August 2013 SEA Meeting Notes

August 2013 Meeting Notes – Two meetings scheduled for September 2013

Note:  There are two September SEA Meetings that are being scheduled. Mike D. arranged for Michael Foster from Plant for the Planet Foundation (see details below)  to meet with SEA on September 8th at Rich and Connie’s home. A second meeting will take place on September 15th at Jack B’s place. For this second meeting, Mark will be facilitating, Basilia taking notes, and Ellen timekeeping.

Meeting Notes for SEAChange, August 25th, 2013
The August 25th meeting was held at David W’s house.  Ellen was facilitating, Bruce was taking notes, and Mark was time-keeping.  Present at the meeting: Isa, Rich, Ellen, Basilia, Mary D., Mike D., Mark, David, and Laurie.

Meeting Agenda:
Ellen provided an agenda for the meeting, and provided a copy for each member.

________________________________________________________________

Town Crier: (Actions SEA members have been involved with during the past month)

  • Mary D. announced that her comment on an environmental article in the New York Times was selected for publication.  Also that her church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Queen Anne was moving forward on a fossil fuels divestment program.

  • Ellen reported several upcoming direct action events coming up in September.

There will be four scoping hearings for the proposed coal terminal in Longview, WA. The first is on September 17 in Longview or Vancouver, WA, and the last is in Tacoma on October 17. The Sierra Club hopes to organize carpools to get at least 250 people from Seattle to the Tacoma hearing. Interested people can contact Robin Everett at the Sierra Club.

  • David W. reported on his research on the Albert Chen campaign.  Albert Chen is running against Seattle City council member Mike O’Brien.  David discovered that Chen was getting a majority of his campaign support from out of state big money donors. By comparison, Mike O’brien’s $10 donations (which he encouraged during his early campaign), while smaller than Chen’s, were provided by a an overwhelming number of local supporters.  His findings were provided to the O’Brien campaign.  Kudos were expressed all around for David’s excellent work.

  • Bruce reported on his experience with the July 27th Rising Tide environmental action along the Columbia River.  The purpose of the demonstration was to oppose the construction of numerous coal/gas terminals along the Columbia River and in the Northwest for exporting fracked gas, coal, and tar sands.  The Columbia River has been described by 350.org’s Bill McKibben as a “carbon corridor”, which when fully operational as an export conduit, will contribute three times the amount of greenhouse gases than the Keystone XL pipeline.

The event attracted around 800 activists, including SEA’s Bill, Carol, Dan, and Bruce. Around 150 kayaks gathered under the Vancouver / Portand bridge, while about 500 demonstrators gathered on the West side of the bridge, overlooking the Columbia.

Photos and videos are available on the SEA blog site at:
http://goo.gl/Wzsy7r

The event was well planned and hosted by Portland Rising Tide.
http://risingtide604.ca/?p=717

__________________________________________________________
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Mike D. and David W. provided a brief overview of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which follows on a number of secretive international trade agreements in the past.
Mike summarized TPP by saying that it carries  two dangerous characteristics:
1) Content:  Under TPP, a private corporation can sue individual countries for loss of profits due to governmental regulations.  For example, Mexico banned some imported corn that didn’t meet with its safety standards, and was sued for $20 million for loss of profits to the company that was importing it.
2) Process:  The TPP is not run or managed by governments but by a consortium of wealthy transnational business interests, who meet in secret.  The actual text of the TPP agreement has never been released.  When Senator Elizabeth Warren demanded a copy of the agreement text she was told it wouldn’t be publicly available, because a majority of people would not agree to its provisions.  TPP advocates want to fast-track the agreement, which means agreeing to it without debate in Congress.  Mike and David recommend the following:

Call or email to derail passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Call or email your Congressional delegate and ask them to take the pledge to vote NO on a fast-track approval of the TPP. This is not asking for a yea/nea vote -it’s a request for a more deliberative and thoughtful and transparent process. Best available information is that McDermott is the only member of  WA’s delegation that has signed onto the pledge.

Learn more at:
http://tppxborder.org/
http://washingtonfairtrade.org/

________________________________________________________________

Agenda Items:

1) SEA Vision review:
See SEA mission statement at: https://seattleenvironmentalactivists.wordpress.com/about/

Several SEA members weighed in on this issue.

Mary D. said she has been dedicating more of here environmental activist energies to a group called the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  She said she likes the organization because it is committed to action over talk, and is actively teaching people “how to make effective noise”.   It also looks to find common ground for discussion versus an “us against them” attitude.  As a result, it tends to be non-partisan and less politically polarized.

Mike D. added to this by saying that the “urgency is now greater” with many ways
to become involved that weren’t available a few years ago.  He says the touchstone
for him is that he “needs to know that something’s happening”.

David, Mark, and Bruce generally supported the SEA group as an information clearinghouse, a way to become active, and provides a sense of community versus a more impersonal larger organization.

The group concluded that we should leave our stated purpose unchanged for now.

2) Time management

Mark recapped the SEA time management approach which involves:

a) Providing a pre-planned agenda with associated time caps for each agenda item.

b) Starting the meeting promptly at 6:30 and ending by 8:00.  More time can be
negotiated for specific agenda items with majority agreement from the group.

A time management issue came up last SEA meeting.  Ellen asked for a review of SEA’s timekeeping policy.  She commented that she was not comfortable having people cut off in the middle of a thought.  It is different if a person is going on and on, then the facilitator has to do something to keep us on track.  Ellen added here that she was not comfortable stopping interrupting members before they finished talking.

In general, most participants in this discussion like the current policy, with
some added suggestions.

– (Mike D.) Facilitators should affirm at the beginning of every meeting that maintaining closely watched time limits is a shared group cultural value, and would be applied to the current meeting.  This takes the burden of being the “despised enforcer” off the facilitator’s shoulders.

– (Basilia) Expressed idea that “everyone should take ownership” of how they made
use of their speaking time within a meeting, so that agenda items were completed
within pre-planned time limits.

– (Mary D.) A one minute warning should be indicated by the timekeeper to help
the facilitator maintain adherence to the policy.

3) (Mike D.) The YES Project Proposal

Mike D. introduced this project by saying that up to now, our focus on the Tar Sands
and Coal Trains issues “is all about not”.  In other words, pushing back to say we are
against policies that are damaging to the environment.  The idea with his new SEA
proposal is “all about yes”.  His argument is that we need to provide an equal positive
standard to balance the coal trains / tar sands issues.  We also put ourselves in
a solely dependent position to the “powers that be”, by asking them to change carbon friendly policies that have been put in place for decades.

There are two primary solutions to the environmental catastrophe we’re creating.

1) Don’t keep burning fossil fuel and releasing other carbon emitting gases (ie. stop coal trains, tar sands, fracking).
2) Take carbon out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

In response to the second item, Mike proposed that we support the arising “Plant for the Planet” children’s crusade. ( http://ww.plant-for-the-planet.org ) . This movement was started by a 9 year old German boy, who managed to bring in 9-14 year old members from 80 countries in the world. The idea is to get children all over the world planting trees to help keep the increasing CO2 levels in check. Unlike the rest of the world, the US has been slow in joining this movement – but the first active chapter in Seattle was started by local resident Michael Foster.  The goal is to plant 1 trillion trees on the planet.

As 12 year old Antonia says: “If some children plant a few trees, the single tree may not affect anything, but when the children get together all over the world and plant trees, we can change the world.”

The motto for Plant for the Planet is “Stop talking, start planting.”

Mike wants to explore how SEA can support this initiative, and the response from the present meeting members was positive – but everyone wants to know more information. Mike proposed that he bring local organizer Michael Foster to the next meeting. Also a facilitator training meeting is taking place in Seattle on October 5th.

Consequently, there are two September SEA Meetings that are being scheduled. Mike D. arranged for Michael Foster to meet with SEA on September 8th at Rich and Connie’s home. A second meeting will take place on September 15th at Jack B’s place.  A SEA-ALERTS message will be sent out with details.

Topics for September Meeting:

– Plant for the Planet involvement

– Information session on the Carbon Tax (possibly Mary D.?) and Cap and Trade (David W.)

– Direct Action Opportunities

  • Third Thursdays September 19 & October 17

Beyond Coal strategy meetings at Sierra Club offices.

  • Thursday, October 17

High Priority for Big Turnout

Hearing on Longview Coal Terminal in Tacoma
Volunteers needed to organize a collective phone bank starting in late September
Contact anne.shields@comcast.net from Sierra Club Coal Task Force

  • Tabling Opportunities Against Coal Trains

Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair September 7
Sustainable Ballard September 29
Contact Robin Everett (206) 378-0114, ext 308

  • Volunteer Opportunities to Re-Elect Councilmember Mike O’Brien

Community Engagement Party 2.0
Tuesday, September 10, 7pm | Firefly Kitchens in Ballard | 844 NW 49th St
Food, beverages mingling
Campaign goals & strategy, including where you can fit in
RSVP: Sean O’Neill | info@obrienforseattle.com

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