The following were in attendance: Don Abbott, Becci Backman, Lou Bernieri, Michael Bleiweiss, Arthur Brien, Jane Cadarette, Peter Cameron, Bobbie Goldman, Barbara Haack, Sue Imhoff, Joan Kulash, Brenda McCarthy, Brian Quirk, Diana Philip, Kathie Robinson, Niki Rosen, Masood Sheikh, Boryana Tacconi, Jim Todd, and Mary Todd.
Treasurer's Report:Peter reported a cash balance of $6,480.83, including a total of $1,070 donated by members and friends to replenish the account for the $1,000 voted last fall to enable Peace Vision Project to begin to assist Ahlam Nijim, Iraqi civilian victim of the war.
Membership and Sales: Becci reported that 87 members to date have either renewed or subscribed. Sales continue to go well, especially new magnet ribbons for cars expressing "Support Our Troops/End the War" and "Bring the Troops Home Now." Flags continue to be popular, and we may need to order more soon. We authorized Becci to order 5 cases of Palestinian olive oil for future MVPP sales and to add to that order requests we expect to receive from other peace groups.
Budget Review: Sue Imhoff made a budget presentation on behalf of the working group that has been studying budget and donation issues. We reviewed a 2002-2004 budget summary and the projected 2005 budget. In an effort to reduce expenses, we considered the option to receive the MVPP Newsletter by email. We shall offer this option in the March issue of the Newsletter and during membership renewals. Regarding donations, it was recommended that our ability to give donations immediately should be based solely on the balance carried forward from 2004. We identified two options: a.) Keep half in reserve and donate the other half immediately, and b.) Donate $1,000 per quarter over the course of 2005. Going forward, it would be preferable to evaluate recommendations for donations on a quarterly basis to ensure that we have enough capital to cover operating expenses. Also going forward, all expenses will be itemized monthly. And careful attention will be taken to record sources of income and the associated costs of events, to help us make more educated decisions in the future.
In a brief, but spirited discussion about how we decide to make donations, we acknowledged the creative tension between two approaches--1.) responding to particular needs on a regular, case-by-case basis throughout the year, and 2.) evaluating recommendations and making decisions periodically as we assess the strength of our resources. The February meeting will continue these discussions. In addition, in the meantime, Arthur Brien will research questions raised about external audits. We also briefly reviewed our current practice of acknowledging donations to MVPP. Brenda and Becci will continue this review, and Brenda and Niki volunteered to help in sending acknowledgments.
Tsunami Relief: Barbara, who had within the day just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, reported on the wonderful way MVPP's $250 donation for tsunami relief has been put to use. Our contribution was hand-delivered by Barbara's brother-in-law to a local NGO in the village of Meulaboh in Aceh Province in Sumatra, very close to the epicenter of the devastating earthquake of December 26. Our contribution provided immediate assistance to a local organization known as SHEEP: Society for Health, Education, Environment and Peace. Local workers for SHEEP reportedly were overwhelmed that a like-minded community of people in Merrimack Valley, USA, could reach them so directly with aid for victims. Barbara will report further about this in the March newsletter.Actions Approved:
We voted $150 to support an ad campaign being planned by Mass Peace Action, as long as it is about bringing our troops home now.
We voted to send a total of $250 to Adopt-A-Minefield, including the amount raised at our January Pot Luck Supper ($115, plus $35 more from a member at this meeting).
After Jane's update on the humanitarian support attempted by Peace Vision Project for two victims of the Iraq War, we voted to continue to accept donations on behalf of Peace Vision Project through June 30, 2005, without reservation.
We voted to join the coalition of groups that are sponsoring the Global Day of Protest on the Two-Year Anniversary of the Iraq War in NYC on March 19th.
Program Planning: Bobbie announced that Brenda and Boryana have kindly agreed to coordinate program planning for MVPP as we go forward. Members expressed strong interest in joining other regional peace groups in sponsoring forums with Representatives Tierney and Meehan on the costs of the Iraq War. We briefly discussed other upcoming events (many of which are posted in the February newsletter). We assisted Jim with his planning for "Sing, Swing, Sway, and Speak for Peace," a wonderful evening scheduled for 7:30 PM on March 12th at First United Methodist Church in North Andover. We were not inclined to sponsor another concert with Dave Lippman at this point, since another visit by him would be so close to the one last spring. We encouraged Becci to investigate the possibility of bringing Michael Moore to Merrimack Valley next fall. And we considered whether to sponsor a vigil in Andover (perhaps at our regular Wednesday vigil on March 16th) just before the 2nd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The next monthly meeting with be held on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 7:30 PM at North Parish Church, North Andover.
Don Abbott, Clerk