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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 here, the 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.