Catonsville Steering Committee Feb 26th Meeting Notes

Steering Committee Meeting Minutes-Catonsville Indivisibles (CI)
Sunday, 2/26 1-2:30 PM

General discussion about Issues Committees:
Each Issue committee will be responsible for keeping up to date with issues & bills
Each Issues committee should come up with a ½-sheet brief, concise statement regarding the most current issues to be communicated to the CI group (researching & tracking legislation regarding specific Issue). There was discussion about frequency of the updates. We talked about trying to update on a rotating schedule, maybe two Issues updates per week? This would serve more as briefing information. Separate discussion about Urgent Action Alerts followed later
Statements will be sent to Pat who will post them on FB, in the weekly newsletter, & on the website.
We talked about having individual “Issues” pages on the website.

Urgent Action Alerts-Issues Committees:
For time-sensitive or urgent action alerts, we discussed having each Issues committee be responsible for creating a FB Event, that is specific in what is needed (i.e. We need 10 people to attend such & such rally, or we need 20 people to call this MOC (member of Congress) and say such & such). Be very specific in what is needed & invite all the CI FB members.
Action alerts should also be communicated to Pat & he can put it the weekly newsletter.

Communications/Events Committee:
Pat suggested that this group could be responsible for creating resources regarding attending/creating Town Hall events (ie what to say, what to bring, what to wear). This could be a resource that could be kept on the website an/or a permanent FB post (ie file or document)
It was also suggested that this group could take the lead on establishing procedures & logistics for getting people down to some upcoming Marches in DC (i.e. meeting place, carpooling, etc)
Tax March-4/15
March for Science-4/22
People’s Climate March-4/29
National Pride March-6/11
This group could also come up with strategies for the Issues groups for how to tackle phone calls to MOCs, personal stories related to issues (ie help script a story if needed)
This group should be in contact with the Issues groups to be a resource
Communications/Events group can be responsible for:
Press releases
Letters to Editors
After-action reports
This committee can also work creating a graphic to represent CI (for stickers, signs, t-shirts, postcards, etc)

Outreach Committee:

There was some discussion regarding this group taking responsibility for partnering with a Swing Left group to support one of the congressional districts in a nearby state (PA or VA) through http://www.SwingLeft.org . There is also support that can be offered to outside state elections via http://www.flippable.org . The discussion regarding the Outreach group heading this endeavor was tabled, however there is a Swing Left house party being hosted at the Catonsville Library on 3/4/17 @ 3:00. Linda Taylor plans to attend this meeting & will get some more information about how we could support this endeavor. [I’m thinking it could possibly be another committee within CI].
Suzanne shared that the Outreach committee was meeting later today. She shared that the group had thus far discussed two proposals regarding what they want to accomplish:
Model how to be inclusive
Meet with members of the community who have different views to engage in conversation
Pat asked Suzanne to find out what resources their committee needs from the group

Issues-Immigration Committee:
There was general discussion around resources related to Immigration issues including:
ICE Immigration Watch
CASA de Maryland-Bystander training
Here to Stay organization
International Rescue Committee
UMBC Progressive Club
Russian Cultural Group
There was discussion about Immigration committee pairing with Outreach committee to find groups to reach out to to include in CI that will improve our diversity

Current Action Proposed-Postcard Writing
In conjunction with Ides of Trump (3/15)
Postcard writing day: Saturday, 3/11—Pia & Linda will explore public businesses that may be able to host this (ie. Peace A Pizza; Rooster & Hen)–the idea is that people could stop in, socialize, patronize the business & write some postcards to be mailed by 3/15.
Pat will get generic postcards
Each Issues committee will come up with an idea of what to write & to whom related to their issues & send this information to Pat by 3/4/17 so that it can be communicated to the group.
Communications/Events group can be a resource for formatting scripts if needed.
Plan to advertise Event on FB by March 4th at the latest.

Next whole-group meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 3/19 @ 1:30 at the Arbutus Library. The room is already paid for by donations from the last meeting. Logistics will create an event for this meeting. Linda will publish on Indivisible Guide as well.

After 3/19 meeting, we will plan another Steering committee meeting.

Social Media Security

Below are some Catonsville Indivisible Tips when using Social Media

  1.  Most people use the same passwords for all of their accounts. Thus, if one is compromised all are. Instead use different passwords for each account. A password management tool like LastPass can help you manage all your passwords.
  2. Use passphrases for your social media accounts.  Instead of using something simple or easy like “Qwerty” or “Love12345” us passphrases. Passphrases are long strings of words and numbers. Typically,  they are built around an image. For example, your passphrase could be “AlaskawoodenJet45dinosaur”. Thus, when you think about your passphrase you picture the state of Alaska, with a wooden Jet flying over it and a dinosaur flying the plane wearing a number 45 jersey. Crazy I know, but you will remember that passphrase because you now have a mental image to associate it with.
  3. Use two-step (sometimes called 2- factor) authentication.  This security system involves connecting your phone to the account. Thus, in order to login there is a second step where you need to enter a special code. You can set-up 2-factor Authentication with the Electronic Frontier Foundation Facebook here and with Twitter here.
  4. It is OK to disagree with people or to disapprove with what institutions such as police or ICE are doing but speak positively on Social Media when you do. Remember, Social Media is devoid of context and anything you say or do could be the next viral post. Know, too, that there are conservative operatives who infiltrate groups and try to discredit them.  This Louisiana Indivisible Group found out the hard way. It’s an old play from the Nixon administration. Smiling and repeating phrases like:
    “Friendly, but misguided” or “Friendly, but unexposed”
     “No worries, we are a big country we aren’t always going to agree”
    “We just want to hold the institutions accountable to the people and the community”
    Are more helpful than shouting matches or perceived slights on institutions. Know too that conservatives think about things differently, particularly when it comes to things such as Respect, Loyalty, and Patriotism. This TED talk explains more.

Swing Left – It Starts with the House

At our next Catonsville Indivisibles meeting, we want to discuss medium and long term actions for resistance. One strategy has been proposed by Swing Left, which consists of steps to take back the House in 2018 by supporting progressives in “swing districts”.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at SwingLeft.org. Some notes on this below:

  • A Swing District is a district that was won in the last election by 15% of the vote or less.
  • There are 52 Swing Districts.
  • We need to win 80% of all Swing Districts to take back the House. If we win all 17 Democratic held Swing Districts, we need to flip 24 of the remaining Republican ones.

Virginia-10

The closest Swing District to us is Virginia 10. Virginia-10 basically extends from Fairfax and Prince William Counties westward to Frederick County, VA. The district is currently represented by Republican Barbara Comstock, elected in 2014. Prior to this, since 1980, the seat was held by Republican Frank Wolf (who did not run in 2014). In 2014, Comstock won by about 16% of the vote, and in 2016, she won by 6% of the vote. This district is considered up for grabs, because Obama won Virginia-10 in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 (although by a slim margin).

Maryland-1

Some people have expressed interest in working to “swing” Maryland-1. Maryland-1 includes parts of Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties as well as all Eastern Shore counties. Currently the district is represented by Republican Andy Harris; however, it was previously held by Democrat Frank Kratovil, Jr. who was defeated in 2010. Andy Harris was then re-elected in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

Maryland-1 is not shown as a “Swing District” by SwingLeft. This is because Harris won by much more than 15% of the vote in 2016. In 2010, Harris only won by about 12%, but in 2012, 2014, and 2016 he won by about 36 to 41% of the vote. So, whether or not this district can be “swung” is probably up for debate.

To help these efforts, you can:

  • Research a swing district – register as a researcher at SwingLeft.org/actionitems
  • Start talking to voters in your swing districts – register at SwingLeft.org/actionitems
  • Host/attend a Swingleft house party for more information.   Lucky for us, one has already been organized – see below & please join!!

Where: Catonsville Library

When: March 4, 3-5 pm

RSVP at https://swingleft.org/host or contact host Melinda Frost at: buddha198@gmail.com

Drinks provided, please consider bringing a snack to share.

Meeting Notes – February 19

It was a great meeting on Sunday!    Below are some notes from the meeting on Sunday, including those from the group and the Logistics Committee.

Notes from the meeting:

Suggested Short Term Actions:

  • Voter registration training upcoming on Feb 26, 3pm at Woodlawn Library (contact Cheryl Trivelli through Facebook page)
  • Scheduled calls and postcard sessions in a group to inspire people to action
  • Pre-prepared post cards at meetings, 3-5 topics
  • Assign subcommittees for issue topics/bills (suggested – Andy Harris 1965
    Education Rights Bill, GA 6 – Tom Price’s seat)
  • Outreach to other communities, faith groups
  • Attend other group’s meetings and report back (ideas, actions, events)
  • Get alerts when ICE is conducting raids, help vulnerable immigrants
    (Text “Here to Stay” to 877877 for ICE raid alerts)
  • Keep up with daily events (see http://www.weprotest.today for Baltimore protest calendar)
  • Have regular meetings
  • Communicate with the press

Notes from Logistics Committee:

  • Investigate best option for adding a matching calendar with events to both the website and Facebook page
  • Investigate different options for email, e.g. email access and different accounts/options for access by different committees
  • Assign admin access to others for the Facebook page
  • Pat will continue to monitor and respond to emails
  • Continue to send out newsletters twice a week, one for updates and one for actions
  • Solicit information from committees to help with the newsletter
  • Meetings with committee spokespeople every 2 weeks and one meeting with entire group per month
  • Next meeting will be scheduled for March 19 at Arbutus Library
  • Investigate options for future meetings, preferably with no fee

How to Make a Post

How to Make a Post

Posts are what make your blog a blog — they’re servings of content that are listed in reverse chronological order on your blog’s front page (you can change the default order to list posts chronologically using these instructions).

There are several ways to publish new posts. Watch the video below for a quick overview of how it works, and read below for more examples and settings.

The easiest way is with the New Post button on the right side of the toolbar (it appears at the top of your screen when you’re logged in to WordPress.com).

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Simply click New Post and you’ll be taken to the new post screen:

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If you’re writing a post and you’d like to format the text, click the kitchen sink icon to enable additional text formatting options:

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Be sure to give the post a Tag and a Category.  A Tag is something that is super specific whereas a category is something that is broader in nature. For example, you may have a post that is about a meeting. So your category could be “Meetings” and your tag could be “Voter Registration Meeting”.  These articles explains more about how to create a Tag and a Category.

When you’re done, hit Publish Post.

First Meeting Thoughts

Started off on Facebook and then worked together to create an in-person meet-up. 61 people showed-up:

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Here is what I learned.

Pre-meeting

Co-Organizer: We originally started on Facebook and then I got connected to someone in the area who had some knowledge of our local area. We worked together via Facebook to find an location to meet. If you have some co-organizers rely on them for help.

Supplies: Have basic supplies such as paper (computer paper or lined paper), pencils, pens, dry erase markers, permanent markers, stickies etc. ready. You don’t know how the meeting is going to go or what resources will be available. Users may not be familiar with Google Docs (yet) so you may need to go pencil and paper for the first meeting. You could probably spend about $20-30 bucks at staples for some basic supplies or ask your members to bring some.

Name Tags: Make sure everyone has a name-tag. This was super helpful in getting to know people.

Arrival: Greet people and direct them to a sign-in area. This area can be a table a chair a computer. Something where you can collect a name, phone number, and email address. They can also fill out a name-tag and take a copy of the agenda.

Agenda: Have one. It doesn’t matter if it is agreed-upon before hand or not but have an agenda. Have something to work off of. Identify a clear start time and end time. I started with creating an Agenda with my co-organizer on Google Docs, just so we have something to work from. We then made it viewable for all users and shared that link on Facebook so all could see it. Also, print out copies of said agenda. There are many analog users.

Meeting

  • 1. Symbolic Patriotic Act: We started with this as an opener. I asked everyone to stand. This can be a pledge of allegiance, singing of star spangled banner or whatever you feel is best. I decided beforehand on the Preamble to the US Constitution. It is short, succinct, and basically described why we are meeting. I felt it was important to have some sort of symbolic act to show unity and strength.
  • 2. Indivisible: I explained the point of the group.
  • 3. Security: I briefly discussed security with the group. I have written it up into a post here that is sharable within our group.
  • 4. Introduction: While it may take a long time, have everyone introduce themselves and why they are motivated. Remember these people are coming together because they dislike Trump. They are strangers to each other.
  • NOTE: If you have many people you may need to skip this. We had 61 people show-up and it took about 40 minutes go around the room. 
  • 5. Facilitating: Have a time keeper (ask for a volunteer). Assign a time limit to everything (introductions, discussions, etc). If needed add more time.
  • Ask for a note-taker. These notes should be digital but can be pencil paper for first meeting
  • Ask for a person to record names during discussion.
  • 6. Procedures: Outlined meeting procedures as the first thing to do when meeting was called to order. As a former teacher this is sort of the

A. Entering: Had a sign-up station with a clear posting letting people know where to go when they come in. You will have people come in late and instead of interrupting the meeting the sign-in area was a create place to direct people to.
B. Bathrooms: Told people where the bathrooms were. Told them it was OK to get up and go. Told people if you need to take a call, it is OK to step outside and take care of personal business
C. Called On: Established procedure for being called on. Something like “During discussion please raise hand and limit your response to about a 30seconds to a minute”.
Chances are many people will raise hands. Ask for a facilitator to take down names so they can then be called upon.
D. Parking Lot: People will get into side conversations. Create a “parking lot” for questions and concerns unrelated to the discussion OR if you need to stop time and people have questions or statements they can enter them there. Tell people it is OK to add them to the lot. This “parking lot” is just a piece of paper with the word “parking lot” on it and some stickies (post it notes). People can then get up write their issue down on the parking lot that you will then review or look at later. Later can be at the end of the meeting OR after the meeting.

  • 7. Shift Meeting: Listen to what the people say. I had thought we could all agree on actions we can do but it became clear that with such a large group we were not yet at that stage. We decided to create an organizational structure. Be prepared to shift to something else if your original plan is not working.
  • 8. Organizational Structure: If you have a large group create/decide on a structure FIRST. Decide on an organizational structure. Here is an example of a chart we decided on: http://pasteboard.co/An77uyMlK.png. Yours may be different. That is OK too. Your local area may have specific needs that do not match ours.
  • 9. Goals: We then gave each committee a specific goal they are to achieve. As it was our first meeting I asked for each group to decide on a:

A. Spokes person and then give the spokesperson contact information.
B. Let me know who it was.
C. A specific action they are going to take. In hindsight, this may not have been a good idea. I am not sure why though….I felt people came to take action and we instead we created an organizational infrastructure to work within. I think we should have also spelled out the committees purpose too. I don’t think that message of purpose was communicated clear enough.
D. Spokes people then emailed me the contact info of who is in what committee. We then created a Google Spreadsheet with the information.

Note: Because is was not clear, we ended up having a “Steering Committee Meeting” where representatives from all of our committees came to hammer out the “Goals, Roles, and Responsibilities” of each committee, establish clear lines of communication AND to discuss future actions such as a PostCard writing day etc.

Tip: If discussing specific actions or goals make sure they are specific. An example, could be “The immigration committee needs X amount of people, to do Y thing, on Z date/time”.

  • 10. This structure was all written on a whiteboard
  • 11. We then assigned corners of the room for breakout sessions to go to and meet the goals of that group. Once the group had meet its goals it was dismissed.
  • 12. When me and the co-organizer spoke we always used the inclusive “We”. So it would be “We decided to…” or “Can we do…” or “We need your group to do…” or “We ask…”.
  • 13. Democracy is really hard.

Rally for the DNC Future Forum

This past weekend saw a small grouping of Indivisibles turnout in support for the DNC future forum. We chanted and marched against Trump in downtown Baltimore. Many cars honked horns in approval. Though, a small amount of friendly but misguided Baltimoreans decided gestures of disapproval were better than honking. This was my first ever political rally/protest.

I am not much of a sign guy. They are kinda big and at the end of the day you throw them out. Seems kinda wasteful to me. Perhaps next time I’ll use a Dry Erase board? Not sure, I’d like to be able to fold it up and put it away.  Though, I definitely liked having something in my hand. Fortunately, rulers were available to fight Trump every inch.

I also felt a bit awkward. I suspect it was something totally new and I wasn’t quite sure about it.  I also think it comes from the fact that when I was younger I was much more conservative than I am now. Though, I am also not sure how much effect rallys/protests have. Research does suggest that it does not result in shifting policy preferences for elected leaders but does help galvanize/motivate others.

 

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Muslim Ban Script

Sample Script to use to get your MoC to “withhold consent” until the ban is lifted.

There’s no reason that the Senate should be conducting business as usual while our basic values are under attack. Senators have powerful tools to delay and stop legislation, and they should be using them. If your Senator has taken a stance against the Muslim and refugee bans, that’s great—but they can do more. Here’s the script to let your Senator know that you want them to do everything in their power to stop this odious ban.

SAMPLE CALL DIALOGUE

Caller: Good morning/afternoon. I’m calling about President Trump’s Executive Order to halt refugee admissions and ban citizens from several Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator Bob opposes this Executive Order.

Caller: Good. I’m calling to say that if Senator Bob truly believes, as I do, that this is a national crisis and a threat to fundamental American values, then he needs to take action to stop it. That means committing to withhold consent on Senate business, including scheduling votes on nominees, until the ban has been lifted, and committing to filibuster any bill that comes to the floor UNLESS it’s a bill dedicated to ending this ban. Will he commit to do this?

Staffer: The Senator hasn’t taken a position on procedural issues. But he has made a strong statement objecting to the Executive Order.

Caller: That’s great, but it’s not enough to oppose it. Senator Bob needs to use every tool in his power to stop it. Will he commit to withhold consent on Senate business and use the filibuster to stop other legislation if necessary?

Staffer: The Senator is considering different options.

Caller: There’s no reason that the Senate should be conducting business as usual when Trump is blatantly violating the constitution and families are being ripped apart. I expect Senator Bob to act to uphold our values by taking every step he can to stop this Executive Order.

NOTE: Some staffers may ask you to explain what “withholding consent” means. Tell them this: For Senate business to proceed normally, Senate leadership relies on universal agreement by Senators to move forward on procedural matters. This is called universal consent. If any individual Senator withholds consent, it triggers a delay as the leadership has to initiate a time-consuming process in order to move forward. This means that business in the Senate slows down significantly and it will greatly hamper Trump’s ability to move forward on any other legislative priorities.