[mgj-announce] MGJ meeting minutes 11/30/2005
basav at igc.org
basav at igc.org
Fri Dec 2 23:01:40 GMT 2005
These are very substantive notes, please read carefully.
Also, Sarah R and Matt K will be sending out a proposal on IMF budget
ceilings that's a part of this discussion.....
MGJ General Meeting minutes
A. Updates/Volunteer Needs/Working Group Meetings
1. UFPJ letter
Has been posted to large number of listserves and IMCs and sent to
individuals on UFPJ Steering Committee. Generated significant comment
already, a majority of it positive.
2. Education WG meeting
Monday 12/5, 6:30 pm, 50 Years is Enough office, 3628 12th St. NE (near
Brookland metro). For more info: hope at 50years dot org
3. Tax the Bank WG meeting
Tuesday 12/6, 4033 New Hampshire Ave. NW (near Petworth/GA Ave. Metro). For
more info: basav at igc dot org, 202-997-0479.
4. Tax the Bank update
DC Jobs with Justice has endorsed the Tax the Bank campaign. Yay!
5. Bhopal and Beyond
Justice in South Asia, a new organization, is holding an event on the
Bhopal gas leak and other struggles in South Asia. MGJ is cosponsoring the
Needed: MGJers as volunteers to help set up chairs, food and drink,
literature table, etc. If interested and available, contact debi at riseup
When: Saturday December 3, 2:00 pm. (Setup starts at 1:15, so be there
early if you want to help.)
Where: Fleming Center community room, 1426 9th St. NW (9th and P), near
6. Peace Center awards ceremony
When: Saturday December 3, 6 pm.
Where: Foundry United Methodist Church, 16th and P St. NW (near Dupont
MGJ has info table there. Interested in helping? Contact catherinebenedict
at earthlink dot net
7. Phonebanking for Jobs with Justice
Phonebanking to help raise funds for DC JwJ (of which MGJ is a proud
member). Monday 12/5 evening. Contact scolnik at gmail dot com for details
if you want to help out.
8. Workers Rights are Human Rights events
>From December 6-10, there will be a series of events nationwide (in
connection with Human Rights Day on December 10) to protest the systematic
assault on workers rights to form unions and bargain collectively, a trend
that Human Rights Watch has identified as one of the biggest abuses of
human rights in the US.
*Tuesday December 6: leafletting at Verizon Wireless stores to protest
their union-busting tactics. Contact Mackenzie of DC JwJ (mbaris at
solidaritycenter dot org) if you want to help.
*Thursday December 8: rally and march on workers rights. Gather at noon
outside the AFL-CIO. We will march (i.e. cross the street) to the White
House. MGJers are planning on being there as a contingent, and possibly
hand out a factsheet on the WTO and workers rights timely given the
upcoming WTO summit in Hong Kong. Want to join the MGJ contingent? Contact
basav at igc dot org
*Saturday December 10, details TBA. Immigrants rights festival at Marie
Reed cultural center in Adams Morgan.
B. Discussion on proposals/strategic planning.
We discussed 5 proposals for ongoing campaigns/projects for MGJ to take up.
Proposal 1: Schools/Tax the Bank
That MGJ work to support two existing campaigns which are fighting
privatization of the DC Public Schools. The first is a campaign to obtain
full funding for DC public schools and halt privatization brought about
through the charter school system. It is spearheaded by several groups
including the DCPS Full Funding Coalition, Save Our Schools SE/NE (SOS),
and Critical Resistance. The second is the Empower DC Peoples Property
Campaign, which is working to stop the sale of public properties, including
schools, to private interests and to instead use the properties for the
public good. This proposal should be seen in the context of MGJs on-going
support of a number of local groups as part of our local-global work and in
conjunction with our Tax the Bank campaign. It may be conceived as a
partner campaign of Tax the Bank rather than as a completely independent
campaign, since it promotes a concrete set of programs that need city
funding, and Tax the Bank can be used to advocate for a dedicated revenue
source for the needed funding. Tax the Bank can also be used to counteract
the standard conservative argument that there is no money to fund social
programs such as public schools. In this way, the campaign for quality
public education in DC and the campaign to make the World Bank and IMF pay
their fair share can act in support of each other.
Description of Groups involved:
The DCPS Full Funding Coalition is a coalition of groups working to obtain
full funding for DC public schools. Save Our Schools is a grassroots
non-profit organization of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)
parents, students, teachers, school workers, and public school supporters
working to achieve equity in the funding of neighborhood public schools.
SOS is a member of the DCPS Full Funding Coalition. Critical Resistance is
a national organization with local chapters, which seeks to build an
international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging
the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. Empower DC is
a local non-profit organization which empowers affected people to work on
issues important to low-income people, including affordable housing,
gentrification and affordable childcare.
Privatization is one of the pillars of neoliberalism, and is widely
practiced by the World Bank and IMF, as well as by local politicians here
in the US. It undermines democracy and self-determination wherever it
exists, as it puts public services, property and decision-making into the
hands of private interests. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina has exposed
the grim reality of neoliberalism here at home for the whole world to see.
Because the US holds itself up as the economic model to follow, any further
exposure and undermining of the neoliberal agenda that we do here at home
will have ripples globally. Fighting privatization of the DC public schools
will help to undermine privatization in general and to expose the ugly
realities of the neoliberal agenda right here in the nations capital. It
will also make MGJ more a part of the local activist community and will
help establish MGJ as a group that cares about globalization here at home.
MGJ would not assume a leadership role in these campaigns, but would
instead play a support role. The campaigns are being led by established
local grassroots groups made up of people affected by the issues. Our
commitment would be to offer our particular abilities to the campaigns as
needed. As it stands now, our work would involve three key components: help
with education, outreach and planning actions. In terms of education, we
can help bring a global perspective to any teach-in or other educational
forum. The grassroots groups will be the most capable of explaining the
local nuts and bolts, but we can bring a wider perspective and put the
issues in a national and international context. In terms of outreach, we
can put events on our listserves and website, and can make and distribute
fliers. In terms of planning actions, if the groups desire to have outside
actions to support their work inside a hearing or other type of meeting, we
can work with other local activists to plan and carry out a picket, street
theater, direct action or other type of demonstration. We can also attend
other types of planning meetings if we are asked to do so. Those are the
types of actions that are relevant to the current phase of these campaigns.
If other types of actions come up we can discuss those individually.
This proposal should be put into the context of work that MGJ is already
doing with local groups, including:
Empower DC (works on issues affecting low-income people: affordable
housing, gentrification and affordable childcare): we did a fundraiser for
them, and helped at a sign-making party and demonstration for Section 8
housing; some of us are regular volunteers
Jobs with Justice (brings together labor and community groups to fight for
workers rights): we are a member group and have provided testimony at a
City Council hearing on inclusionary zoning; one or two MGJers attend
monthly meetings; we recruited people for several demonstrations as part of
the Metro parking workers struggle, and one demonstration in support of
the DC Living Wage bill.
We are Family (organizes visits and food drops with low-income seniors): we
have done two special days in which a number of us volunteer; several of
us are regular volunteers.
Tax the Bank (campaign to get the World Bank and IMF to make payments in
lieu of taxes (PILOTS) to the city of Washington, DC): This is a campaign
started by the Black Radical Congress in 2001. Since then the campaign has
taken various forms, but recently several local groups have requested that
MGJ pick the campaign back up again and really get it going. We have been
working on this campaign in its current form since May, and we have made
significant progress: we have developed literature for the campaign, we
have three sponsoring organizations and we have gotten a number of
signatures on the petition. The group sign-on statement and petition were
developed jointly by MGJ and local partners, and are based on the original
documents drafted by the Black Radical Congress.
Proposal 2: IMF Budget Ceilings on Health Care
(Sarah and Matt to send out text)
Proposal 3: Targeting Predatory Lenders
Target a local predatory lender who holds World Bank bonds or has some
other connection to the IFIs, and force them to drop their bonds/other
connection. May be link to remittances issue by targeting financial
institutions who do wire transfers abroad at usurious rates, tie in to
immigration/global economy issues.
Proposal 4: Systematic Public Education
1) MGJ will, with NGO and community co-sponsors, organize a regular
educational event film screening, teach-in, etc in the DC area. The
topic of discussion could focus on issues brought up by current events,
ongoing campaigns, or skillshares. The events could all incorporate a
local-global component. Would help engage people outside of organizing.
2) MGJ will, perhaps on a biweekly schedule, engage in in-depth internal
education on the IFIs, on trade, on organizing strategies, on current
events, on the movement in other parts of the world. This is both for the
education of active members and could help attract a larger attendance
sucker them into staying for the substantive part of the meeting.
General Criteria for a "good issue"
1. Is specific and measurable (we know if we won or not): It is a specific,
ongoing program which would not lock MGJ into a narrow issue area.
2. Is winnable (re: our capacity), serves as a springboard for greater
movement building : Could help avoid potential pitfalls of traditional
winnability as MGJ would be in control of the final outcome, rather than
having the win determined by an institution.
3. Has a target: The target could be educating people in DC about
neoliberalism and alternatives.
4. Has potential allies and coalition-building potential: Yes.
5. Will both use our strength and build new capacity: Takes advantage of
our strength in popular education, and the education that takes place will
definitely go both ways.
6. Is deeply and widely felt by our organizers: I would hope so.
More specific internal MGJ criteria that the issue campaign should:
1. Deepen our linkages and relationships with (strong) local groups
struggling against structural adjustment here (who are they?): Offers a
much deeper connection and understanding than protest solidarity.
2. Have a direct link to the WB/IMF and be a logical step towards realizing
one of MGJs demands: Every event could have a WB/IMF focus, and reference
3. Make MGJ bigger (achieving critical mass at our meetings): Hopefully the
internal education would give folks a reason to show up and stick around.
4. Make the movement bigger (outside meetings: achieving more folks working
on our issues, coming to rallies): I would hope so.
5. Make MGJ & movement more diverse (not just who is in the room but also
groups with whom were organizing): Each event could have a target audience
with a view to having more diverse participation
6. Tie into the NGO community more: Definite opportunities to use NGO
7. Lend itself to direct action and popular education: Would have to take
some careful thinking about how it relates to direct action.
8. Will partner us with allies we like and who want to do "our kind" of
9. Will link to and take direction from movements in the global South: Yes.
Proposal 5: Feeding/Outreach with Homeless People in Murrow Park.
Do a weekly distribution of food/hot drinks to homeless people in Murrow
Park, as a way to serve them, connect with them, and highlight the
hypocrisy of the IFIs.
Discussion (summarizing the major points rather than trying to replicate
all of it):
Broad concern about campaigns in general: issue alienation. One of our
strengths is the multi-issue nature of the work we do. Our issues connect
with food sovereignty, health care and education access, workers rights,
immigrants rights, womens rights, indigenous peoples rights, the
environment, anti-militarism, etc. By focusing on 1-2 campaigns that
selectively address some (but not all) possible connections with our
issues, we risk alienating people who are particularly interested in some
of them. (For example, none of our campaigns as defined thus far have an
explicit environment or indigenous peoples link.)
Specific concern about our taking up a new campaign: we have an existing
campaign (Tax the Bank), which we are committed to doing. Do we have the
capacity to do justice to Tax the Bank and take up a new campaign? Wed
both be violating our own consensus and risking our credibility and
reputation in the community by dropping the ball on Tax the Bank.
A framework to re-examine the proposals are they:
a. A campaign by someone else that we play a supporting a role in?
b. An independent campaign that we play a lead role in?
c. A campaign that we play a lead role in, but potentially connectable with
our existing campaign (i.e. Tax the Bank)?
d. Not a campaign but an ongoing activity?
Using these criteria, heres what we came up with:
1. School privatization: a campaign by someone else that well be
supporting. Linked to Tax the Bank.
2. Budget ceilings: a campaign that well be playing the lead role in.
Potentially connectable with Tax the Bank.
3. Predatory lending: independent campaign that well be playing the lead
role in. No obvious link to Tax the Bank.
4. Public education: strictly speaking it is not a campaign but an ongoing
MGJ activity. However, it is also somewhat of an alternative paradigm that
addresses the issue alienation concern.
5. Murrow Park homeless outreach: ongoing MGJ activity. This is a bit of a
different animal than our other campaign proposals and cannot be evaluated
in parallel with them. We can always take it up in addition to anything
else we do. Discussion on this idea to be postponed, but we MUST NOT LET IT
FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS, we must remember to come back to it after were
done with our campaigns/strategic planning discussion.
Two things well need on proposals 1-4 for next meeting:
a. Flesh out the details (including list possible partners, action steps,
b. Figure out if there is a way to relate it to Tax the Bank.
C. Next facilitator Catherine and????? If youre interested in
cofacilitating contact catherinebenedict at earthlink dot net
mail2web - Check your email from the web at
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