Tuesday, August 25, 2015

South Hampton Roads for Bernie Meeting Minutes - 8/24/15

The meeting of South Hampton Roads for Bernie was called to order at around 6:14 p.m.  Erica L. was designated as the note taker and tasked with posting the minutes to the South Hampton Roads for Bernie blog.

Sixteen supporters of Bernie Sanders for President came to the Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake, VA

We discussed the logistics of primary petitions which is our main goal for the time being.  Petitions must be notarized and the collector/witness must be present when each petition gets notarized.  Stephen S. will possibly become the designated District 2 petition collector whose responsibility will be to gather any and all District 2 petitions and forward them to our point of contact for collection.  So far Stephen has collected approximately 135 petition signatures, mostly from District 2; Mary Lou has collected 71 with 41 from District 4.

We brainstormed locations of notaries.  Ken mentioned that the Chesapeake Democratic Party has a notary available to help with petitions.  FedEx, UPS, banks, and Navy Federal also have notaries, but usually require a fee. Navy Federal will notarize free as a courtesy to its members. We also have Sarah G., a group member who is a notary.  It was also mentioned that you do not have to fill out an entire primary petition with signatures in order to turn it in; you can turn them in half-full, with a couple signatures, etc. If a potential signer has a disability and needs help with the petition form, others may fill out all of the information except the signature for them.

We then moved on to national and regional Bernie news and updates.  Bernie is polling well in New Hampshire and is beating Hillary Clinton.  He seems to be gaining traction as the weeks go by and is continuing to jump in the polls as Hillary starts declining.

Regionally, support for Bernie is also picking up well.  We had two successful events hosted by our group on Saturday, August 22nd.  The first was at the Chesapeake Farmer's Market.  A group of five volunteers passed out flyers to people entering and exiting the market and gathered petition signatures.  The second event was a table at the Old Beach Green Market in Virginia Beach at the Oceanfront.  A group of five volunteers helped out there, and our group member Jennifer L. was able to confirm that we will be able to maintain a presence at that farmer's market weekly from now on through her contact at the market, who also happens to be a Bernie supporter.  Jennifer also mentioned that the market will even be held one week before the Virginia Primary, so that booth will be key in campaigning for Bernie.

Volunteers for Bernie Sanders at Chesapeake's farmers' market

Also in regional news, there are two other Facebook groups for our area that people are encouraged to join.  The first is the Norfolk for Bernie group and the second is the Virginia Beach for Bernie Sanders group.  Jennifer L. is the lead of the Virginia Beach for Bernie group and will continue to coordinate with the South Hampton Roads for Bernie group.  It was also mentioned that there is a strong Bernie presence on the ODU campus.

Ken then encouraged all of us to attend the next Chesapeake Democratic Committee meeting on the second Thursday of September at the Hilton Garden Inn at 7pm.  The Chesapeake Democratic Committee meets every 2nd Thursday of each month at the same time and place and we are all welcome to attend, no matter where we live.  It was also mentioned that there is a Virginia Beach Democratic Committee that holds meetings on the first Monday of every month and we are welcome to attend those as well.  The next Virginia Beach Democratic Committee meeting is unknown (possibly the 2nd Monday of the month due to Labor Day) but should be posted on their website -- vbdemocrats.org -- in the next couple of days.

Jennifer L. mentioned that she had researched when presidential candidates had come to Hampton Roads in the past.  She said that historically they come close to the primary date, but it is very possible that we could talk to Bernie's campaign and get him to visit sooner than that.  There was also a mention of the 100,000 person rally in D.C., but that event is unconfirmed at this time.  There also could be smaller events in the northern Virginia area in the future since that is closer to Washington, D.C.  There were also some ideas for more events mentioned at this point that will be summarized with the brainstorming section of the meeting at the end of these notes.

Group member Tom F. asked what he could do to help with his limited amount of free time and where he could be the best asset as an attorney.  It was suggested that he could help at some of the polling places in case people are potentially illegally turned away from being able to vote.  He could also give advice on some financing questions in terms of legality and even offer the use of a notary when he has one available. Ken then talked about how an election is actually coming up this November the 3rd, 2015.  Bernie needs like-minded progressive people in the government to support him when he is elected President and this is a perfect opportunity to ensure that occurs.

A 17 year old in Virginia who turns 18 by the next election on November 3rd, 2015, can register to vote. After that date, a 17 year old who turns 18 by November 8, 2016, can register to vote and then vote in both the primary and the general election. 

A more national event that was mentioned is the September 8th Birthday Money Bomb.  Bernie will be turning 74 on this date and it is suggested that every Bernie supporter gives $8 to celebrate.  However, Ken told us that we should all give $74 if we can to celebrate his age.  He said, "A man that is running for president at 74 years old deserves to get a $74 donation for his birthday!"

The next item on the agenda was to discuss recognition for Bernie.  We should all do our part to advertise, including wearing Bernie shirts, Bernie buttons, Bernie hats, Bernie bumper stickers, and anything else we can to get his name out there.  Also make a point to talk to your neighbors, people you run into, and people you see daily about Bernie.  Use personal contact to make a real difference in Bernie's name recognition.  Social media is important, but face-to-face contact is critical.

Another group member asked about what to do when people get hung up on the word "socialism".  How should we rebut it?  It was suggested to talk about how public schools, police, firefighters, roads, libraries, and even sidewalks are considered products of socialism.  You can also bring up that Bernie supports a Nordic model of socialism, which basically encourages a mixed economy of socialism (safety nets, healthcare, education for all) and capitalism/free trade.  Plus the top 1% get all kinds of socialistic benefits already including tax loopholes, corporate welfare, etc.  A documentary called "We're Not Broke" was also suggested for viewing.  But the main point was to not get hung up on the labels, especially with words like "socialism" and "communism."

Tom then mentioned a couple of ideas he'd had regarding the campaign.  He said that this is possibly the beginning of a young person's revolution.  He believes that it will take an inundation of things going viral on YouTube and social media in general to get young people fired up.  The Republicans, Trump, and even Hillary will lead us to more war.  If young people become more informed via outlets like social media, it could be the turning point towards revolution.  But no matter what, this momentum must be kept up past Bernie getting elected or not getting elected.  It has to continue on year after year in order to enact any real change.

We then broke into two groups -- one to get primary petition training and the other to brainstorm ideas about future events.

A few ideas came out of the brainstorming group.  The first was that the Bernie Booth at the Old Beach Farmer's Market in Virginia Beach could serve as a sort of "staging area" for that event and simultaneously a flyering/petition signature event at the Oceanfront since the farmer's market is just a couple of blocks from the Oceanfront.  The Bernie Booth can keep extra flyers and materials for the second group and support them while they walk at the Oceanfront collecting signatures and passing out materials.  Stephen S. may possibly either head or at least be a part of this second flyering/petition group.

Flyering and gathering petition signatures at the Chesapeake Farmer's Market event on Saturdays should also be becoming a regular event.

There is also a one-time event coming up on Saturday, September 19th from 9am to 2pm called the Mt. Trashmore Community Yard Sale in Virginia Beach.  It costs $30 to rent a 10x10 booth area that Mary Lou graciously offered to sponsor.  Liz C. will be handling turning in the application and fee in by August 28th and possibly coordinating from there.

It was also highly recommended that group members attend both the Chesapeake Democratic Committee and Virginia Beach Democratic Committee at not only their next meetings but each one after that as well.

Another suggestion was that at each event we attend, we also pass out material discussing local elections, including dates and who is running that would support Bernie in office.

It was also mentioned that we could find out if it would be possible to see Bernie's speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia on Monday, September 14th, approximately 3.5-4 hours away.  The speech is mandatory for students to attend but is also open to the public as long as there is room.  Carpooling could be an option if there is interest.

Jennifer L. brought up that we could have a presence at the Isle of Wight County Fair which will be held on September 17-20 in Windsor, VA.  Carpooling may also be an option for that as well.

Finally, the last event suggested was to have a craft day somewhere in the South Hampton Roads area to come together and make things like t-shirts, tank tops, and jewelry with Bernie's name and logo.  We could then use these crafts to pass out at any events held in order to help spread the word about Bernie.

At this point, the meeting ended with a picture of the group to be shared with the campaign and social media. A total of sixteen people were in attendance. Our group expresses its sincere appreciation to Melanie Hayes of the Cutting Edge Cafe for allowing us space to host our organizing event. Our next event will probably be on a Tuesday, TBA.

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