Minutes and Audio Recording - General Meeting, March 6, 2017

Click here to listen to the audio recording of our March 6th meeting.

Meeting minutes:

General Meeting #4

March 6, 2017

Central Synagogue of Nassau County/Congregation Beth Emeth

6:45-7:30pm - Technology Training/New Member Orientation

New members were given an overview of RaisingVoicesUSA; one-on-one assistance provided on using social media, smartphones, and other technology tools for engagement.

7:30pm - General Meeting

Meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, sung by RVC high school students.

Cindy  and Emma welcomed attendees and thanked the Temple for hosting our group. Announced that the meeting was being audio-recorded; the recording will be posted to our website and Facebook Group.

Reminder that we are gathered as private citizens for nonpartisan action, and to keep this in mind during upcoming discussion and action.

New Member Orientation Recap

An overview of the group - who we are, what we’ve been doing, and what we’d like to do moving forward.

  • RaisingVoicesUSA is a grassroots, nonpartisan group focused on advancing causes relating to social justice

  • Based in the Rockville Centre community but rapidly spreading and growing with Facebook group members throughout the greater LI/New York community and across the U.S. (and internationally!)

  • Education and advocacy are at the heart of our mission

  • Our goals are:

    • To help people connect within the community and create a space of like-minded individuals

    • To be a source for vetted and valid information

    • To empower and encourage action to preserve social justice and protect our democratic ideals.

  • It is central to the group’s values to keep words and actions positive, and to set a positive example for others.

  • Civil engagement should be a passion and a lifelong pursuit - we should all be involved and be able to take pride in our country and in our government.

  • We are working to occupy a moderate middle ground, not advocating for any one political party or representative, and encouraging reasonable, respectful conversation.

  • This group is new and structure is fluid. We are learning as we go, and we encourage open dialogue and are eager for your input.

About our Committees

Committees are sources for vetted information and opportunities to learn. Members are encouraged to get involved, attend meetings and events, and contribute your skills - showing up and finding your way to engage is the most important thing.

  • Women’s Rights

  • LGBTQ

  • Immigration

  • Environment

  • Education

  • Gun Violence Prevention

  • Unity and Diversity

  • Local Elections

  • Heathcare

  • Post Card parties

Recap of Recent Activities

Postcard Parties (Jill G.)

There are too many issues/topics to deal with at our monthly meetings - these smaller postcard parties provide an opportunity for members to talk and share thoughts and information. Parties are happening 1-3 times per week and usually produce around 150 postcards. She noted that although writing a postcard doesn’t seem like much, writing dozens, or hundreds, CAN. It’s easy to ignore one, but it’s not so easy to ignore mountains, especially when they arrive day after day. Our voices in large enough numbers can have an impact. The most important things are to be seen and heard where our voices matter, but we have to hit from every angle, and postcards allow us to do that. Parties will be announced via the Facebook group; all are encouraged to attend, and contributions of stamps or printed cards are appreciated.

Cindy and Emma also noted that they hope to arrange a large, interfaith postcard party at one of RVC’s houses of worship in the coming weeks - details will be announced on Facebook and on the website when they are available.

Immigration Forum Recap (Ed M.)

To start, Ed asked for a round of applause for Rachel and Sylvia, who lead the forum and who work to address Immigration issues every day.

At the forum, we discussed the many pathways to citizenship, and the fact that most lead to a dead-end (charts are on the RVUSA website), as well as pathways to legalization, which often vary by country. We discussed recent deportation activities, and the idea of “sanctuary” cities/schools - there is no legal definition or true protection applied to this idea, and individuals need to be cautious about potentially being charged with harboring criminals.

Ways we can help:

  • Engage with local law enforcement and find out if they plan to cooperate with/assist on ICE raids - not currently a problem on Long Island but something we need to pay attention to.

  • Help to educate and inform the people around you, especially undocumented immigrants, about their rights when dealing with ICE.

    • Do not let anyone into your house without a warrant

    • Beware of scammers who are stealing money for supposed assistance/legal services but don’t actually provide them

    • Bilingual “Know Your Rights” info available from ACLU (and cards available to buy)

  • Support businesses that support immigrants.

We ask the Immigration committee to review the newest Immigration Bill and make recommendations for response/action.

Janine also noted that there is still a need for volunteers to assist immigrants and detainees at JFK.

Where to go for information and help with immigration issues:

  • Tweet @nobanjfk on Twitter

  • Hofstra Law School deportation clinic (not up and running yet)

  • Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association

  • Bronx Defenders/Brooklyn Defenders

  • NYCLU/ACLU

  • Office of New Americans

  • Long Island Immigration Coalition

How to Live-Tweet/Live-Update an Event (Jaime J.)

If you are at an event or demonstration, you can live-post to social media to allow other group members to follow-along and share the experience.

On Facebook, make a new post saying where you are, what you’re attending, and that you’ll be live-posting the event, then post updates as comments to your post.

On Twitter, you’ll post each update as a new post- use hashtags to keep your comments together and searchable, and be brief (remember Twitter’s 140-character limit!)

In all cases, be careful to be accurate and post exactly what you’re hearing, and if you make an error, be sure to say so and correct it. Remember that you can’t take things back once they’re posted. You may also be asked by the people reading your posts to ask questions or otherwise interact, so be ready to do so if and when you can.

Remember it’s for the greater good - helps keep people informed and encourages participation!

U.S. Government 101

Local attorney Christine Q. gave a thorough overview of our constitution and the three branches of government, and how we need to work within them to resist harmful legislation. (Full notes will be available at a future date.)

Future educational events and workshops will be planned to build off of this information and continue to spread knowledge about our government and legislative system.

Funding

Cindy and Emma noted that until now the group has been funded entirely be donated time and monetary contributions from a handful of generous individuals, but the group is growing beyond the point where that is sustainable. We are asking for contributions of any size to assist RVUSA in our important work. Note that we do have a treasurer who will ensure all finances are handled responsibly. Online donations not available yet but hope to add as an option at a later date.

Q&A

What is the value of other small groups starting up in our communities! Should we encourage others to join us instead and increase our power/reach that way?

Emma answered that all are welcome in RVUSA, but we can also collaborate with other groups if they feel the need to organize separately.

Are there communication options available for group members who may not be online? (Particularly older populations)

Members suggested starting a senior outreach group within RVUSA; also suggested advertising via flyers/posters are local libraries and community centers.

Will RVUSA address issues of voting rights? Has not been spoken about much in the group so far.

Local elections committee may address this somewhat, but we recognize this as a civil rights issue. Cindy and Emma will take under consideration.

Upcoming events:

Continuing our Tuesday visits to elected officials

  • A question was asked about conducting these visits on different days of the week so that members who are unavailable on Tuesdays can sometimes participate. Tuesdays are designated in the Indivisible Guide, but Cindy and Emma will take this under consideration, there will be exceptions. For instance, last week’s visit was Monday to observe the Nassau County Legislature.

People Power Kickoff: ACLU Resistance Training Livestream

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm

Looking for a host to watch the livestream, but members are encouraged to participate on their own or at currently-planned events.

Islamic Center of Long Island Meetup (Introduction to Islam presentation, panel discussion and Q&A)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2:00pm-4:00pm

Central Synagogue Beth Emeth

430 DeMott Avenue

Rockville Centre, New York 11570

Next general meeting: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Central Synagogue of Nassau County/Congregation Beth Emeth

RaisingVoicesUSA Admin