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
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  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 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 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: (requires zip code, possibly address) (requires address, has interactive map) (lists representatives, has interactive map) (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, 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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

South Hampton Roads for Bernie Meeting Minutes - 9/28/15

The fourth official South Hampton Roads for Bernie group meeting, held once again at The Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake, began at approximately 6:05 p.m.  We started off with self-introductions as everyone around the table said a little something about themselves and either how they came to know about Bernie or what they liked about him.  There was one person looking for more information on Bernie, some new faces, and many people new to politics in general.  We also had a notary in attendance who was able to notarize petition signature forms for us all.

Everyone in attendance was a registered voter (at least that could already register!) and attendees were told to make sure they were signed up as volunteers on the Bernie Sanders website.

A question then came up about how to acquire swag for personal use and for events.  Campaign swag is available for purchase at Bernie’s website here.  Mary Lou mentioned how important it is to wear your swag when you’re out and about, and it would also be a good idea to keep a few Bernie flyers, etc. with you to hand out to anyone who asks about what you’re wearing.

As of tonight, we did not have an official petition signature count yet, but Mary Lou unofficially said that we’re around 200 signatures each in Districts 2 and 4.  We definitely need more and should not stop collecting, although all notarized petitions need to go to their designated district collector for now and NOT to the campaign in D.C. at this time.  The campaign will let us know when they once again will start receiving petitions.

There is a meeting with the campaign happening on October 11th from 1-3 PM for leadership/representation from each grassroots group around the state.  South Hampton Roads will be sending Mary Lou, Erica, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Stephen to this meeting to speak on behalf of the group.  They will report back at the next group meeting all pertinent information.

At this time, Ken suggested that put our Bernie yard signs up until after this year’s November 3rd election to ensure people don’t get confused when Bernie isn’t on that ballot.  He also suggested that we start in January and February, specifically after the holidays, to begin canvassing neighborhoods in minority, Democratic districts in our area.

Mary Lou then touched based on petition signature training and information pertaining to that.  The petition training video can be found here and a PowerPoint presentation on collecting signatures can be found here.

Group members hard at work discussing agenda items during the meeting
In national campaign news, we are pushing to have 1 million contributions made to the campaign by the end of the month (September), which is when the campaign will be disclosing contribution information as per FEC rules.  And per the Bernie national campaign, we should be focusing on three events nationally at this point in time: debate watch parties on October 13th; flyering events; and voter registration drives.  In Virginia, petition signature gathering is also still our top priority.

Mary Lou then gave a summary of the Chesapeake Democratic Committee BBQ Fundraiser held on September 26th.  She said they heard from folks promoting progressive politics in the area, including Dave Washington (running for Chesapeake City Council after this election cycle) who was at our last group meeting and Susan Hippen (running in the 21st District in the Virginia House of Delegates).  She noted how important it is to network at these kinds of events and show support for Bernie at the same time, especially since people are usually also interested in Bernie as well.  It is also critical that we stay on top of all of our local elections and get progressives in office so they can in turn support Bernie as president.  This year’s election is on November 3rd, and the deadline to register to vote in this election is October 13th.

Mary Lou then went on to talk about the Get Out the Vote Training held by Democracy for America and hosted by Dave Belote, another local candidate running for Virginia State Senate.  Democracy for America won’t endorse a presidential candidate this early, but they do like Bernie’s message.  Mary Lou then brought up the possibility of having Democracy for America train us after petition gathering is complete and before the primary, so possibly after the first of the year.

Erica then spoke about the upcoming debate watch party South Hampton Roads for Bernie is having on October 13th at CP Shuckers at the Oceanfront.  Everyone is encouraged to RSVP at this link.  Ken brought up the idea of taking pictures of the event, including one with the majority or all of the attendees, and submitting it to local newspapers to report.  Scott H. then mentioned his contacts in radio and with reporters and would be willing to help distribute any news releases or promotions for the debate watch party events. Mary Lou suggests a written news release to the Virginian Pilot about two weeks in advance of the event, if a volunteer has time to write and submit one. If anyone else has media contacts, please let us know.

Next, Dory gave an update on the D.C. rally, which has morphed into the “United Nights” rally with an emphasis on encouraging voter participation.  A sponsor, Youth Matters, has been brought on board and will market the rally as a two-night event, the first night (November 13th) focusing on youth and the second night (November 14th) for adults.  As stated by the campaign, Bernie does have that weekend off, so the potential for him to come to the rally is very good!  As more details come about, we as a group will look into transportation options to attend.

Then Elizabeth told us about her event at Treasures at Mt. Trashmore held on September 19th.  She said they collected a total of 165 signatures of which around 105 or so were good, valid signatures, which was a great success, especially for District 2.

Volunteers taking time to pose for a photo during the Treasures at Mt. Trashmore event

At this point, Ken made the suggestion to use the November 3rd election just around the corner to collect more petition signatures for Bernie at the polling places around our area.  More information on that to come.

Ken also said a few words about voter registration.  He said you have to make sure a potential registree is old enough to register and must make sure the form is signed.  He also said that if you register fewer than 25 people, meaning 24 or less, in one day, you do not have to receive training from the state of Virginia on registering voters.  But if you register 25 or more people in one day, you do have to receive the training.  A link to the training can be found here.  The forms can also be found online here.  You can also get forms and receive the training at your local voter registrar’s office.  (Link to Chesapeake registrar, link to Virginia Beach registrarlink to Norfolk registrar)

Erica then discussed a couple more events coming up.  On October 3rd, she will be hosting a flyering/petition event at the Shore Drive Farmer’s Market in Virginia Beach from 9 a.m. to noon.  You can RSVP to that event here.  And then the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is encouraging anyone to come out to the Virginia Clean Power Plan listening session happening on October 6th in Portsmouth before the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  The session is to get the community’s opinions on new emission reduction requirements, which, according to CCAN, is not significant enough to meet the immediate threat of climate change.  Groups all around the Hampton Roads area are encouraged to come outreach, gather petition signatures, and have their voices heard on this issue.  If you are interested in attending, RSVP here.

It was then brought up that we need to consider locations other than the typical farmer’s markets for petition gathering and general canvassing.  Some suggestions for potential locations were grocery stores, colleges, and the voting booth as Ken had mentioned earlier.  More suggestions and ideas are absolutely welcome.

At this time Elizabeth mentioned an app called Countable that allows you to not only see what exactly your representatives are doing in Congress but to also share your opinions on legislation as well.  The app can be found both in the Play Store and on iTunes.

Finally, the meeting came to an end around 7:50 p.m.  Our next meeting date is to be determined.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

South Hampton Roads for Bernie Meeting Minutes - 9/15/15

Our monthly meeting for South Hampton Roads for Bernie was held at the Cutting Edge Cafe restaurant in Chesapeake, VA, and I'd like to say thanks once again to Melanie H. for allowing us to use your restaurant as a meeting place!  We had 21 people total at the meeting, which is an increase from the last monthly meeting held in August.
Mary Lou started the meeting at around 6:10 p.m.  Erica L. took down the minutes for the meeting and Taylor D. graciously took some candid pictures of our group to post online.
The first order of business were the introductions.  Each group member introduced themselves and gave one reason why they were here and any special skills they could provide as volunteers for South Hampton Roads for Bernie.  Reasons for attendance were varied -- society is headed in the wrong direction and Bernie is the answer for change; he's the first politician many have been excited about in a long time; and he just makes sense.
Mary Lou then asked if anyone wasn't a registered voter, and if they weren't, to get registered ASAP so they can participate in gathering petition signatures.  (To register to vote, visit  She then made sure to plug our Facebook group and stress that we are a grassroots organization that has no official ties to the campaign.  We haven't been hired on anywhere and are true volunteers.
We then moved on to our current number one priority, which is to make sure Bernie Sanders gets on the ballot in the state of Virginia.  In order to accomplish this, we have a statewide goal of gathering 10,000 valid registered voter signatures, making sure that at least 200 come from each of the 11 districts.  Canvassing your neighborhoods for petition signatures may be a good idea depending on where you live, but standing on a sidewalk at a public event somewhere like a farmer's market will likely net you a significantly larger number of signatures.  Just make sure that when you're gathering signatures or even just out in public, make it a habit to wear any Bernie swag you have -- buttons, shirts, stickers, etc.  And turn in your petitions ASAP after getting them notarized!  Even if you only have one signature on a sheet, get it notarized and turned into the correct district leader.  That information can be found on in the Volunteer Hub or just ask on the SHR for Bernie FB page and someone will get it to you.
It was then mentioned that Bernie needs money and volunteers.  If you're going to donate, make sure it is ONLY through Bernie's official campaign website which should redirect you to ActBlue, the official donation site for Bernie Sanders.
It was also brought up that the Chesapeake Democratic Committee meets every 2nd Thursday of the month and that we should definitely make an effort to attend their meetings and support Bernie.  The Virginia Beach Democratic Committee also is meeting this Saturday morning, and we should attend if at all possible.  More information on that meeting can be found here.

We then moved into a quick petition training session with Mary Lou.  If you need a brush up on this training, please check out this great video made by a Justin of Norfolk for Bernie.  Some extra information: we are allowed to fill out petition forms for disabled people but they MUST sign the form themselves, and P.O. Box addresses are not allowed.

We have access to one notary in our group, Sarah G., and the Chesapeake Democratic Committee has a notary that they are allowing us to use, Nancy M.  Get in touch with either to get your petition forms notarized or you can find a notary at banks, your credit union (free for members), UPS, or FedEx (but you’ll have to pay there).

We then moved on to national news about the Bernie Sanders campaign.  Bernie needs super delegates, especially since Hillary just received endorsements from four Democratic senators and Bernie has none.  He is leading Hillary by 10 points in Iowa and 22 points in New Hampshire and has recently hired staff in South Carolina to focus there.

Regionally, local groups are growing quickly.  Our own group is getting larger and having more people at each meeting we hold.  There are also FB group organizations in Norfolk, Hampton, and two in Virginia Beach (here and here) that we are encouraged to get involved with.

Jennifer L. then gave us a rundown of the Democratic Party of Virginia State Central Committee quarterly meeting held in Williamsburg last weekend.  She said that people came from all over the state, even from more rural areas like the western part of Virginia, and they discussed the Bernie movement.  The most pressing issue was to get an immediate tally of the current number of petition signatures out there.  The total number mentioned at the meeting was 3,500, but Jennifer was sure there are probably closer to 5,000 that just haven’t been turned in yet.  The statewide grassroots organizers want all 10,000 signatures by the end of this month so we need to do a big push to get that accomplished.  Gathering the totals now will help us figure out which districts need more signatures so we can focus energy there.

Jennifer also mentioned that she wants to petition downtown Norfolk sometime next week during the day, from about noon to 3 p.m..  And if anyone else wants to hold an event, put it on Bernie’s website and go do it!  The group will help as much as we can.

She also brought up the proposal from Virginians for Bernie to become an umbrella organization for all of the smaller groups across the state.  Jennifer posted the text of this proposal for everyone to read on our Facebook page and if there are no objections, we will approve that as a group.

The campaign will not talk to us about funding for legal reasons and collecting money for organizations is a gray area.  There is a legal loophole that allows people to pay for specific things, but we should NOT ask for money for “South Hampton Roads for Bernie” or any other group.  We each have a personal $1,000 spending limit before we have to file paperwork.  The statewide grassroots organization may be contacting a lawyer to come up with guidelines for the smaller groups to follow regarding financing.

There will be a meeting with the campaign sometime soon possibly in Richmond and each group is allowed to send one representative.  Those details should be made available soon.

The D.C. office is also sending out swag for events, and if you’d like some for an event you’re holding, contact Sandra Klassen of the statewide grassroots campaign.

Erica L. then gave a brief mention for the 2nd Virginia Beach group organizing at the Oceanfront and said that they will be holding weekly meetings with the next being this Thursday the 17th at Scrambled VB at 6:30 p.m.  Anyone interested is welcome to come.

This weekend there are at least two events going on.  Jennifer L. will be at the Bernie Booth at the Old Beach Farmer’s Market on Saturday the 19th and canvassing should be occurring for the Oceanfront.  We also are holding a booth at Mt. Trashmore on the same day at the Treasures at Trashmore event.  You can still sign up for the Mt. Trashmore event on  We also encourage events in other places in the South Hampton Roads area, especially Norfolk.

Mary Lou attended the last Chesapeake Democratic Committee meeting and said they are willing to support us, but they cannot officially endorse a candidate at this time.  Once the nomination is secured, they can then move forward and push for whichever candidate wins.

There is also a local election on November 3rd of this year and we are all encouraged to research the candidates and VOTE!  Two candidates in particular to look out for are Susan Hippen (running for state delegate for the 21st district) and David Washington, who attended this meeting.

We will also be holding a Debate Watching Party at CP Shuckers at the Oceanfront on October 13th at 7:30 p.m.  We have about 35 people signed up to attend so far and room for about 100, so please come and watch the first Democratic debate with us!

Dory S. then updated us on the Enough is Enough Rally, which now has a tentative date of March 5th, 2016.  More information will be made available on that soon by the organizers.

Mary Lou then brought up that we should be considering news releases for any bigger events that come up, possibly including the Debate Watch Party on October 13th.  We also should start writing letters to the editor, articles, etc. to help get the word out.  We also need to collect media contacts so we can more easily distribute letters, articles, and releases.  Veer in Norfolk is a possible contact we could utilize.

Jennifer L. mentioned a meeting on Monday, September 21st between the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce and some big oil companies to talk about drilling off of the coast of Virginia Beach.  The Sierra Club will be protesting from 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. and anyone interested in joining is welcome to do so.

Mary Lou also brought up that when you are out flyering and gathering petitions, just be respectful of anyone you come across, especially those who aren’t receptive to Bernie’s message.  We should do as Bernie does and not be negative so we don’t alienate people and turn them away from Bernie altogether.

Some local businesses that are open supporters of Bernie are the Cutting Edge Cafe (of course!), Morito Burrito in Virginia Beach, Scrambled VB in Virginia Beach, and possibly Cutlass Grille in Chesapeake.  These may be locations we look to for any events held in the future, particularly Debate Watching Parties.

Erica L. then talked about the various social media platforms the campaign wants us to utilize as grassroots supporters, particularly Slack.  Slack is a communication tool that allows us to connect in a different way from Facebook, mainly through the use of “channels”.  It also has the ability to upload files, documents, and pictures and archives all information put into it, making it 100% completely searchable.  If anyone is interested in receiving an invitation to the Slack team, they should ask on South Hampton Roads for Bernie or contact Erica L. at

At this point, David Washington, a future candidate for Chesapeake City Council, introduced himself to the group.  He will beginning his formal campaign after November 3rd elections are finished.  He was born and raised in Detroit and served in the United States Navy.  He also worked for the Obama campaign both in 2008 and in 2012 and served as the campaign manager for Dr. Ella Ward, the only Democrat currently on the Chesapeake City Council.  He will be co-hosting a party with Gene Waters this Friday at 7 p.m. and we are encouraged to come and Feel the Bern there.  It’s BYOB and potluck and will be held at Gene Waters’s home.

We then brought the meeting to a close at the two-hour mark and the next meeting was set for Tuesday, September 29th from 6-8 p.m., again at the Cutting Edge Cafe.  Be sure to RSVP here to join us!