will do to empower local groups, including promoting local events through their website and emails, up to 4,000 people targeted in the local area, reaching people with a history of active involvement. The idea is to grow membership and get local people to events and increasingly involved with local groups. Our Revolution will provide electronic membership sign-up forms to house contact information in a database to be shared with the local groups (still in development).

Our Revolution will have monthly regional telephone calls to assist with local questions and issues, and to connect local groups with what is going on in D.C. and with upcoming campaigns. Affiliates will be hosted in a specific section of Our Revolution's website, searchable by zipcode, and hosted on their map to increase exposure and help new members find us. There are over 1,000 groups now, in total.

Local groups are asked to come up with a plan: local issues and actions (a vision) aligned with Our Revolution's priorities as a local Our Revolution group.

The MOU has a section on membership and confidentiality. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible, time-wise, financially, etc. Anyone who attends any Our Revolution meeting, training, or event, or has donated any amount, is automatically a member.

Fundraising: the MOU asks that we stay compliant with local, federal, and state campaign finance laws. Our Revolution organizers are not lawyers. Groups interested in fundraising should begin by reaching out to the state secretary of state to see what is allowed in the state. Like Bernie's campaign, Our Revolution suggests keeping low overhead costs and to engage in as little fundraising as possible. Signing the MOU does NOT give a group any organizational (501C-4, etc.) status. The MOU also asks groups not to engage in any illegal activity; doing so will cause a termination of the relationship. Local groups also have the right to terminate the relationship.

Independence of Parties: Groups are independent and cannot enter contracts in the name of Our Revolution, which will not be held responsible. Once affiliated and on the Our Revolution website, local groups will be able to use the Our Revolution name as an affiliate and Our Revolution logo online on social media, etc.

The endorsement process: Our Revolution will reach out to and solicit advice from local chapters regarding endorsements of particular candidates. This process is not finalized yet, and will be utilized where a majority of OurRevolution groups in a particular area endorse the same candidate. Our Revolution groups are asked NOT to counter-endorse an opposing candidate and cannot, under the agreement, use the Our Revolution name or group tools to support an opposition candidate. Local groups CAN use these tools to support candidates in local races where Our Revolution has not endorsed a candidate.

There will be overlap of groups within the same geographical area. Whenever possible, we should work together with other groups rather than forming more, and avoid fighting among ourselves and work out differences. Sometimes there are issues over group names, for example. Our Revolution will be releasing a training module on conflict resolution.

There is an upcoming watch party on March 21st to launch Our Revolution's national campaign. This will be like Bernie's watch parties, but on a larger model because of the number of groups involved.





Saturday, February 4, 2017

OurRevolution Regional Organizing Call, Sat. 2/4/17

As a hardcore Bernie Sanders supporter (aka "Berniecrat") and founding member of South Hampton Roads for Bernie, I am far from finished with local, state, and regional politics. Many of my colleagues and I were more than frustrated with how the Democrats, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tipped the scales against Bernie Sanders and his grassroots supporters, first with their so-called "Superdelegates," then with their lousy debate schedule, and even by shutting his campaign temporarily out of his campaign's own database of supporters. Locally, I've been disgusted with my local Democratic Party group and with many of my representatives at the local and state levels. Due to frustration, I have started working locally with the Green Party, but, like Bernie, himself, I am happy to work with anyone of any party affiliation, including independents, to further Bernie's progressive agenda.

Today I joined a regional organizing call with Chandra Paetsch, a regional, multi-state organizer for OurRevolution, itself a formal outgrowth and continuation of Bernie Sanders' "political revolution." Together, we will resist our current President, Donald Trump, and all the myriad parts of his agenda which are antithetical to Bernie Sanders' campaign platform and values. Chandra was a volunteer on Bernie's campaign, both with phone-banking and on the ground. She has also worked as a union organizer and environmental activist. Social justice, economic justice, racial justice, environmental justice, political reform, and getting Big Money out of politics are some of the many issues we are working for. It cheered me up to learn how many of us are still committed in spite of Bernie's primary loss and the current political national news.

OurRevolution plans to validate groups of ten (or more) individuals which align with and believe in Bernie's platform. These are welcome to join as affiliates of OurRevolution. Currently there are over one thousand groups interested nationally.

Groups affiliated with OurRevolution will enjoy wide autonomy while being provided with  materials, encouragement, coordination, and other support. Affiliated groups are also welcome to work with other groups outside of OurRevolution, and separate groups within the same general region, too. Groups are encouraged to work together as much as possible. Chandra is excited about Indivisible and sees similarities in its aims with OurRevolution. There is also overlap in membership between both groups. She also likes the Indivisible Guide and finds it a great resource for activists.

New groups may also start, although a caller suggested to use this tool to find a local or regional group before starting a new one. Even working together, too many groups can be overwhelming, and often members are active in multiple groups-- which is fine, but we need to work together, avoid becoming fragmented, and avoid burnout. The good news is lots of people want to get involved, and, like Bernie's campaign, our coalition brings together many different progressive perspectives. By collaborating, we will be more effective.

Tools for OurRevolution and its affiliates have been rolled over from Bernie's campaign infrastructure, including supporters' names, its event-organizing website and tools, calling and texting teams, training, networking, and shared experience by experts in various areas. New tools will be developed and shared, too. This event organizer at OurRevolution.com will promote events and reach out to people who want to help. Its Transform the Party Tool is not aligned with any specific party, but designed to encourage citizens' political awareness, increase participation in our government at all levels, and to improve turnout for elections.

The goal is to make our efforts bipartisan-plus and to reach out to progressives everywhere. There is no point is isolating those who want to work outside the two-party system from those determined to reform from within it. As Chandra points out, we need dedicated volunteers both inside and outside the current system. Both approaches are valuable to effect change and synergy in working together. Another OurRevolution initiative is a Sanctuaries City Project to resist federal efforts to discriminate against immigrants.

We need more diverse races locally, regionally, and throughout politics. OurRevolution.com/Candidates is a site for progressives who are running for office and looking for OurRevolution's endorsement at any level. There is a vetting process, and currently many people are applying for endorsements. This is great news!

Chandra followed up our telephone call with even more great information: an FAQ Guide for local organizers, a link to the OurRevolution organizing Slack, which is also available through the FAQ Guide, and a growing list of Organizing Guides.

For activists and potential activists willing to work toward a progressive and protective vision for the U.S. this is a great organization to join. I've been very discouraged with the current direction of politics, especially at the national level, and this one call has re-energized me and improved my outlook. Let's all roll up our sleeves and work together for the long haul. With determination and working together, nothing can stop us.






Monday, January 16, 2017

Richmond Protest 1/15/17

OurRevolution.com called for Bernie supporters to work with Democrats across the country for a series of protests against pending GOP cuts to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, as well as potential cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Planned Parenthood.

My friend, Mary Anna White, and I traveled to Richmond to listen to speeches and to raise awareness of the need to preserve or even expand health care. I learned over 20 million people will lose health insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed without replacement. This would negatively affect working families, children, those with pre-existing conditions, and others. It affects whether people can afford to work at jobs they love and can even lead to life-or-death decisions if people can't afford health treatments or medications they need. The statistics and personal stories the speakers shared were similar to those in this special report, "Why Medicare Matters," by AARP.

Ashley Hawkins with her Baby, Zoe, tells a story about the personal impact of the ACA

We also heard moving speeches by Ralph Northam, who is Lieutenant Governor (running for Governor), Tom Periello, who is also running for governor, Justin Fairfax and Gene Rossi, who are running for Lieutenant Governor, Gene Rossi, Doris Crouse-Mays of the Virginia AFL-CIO, Representatives Don McEachin and Bobby Scott, and Governor Terry McAuliffe. And saw some great signs.



Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (running for Governor)

Northam speaks as a doctor

Tom Periello (running for Virginia Governor)

Justin Fairfax (running for Lieut. Gov.)

Gene Rossi (running for Lieut. Gov.)

Doris Crouse-Mays, head of Virginia AFL-CIO, stands for affordable healthcare

Representative Don McEachin

Representative Bobby Scott

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

Senator Tim Kaine

Mary Anna White and I, representing Southside!
My only disappointment was that there was lots of Democratic pride in Virginia turning "Blue" for Hillary Clinton in the last election, even though she lost. A few speakers called for universal healthcare as a right, but not one politician mentioned Bernie by name. It's a shame, because Bernie and his organization definitely turned out me and Mary Anna, and I'm sure others in the crowd, which we guess numbered about 2,000 people on a cool February Sunday on a holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Feelin' the Bern Christmas Eve

Thanks to my good friend, Kiala Hodges, my family and I got to "feel the Bern" along with a dose of Christmas spirit tonight. She organized a event through South Hampton Roads for Bernie to help Park Place United Methodist Church feed the hungry and homeless. We wanted Bernie's volunteers to reach out to and meet others in the community. We didn't talk politics at all unless others brought it up, but we all wore our Bernie shirts, campaign buttons or stickers, and warm smiles.

Don, Matthew and I at the clothes closet


We arrived at 4:00, but dinner wasn't served until 6:30. Luckily, Anna, a volunteer there, knew just how to put us to work. We started by filling up the clothes closet. The church collects clothes to donate to anyone who wants them. People walk in and walk out with whatever they want or need. Some of the shelves were getting low, so we filled them right up!

Anna feels the Bern, by the way. A fast food employee, she is well aware of Bernie's support for a $15 minimum wage because a co-worker got a $15 tip with the related message from a customer.

Wrapping sausage sandwiches "to go"

Next we wrapped up sausage sandwiches to send home with people who need food but lack kitchens to cook in. Another area of the church has a regular food pantry for those who can cook at home.

Working in the upstairs kitchen
 Next we helped "Mr. Fred" in the upstairs kitchen to make the gravy, stir some food, and clean up a little.

Getting ready to serve the meal. Don't those desserts look good?


Time flew, and next thing we knew, service was over and the lines started at the Christmas buffet. We served chicken, ham, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, a variety of vegetables, rolls with butter, a choice of two desserts, and drinks. Anna told us our arrival was a blessing from God, because without us they'd have been sorely short-handed on the buffet line. The seven volunteers we brought were just what was needed and at just the right time.

A few people asked about Bernie and gave us a chance to talk up our favorite presidential candidate. We know Bernie would approve of our efforts to build up our region and community, bring people together, and help those most in need. We recommend other Bernie grassroots groups give community service and outreach efforts a try, not only during the holidays but all year long, whether Bernie gets elected or not. It's fun, and it's the right thing to do.

As for my family, I suspect I know where we'll be next Christmas Eve.

Monday, November 9, 2015

SHR4Bernie Monthly Meeting Minutes - 11/9/15

The November meeting of South Hampton Roads for Bernie was held on Monday, November 9th, this time at Mary Lou’s house in Chesapeake.  Six people total were in attendance, and the meeting began at approximately 6:06 PM.

Introductions were the first item on the agenda.  We went around the table and each person spoke a little bit about themselves and how they came to know about Bernie.

We then moved to giving some updates on our election day experiences.  Mary Lou spoke on how she and a couple of other volunteers gathered petition signatures for Bernie at two polling places in Chesapeake for nearly the whole day and that they did pretty well.  She said she gathered about 108 District 4 signatures from her alone.  Jennifer brought up how she volunteered for the Virginia Beach Democrats and was able to gather some.  She also mentioned volunteering with an avid Hillary supporter who had told her she’d yet to be contacted by Hillary’s campaign to help with petitioning, even though she’d had experience gathering for Hillary before.

Erica mentioned the election day experience of Leslie, a member of Norfolk for Bernie, who gathered signatures at a polling place in South Norfolk.  Leslie came across a member of the Chesapeake Democratic Committee, a self-proclaimed Hillary supporter, who was very disruptive to Leslie’s group’s attempts to gather signatures for Bernie.  Their group did stay until the polls closed and managed to gather almost two sheets of signatures despite the woman’s attempt.  And then Erica talked about her experience passing out sample ballots for the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee and that she had no issues whatsoever also petitioning for Bernie and ended up with about a page and a half of signatures.

At this point, we shifted gears to discussing other events that had recently happened in our area.  On Sunday, November 8th, Mary Lou, Erica, and one new volunteer named Leigh went to Chesapeake Central Library to gather signatures.  Because there wasn’t much interest since Great Bridge is a particularly red area, the group moved to the Greenbrier Library location and had much more success there.  Future events will probably be held at that library in the future.

Next, Erica spoke briefly on an event she lead on Saturday, November 7th at the Virginia Beach Central Library.  Group member Mike had joined her there as well as three other volunteers.  Two other Bernie supporters turned up in the beginning to sign petitions.  Overall, they gathered signatures for about an hour and a half before it began raining and the event was called.  Erica determined the group gathered about 25-30 signatures in total.

Jennifer then talked a bit on her event at TCC Norfolk, which was once again a great spot for signatures.  After that event was complete, Jennifer was able to mail in 265 (good!) signatures, the majority of which were District 2, to Bernie’s campaign in D.C.  She estimates that District 2 will now be off of the campaign’s list of districts to help, and District 4 should not be far behind.

We also mentioned that if anyone has pictures of any events or meetings, they should send those pictures to Bernie’s campaign by emailing them to photos@berniesanders.com.
Next on the agenda was discussing the calls that the campaign has been attempting to get together nationally and for each state.  As of now, these weekly campaign calls are back on, and Virginia’s state calls will be happening each Thursday night at 7 PM.  Members who are able are encouraged to sign up here to attend these calls and report summaries so other group members who can’t make them will know what was said.

Erica also talked about a new tool the campaign has just released named “Call for Bernie”.  This tool will essentially help each local area or group contact and recruit a much larger pool of potential volunteers that have signed up to help on Bernie Sanders’s main website and get these volunteers out to local events we already have scheduled.  She recommended having a “phone banking” event with other South Hampton Roads for Bernie members to get started on contacting this database and recruiting more people not just to events but to our local groups as well.

We then moved on to talking about events we have happening in the next week or so.  On Saturday, November 14th, Mary Lou mentioned that she will be hosting a debate watch party at her home.  We also touched base on how we are shifting away from having one large debate watch party and that we should consider holding smaller events, but many more of them in our area.  That way the campaign can see just how active South Hampton Roads is for Bernie.

Mary Lou then spoke briefly about the new group newsletter that Erica has been emailing out to those who have signed up to receive it.  The newsletter consists of one monthly summary of events and activities that happened and will be happening in the South Hampton Roads region as well as a weekly list that gets sent out on Sunday nights detailing events happening within the next week that volunteers can sign up for.  Anyone interested in receiving these emails should visit this link to sign up. (Note: Emails may end up in your spam folders, so be sure to check on Sunday nights/Monday mornings just in case and mark them as not spam if they’re there!)

At this point, Susan mentioned some ideas she’s been thinking of in order to help spread the word about Bernie in her circles.  She said that, one, she will potentially be flyering her own neighborhood, and two, that she will be gathering more information on going to predominately African American Lutheran churches in the area to see if she can speak about Bernie in those locations.

We also mentioned three other upcoming petitioning events in the next week as well as another meeting, this time for Virginia Beach for Bernie Sanders.  The first petitioning event is happening on Tuesday, November 10th, from 12 PM to 2 PM at the Kempsville Library Blood Drive.  The second is at TCC Norfolk on Thursday, November 12th, from 12 PM to 2 PM.  The third petitioning event will be at the Virginia Beach Central Library on Sunday, November 15th from 2 PM to 4 PM.  And the meeting for Virginia Beach for Bernie Sanders will be on Thursday, November 12th from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, but this time at Sal’s Pizza on South Independence Boulevard in the Kempsville area instead of at the Oceanfront.

And as always, anyone who has an idea of a location for an event is encouraged to create the event at map.berniesanders.com.  We will do our part to push the event on all of our social media channels to get volunteers out to help!  But it’s important to not only list the events on Bernie’s main website but to also RSVP for the events through the site.  That way the campaign can see just how active our area is in events and support for Bernie.

Mary Lou then brought us to our next agenda item -- what do we do next as a group after petitioning collecting is complete?  Some ideas that were suggested were to flyer at locations like libraries or bus transfer stations to help spread the word about Bernie.  If we do go to bus transfer stations, it’s suggested that people of color make up a good portion of the volunteers, especially since we need more outreach in minority communities for Bernie.  Our area is perfect for this kind of outreach since it’s so diverse, so we have a really great opportunity to help the campaign in this aspect.  

Susan suggested passing out some free trade candy with each flyer at the bus stations.  We also said we should bring up topics like Bernie’s support of a $15 minimum wage as well as his positions on criminal justice reform, free public college tuition, shifting to single-payer health care, immigration reform, and, in particular for women, Bernie’s stance on parental leave for parents.

Mary Lou said that the bus transfer station in Chesapeake at Robert Hall Boulevard would be a great location since there are typically a lot of people waiting around.  She said that she’ll look into the bus schedules to determine the best time to be there, although rush hour was also suggested as a good time.

It was then suggested that we look into having events in public areas around or on colleges and universities, which thankfully we have already been attempting, particularly at TCC Norfolk.  Jennifer said the Chesapeake TCC campus may also be a good place to flyer (or even petition).  Erica said that in order to have an event on the ODU campus, we would need to be sponsored by an ODU organization, although the ODU Democrats would most likely be more than willing to help.  She also mentioned that there is also a Bernie presence at Virginia Wesleyan as well.

Susan then recommended we have a Bernie presence at the upcoming Fair Trade Festival on December 5th and 6th in Norfolk, even if it was just a voter registration drive since the festival is particularly non-partisan.  She said that she would find out if the festival would be okay with the registration drive and if we would be able to pass out Bernie literature or wear Bernie swag while holding the drive.

Next, Mary Lou spoke on voter registration and how we should all watch the 30-minute training video on how to register voters in Virginia.  That information can be found herethe voter registration forms are here, and information on who is eligible to register to vote can be found here.  We can also suggest anyone with updated driver’s licenses to go to vote.virginia.gov and either register or update their registration information in mere minutes.

Some locations we brainstormed as a group to hold more events in the future included the Greenbrier Library in Chesapeake, South Norfolk, around the mass transit stop next to the MacArthur Center and Bean There Cafe, and potentially a bus transfer station in Norfolk.  Mary Lou agreed that she would look into holding an event soon at the bus transfer station at Robert Hall Boulevard in Chesapeake.

Erica then updated the group on her request to hold a booth at the NEON Holiday Market in Norfolk on Saturday, December 12th.  Unfortunately it was denied, although it may be possible to flyer in public areas outside of the event.

Mary Lou also mentioned possibly having an event in the public areas around the upcoming Chesapeake Holiday Craft Show on Saturday, November 21st and Sunday, November 22nd at the Chesapeake Conference Center, but Jennifer was unsure that there was anywhere we could legally flyer and petition.

Mary Lou also asked the group if we should be doing activities like holding up Bernie signs on overpasses in order to get more name recognition out there for Bernie, but the group came to a consensus that one-on-one conversations with people at flyering, voter registration, and petitioning events will probably be our best course of action instead.

And then at 8:01 PM, the November meeting of South Hampton Roads for Bernie came to an end.  The next meeting date and location are TBD.

Monday, October 19, 2015

South Hampton Roads for Bernie Meeting Minutes - 10/19/15

The fifth official meeting of South Hampton Roads for Bernie was held once again at the Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake, VA and began at approximately 6 p.m.  


We began with introductions, but instead of saying something we like about Bernie this time, we offered up brainstorming suggestions for events we can hold in the future in order to gather petition signatures and flyer.  Our many suggestions were to flyer/petition at: Hampton Roads Organizing for Action (OFA) against gun violence on Thursday, Oct. 29th at 6 p.m. in Greenbrier Mall at the Green Turtle; Kwame Alexander appearance on Tuesday, Oct. 27th at Chesapeake Central Library from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m.; bus transfer stations (on hold for now); college campuses (Erica and Jennifer will be flyering Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. at the TCC campus in Norfolk!); Norfolk State Homecoming on November 7th (Kiala will find out more details); a financial planning meeting Kiala suggested that she will find out more details for as well; holding our own music festival for Bernie (Jennifer will look into this and Dana F. will get in touch with someone at O’Connor Brewing Company to see if this event could be held there); the FilFest 2015 (although it may not be possible since it’s being held on private property); the Anthem Wicked 10K in Virginia Beach on Oct. 31 (race begins at 8 a.m.), for which someone suggested passing out personalized Bernie Sanders water bottle labels to the runners; the Naro Cinema in Norfolk during evenings in which they showcase issues movies with speakers; and potentially Pints for Pups in Norfolk on Sunday, Nov. 15th from 1-4 p.m.


Mike C. also suggested that we hold more voter registration events.  Some people were unclear on what all it takes to be able to register people to vote in the state of Virginia, so here is the link to that information, including the 30-minute online training certification, and here is a link to the printable registration forms. And if a potential registree has an updated driver's license, they can go to vote.virginia.gov and register there in minutes!


Dana F., one of the leaders with Norfolk for Bernie, mentioned that Norfolk for Bernie’s next meeting will be on Oct. 28th at 7 p.m., with the location to be determined.  Possible suggestion choices, including churches and libraries, were given to her.  When that information is updated, it will be made available on the Norfolk for Bernie Facebook page as well as on our own South Hampton Roads for Bernie page.


We then moved on to discussing name recognition for Bernie.  We should all be wearing shirts, stickers, buttons, etc. whenever we can as well as using bumper stickers and yard signs if possible.  Bringing Bernie up in personal conversations in our own individual circles is also very important, so don’t forget to talk him up!


Mary Lou gave an update on petition totals as of October 11th, which are as follows: District 1 - 236; District 2 - 286; District 3 - 394; District 4 - 228; District 5 - 379; District 6 - 148; District 7 - 169; District 8 - 628; District 9 - 197; District 10 - 321; District 11 - 1345.  As of right now, the campaign itself will be focusing on Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6 to help gather petitions there.


We also slightly touched on the process of gathering petition signatures.  If you don’t already know about this process, check out this Youtube video and this Google Slides presentation to learn how!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the South Hampton Roads FB page.  And to help find voter’s districts during petition gathering events, check out these links below:
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ (requires zip code, possibly address)
http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ (requires address, has interactive map)
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/VA (lists representatives, has interactive map)
vote.virginia.gov (requires name, DOB, and last 4 of SSN)


In national campaign news, Bernie is polling at around 28 or 29 percent, is ahead 5 points in New Hampshire, and is running neck and neck with Hillary in Iowa.


Erica and Mary Lou both then gave summaries of the Debate Watch Parties held on Oct. 13th.  Erica held a party at CP Shuckers at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach.  44 people total attended, and local candidate for the 8th District of the Virginia State Senate Dave Belote gave a speech before the debate began.  Mary Lou was the substitute leader for the party held at Roger Brown’s in Portsmouth where approximately 20 people attended.  Mary Lou also mentioned that she made contact with a regional group that helps disenfranchised voters.  We then moved into a discussion about felon voting information and how to get rights restored, which can be found at this link here.  Location(s) are to be determined for the next debate parties, which will be held on Saturday, November 14th.


Jennifer then offered a brief summary of her event at the Town Pointe Wine Festival on Sunday, October 18th.  She said six volunteers total were present, and so they split up into two groups each and stood at either end of the park to gather signatures and flyer.  They gathered approximately 38 signatures, mostly D2 and D3.  It was generally a success, even if the festival was geared towards older, more wealthy individuals, plus a lot of out-of-towners.


Mary Lou then talked about the October 11th meeting with the campaign in Richmond that she, Jennifer, and Erica attended.  Kevin Keefe, the campaign’s ballot petition manager for every state that requires petitions for their primaries, mentioned at the meeting a couple of notes for future petition gathering.  First, he said that the campaign wants the petitions to be separated by county AND city.  If a mishap occurs and someone from a different city signs the wrong sheet, don't go back up and "split" the cities at the top of the sheet in an attempt to fix the error.  This will get the entire sheet of signatures thrown out, so it's best to leave it alone and let that one signature get tossed instead.  Secondly, Kevin said to NOT send petitions to the address on the back of the forms; instead, they should go to the campaign in D.C.  There are two ways to get the forms to the campaign: you can either mail them to the D.C. address yourself (please make sure you mail certified!) or you can pass them on to Jennifer, Mary Lou, or Erica and they will get them to the appropriate location.  And lastly, Kevin also suggested to go ahead and write “VA” next to the city or county name on the form line.  For example, it should read “Norfolk, VA”, etc.  Mary Lou also mentioned again how important it is for the registered voters to write out full city names and to NOT abbreviate.


Currently for South Hampton Roads for Bernie, collecting petitions for Districts 2 and 4 will be our main focus.  Per the campaign’s request, we will potentially be holding petition gathering events at local polling places on Election Day, November 3rd, 2015.  Details on that will come forward soon, but some suggested polling places (in Chesapeake) included City Hall, Greenbrier Library, Camelot, Taylor Road, and South Norfolk.  Mary Lou will potentially organize an event for Chesapeake, and other people are needed to organize one for Virginia Beach and other areas.  And after signature gathering is complete, will we then switch our focus to voter registration events.


At this point, Ken suggested forming a committee to work on future plans for after Bernie is confirmed to be on the primary ballot.  That way we will be moving forward full steam ahead once petition signature gathering is over and have set plans in place.  Anyone interested in becoming a part of this committee should contact either Mary Lou or Erica.


Someone else made the great suggestion to volunteer for other causes outside of politics as a group while wearing Bernie swag.  This way we can combat any preconceptions people may have about Bernie supporters, especially if we showcase how we are contributing and giving back to our own communities and having a positive impact.  Future events like this should be determined soon and will again be advertised on our Facebook group.


Another idea for petition signature gathering that was suggested was to go to election night parties on November 3rd that the local progressive election candidates will be hosting.  Many of these people would be willing to sign petitions for Bernie and we should potentially tap those groups.  Erica volunteered to find out any information regarding Dave Belote’s party, and other people are welcome to find out any information on other progressive candidates.


Mary Lou then briefly mentioned the next Bernie event coming up, which will be a National Student Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 28th at 7 p.m.  It will be live streamed to colleges and universities all over the country.  

At 7:30 p.m., the fifth meeting of South Hampton Roads for Bernie officially ended, with the next meeting time and date to be determined, most likely on a Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Local Leadership Meeting - 10/5/15

The leaders of a few of the Bernie groups in the South Hampton Roads area met for a local council meeting on October 5, 2015 in Norfolk, VA.  The meeting began at approximately 6PM.  Erica L., Mary Lou B., Jennifer L, and Elizabeth B. were in attendance.

We began with introductions.  Elizabeth B. said some words about herself and her group, Virginia Beach for Bernie Sanders, President 2016 and Mary Lou talked about South Hampton Roads for Bernie.  Elizabeth and Mary Lou both shared their next group meetings -- this Thursday, October 8th at 6:30 PM at Scrambled VB in Virginia Beach, and Monday, October 19th at 6PM at Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake.

We also discussed what we plan to do as far as events and organization for our groups.  At least one debate watch party has already been planned in Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront at CP Shucker’s.  The VB group also plans to tackle Virginia Beach by dividing it up into its different socioeconomic areas and deciding where to canvass and flyer from there.  The VB group is also working on getting permission from various grocery stores in low-income areas to flyer outside of them.  The VB group will be designing and printing flyers for use by group members at these events.

Mary Lou then touched base on some of the information in the Get Out the Vote Training, but we will mainly be focusing on that in the future.  It’s more for a campaign in its later stages, and since we are still in our beginnings with forming our groups and finding our volunteers, we’ll take advantage of that training and their strategies down the road.

Jennifer then brought up that we should be working in tandem with the Sierra Club and any events/meetings they have.  She said that their members are very progressive and are great Bernie supporters, so we should be utilizing them in our grassroots efforts across our groups.

It was at this point that Elizabeth brought up a merger between the two Virginia Beach groups in order to strengthen VB’s Bernie outreach.  Jennifer was very open to the idea and they will both be continuing discussions to accomplish that goal.

Elizabeth suggested that a good way to keep our groups connected is to crosspost any event or meeting each group has across all of the social media pages each group utilizes, so essentially advertising for our local groups across all of our mediums.  For South Hampton Roads, Facebook is the primary medium, and for Virginia Beach, Facebook is in the process of becoming the primary medium.

We then moved on to discussing pro-Bernie businesses in our area.  Some names that came up were the Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake, Scrambled VB in Virginia Beach, Croc’s in Virginia Beach, EcoManiac in Virginia Beach, the Old Beach Green Market in Virginia Beach, and possibly Cutlass Grille in Chesapeake.  We all agreed to actively search out these kinds of businesses in our areas and do what we could to support them.  Erica also mentioned EconomyPrinting.us, a union print shop in Portsmouth we should consider utilizing as groups.

We then ended the meeting on a few thoughts and questions.  Will Bernie’s campaign or another source allow us access to voter registration records?  If we can find out who voted in the 2008 primary, we can focus on them to campaign for Bernie.  We also need to find community leaders in lower socioeconomic areas and encourage them to join up with our grassroots efforts.

And with that, we ended our first leadership council meeting for the South Hampton Roads area at approximately 7 PM.  The next meeting time was not determined, but it is possible we will hold one again in the near future.