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!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Meeting Notes from Virginia Beach Organizing Meeting at Scrambled VA - 9/9/2015

This meeting was put together by Elizabeth B. at Scrambled VA, a pro-Bernie restaurant in Virginia Beach on Atlantic Avenue at the Oceanfront.  It was set to begin at 6:30 PM, but didn’t fully get into the swing of things until about 7 PM to allow people time to order food and eat dinner if they were so inclined.

Elizabeth began the meeting by allowing each of us to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about how we came to learn about Bernie Sanders.  Afterwards, she explained that this meeting will become a weekly event in order to grow an activist base within Virginia Beach communities.  These meetings will be every Thursday at 6:30 PM at Scrambled VA unless otherwise noted.  Meetings may occur a couple times a week as well depending on interest.

Elizabeth then mentioned an article she wrote for, a progressive news and opinion online magazine, detailing more about Bernie Sanders’s background.  Elizabeth is from Burlington and has been involved in some capacity with Bernie’s many campaigns since the 80s.  The article can be found here:

From that point, we moved into discussing generating campaign literature and materials as a group instead of each individually on our own.  We should start getting in touch with any printing services we know of, especially pro-Bernie ones, that will be able to help print group-specific flyers, rack cards, brochures, etc. that we can hand out at flyering events to be designed by group members.  We also brought up getting group-specific t-shirts and other swag to be able to give away and/or sell at events held in the future.

Harrison H. did discuss a little bit about funding regulations and how to go about getting donations in order to fund the materials needed to campaign, and they are still working on ironing out the details there to make sure everything is done correctly without coming back to haunt Bernie.

Elizabeth also passed out forms for those in attendance to fill out indicating any past campaign experience or skills in things like leading, organizing, graphic design, photography, etc., and from there they will be compiling that information and contacting people to begin using their strengths.  She also suggested creating your own personal “digital Bernie campaign kit” with things like websites, videos, links, etc. to be able to show to people on the fence about Bernie or people who want to know more about his campaign.

We also discussed collaboration among all of the Bernie Sanders groups in our area and possibly consolidating Virginia Beach into one larger group.  We also brought up a local council meeting with leaders from each of the groups to get together and meet face-to-face to discuss our groups’ needs and activities, and I will continue working on organizing that.

It was also said that we need to put out feelers to find local businesses supportive of Bernie Sanders and utilize them in whatever way we can, whether by using their space for events, purchasing products for them, or just in general patronizing their businesses.

Towards the end of the meeting, Elizabeth brought up supporting Dave Belote, a local candidate running for State Senate for District 8.  He does share similar views to Bernie, but she mentioned that this would be a great way for us as a group to get first-hand experience canvassing and campaigning for an individual so we have at least some experience when we start pushing hard for Bernie here soon.

At the end of the meeting, I was able to get up and say a few words about South Hampton Roads for Bernie and some of our upcoming events, including the Bernie Booth at the Old Beach Farmer’s Market at the Oceanfront on Saturday the 12th, the September 19th event at Mt. Trashmore, and the debate viewing party at CP Shuckers on October 13th.  I also plugged the Virginia Slack channel.

I didn’t have the time to get into the petitions since it can be a bit time consuming, but I will be returning next week and actually doing petition training with the incredibly helpful PowerPoint presentation we’ve used before (found here).  I'll also go over the Race to 400 and make sure everyone knows who the District Leaders are for petitions.  I was able to get almost one sheet of District 2 signatures, but I suspect I will be getting many more next week and then in the weeks to come.

With that, we ended the meeting and set the next meeting’s time to be Thursday, September 17th starting at 6:30 PM, again, at Scrambled VA.  Everyone who can make it is welcome to come!