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 www.vote.virginia.gov) 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 VirginiansforBernie.com 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 BernieSanders.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!