General Membership Meeting, Minutes
Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP)
November 30, 2016
Held at A-Space, 4722 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia.
Present: Galen Tyler, Taj McGruder, Jerrod Anderson, Amanda Joachim, Olivia Faison, Kevin Bellardine, Andy Cook, Sheila Ptah, Assantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, Martha O’Connell, Willem Foster, Tremaine Lewis, Kentu Malik, Belinda Davis, Hillary Kane, Eric Hamell, Margaret Neary, Mike “Georgy” Georgeson, James Robertson, Murielle McCarthy, Scott McCarthy, Jake Biando, Anne Johnson, Ian McShea, Seth, Chris Robinson, Ernest Schulte, Alex Gillett, Jeff Stanley, Emily Wyner, Charles Sherrouse, Mark Heacock, and Charles Neary
There were no additions or amendments to the agenda. All present introduced themselves.
Announcements included the following:
–Provisional screening of the documentary The Red Pill on 12/8; sign up at tugg.com by 6:30 p.m. on 12/1, to make it happen
–Meeting of the PHL Solidarity Committee, Sat. 12/3, 1-3 p.m., Arch St. United Methodist Church, https://www.facebook.com/PHLSolidarityForum/
–Tentative end-of-year event for GPOP; keep your eyes out for specifics, and contact Belinda, email@example.com, if you would like to help plan something.
–Internal elections for GPOP City Committee (chair, treasurer, membership secretary, recording secretary, and three at-large positions) to take place (as every year) over the two monthly membership meetings on January 25 and February 22, 2017; details to follow, via the listserv and social media
–Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) quarterly meeting in Harrisburg, 1/28 – 29/’17; details to follow
Discussion of electoral politics.
Chris Robinson gave a report on the Electoral Operations Working Group, which currently consists of 19 people. This group helps get Greens out to polling sites on (and before) elections, to distribute literature, etc. They also seek out members interested in running for electoral office. For 2017, this will include city comptroller, district attorney, and also inspectors of election, for which we currently have an elected Green in one set of divisions.
Sheila Ptah indicated interest in running as comptroller; Olivia Faison likewise as an inspector of election.
We also discussed possibilities for the development of a party apparatus of neighborhood leaders (something like “ward leaders”).
Green Party candidates won enough votes in Pennsylvania in the November election to regain state ballot access. This means “Green” will appear as a choice for party affiliation on voter registration forms (electronic and ultimately also paper). Greens can also run in special elections without an onerous burden of signatures.
Hillary Kane noted: when registering as Green on paper voter registration forms, where the choice is still only to write it in, it is very important to write just “Green” and not “Green Party”!
Andy Cook observed that it was far more politically significant to register as “Green” rather than as “Independent.” Olivia emphasized that it would be well worth figuring out how to audit elections more broadly, even beyond the Stein/Baraka campaign’s current presidential recount effort. Ian observed the usefulness of the Committee of 70, including in terms of familiarizing ourselves with our own wards.
Moving beyond electoral politics.
The main topic of the evening. Ian McShea proposed the establishment of an Organizing Working Group; Andy Cook, Amanda Joachim, Galen Tyler, and Belinda Davis registered their interest. Others interested should please contact Ian (ianmcshea-at-gmail.com) at their earliest convenience. Assantewaa suggested that the Trump election should act as a call for social justice advocates to be that much more engaged in politics, not just at election time, and that we ourselves need to move on this, on a range of local issues.
Galen and Hillary noted the value of having a short-, medium-, and longer-term “game plan”—and of working to prevent burn-out. James Robertson suggested there could be use in a strategic analysis, assessing the work of GPOP in the recent past, to determine what has worked more and less well. All agreed on the principles of working where people were, on what people were concerned about. There was also wide support for the idea of coalitioning with other active groups (such as Reclaim Philly, the Solidarity Forum, DecarceratePA, Friends of the Wissahickon, etc., etc.), with individuals acting as liaisons between GPOP and other groups; with getting out to others’ activities as well as planning our own (also with other groups); of “being seen being Green” (as Kevin Bellardine noted); and of taking the stance of learning from other groups, as well as offering our own experience. Specific issues mentioned included protest alongside 350.org against the natural gas plant proposed for Nicetown; replacement of the School Reform Commission (SRC); and removal of children from their homes effectively because of their parents’/caregivers’ poverty; and other still more local issues.
Primary importance of outreach.
James addressed pre-election activities of the Outreach Working Group (including a park clean-up, BBQs, flyering), and emphasized the need for updated GPOP literature. Assantewaa noted the value of having literature in Spanish as well as English, and possibly in other languages. Ian and Willem both noted their Spanish language abilities. Georgy Georgeson pointed out the importance of focusing on non-voters: those who have given up on what they perceive to be the limits of political expression and choices. Olivia mentioned participating in neighborhood block parties as one means to get out the word. Sheila suggested putting lawn signs up now, precisely with the election over, and also the importance of “tabling,” and otherwise making oneself available to answer questions about being Green.
Galen said that, for Greens to be strong in Philadelphia, they have to look like Philadelphia. He noted that many of those present came from northwest Philly (e.g. Germantown), and suggested that that could be one good place to start.
Taj Magruder offered to found a Communications Working Group, which would also work on explaining the party and its activities to people of different identities (ethnic, class, gender, sexual, religious, etc.). Please contact Taj Magruder, if you are interested: tcm5116-at-gmail.com. He spoke of the importance of developing our social media presence (as well as reaching those not on social media).
Murielle reinforced the usefulness of developing various “scripts,” and suggested the usefulness of trainings to approach different audiences — including former Bernie Sanders supporters. This included some of those present, Emily Wyner reminded us, who are still seeking more information to make their decisions, and suggested we try working with focus groups.
We reviewed the Greens’ international Four Pillars (Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, and Nonviolence), and the U.S. Greens’ additional six (Decentralization, Community-Based Economics, Feminism, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus/Sustainability), totaling Ten Key Values. These are also listed on the little information cards that Alia Rahman has developed for GPOP, some of which were distributed at the meeting. Belinda also has more; contact her at bedavis-at-rutgers.edu, if you want some right away.
The discussion closed with an emphasis on the importance of moving ahead quickly now, without losing momentum (while also trying not to burn out!). Mark Heacock, who reported on the strong turnout at recent Green meetings in New Jersey, suggested that this was a primary concern also for those Greens.
Hillary Kane gave the treasurer’s report, noting a current balance of $1456.46 in our account. Over $160 was then collected at the meeting.
Belinda Davis, GPOP Recording Secretary
Written on December 6, 2016