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RICC Organizer Manual

Month 1: Laying the Foundation

The first month was spent preparing a strong foundation for the rest of the project. This is a month for patience as there were many administrative tasks that needed to be accomplished, and outreach was not really possible at this point. I was able to do a little scheduling of upcoming events, but this was difficult as I was still establishing an infrastructure to work within. Below is a list of many of the tasks accomplished during the first month:

  • Established office partnership
  • Made a list of important people to contact
  • Worked out a variety of technological issues in the office
  • Hooked up a separate phone line for NCPTF activities
  • Met with local printer to discuss printing needs
  • Established local bank account
  • Created email accounts for RI campaign with NCPTF staff
  • Worked on (graphics and text) for RI website with NCPTF staff
  • Bought 5-n-1 machine for faxing, scanning, printing, copying, etc.
  • Wrote introductory newsletter article for NCPTF
  • Thanked RI campaign funders
  • Finalized RI logo and name: Rhode Island Campaign for Conscience
  • Received an overview of the NCPTF database
  • Finalized stationary order, including mailing to 3000+
  • Drafted initial mailing with intro to RICC and schedule for Peace Tax Potlucks*
  • Organized Peace Tax Potlucks in four locations
  • Prepared materials for mailing
  • Made calls to establish a local support committee**
  • Scheduled presentations at Quarterly and Yearly Meetings
  • Educated myself on local history and the history of War Tax Resistance and CO’s

*Peace Tax Potlucks were our first form of educational community events, held at local churches or community centers, they were a great way to get groups together to watch the NCPTF video and discuss possible local action steps. I organized eight potlucks throughout the 6-month project. I chose to lump them all together, having 4 in one week twice, which worked for me because I could just go shopping once for food and try to stretch it out throughout the week.

**The local support committee was a great idea that could have been extremely helpful over the long-haul, but it never came to fruition. I made many attempts to contact people, which was difficult during the summer months, but did not hear back from most. Others were over-committed as it was, and preferred to help with specific topics/events rather than sign on as a general support committee. If the project were longer than 6 months, I think it would be more likely that a committee could be formed for long-term support.

Month 2: The Beginning

The second month was really the beginning of outreach and events in the community. Again, because of the fact that this was in the height of the summer, many people were not around and attendance was low at some events. There was also some difficulty with my initial mailing, which was held up at the post office because of complications- a lesson in always having things to the post office with extra time to spare and ensuring that all of their many mailing procedures have been followed correctly.

Even though the Benefit concert was still several month away, I started to prepare for it by obtaining a venue and gathering together a group of local Holly Near fans with event planning experience. I also began to make contacts with the Providence City-Council in preparation for a resolution of support. I was lucky to have a friend of a friend on the Council, who put me in touch with other members who would also be supportive. In the end, it was merely a matter of presenting them with materials, giving them time to review them, following up and asking them to sponsor/support a resolution.

At this point I was still working part-time, so there was only so much that could be done, and I found it difficult to have one foot in and the other out. I wanted to dive in more thoroughly here with outreach, but felt limited by time. If a longer project were arranged in the future, there could be several months devoted to this. Some of my second month tasks included:

  • Westerly Peace Tax Potluck
  • Providence Peace Tax Potluck
  • Smithfield Peace Tax Potluck
  • Newport Peace Tax Potluck
  • Quarterly Meeting Presentation
  • New England Yearly Meeting Presentation
  • Visited and obtained Benefit venue*
  • Met with Benefit “planning committee”
  • Confirmed date of Benefit with Holly Near
  • Sent email newsletter (Topica) introducing RICC
  • Added twenty-four new supporters to the Supporter List**
  • Spoke with a Providence City-Council representative
  • Raised $75.00 for the Campaign

*The venue we ended up choosing was The First Baptist Church of America because of its’ symbolic connections to Roger Williams and the history of religious freedom. It was a great venue, but did end up costing us over $600. In the future, I would suggest that a less expensive venue be chosen in order to make the most from a Benefit.

**At this point, I still had not created a local endorsement form. This would have aided outreach and increased our list of supports right from the beginning. I suggest that something like this be created before outreach begins.

Month 3: Behind the Scenes

Whereas the second month was devoted mostly to outreach, the third month was primarily focused on planning for future events. I spent a great deal of time at my computer this month, emailing and networking.

More and more Rhode Islanders were coming home from their summer vacations at this point, and so were easier to connect with as I looked towards several major events throughout the next three months of the project. A sampling of my tasks throughout month three is below:

  • Facilitated meetings with Concert committee
  • Began planning for Fall Peace Tax Potlucks
  • Received “minute of support” from RI-Smithfield Quarterly Meeting
  • Spoke with organizers of WTR panel at a local community event
  • Made hotel reservations for Holly Near and John (her pianist)
  • Negotiated Fundraising Concert contract and logistics
  • Engaged in various planning calls with NCPTF*
  • Met with Peace Flag Project re: organizing local religious leaders
  • Sent cards in thanks of recent financial contributions
  • Began organizing NCPTF Board Meeting location and housing
  • Spoke with Newport resident re: Newport City Council resolution**
  • Obtained Cindy Sheehan endorsement of NCPTF
  • Spoke with NEYM Peace and Justice Committee re: upcoming meetings
  • Spoke with National Priorities Project re: Rhode Island military spending
  • Arranged ArtTix online ticket sales for the Benefit Concert

*The National office was always extremely helpful and supportive. We would have conference calls quite often and check-in whenever either of us needed anything.

**In the end, we did not pass a Newport resolution in support. This was in large part due to the fact that we did not have a large number of supporters in Newport who would lobby their Council. I made phone calls, but was not able to get though to most Council
members and was even hung up on by one of them! Other factors that worked against us include the fact that they have a small Council and Newport is the home of the Naval Undersea War College.

We were able to get on the docket by going through the Mayor’s Office. This is not usual practice, but because of the rude behavior of the Council member who hung up on me, the Mayor’s office wanted to make up for it. Therefore, they put us on the docket and I wrote a letter urging the Council members to consider sponsoring a resolution. I was not able to be at the meeting when they discussed the topic and no one chose to take on sponsorship. In the future, it would be a good idea to make yourself known to the Council members by visiting their offices and attending Council meetings if you have the opportunity to speak or represent the Peace Tax Fund Bill.

Month 4: Excitement Building

During the fourth month, I took a two week vacation. Even still, I was amazed by how much was accomplished. Month four was an exciting month because I had begun working full-time (40 hr/week) and the Benefit was just around the corner.

Another point of excitement was having the opportunity to lobby with Marian Franz on the Hill while in DC. This was an fantastic learning opportunity and helped me to focus my local lobbying efforts more effectively. I definitely recommend this to any future organizer. Finally, this was also the month when the Providence City-Council Resolution of Support was passed unanimously! Here were some of my activities:

  • Attended International Peace Day event with RICC literature*
  • Attended DC Rally and networked with other RI peace and justice groups
  • Participated in Lobbying Day with Marian Franz
  • Visited the office of Kennedy, Reed and Chafee
  • Wrote follow-up letters to staffers
  • Organized four locations for Fall Peace Tax Action Potlucks**
  • Prepared materials for two mailings
  • Ensured mailing to AFSC list with RICC Fall Schedule
  • Ensured mailing to RI State Council of Churches with endorsement forms
  • Obtained and confirmed site of December Hearing
  • Created (by NCPTF) postcards to send to RI Delegation
  • Began publicity for Holly Near concert
  • Confirmed discounted hotel accommodations for Holly and John
  • Followed up with Holly’s staff and ArtTix on publicity and ticket sales
  • Lobbied Providence City Council members
  • Attended Providence City Council which passed our resolution unanimously!!
  • Achieved press attention from two different local papers
  • Received twenty-two new Individual and one new Organizational endorsements
  • Sent out tons of emails promoting the Peace Tax Action Potluck

*Any opportunity to be involved with other local peace and justice events is beneficial. There are always events going on in the community, so if it is possible to be there or to delegate a representative to be there with NCPTF materials it is a great opportunity for outreach and education.

** I decided that the second round of Peace Tax Potlucks would have a strong action component. It is great to sit and discuss ideas, but with such a short project action should be primary right from the get go. I planned the Potlucks with the idea that there would be a variety of options for people to discuss and act on behalf of RICC. I brought sample letters to the editors, letters to government officials, postcards to send to our RI delegation, endorsement forms, paper, pens, envelopes and pre-addressed labels, etc. Some people preferred to take action steps at home on their own time, but others were excited to feel part of a community working together to make change.

Month 5: Action

This month was the busiest and most exciting month of the project. (Be careful not to work too hard and get sick like I did!) There was much to do in preparation for the Benefit and the board meetings that followed, as well as quite a bit of wrap-up throughout the week following these events. It was exhilarating to see how the efforts of the last few months paid off with so much success.

Once the Benefit concert was over, I had less than one month (with the Thanksgiving holiday in between) to finish preparations for the Hearing. This ended up being not enough time for me to feel completely comfortable and confident in the Hearing preparations. In the future, I would suggest that the Benefit and the Hearing not be so close together. Below is a list of some of my tasks throughout month five:

  • Presented to Brown Interfaith Group
  • Attended Fall Peace Tax Action Potlucks
  • Organized 10+ volunteers for the Holly Near concert'
  • Wrote and delivered 16 letters requesting in-kind food/drink donations
  • Obtained food/drink donations from 6 locations
  • Found sound person for the concert
  • Drafted press-release and twice sent it to RI print and broadcast media*
  • Made follow-up calls to the press
  • Organized a major publicity push for the Holly Near concert
  • Obtained small news feature in the Providence Phoenix
  • Organized and implemented a plethora of logistics for the Holly Near concert
  • Added 100+ names to our database as endorsers of the RICC
  • Began contacting speakers for Dec. 12th hearing
  • Sent invitations to the RI delegation to attend the hearing**
  • Sold 200+ tickets to the concert and raised $1500 for the Campaign
  • Attended portions of NCPTF board meetings held in Providence
  • Organized a dinner for local activists to meet the NCPTF board
  • Sent ‘Thanks’ to everyone involved in making the concert a success
  • Brainstormed hearing topics and potential speakers with NCPTF board and others

*This is one example of the benefits of working with a pre-established organization. Not only did I have access to their 3,000+ mailing list, but also to their media connections and the systems required to contact them efficiently, for example: WinFax Software.

**Again, this was not enough time to organize an ideal Hearing. By the time we found a location and sent out formal invitations, the RI delegation already had other events on their calendars. In this short time, however, I was amazed by the number of quality speakers that we able to be involved. Their testimonies, as well as a DVD of the proceedings, are available from the NCPTF office. Also, there is a lot that can be learned from the documentation of the New York City resolution experience, including the fact that they took several months to prepare for their hearing.

Month 6: Wrap-Up (sort of)

The last month came too soon! There was much to do in preparation for the Hearing and on a practical note; I was concurrently involved in a job search as the NCPTF funding was quickly coming to an end.

Due to this practicality, there was not a great deal of time within this month to devote to wrap-up activities such as writing this manual, preparing a report for our funders, editing the video of the hearing proceedings, and following up with the RI delegation. There were many other logistical odds and ends that also needed to be taken care of outside of this month. I include them after the list of my month six activities, as a way of expressing the importance of planning adequate time for wrap-up and evaluation. Month six tasks:

  • Met with John Holt of the State Council of Churches, for an endorsement
  • Met with various members of the community in preparation for the hearing
  • Wrote and sent press releases for hearing
  • Made follow-up press calls
  • Organized talk-show radio appearance for RICC
  • Scheduled 15 speakers for hearing
  • Obtained statements prior to hearing through email
  • Found videographer for hearing
  • Sent two e-newsletters regarding the hearing
  • Made calls and follow-up calls to over 25 potential speakers
  • Found convener for the hearing
  • Took digital photos of hearing
  • Co-wrote hearing article for NCPTF Newsletter
  • Had numerous conversations with RI Delegation schedulers
  • Made hearing site visit to confirm and check sound, media capabilities, etc.
  • Arranged accommodations and transportation for Marian Franz
  • Confirmed presentation at Westport Meeting on 1/29/06
  • Email hearing statements to NCPTF
  • Send thanks to hearing speakers
  • Schedule wrap-up calls with NCPTF
  • Send RI Delegation documentation of hearing
  • Edit hearing video
  • Send CD to NCPTF with RICC files and pictures
  • Write final reports and organizers manual
  • Sort RICC finances and send receipts to NCPTF
  • Sort paper files and send relevant ones to NCPTF
  • Send bulk of materials back to NCPTF, including tabling display and banner
  • Cancel phone and bank account
  • Consider email forwarding
  • Move out of AFSC office
  • Find 1-2 local Congressional District Contacts (CDC’s)

Final Notes:

The past six months have been an incredible journey and learning experience for me. It has been a tremendous blessing to have been able to build stronger connections with the peace and faith communities of Rhode Island. Although there have been quite a few ups and downs, I believe that through it all, this campaign has and will continue to provide guidance and hope to those struggling with living their faith and conscience.

I hope that this manual can serve as a resource for others who take on the task of organizing future NCPTF endeavors. My advice is mostly encapsulated in the proceeding pages, but my last bit of advice would be to keep records of everything that you can as a way of documenting your work. The NCPTF office has an electronic copy of all of my documents in case you want to look though them or modify them for use in your community. I can also be reached for questions at naabaker@yahoo.com

Good Luck!

     
 
   
The Rhode Island Campaign for Conscience
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Fax: 401-521-3960
Address: 33 Chestnut St. Providence RI 02903
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