Minutes for MPJC Meeting of February 9, 2011

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Rey, Wanda, Galen, Ed, Pam, Ron, Lois

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for December 15: The minutes were approved as written

    2. Progress Reports
        a. Topic of the Month: End War, Reduce the Deficit: We noted that this topic is still very important and should be pursued further. Peter will look at the Wand and NPP websites and try to come up with a proposed position to be sent to the list for comments.

        b. Martin Luther King Day table and workshop: Lois and others were disappointed in the low number of people who stopped by the table during the day. We were pleased by the number of people who attended the workshop, due in large part by Mike Griffin going out and rounding people up. The St. Marcellus play was well received although may not have spoken clearly to young people - was the message: "if you refuse to fight in war you will be killed?" Mike did a great job introducing the audience to the words "Conscientious Objector." James Summers described Project Impact and told what is available through his organization. A representative from Congressman Donnelly's office described their work to help young people get jobs and higher education, including a workshop on filling out FAFSA. Many audience members left after the play, probably to secure good seats for the 3:00pm event. One suggestion in our discussion was to do a play modeled on the experience of military conscientious objector Camilo Mejia. His story is much more true to current conditions.

        c. IPJN News: The Midwest Peace and Justice Summit will be on March 26, 2011 at one of the Indianapolis college campuses. Rey asked if we would be interested in doing a war tax resistance workshop at the summit. He will send email to the organizers asking if this would be well received. On the recent conference call, most of the discussion was on educating folks about their issues, and brainstorming what to do about Indiana's widespread support for the unmanned drone program that has killed so many civilians in Afghanistan.

        d. MoveOn campaign against Washington corruption: We have heard nothing since the December 11 vigil. MoveOn has lost a lot of support since it became so involved in the Obama campaign. We will drop this item until they become more active. Ed showed an interest in getting in touch with the local MoveOn leaders. Rey will send him Lori's email contact info.

        e. Sacred Space Denied film: Several folks had seen this film which talked about the difficulties Palestinians in Bethlehem have in traveling to and from their homes due to the wall separating Israelis and Palestinians. Rey wondered how we can get more people aware of the new aparteid. Lois suggested inviting politicians to sit around a table with us to let them know we are concerned. Ellyn doubted that they would come. Ed suggested attending one of their town hall meetings in sufficient numbers that they recognize our concerns.

3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is $155.06 with $30 in petty cash. We spent $27.82 on MLK flyers. Peter passed some around for folks to pass out in different venues. We used the back side of some of them to print information we passed out at the War Tax Resistance talk. See below. Very few were picked up at the MLK table.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We wove this item in with other discussion.

    2. Little Taste of Peace: Glenda Rae reported that there was a good turnout (more than 80 people). Folks hung around to talk afterwards and the discussion at the tables was good. There was good support from the Unitarians. One of the questions that dominated the discussions and generated several letters to the editor of the Tribune was, "What is the true America?" One letter from Marcellus, MI, missed the point and we suspect that the author did not attend the Little Taste of Peace. The food, as always, was delicious.

    3. War Tax Resistance workshop: Ellyn and Rey described the purpose for Our Lady of the Road - provide hospitality on Friday, Saturday, Sunday mornings and a weather amnesty to house 10 men overnight during the winter months. On the first Friday of the month, they sponsor a Mass, potluck, and talk on a topic of interest. Last Friday, four of us showed a brief film and fielded questions on war tax resistance. There was a big crowd for the Mass and potluck and about 35 stayed for the presentation. It was well received. Ellyn will send to the list the resource sheet we passed out. This topic led us to a brief discussion of Heath Savings accounts (HSA) which folks with only high-deductible health insurance can use to set aside tax-free money to pay for health care and prescriptions. Money not used in one year will carry on to the next year. New this year are Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) which work with regular employer-sponsored health insurance plans and can be used to buy over the counter medicines without a prescription. FSAs are a use-it-or-lose-it proposition, but one has until March 31 of the next year to use the previous year's funds.

    4. Peace Education Fund Board: The Peace Education Fund of Indiana, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 not for profit organization that currently holds funds for MPJC, Study Circles, Michiana Social Forum, and the Nicaragua Education and Health project. The Board needs new members and the funding organizations have been asked to suggest potential candidates. Social Forum has suggested three so far. Ed and Wanda said they would consider becoming board members, and Peter will send them information about the Fund. Ed will see if there are some peace-oriented people at ND business school where he works that might provide some accounting expertise to the Board. Once we have the names, the current Board will meet and select the new members. Peter, who is current president, needs to resign because of his involvement in the Nicaragua project.

    5. April 18 activities: Tax Day is April 18th this year. We decided not to gather at the Post Office this year since many people are filing electronically and there were not many coming by to mail their returns last year. We discussed having a penny poll, perhaps under a canopy set up by Rey, over the noon hour on the corners of Michigan and Jefferson. We would hand out leaflets on the four corners. Lois will get permission from Downtown South Bend. Peter will get the leaflets. He and Ellyn will be out East at that time. We will make more definite plans at the next meeting.

    6. Topic of the Month: We decided to continue work on the "End War, Reduce the Deficit," topic for next time.

    7. Other Topics and Issues: Ed wondered if we had ever taken time to set goals for MPJC so we could look at the tactics we are employing and see if they are meeting the goals. If not we should change tactics. Perhaps we could dedicate a meeting to this issue, or meet separately to discuss it. There was not much enthusiasm, but we will put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Ed also was willing to have some folks over to his house to see if there was some common ground between us and the local tea partiers and others in hope of creating a broad-based third party. He will post the invitation to the list.

    8. Next meeting: The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 17 at 7pm at Pam and Ron's house. All are welcome.