WNPJ Steering Committee Meeting April 15, 2012 at Echo Valley Farm, Ontario, WI

WNPJ Steering Committee Meeting April 15, 2012 at Echo Valley Farm, Ontario, WI
Minutes taken by Steve Burns

Members, Member Group Representatives and Visitors: Judi Jellie (Boscobel Code Pink), Julia Buckingham (SOUL of the Kickapoo), Annie Waitzman (Boscobel Code Pink)
Co-chairs: Tom McGrath and Dena Eakles (Echo Valley Hope)
Board: Clif Morton (Fox Valley Peace Coalition, Wisconsin State Human Relations), Paul Moriarty (Milwaukee VFP), Barb Munson, Eva Schulte (Groundwork), Liz Bruno (Groundwork), Margie Jessup (Rock County Fellowship of Reconciliation), Janet Parker (Farley Center, Forward Marching Band, Madison Quakers), Mary Beth Schlagheck (Vigil for Peace), Chris Kuehnel (Sheboygan VFP, Peace Action WI), Tom McGrath
Staff: Judy Miner (also UNA state and Dane County, Solidarity Sing-Along, PC Foundation), Carl Sack (also Grassroutes Caravan), Diane Farsetta (also East Timor Action Network), Steve Burns (also Solidarity Sing-Along)

1) Nominating Committee - Diane reported on how the committee selects and nominates new candidates for board membership, asks for volunteers to serve on this committee. No volunteers yet.  She'll send out an email invitation to the full membership.  (Update - Tom McGrath, Hildegard Dorrer and Steve Burns will be on the committee.  Thank you all!)

2) Reports from the field
Janet reports on a new member group, Forward Marching Band in Madison, now performing a couple of times a week. To schedule a performance: go to forwardband.org and fill out the form. Available any night except Mondays, which is practice night.

Julia reports on SOUL of the Kickapoo, which is named in honor of the effort to stop the Arrowhead-Weston power line ten years ago. They promote alternatives to the 345 kilovolt line proposed to run from Black River Falls to Viola. Methane digesters and other alternative energy sources can't tap into the 345kv line. They propose that $3 per month from utility bills go to Focus on Energy rather than to the power line, to encourage energy conservation. An effective tactic: Organizing "The Other Open House" when utility schedules "open house" events to promote the power line. They plan to table at the Madison Farmer's Market, using WNPJ's table space, on June 9th.

Clif reports on the Indian Logo/Mascot suit in Mukwanago, which is on appeal. Also expect a suit in Berlin. Q: Can logo/mascot opponents file an amicus brief? A: Barb says WIFA Great Lakes Intertribal Council have written an amicus brief, refers to 900 pages of research on which the state Department of Public Instruction based its decision to ban the Indian mascots.

Barb says we will be struggling with logo/mascot issue for years to come, and the best way is through education. "We need to be vigilant, this issue is not going away -- it's huge in terms of civil rights." Barb directs us to indianmascots.com, says they need allies to respond when news breaks, especially on newspaper comment boards. Not worth getting in to extended debate with mascot supporters, just leave a calm and reasonable message and move on.

Chris is concerned about the low level of activity in the peace movement. In his church, he sees more people joining the military, and not much effort to prevent this.

Janet urges people to join Walk for Peace from Madison to NATO meeting in Chicago mid-may, you can join in for a few hours, or a day or the whole walk.  (See WNPJ member group Voices for Creative Nonviolence website - www.vcnv.org - for details.)

Annie from Boscobel Code Pink is planning a May 13th Mothers Day event, also reminds us that David Giffey is still doing his regular walk for peace along highway 14, and still regularly goes to local schools to counter military recruiters.

Carl reports on buses from Madison to Chicago on May 20th to join in the march against NATO. This is a legally-permitted, family-friendly march. Bus info here: wnpj.org/node/6715

Mary Beth asks us to address handicapped accessibility on bus. Steve will check with bus company about this.

Carl also reports on the Grassroutes Caravan bike ride to Chicago, which leaves Madison on May 13th and arrives in Chicago on May 18th.

Carl gives us a mining update - short summary: We won! But Senators Jauch and Schultz are still working to put together a mining bill, talking to Wisconsin Mining Association and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (George Meyer). We will need to monitor this. Companies are also prospecting for gold near Wausau, and they may be able to find a way around the mining moratorium.

Janet recommends a report on the Progressive Magazine website about a recent talk in Madison by Patty Loew about the mining struggle and its impact on native people.

Carl recommends wcmcoop.org, Wisconsin Citizens Media Coop, as a source of news on mining and other issues.

Barb recommends keeping the anti-mining effort going through regular conferences, "We need to sustain these organizations for the long term."

Carl says WNPJ will also have a workshop on mining at the MREA this year.  (Update: Will be on Sat June 16 at 2 pm in the black tent; WNPJ is also holding a workshop on shifting away from a war economy, on Fri June 15 at 4 pm in the black tent.)

Diane says the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Family Farm Defenders and Madison-Arcatao Sister City Project (all WNPJ member groups) have been a part of anti-mining efforts and are calling attention to the Commerce Group, based in Milwaukee, is suing the government of El Salvador for not allowing it to continue  mining.

Diane thanks Carl for work on anti-mining campaign, "Carl is awesome!"

Chris asks: What does the environment work group do? Could it be directed to work more broadly on issues related to sustainability? (A: Yes)

Diane reports on East Timor Action Network and its Tour de Timor on May 20th, a 13 mile bike ride, will be raising funds for a scholarship for two students from the small village of Cassa to go to school in Ainaro, from middle school through high school.

Tom, the Chair of our Peacemaker of the Year award committee, invites us to think about people to nominate for the award.  Judy says the nomination form is on the WNPJ website (wnpj.org), the person making the nomination can also choose whether to check with the nominee first or to leave that to us.

Dena reports on Echo Valley Hope, hosting events for 350.org and UN Day of Peace, a cultural exchange for New Zealand elders, Iraqi peace activist Sami Rasouli. As WNPJ co-chair, she's focusing on "outreach to people working toward peace in whatever way they can, not just confined to traditional peace-movement activities." Echo Valley will be hosting a Vets for Peace concert May 5th with Jason Moon.

Paul shares Chris' frustration with the lack of energy in the peace movement, "just trying to get members to a meeting is difficult." He wants to organize a statewide meeting of VFP members (Judy recommends contacting Steve Books in Madison about this).  Milwaukee VFP will also be hosting political singer/songwriter Dave Rovics on May 17th.

Paul reports on the Milwaukee Homeless Vets Initiative, started by Mark Foreman and Dennis Johnson. Worked to find vets among Milwaukee's homeless population, connecting them up with VA benefits, worked with Feeding America, a food delivery system to vets and homeless communities scattered all over the city. Also set up a Vets House with room for 5 residents, but this closed because those involved didn't feel qualified to deal with some of the drug and mental illness problems that came up. Now, operating a weekly food pantry which has been open since Dec. 2009, serving about 200 people a week, with over 450 registered to receive food. Homeless Vets Initiative has raised over $100k in donations plus $30k in in-kind donations, so it's time for HVI to break away from VFP and become a separate 501(C)3, website is neverhomeless.org

Judy reports on several member groups she is involved with:
Anti-drone vigils at Volk Field near Mauston being organized by Madison Pledge of Resistance, next vigil: Tuesday, April 24th
Solidarity Sing-Along celebrates their 350th performance of labor and civil-rights songs at the Capitol on April 26th.
PC Foundation, new member group, offers fiscal sponsorship to groups not 501(C)3, we will advertise this service to our member groups.
United Nations Association - Wisconsin is looking for new people to get involved, have a brand-new President who wants to revive the organization.
From Judy's count, we have 20 member groups represented here!

Eva reports on Groundwork, an anti-racism collective based in Madison that organizes a 6-8 week anti-racism workshop every other year, has one scheduled for 2012. Groundwork also supporting local organizations to get "Housing is a Human Right" initiatives passed (did this in Madison) also pressing for a community garden in Madison's Brittingham Park. Also doing more work with schools, sees much more discussion in Madison of the black-white achievement gap in city schools. Groundwork is also in the early stages of organizing a childcare collective.

Barb reminds us that Hmong and Native American students at UW-LaCrosse and UW Eau Claire organize a yearly conference in partnership with faculty, she recommended Groundwork as a contact, so they may be hearing from these students soon.

Margie gives recognition to Sue Nelson for organizing a vigil outside Congressman Paul Ryan's office every week and once a month on Milton Avenue. She has also brought many speakers to Janesville, including Chris Reeder, leader of Solidarity Sing-Along and Steve Burns.