Meeting Notes – Whole Group Meeting August 19, 2017

**Note: Names and email addresses have been withheld from these minutes. Please contact Catonsville Indivisibles ( for further information on anything below**

Moment of Silence – Solidarity with Charlottesville

Welcome all! Thanks for attending and warm welcome to all new attendees.

Shoutouts/Data Update – Thanks for everything people are doing to resist Trump’s agenda. A snapshot of a few of these things are below:

  • ACA Defenders: Special thanks to those who participated (called, wrote, attended rallies, etc) in defense of the ACA!!! Coffee and snacks are provided as thanks.
  • Phone Banks
    -Quist Phone Bank: ½ dozen people made over 100 calls.
    -Ossoff Phone Bank: 6 people, 78 calls made
    -Dial to defend ACA: 5 people; 276 calls made into Maine.
  • Trainings
    -CASA Bystander Training: Several members went and learned how to observe and collect information.
    -Voter Registration Training: 14 people trained, several members
  • Rallies
    -Numerous to support ACA & attendance for John McCain’s historical vote
    -Women’s March Against the NRA
  • Other
    -Catonsville Indivisibles Picnic:  68 people attending from many organizations, including several representatives and members from Catonsville Indivisibles, Together We Will, Towson Indivisibles, & North Baltimore Co. Indivisibles, great food and company.
    -Attendance at vigil, and shoe donations for Queen Anne and Kent County Indivisible Art Installation Project
    -Official comments in Federal Dockets (Fed Energy Reg Commission to oppose fracked gas pipeline in MD; against US EPA rolling back various environmental regulations)
    -Calls to MOC’s/Scott Pruitt (EPA) in support of keeping the US in the Paris Climate Agreement
    -Shout out to all group leaders for keeping up with everything happening, and for organizing events and the newsletter.

Guest Speaker: Robbie Leonard on recent voter and turnout trends
Robbie spoke about the analysis of historical voter and election information as a cause for optimism in the 2018 mid-term elections. For example in the last 35 out of 38 mid-term elections, the minority party picked up a significant number of congressional seats. This is also more likely when presidential approval is less than 50%. However, despite being optimistic, we must still be cautious. We need to stay aggressive, not be over-confident, and put in the necessary work. It is easy to get discouraged, especially with the recent special elections to fill the empty seats resulting from Trump’s cabinet picks (e.g. Ossoff, Quist, Parnell, Thompson, but, we need to keep two things in mind: 1) those cabinet picks were made because they were safe republican seats where republicans would be reappointed, and 2) the democratic candidates in those races lost by very small margins, especially given the margins the prior November. In Maryland, 2014 was a great year for the GOP – they currently have more seats in the state house/senate than since the 1920s & Hogan is a popular governor. We need to increase voter turnout through voter registration and education on early voting. The importance of knocking on doors and communicating directly with voters cannot be overstated. Phone banks and canvassing are very important. Get involved with Precinct2Precinct, increase group diversity, find out what is important to voters, move past Hillary and Bernie.

  • Large Group Discussion
    The Precinct to Precinct program was explained. This is a program to connect with voters by walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors, to initially, find out what is important to voters, and to later to encourage people to vote. Walk lists are provided for neighborhoods. Training is provided periodically in Towson, or can be arranged by speaking to the District field coordinator.
  • The billboard to highlight Andy Harris’ health care vote was discussed and the design for the billboard was shared.
  • The Catonsville Vigil Against Hate is planned for August 31 from 7-9 pm at the Immanuel Church of Christ on Edmondson Ave. Speakers will include community leaders and representatives. Help is needed with organization.
  • Meeting attendees voted that a monthly meeting is preferable to a bi-monthly meeting, especially to regain momentum following the summer. Therefore a meeting has been scheduled for September 23.

Healthcare Committee Report – Defense of the ACA

  • The committee held several postcard and letter writing campaigns to senators to urge them to vote against the BCRA. Daily letters were written to all senate members regarding negative impacts of the BCRA.
  • Several members visited the GOP senators offices in June and handed them personal story postcards and talked with staffers about the benefits of the ACA.
    Committee members participated in several ACA rallies hosted by, Planned Parenthood, etc., on the grounds of the Capitol.
  • Members attended the Walk in Our Shoes rally in Chestertown, Maryland, sponsored by the Kent and Queen Anne’s County Indivisible Group. One member was a speaker and discussed how Harris’ vote against the ACA was a vote against his constituents.
  • Members coordinated efforts with Housing Works, Inc., and Center for Popular Democracy to support civil disobedience efforts twice in July. Members assisted those arrested at the Senate Office Buildings.
  • Members visited senators on the day of the vote and sat in the Senate gallery to witness the debate of the amendments and the historic vote. They joined the rally outside the Capitol afterwards to hear Senators discuss the ACA and the need to fix the weaknesses in the law.

Upcoming Catonsville Indivisible Events:
Next Full-Member Meetings, September 23 and October 21, 2017, 10 am, Emmanuel Lutheran
Voter Registration Training, Catonsville Library, September 26, 6:30 pm
Voter Registration, October 24, 8-10 am, Maryland Food Bank Mobile Pantry

Precinct to Precinct Training (1 hour, 2 people minimum needed):
8/26 Saturday in morning
8/27 Sunday in morning
9/1 Friday around 6 or 7
9/8 Saturday in morning
9/9 Sunday in morning

August 27, 5:30-7:30 – How you can help take back America, Canvassing 101, Columbia

October 27 to 29, 2017 – Women’s Convention (Women’s March), Detroit


Update: Dial to Defend the ACA

Phone Banking to Defend the ACA
3 Nights in a Row!

All, with Senate coming back on the floor and a “new” senate bill off to the CBO for a score now is the time to flood the Senate with calls. Of particular importance is Senator Collins of Maine. ACA Defenders have built a Hubdialer program that will allow us to connect directly to voters in Maine and then connect them to their Senator’s office. That’s where you come in and staff the phones!

The Baltimore Indivisible Coalition has a different room reserved for each of three days for us to make calls from; timed to greet Senate on their return. We would love for you to join us but if you can’t make (or you want to do more) the Hubdialer is designed to be decentralized. You can make calls from anywhere!

NOTE: The list pulls from (supposedly) the SEIU members. The turf was (and you may expect to be) friendly and receptive.

Sunday July 9th 3pm-5pm at the Miller library 9421 Fredrick Rd, Ellicott City Maryland 21042. Sponsored by: Catonsville Indivisible.

5 People made over 270 calls! We had at least 8 people patched through to call Senator Collins’ office and spoke with at least 20 other people who would be making phone calls.

Monday July 10th 6pm-9pm at AFSCME headquarters located at 1410 Bush Street, Baltimore, MD 21228

Tuesday July 11th 6pm-9pm at Baltimore County Democrats office located at 310 W Alleghany Ave in Towson MD 21204

Please bring a laptop and a cell phone. Please sign up for the Hubdialer prior to coming if possible. You can do so here. We look forward to working with you and helping to defend the ACA against the latest attack!


  • When you dial with Hubdialer your phone number is masked.
  • When you start to make your first call it will automatically connect you, without seeing the script before hand.
  • We’ve added images of the script below to get a sense of what is looks like:

What the script looks like

Second part of the script

3rd Part of the Script

What it looks like between calls. Your data appears.

You find yourself in a rush. It is OK to deviate from the script. I eventually started saying the the following which got better results than going through the long script:

Hi my name is____ and I am a volunteer with ACA defenders and we are asking for your help to defend the ACA. We are concerned that 22 million people will lose healthcare including approx. 119,000 in Maine.  We aren’t trying to sell you anything but we are asking that you please make a phone call to your Senator, Susan Collins.

Is that something you would be interested in doing?

IF YES, I either asked them if they would like to be patched through OR gave them her the Senator’s Phone number.

IF NO, I said “Thank you for your time”.

Writing Letters to the Editor

Opinion pages are one of the most read pages in the newspaper, by all layers of society including public officials. Short form letters to the editor (LTEs, ~250 words) or longer-form opinion editorials (op-eds, ~750 words) are a great way for the public to chime in on important topics and even influence the long-term arc of a particular publication’s coverage.

The LTE or Letter to Editor is a brief but effective way to complement, criticize, correct, complete, or say anything relevant to a recent article. Submit to paper within one week of article’s release if possible, and no later than two weeks.

Suggested format:

  1. Email Subject Line = “Title of original article”
  2. Body of email = URL of original article, then your plain text letter (stay comfortably within word limit – keep it tight)
  3. Full name (plus your title if relevant to discussion)
  4. Home address, email, best phone #
  5. NO: special formatting including italics, special fonts, attachments, or images

The Op-Ed or Editorial Opinion is a submission to the features page and may be in regard to any timely issue. It is often longer than an LTE and must be exclusive to that paper. If not published in 10 days, you can usually re-submit elsewhere, after improving of course.

Individual Submission Requirements

Washington Post (

LTE:  (< 200 wds). Include position and reason for concern in subject matter.

Op-Ed form: (< 800 wds). Copy/paste your letter in plain text only and don’t use brackets. Include info about personal interest in the subject in Comments box.

Washington Times (

LTE: (200-300 wds)

Op-Ed: (< 750 wds)

Capital Gazette
The Capital, Maryland Gazette, Crofton-West County Gazette, Bowie Blade-News_(

LTE: (< 300 wds)

Op-Ed: (< 650 wds). Local writers and then local issues given priority.

Carroll County Times_(

LTE (<400 wds) and Op-Ed:

Frederick News-Post_(

Fill in LTE at:

Delmarva Times_(

LTE: (no word limit)

Baltimore Sun_(

LTE: (< 300 wds printed, but anything with substance may appear online)

Op-Ed: (600-750 wds)

Baltimore City Paper_(

LTE and Op-Ed:

Baltimore Afro-American_(

LTE: (300-500 wds)

Op-Ed: (600-800 wds). Must be relevant to African-Americans.

Wall Street Journal_(

LTE: (no limit – keep it tight or they will edit for you)

Op-Ed: (600-1200 wds). Preface with brief summary of content/perspective.

NY Times_(

LTE: (150-175 wds)

Op-Ed: (400-1200 wds preferred but any considered)

Writing Guide

  • Respect the editor’s time and they’ll return the favor. Editors are swamped and notice mostly non-euphemistic language. “I believe…” is useless according to one editor. Be concise, limit argument to one point and close it. Avoid phrases evoking war such as ‘in the trenches’ or ‘waging battle’ because glib use of such terms is not appreciated by vets who know what they really mean.
  • Why do you care? Add punch by invoking personal interest (financial, medical, familial, academic, etc.) Increase potential interest of the readership by sticking to local issues. NO FORM LETTERS! Read the form, put it aside and then write your own. The perspective is yours; this is not the place to speak for the Sierra Club. If you are an expert or public figure, anyone can alert the target legislator, organization, or company to your letter.
  • Debate – don’t argue. One meaningful addition – something unknown/appreciated – is worth more than a general overview that is more common knowledge. Back it up with info, not emotion (never be libelous). Secondary sources are often incomplete and biased. Look for primaries such as scientific research, publications, or interviews. Ranting/restating an alternate point of view disqualifies your letter.
  • Papers prefer a broad sampling so pace your submissions (quality, not quantity). But anything worthy is considered and if not printed, may appear online – a more permanent medium. The more LTE’s received in reference to a particular issue, the more compelled an editor is to print at least one. So if you feel it, write it – no need to delegate submissions amongst ourselves.

Thomas Feyer, opinions editor of the NY Times, sums up how to get printed:

Sample LTE

For Michael Dresser’s “Hogan holds back on joining Virginia, other states in climate alliance”:

Dear Editor,

Michael Dresser’s June 6 article “Hogan holds back on joining Virginia, other states in climate alliance,” although providing a fairly accurate overview of Governor Hogan’s current position regarding climate initiatives, perhaps fails to stress the baseline nature of the Paris agreement. Of course, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement is disheartening and reprehensible. However, it is crucial to remember that if Hogan decides to honor the Paris agreement he will be agreeing to what is a lowest common denominator of climate action. If Maryland hopes to meaningfully contribute to the fight against climate change, Hogan must not only honor, but go above and beyond the Paris agreement. The article does well to mention the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as Hogan’s expressed support of it. As with Paris, though, this initiative is a start to this fight, and not an end. If Maryland hopes to be a leader, we must be constantly looking for ways to push innovation in the clean energy economy rather than merely meet baseline requirements. Doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would demonstrate to the world that Maryland is open to the future of business, which will run on clean renewable energy.

Name, Address, Email, phone

See our Media Contact Page for additional reporters.

Information courtesy of Maryland Sierra Club Op-Ed Tool Kit.

CASA Bystander Training

Several members went to a recent CASA Bystander training. Offered by the Maryland Chapter of CASA here. If you would like to volunteer your skills or abilities at future CASA events, please be sure to complete our Baltimore Ally Resource Assessment.

You can also receive the weekly Ally Eblast.  You can sign up here.

Finally, we’ve included links to some resources below to help you navigate conversations with others as you support and advocate for your immigrant neighbors.

KQA Indivisible Shoe Installation Project

KQA Indivisible Shoe Installation Project

On Thursday, July 13 (6-9 p.m.) KQA Indivisible is going to have a Shoe Installation in Fountain Park in Chestertown, MD. Parking looks to be sidestreet or in a lot. They plan to collect 900 pairs of shoes to display in the park representing a pair of shoes for every Kent County citizen who is likely to lose health care under the AHCA.

The idea is related to the famous quote from To Kill a Mockingbird about walking a mile in the other man’s shoes. They hope to call attention to the real, tragic effects of ACHA by displaying the shoes representing real people who are going to be suffering. The shoes will be donated to charity after the event. If your group would like to help or participate, they could use the following:

Drop off shoes at the Kent County Democratic Club headquarters on High St. (open Saturday afternoons and First Fridays) or at their table at the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Shoes will be donated to charity after the event, so please donate still serviceable shoes to the cause.

Or Mail them. Have your members box up any unneeded but still serviceable shoes and send them KQAI. You can mail them to XXXX (PM me on Facebook for address). It would be particularly good to have some kids’ shoes since cuts to Medicaid are going to impact kids.

We would like to have a couple of speakers who feel knowledgeable about the health care issue attend the event and speak briefly (5-10 minutes max.). They are hoping to have press coverage and perhaps get a politician or two to come, especially those who have announced to run for the seat Harris currently holds in District 1.

Help set up shoes (set up starts at 5pm on the night of the event) by sending an email to

It’s on July 6th, so it’s after the holiday, and you won’t get stuck in traffic on the bridge.

KQAI Shoe Installation Flyer

Meeting Notes – Whole Group Meeting, May 21, 2017

Preamble to the Constitution

Numbers to date:
204 Facebook members
13 Newsletters sent out
115 people on the mailing list
1 Phone Bank


Guest speaker: Pat Young, State Delegate District 44B
Topic: Communication and building relationships with your representatives
See associated post

Committee Reports:

-Next meeting scheduled for July 15, 10 am – 12 pm
-Survey to be issued for feedbak on goals, suggested events, eaker topics, etc.
-Canvassing ongoing for 287(g) proposal in Baltimore County
-Shout-out to outreach group for attending Love Thy Neighbor dinner at local mosque
-Potential to join CASA bystander group to support immigrants when they check-in with ICE
-Potential for helping immigrants with citizenship test and process
-Organizing for 4th of July parade float
-Evaluating potential community service projects
-Form passed out to see if members have relationships with groups that we could coordinate with or conduct outreach
-Listening campaigns
-Upcoming things to be aware of include Precinct Captains Training (June 3), Progressive -Democrats of Baltimore Meeting, MD Progressive Caucus meetings in Annapolis, upcoming re-elections (Hogan, District 1, Co executive)
Health Care:
-Committee minutes to be sent out
-Focusing on pulling together health care committees from all Indivisible groups to describe impacts of health care through stories
-Evaluating pricing for commissioning a mobile billboard against Harris to focus on his ACA vote
-Trump education budget leaked with deep cuts for K-12, aftercare, low income programs, Perkins loans, reduced subsidy loans, etc with most funding going toward vouchers and voucher research. Committee will be researching process to fight these cuts, including through personal stories
-Some recent victories including fracking ban, Empower billboard
-Pressuring Hogan to fund the CBP
-Comment on TransCanada pipeline under the Potomac
-Support for styrofoam ban, pollinator bill, climate change bills
-Proposal for restaurant “bring your own container”
-Quist phone bank May 21, Miller Branch Library, 2:30 – 4:45 pm
-Ossoff phone bank June 7, Catonsville Library, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Upcoming Events:
-Summer Social on June 30, 5 pm at Patapsco State Park, Avalon Area Shetler 104; potluck, BYOB, door prizes; sign-up sheet forthcoming; donations need to cover cost of pavilion rental.
-287(g) public hearing on May 30 2 pm, 400 Washington Avenue, sign up to comment between 1-2 pm.
-Voter Registration training scheduled for June 22 at Catonsville Library, 7-8 pm

-Investigating July 4th reading of the Declaration of Independence


Community Reading of Declaration

Note: This idea was taken and reposted for the website.

Many in the Indivisible movement have recognized the importance of getting beyond a simple Democrat/Republican divide, breaking out of our own echo chamber of outrage, and engaging meaningfully with others in our community who either actively support Trump or have otherwise chosen not (yet) to join the Resistance. But it’s hard to do that if all you do is jump right into the issues where you differ. It’s never easy, but it’s easier if you start engaging around shared values

Well, friends, we have a big opportunity coming up to break through: it’s called July 4. And here’s a simple, but powerful idea of what to do: Hold a Community Reading of the Declaration of Independence. We have been doing this in my home town for the past 10-15 years, and it’s always a wonderful, inspiring, community building event.

Below and attached Getting Started Guide have some ideas for how to do it in a truly open way.

Pick a meaningful time and place for your event.

  • Ideally, a recognized public forum where people gather. In my New England town, we meet on the town common, right in the center.
  • Noon is often a good time. Don’t go too late in the day as you’ll lose people to recreational pursuits. In my town, bells ring at noon, so it gives a nice touch to have everyone gather a few minutes before and then start the reading immediately after the bell-ringing. Feels very authentically 18th century.
  • In larger cities, plan multiple simultaneous events at neighborhood locations.

Try to get unlikely co-sponsors.

  • Make a genuine effort to go beyond “rounding up the usual suspects” of people you know and those who think like you do.  If you’re a self-styled progressive, liberal, or Democrat, reach out to your local Republican Party and to conservative groups.  If you’re from somewhere to the right, reach left.  Tell them you’re planning a truly open event, kind of like an inter-denominational prayer breakfast. Whatever our current political differences, let’s recognize our shared adherence to the American civic religion.
  • Reach out beyond organizations through personal email, Facebook, etc. Especially try to get veterans, naturalized citizens, and immigrants — who often have a deep attachment and familiarity with the Declaration but for very different reasons.

Plan a brief, simple program focused on the Declaration of Independence.

  • By promising a short program, you increase the likelihood of participation on a day when people do have other, more fun things to do. It also lowers the probability of wandering into contentious territory.
  • Make the reading the centerpiece and put it up front. The Declaration is truly a revolutionary document that speaks for itself. (Take 2 minutes to reread it here: The beauty of the text is that it will stimulate people to make all sorts of connections to what is happening today WITHOUT anyone having to be overt about it. After all, it could well have served as Articles of Impeachment for King George.)
  • Resist the temptation to feature celebrities or recognized political leaders. This is a great opportunity for all types of people to participate on a very equal basis.

Sample Schedule.  Here’s a typical schedule for how we’ve done it in my town in prior years:

11:50    People gather. Organizers hand out copies of Declaration, annotated to show when to change speakers.

11:55   Participants gather into a circle. Organizer explains who will start reading, and that we’ll go around the circle, changing speakers as indicated on the handout. Anyone wishing not to read should just let the person on their left know so that person can jump in at appropriate time. Organizer also explains what will happen after the reading.

noon    Bells ring

12:01      Reading begins

~12:10   Reading finishes with entire group reading last line in unison: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

12:10    Reading of names of Revolutionary War ancestors from our town and relatives of current residents.

12:15   Very brief remarks about meaning of America and the Declaration from a few participants. E.g., newly-naturalized citizens, veterans, etc. (Typically, these are very personal, NOT commentary on current political events.

12:20 Formal event ends. People linger and mingle, or leave, as they want.

Try really, really hard to keep the organized portion of the event away from any anti/pro discussion of current issues.

  • In both pre-event messaging and in any introductory remarks, stress that the point of the event is to reconnect with what unites all of us as Americans, not what divides us.
  • If you have any pre-planned speakers, let them know what is, and is not, in bounds given the event purposes.
  • Trust in the power of the text of the Declaration to get people thinking about its application to today. For example, if you adopt a schedule like that outlined above, you could end the event with a simple, “Thank you everyone for coming today. I know that for me, personally, hearing the words of the Declaration spoken aloud and hearing what it means to just a few of our fellow citizens, it has given me a whole lot to think about what those words mean to us today, given our current political situation. I know I’ll keep thinking about that, and talking with my friends and neighbors, and I hope you will too.”

Some final thoughts on why not to push too hard. I know some people may object to this “kumbayah” approach. But it’s quite deliberate. You’re chances of persuading a current Trump supporter or sympathizer to change his or her views are infinitesimally small in the short term. If they are ever to changes their minds, it will happen over time as they become more and more aware of the disconnect between what they truly value and think is important with what Trump and his allies are doing, how they are doing it, and what they are delivering. We can’t rush that process, but we can help it along by encouraging everybody to refocus on their most deeply held values.

PDF here: Community Reading – Getting Started Guide

Notes from a meeting with a state delegate

Several Indivisibles had the opportunity to meet with state Del. Pat Young. He provided some dos and don’ts of constituent interaction.

-Be Aggressive. This is especially true if it is from a “faceless” organization and don’t have a relationship.
-Be Angry. Angry phone calls do not accomplish what you think they may accomplish.
-Threaten not to vote for them.  Rather word it as “I will remember your vote” or “I want to be able to vote for you in the future”.
-Send in a form email.

-Create a relationship with the representative. This helps establish trust. You can do this over the phone so they (and the staff) get to know you or in person.
-Organize and be prepared to explain your position and what you want.
-Act and be professional.
-Be specific with you want. Telling him to support wildlife is not helpful. Telling him to support a specific bill or a specific action such as “increase funding by X amount in Y area to support Z wildlife” is better.
-Research!  Know the details, including sponsor and co-sponsor’s.  For example, no need to aggressively write to a representative to support a bill if they are the sponsor.
-Get the bill in before the session begins. Once the state session begins it is difficult to have the time to research, form an opinion on, gain support, and decide.

What Bills are important?
Often times during a legislative session many bills are proposed. It is still true that only a handful of them will ever become law. However, how can you tell which ones stand a good chance?

According to the delegate, you don’t know for sure. However, you can get a feel for which one may be important (and thus have enough support) by looking at who proposed it and the committees they are on.

For example, if the Chair of the Veteran’s Committee proposed a bill that seeks to provide a one-time tax break for veterans when they purchase a Maryland home, you can assume that the bill stands a good job at getting out of committee and onto the floor for debate.

How to craft a good Email?
The subject of emails came-up and Del. Young provided some helpful advice. Email is often the easiest way to get into contact with the delegate. The delegate, when an email is received, will place them into a folder or add them into a count (such as # for and # against). The delegate will often try to respond to each email. Though, your milage may vary with other ones.

However, when crafting an email one should adhere to several guidelines:
1. Keep it short. It should be a paragraph 5 to 6 sentences.
2. If a bill number is known add it.
3. Explain who you are.
4. Where you are from (best if you are a constituent, be clear that you are).
5. Background of yourself.
6. Why is it important to the district I live in. There should be a clear link to how it will affect the district.
7. You should be knowledgable, personal, and thoughtful.
8. When writing a subject line it should be short and to the point. Include a name and location. Add a Bill Number

An example:

Subject line: John Smith | Catonsville | Concern about wildlife | Bill#12345

Dear Del. Young,
My name is John Smith. I am a taxpayer and hunter living in Catonsville, Maryland. The Catonsville area has several state parks, with major roads abutting them. There is a bill #12345 which seeks to limit the amount of deer a hunter can bag each season. According to ABC source, this will lead to an increase of the deer population. My wife works late and takes these roads home. I worry about an increase in motor vehicle accidents and injuries, which would lead to increased insurance costs for people living in the area. Please vote NO on the bill.

Thank you

Baltimore Steering Committee Notes April 8th

IndivisibleMD – Organizational Meeting
April 8, 2017

This meeting was called by J, Chief Strategist for IndivisibleMD. The stated purpose was to develop a Steering Committee that would guide future efforts by IndivisibleMD volunteers, and time permitting to conduct training on Building Power and Getting Ready for the Next Fights. J has been meeting with individual group leaders and coalitions that are forming across the state. A common wish is for a coordinating entity that can facilitate the sharing of information, resources, plans, and activities to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the grassroots organzations. IndivisibleMD is willing to take on this role, but the member groups should define the mission and functions, and conduct decision-making on issues that will arise.

Discussion/Questions/Ideas (organized by themes that emerged)
1. Purpose of a coordinating organization
a. IndivisibleMD was established per the Indivisible Guide with a focus on national-level issues. Early on there were requests to get involved in state and local issues. What criteria to use for deciding what to engage on and what not to engage on?
b. The national-level Indivisible Team is not interested in forming an organization that supports and coordinates activities across states. They are focused on creating tools and training materials for distribution to local groups.
c. How do we best share information across groups? How do we tailor information in a way that is useful to local groups versus broad information at the state or national level?
d. We should monitor the legislative calendar and send calls to action that are timely with scheduled votes at committee or general assembly levels rather than send out calls to action and bombard elected officials offices with statements at a time when no action is being taken. Staffers are beleaguered with the volume of calls and wish these to be more timely with votes.
e. One staffer suggested that organizing a petition drive on an issue would be helpful to the elected official who can point to a document with many names that support/oppose a particular position.
f. We should monitor the votes and positions taken by elected officials and create scorecards for future reference. This holds them accountable.
g. Should Indivisible groups engage in supporting/opposing individual election campaigns? Should we be wary of being coopted by a political party to help them with their campaign efforts?
h. What does it mean to be non-partisan? Does this term confuse people or discourage people who want to support a particular party that shares their values/goals? Is the term “not-affiliated with a party” a better way to say this?
i. Why are we pushing Democrats away? There are no Republicans who are supporting the liberal/progressive priorities. Why aren’t we supporting the candidates who share our views?
j. The current mission statement for IndivisibleMD was created 2 months ago by the then-current volunteers, but can be changed to suit the member groups who participate in the coalition. The mission statement should be helpful in sorting out what the coordinating group will do/not do.
k. There are many political issues and many diverging views on these issues. A coordinating group can invest a lot of time in working out positions based on members’ views, or it can leave that activity to local groups where the interest and energy is. Perhaps the coordinating group states objectives at a high level to allow room for local group choices.
l. The mission statement should have a long-term focus and not be specific to named persons and parties. One group has described concepts that they support or oppose in their mission statement to avoid the short-term nature of specific persons, e.g. being anti-Trump.
m. There is interest in helping Eastern and Western Maryland change the views of their residents and change the elected officials to support more liberal progressive actions. Any actions in those areas need to be directed by local groups, not proscribed by people from outside those Districts.
n. IndivisibleMD needs to define its goals and be able to measure when it has achieved those goals. This is important in maintaining member interest and engagement.
o. Rather than try to be all things to all groups, the steering committee needs to define a limited set of initial objectives that can be expanded later as the group matures and stabilizes.

2. Membership Criteria/Structure of Steering Committee
a. There many organizations that exist with liberal, progressive, resistance, and party affiliations. Should members be limited to Indivisible-affiliated groups or open to other groups with similar goals? The existing Maryland Resistance Coalition has membership of Indivisible-affiliated and other groups.
b. Coalitions are forming in areas such as I-Baltimore Coalition, MoCo Coalition, 1st District Coalition, and PG County Coalition. Should the steering committee be made up of a leader from these coalitions?
c. Having a member on the steering committee from each group is not workable since there are many, many groups. We could end up with a committee of 100 people.
d. Should the Steering Committee reflect the proportional membership of each area? Central Maryland is more population dense and has many large groups. Eastern and Western Maryland are less dense and have fewer, smaller groups.
e. A steering committee formed this month does not have to be permanent and can change its structure and membership as the needs of the member groups evolve. Perhaps the initial steering committee lasts for 6 – 9 months?
f. Discussion coalesced around a Congressional District-based steering committee with each member responsible for communications with each group that has members in their District. Some groups have members in multiple districts and they should choose a single District to identify their representative on the steering committee.
g. The member groups should identify a liaison person to communicate with the group’s District representative on the steering committee. The District rep. would be responsible for meeting with the group liaisons in his/her District and sharing information and representing the group’s views. P volunteered to draft a description of District Captain roles and responsibilities.
h. Those present at today’s meeting will be temporary District Captains. They are charged with canvassing the groups in their Congressional District and democratically electing a single person to serve as the District Captain on the Steering Committee. District Captains need to be identified by April 22, 2017.
i. IndivisibleMD can provide a list of known groups in each District and contact information to assist the temporary District Captains reach out to potential member groups.

3. Tools currently provided by IndivisibleMD
a. Website at provides information on elected officials, an events calendar, a discussion blog for each Congressional District, and postings on current news items. The platform is Weebly, and it is possible to establish a page for each member group, specific issues to consolidate information, and other topics.
b. Chat app at has been established to provide a secure space for MRC member discussions. IndivisibleMD needs a request to join and an email address for each member. Send your request to: XXX . Once in, there are tutorials on how to use Slack, multiple channels for discussion organized by topic, and capability for people to have a more private one-on-one chat.
c. IndivisibleMD also has a Slack site currently used by our volunteers for internal operations and information-sharing.

4. Miscellaneous
a. Non-profit organizations are either IRS 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4). The “c3” is very limited in lobbying or support political candidates and the “c4” has fewer limits. Understanding the rules is important to avoiding legal issues.
b. We need to include efforts to recruit and train new members. Diversity is lacking in some groups. We tend to cluster by race or age and lack skills to reach groups who are not like “us”. Continuously recruiting and mobilizing new members will be key to long term success.

1. The Steering Committee will initially be composed of one representative serving as a District Captain for all participating groups with members in the specific Maryland Congressional District.
2. The District Captain will be the link between participating member groups and the Steering Committee to represent their views and communicate actions by the Steering Committee.
3. This initial structure can change over time as the needs of the member groups change.
4. Those present at today’s meeting will be temporary District Captains. They are charged with canvassing the groups in their Congressional District and democratically electing a single person to serve as the District Captain on the Steering Committee. District Captains need to be identified by April 22, 2017.
5. J will schedule the first meeting of District Captains for a date after April 22, 2017.