Hello Members of the 9-12 Project of Central Pennsylvania!
First, I wanted to thank everyone for joining this organization, for participating in the Tea Party (and other events), and for waking up to realize that something is wrong. We all joined this group for some reason – to bring about some sort of change in our lives, to try to make a difference in what our government is doing, or maybe just to find a group of like-minded individuals to socialize with.
You may feel that, after the Tea Party, we haven't accomplished very much. I also know that some of you who are unable to attend Thursday meetings are also feeling like this group might not accomplish anything for you. If you believe that this group is not going to accomplish anything else, then you will lose interest. You will stop coming to meetings, you will stop visiting the web site, and you will stop participating.
If you feel this way, I am writing to urge you to reconsider. Yes, we have gotten a little bogged down in organizational details, but out of that organization, we now have several active committees that have formed. This is the time when we need as much participation from everyone as possible. Whether you can only spend 30 minutes a week doing something for the group, or 40 hours, it will all be a help.
So, you ask, what should you do?
It is nearly impossible to coordinate a group of 200 people in performing any activity. In any organization, a large group forms smaller units, where each unit is dedicated to a specific purpose. Each of these smaller units is empowered by, and trusted by, the larger group to perform its task.
These small units have many names - “Focus Groups”, “Teams”, or “Committees”, are the terms we have used here. Whatever you want to call them, we need them! And, we need people to be active in them.
Your participation in each Team can vary from taking a leadership role, to just making yourself available should any work need to be done.
To introduce you to the Teams, let me describe what we have been doing. This is not a complete list. If any of you have other ideas, I ask you to suggest them!
Memorial Day Parade
A group of us participated in the Memorial Day parade in Boalsburg. This was a good way to get some visibility in the local community.
Our group won the “Third Place Marching Group” award in the Parade! That award came with a check for $25! They liked our color-coordinated clothing, and our professional signs. But, if you ask me, it was the little white dog that did it!
Pennsylvania Tax Protest, Tuesday, June 9
Kris Eng has been leading the effort to get a group of people to go to Harrisburg. This is an important event, and a chance for you to let your state representatives know that we will no longer tolerate their out-of-control spending of our money, and the ever-increasing tax burden on citizens.
The plan is to get enough Pennsylvania citizens to occupy the State Capitol building for the day, in a peaceful protest. This event is endorsed by Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe.
Fourth of July Rally in Washington, D.C.
Greg Fasolt is leading an effort to get a group of people to go down to Washington, D.C. on July 4. A national organization has scheduled a March and a Rally on this day. The plan for us is to rent a bus, drive down that morning, participate in the rally, and return the same day. We want to get as many local people to join this protest as possible. If we can't get enough people from our own group to go, we will advertise the event, and try to get other people from the community.
Kris Eng is planning to attend the Flag Day ceremonies at the Boalsburg Military Museum. This event, like the Memorial Day Parade, is not a protest, or an issue-oriented event. We should be respectful of the primary purpose of the ceremony. It is more a way for us to get some visibility in the community.
An ad-hoc committee has been formed to plan this event. If you are interested, please start by joining the Flag Day group on the website.
We need money! Personally, I am not very good at asking people for money, so this is the hardest subject for me to talk about. It costs money to have a Tea Party, to rent a conference room for a meeting, to rent a bus to go to Washington for a protest, or to print up fliers.
Personally, I would rather get money by holding events that are interesting or fun for people to attend, rather than asking for donations. But there are probably many other ways to raise funds, which I am not aware of.
We need a Fund-Raising Committee whose purpose is to figure out ways to get money. This will be a very important Standing Committee. I ask any of you who have any interest or experience in this area to join that Committee.
Ann Taylor has volunteered to design a “Graphic Identity” for our group, which would define the overall appearance of any publications, newsletters, or fliers we may produce. If possible, we would apply it to our website, as well.
She may be presenting some of her ideas to the group at our June 11 meeting.
We are planning to have a newsletter. We are not sure how often we would publish – to start we would probably do it on an as-needed basis. The newsletter would not only serve our group, but we would distribute it to as many interested or related people as possible. It is a great way to get our views out there.
For this effort, we need writers! If you feel you have something to say – to educate the public about an important issue, to discuss how we would function in a survival situation, to talk about political philosophy, this is your chance!
We also need a board of editors, and we must determine how the newsletter will be published or distributed.
If you are interested, please join the Newsletter Group on the web site.
Chris Buchignani is working on getting permission to have screenings of educational or documentary movies, hopefully at the State Theatre.
These events are also a good way to reach out and educate the community. One thought I had might be to schedule a formal debate or discussion, immediately following the movie.
Currently, Chris is spearheading this effort himself, but he may need some people to help him.
Individuals within the group are tracking current legislation which is important to our goals. Some have posted in the blogs or forums on our web site, about these issues.
The plan here is to alert the entire membership when it is time to act to stop or support such important legislation. Any such recommendation will be based upon the principles and values of our group.
Some have pointed out that there are web sites out there, where you can, at the click of a button, send an email to a representative stating your position. I believe that such websites are not very effective. The representative's staff very quickly realize the source of such emails, and realize that it doesn't take much effort to click a button.
However, if a person takes the time to write a letter, or make a personal phone call, or even sign a petition which includes personally identifiable information (address and phone number, for example), these things carry more weight.
I would like to have a more coordinated effort, and a better communications system, for alerting the group to act, and to educate the group on the proper way to contact your representative. Phone trees, email list servers, and establishing a web site dedicated to this purpose are all suggestions I have heard.
For this purpose, I propose the Political Activism Committee (suggestion thanks to Greg Fasolt), dedicated to the purpose of tracking issues, legislation, and candidates; educating the group; and alerting us when it is time to act.
Coordinating with State and National 9-12 Project Groups
Kris Eng has been working closely with a state group, which is trying to establish a network for all of the 9-12 and Tea Party groups in the state, and, I assume, eventually at the National level. This is one of the key goals for our group, because Glenn Beck stated in his first show, that we could become a Political Action Committee, that represents our founding principles, rather than monetary special interests. In order to achieve that goal, we will eventually have to coordinate with other groups.
Greg Fasolt has proposed a “Committee of Correspondence”, based on organizations that existed in the founding days of our country, that would be tasked with exactly this purpose.
The Membership Committee is a standing committee whose purpose is to keep track of members, recruit new members, survey members, communicate with members, plan social events for our members, etc.
The Membership committee will soon be distributing a survey that will help to clarify our overall goals and objectives, see if there is a better time and place to meet, and find out if there are other ways all of you can help the group.
They have one of the biggest tasks of all the committees, and they will need help. If you wish to contribute, please join the Membership/Communication Group on the web site!
We are starting a Website Committee. This committee consists of both technical geeks, such as myself, and people interested in using the website more effectively to reach our goals. Our current website, on Ning.com, is good at social networking, but we may need some functionality that does not exist there.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for improving the website, or in finding other ways to use the internet, even if you are not a technophile, then the Website Committee would be a good place for you!
Our Goals and Objectives
We all had different reasons for joining this group. I think all of us feel that something is wrong. Here is a brief list of reasons that I know from talking to people in the group, personally:
To meet, socially, a local group of people who think or feel the same way as you do.
To form a local support network of people who can help us all survive if a serious economic or political downfall occurs.
To work to reduce the size, power, and scope of our Federal Government.
To effect change locally, that will eventually have an impact at a national level.
To find common ground between liberal and conservatives, republicans and democrats, and all other groups, so that we can start working together on the things we agree upon.
To educate the community about the proper role of government.
I'm just here for the beer. (Gee, who said that?)
These are all worthy goals, no matter how realistic you may believe some of them are. The problem is that it is hard to mesh all of these into a coherent statement of the purpose of this group. The Rules Committee took a stab at it, when writing the bylaws, but I think that not everyone agrees with that statement, as it came out.
I think if you look at the list of activities our group is involved in right now, you will see that almost all of these goals are represented, in one way or the other.
The Membership Committee's survey is an effort to get input from everybody, to form a more coherent objective for the group. Please participate in that survey!
Involvement of Website Members
I understand that we all have personal lives, that make it difficult to attend meetings, committees, and events. I know that some of you feel uninvolved in the group, because you are unable to attend.
I would like to set up a system, using the website, that would allow the membership to become more involved in the decision-making processes of this group, without necessarily attending meetings. I don't think we can eliminate the meetings, and often face-to-face discussions are necessary. And there might be times when a decision must be made more quickly than we could do, discussing the issue on a website.
My main point is that I would like to have more people feel that they are involved in the group, even if they cannot attend meetings.
Thank-you again for participating in the 9-12 Project of Central PA. Please stay active and involved. All of us currently serving in the provisional Executive Board positions want this group to succeed, and are not here to marginalize or ignore anybody. If you make a suggestion, and we are slow to respond, it is because of time, and not because we are ignoring you.
I believe in America's founding principle, that most power should reside with the people. I want that principle to apply to this group as well. You have the power. This group cannot succeed without involvement of the membership, just as our Republic cannot succeed without involvement of its citizens.
Provisional President 9-12 Project of Central PA