Minutes: 2011


12/14/11, 11/9/11, 10/12/11,  9/14/11, 8/3/11, 7/6/11, 6/22/11

December 14, 2011

  • Debriefed the December 4-11 Write for Rights Write-A-Thon events we hosted – general success, next year continue focus to have children make cards week in advance, present during church/congregational meeting, get Channel 5 involved, take up SOU-UN Club’s offer to increase presence at SOU Library via Student Leadership event; otherwise repeat what we did this year
  • Mao Hengfeng Action:  Additional signatures on Joint Petition action with Norway Group 48  for Mao Hengfeng; committed to 5 letters/our chapter/month to Mao Hengfeng  or the Mayor of Shanghia; Sending letters of support to her for January 23 Chinese New Year; rotate one person/month to ensure at least 5 letters/month are sent from our chapter
  • Legislative Coordinator update – secured letter from Rep. Buckley in support of Mao Hengfeng (additional info – see Legislative Update in Blog)
  • Don Wertheimer has agreed to become AI’s new Oregon Area Coordinator – he hopes to have AI’s Western Regional Coordinator, Sara Schmidt, visit us soon and provide additional support/direction
  • Intial Planning for Film Screening/Panel Discussion Jan. 16, 2012 with SOU UN Club – Film highlights Iranian Bahaa’i community’s lack of access to university.  Film:  “Education on Fire”
  • Chapter rejected AI Portland’s offer to host Gitmo Film/Panel Discussion at this time
  • Funding – rejected a dues payment, but contributions were generated and encouraged – Karen agreed to open bank account in Chapter’s name, Dave will check with Sara Schmidt about account details for 501(c)(3) status
  • rejected rotating facilitator for another 3-6 months


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November 9, 2011

Location: RVUUF Church, Ashland, 7-8:30 PM; Notetaker: Dave L.; 7 people present

I. What we did since last month’s meeting:

II. What We Completed At This Meeting:

III. Actions We Will Take Before December 14th Meeting:

  • Host Write a Thon in Medford and Ashland (click here to see venues and times);
  • Melissa will coordinate publicity through media for Write a Thon;
  • Dave will correspond with Norway Group 48 and other AI groups with Chinese POC’s to coordinate advocating for Mao Hengfeng;
  • Members will send Mao Hengfeng December 9 birthday cards; and,
  • Legislative Coordinator will meet with Senator Bates concerning commitment for Mao Hengfeng.


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October 12, 2011

At UU Church, Ashland, 7-8 PM; Notetaker:  Dave L.; 10 people present

I. What we did since last month’s meeting:

  • Tabled at Medford Volunteer Fair
  • Wrote letters to Mao Hengfeng or the Chinese authorites
  • Solicited the help of the Unitarian Church for the December Write-A-Thon.
  • Created Facebook page and recreated webpage/blog.
  • Established lobbying coordinator and communications coordinator.

II.  What We Completed At This Meeting:

III.  Actions We Will Take Before November Meeting:


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September 14, 2011

  • Unitarian Universalist Church 7-8PM
  • Notetaker: Dave Lefkowitz (errors below are my own)
  • Attending: Don Wertheimer, Mary Ann Shank, Loouise Pare, Jessi Worley, Kathy Holden, Dave Garcia, Tom Romano, Nadine and Dave Lefkowitz, Perry Prince

I. What we did since last month’s meeting:

  1. We secured a more personal connection with Mao Hengfeng by working with Amnesty International to get more detailed case information.
  2. We tabled at the Ashland Food Co-op and secured approximately 10 more letters to Chinese authorities on Mao’s behalf, along with posting numerous photo-pleas on the internet on her behalf.
  3. We sent out our Petition to Release Mao Hengfeng to the Director of the Shanghai prison where she is being held, together with copies to China’s Premier, Shanghai’s mayor, US Sec. of State Clinton and Mao Hengfeng
  4. Decided to co-sponsor United Nations Day at Southern Oregon University.

II. What we completed at this night’s meeting:

  1. We skyped with Amnesty International -USA’s specialist on China to get the most updated information about Mao Hengfeng, her family, and the importance of our current efforts along with advice about what to do next.
  2. We continued preparations for the December 3-18, 2011 public Write-A-Thon events we are sponsoring.  We identified people who will work to secure the backing of churches, synagogues, mosques and other organizations for this event.
  3. We handed out plenty of our new business cards, gained new members and discussed who will go to the Western Regional Amnesty Conference November 4-6, 2011 in LA.
  4. Continued showing off our blog and how to navigate it, comment on it, etc. (please let Dave Lefkowitz know if you have any problems using it.
  5. We created a monthly-meeting group picture in support for Mao Hengfeng with a message-board, to be posted on our blog.

III. Actions We Will Take During the Next Month

  1. Tabling at the Medford Volunteer Fair sponsored by United Way.
  2. Each person from tonight’s meeting committed to writing at least one letter to Mao or the Chinese authorites every month.
  3. Louise will try to solicit the help of the Unitarian Church for the December Write-A-Thon.
  4. Jessi will try to create an Amnesty International – Southern Oregon Chapter Facebook page.


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August 3, 2011

  • Ashland Public Library 7-8PM, Guanajuato Room
  • Notetaker: Dave Lefkowitz (errors below are my own)
  • Attending: Don Wertheimer, Regina Ayars, Nadine and Dave Lefkowitz, Stephen Jensen, Perry Prince, Liisa Wale, Margaret Thomas

I. What we did since last month’s meeting (just about everything we hoped to do):

  1. We set up the blog: https://amnestysouthernoregon.wordpress.com/
  2. We connected blog to “mailchimp” which will allow us to send emails easier
  3. We were in the Peacehouse Newsletter
  4. We tabled at the Farmers’ Market, getting 21 signatures for our Prisoner of Conscience and 5 more people interested in getting on our email list.

II. What we completed at this night’s meeting:

  1. We officially adopted our Prisoner of Conscience, Mao Hengfeng. We agreed we want to develop a personal connection to her and her family, and to work not just to make us feel good, but for her release to freedom.
  2. The tabling group reported what worked and how we can improve our tabling with simple offerings of water, snacks, greetings, poster-sized picture of Mao Hengfeng, etc.
  3. We agreed to new meeting time/venue: 2nd Wednesdays of each month, 7-8PM, Unitarian Church in Ashland (87 Fourth ST, Ashland, OR). So our next meeting is September 14, 2011, 7-8 PM at the Unitarian Church.
  4. Update on our newly-established connection to Portland’s 37-year-old Amnesty International Chapter (they say we are doing things right and fast, and look forward to working together whenever possible).
  5. Showed off our blog and how to navigate it, comment on it, etc. (Please let Dave know if you have any problems with it.)
  6. Mentioned Amnesty’s suggestion that if we want to work on a broad “women’s issue,” we consider working to get the US to sign onto the United Nations Convention to End Discrimination Against All Women (CEDAW). The US is the only industrialized country which has not signed this.

III. Actions We Will Take During the Next Month

  1. Don and Dave will work with Amnesty International to see how we can get a more personal connection to Mao Hengfeng (information, family addresses, poster-sized picture, other chapters who have adopted her, etc.).
  2. Gina, Steve, Don (and Jessi?) will go to the newly established “Tabling” page on our blog and use it to inform/coordinate our efforts at upcoming tablings.
  3. Perry will (over the next couple of months) investigate the possibility of our group presenting at SOU in perhaps a sociology or international studies class.
  4. Dave will send out our Petition to Release Mao Hengfeng to the Director of the Shanghai prison where she is being held, together with copies to China’s Premier, Shanghai’s mayor, US Sec. of State Clinton and Mao Hengfeng


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July 6, 2011

  • Ashland Public Library 7-8PM, Guanajuato Room
  • Notetaker: Dave Lefkowitz (errors below are my own)
  • Attending: Jessi Worley, Don Wertheimer, Mary C. Robinson, Gina Ayars, Dave Garcia, Nadine and Dave Lefkowitz, Stephen Jensen

I. Housekeeping:

  1. Updated group on mailing of signed petitions:
    a. Petition to Support Women Demanding Equal Voice in Shaping Egypt’s Constitution to Egypt’s Prime Minister Dr. Essam Sharaf
    b. Petition to US Gov. to apologize for extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria where he was tortured and unjustly imprisoned and request to codify due process for such renditions (sent to President, Oregon’s Congressional representatives)
  2. Group will try to move meetings to 2nd Wed. of each month, staying at Ashland Library (Dave L. will try to coordinate this with Library tomorrow and notify our group by email ASAP)
  3. People volunteered to take on following roles:
  • Blog developers (Steven Jensen, Dave Lefkowitz)
  • Set up “mailchimp” to facilitate emails (Nadine Lefkowitz)
  • Contact Newspapers (Dave Garcia)
  • Notify Peacehouse (Gina Ayars)
  • Table at events (Gina Ayars, Don Wertheimer, Steve Jensen)

II. Focus on Issue for Coming Year

– Based on last week’s and this week’s expressions of interest, group chose to try to focus on women by:

A. Adopting a female political prisoner

B. Adopting a issue related to disparate treatment of females

– Action Plan: Jessi Worley and Dave Lefkowitz will ask Amnesty International’s Western Regional Coordinator (Sara Schmidt) to help us identify a female prisoner to “adopt” along with an issue to promote equal rights for females. Jessi and Dave will keep the group aware of Sara’s recommendations so we can take action on this next meeting.

III. Next Meeting:

Tentative Wednesday, August 3, 2011 7-8PM, Ashland Public Library

1. Take Action:

  • Action Plan for female political prisoner we have adopted based on AI’s rec.
  • Action Plan for issue to promote equal rights for females.

2. Report back from those who have taken on roles


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June 22, 2011

  • June 22, 2011 Meeting (Kick-Off)
  • Ashland Public Library 5-6PM, Guanajuato Room
  • Notetaker: Dave Lefkowitz (errors below are my own)
  • Attending: Bert Harris, Perry Prince, Kathy Smith, Meera Censor, Don Chapin, Dolly Warden, Grace Hamilton, Jordan Treshan, Stephen Jensen, Dave Lefkowitz

1. Individual Introductions: shared skills, interest, experience with AI.

  • Jordan Treshan – Peace House Coordinator – can help us coordinate our mutual efforts
  • Dolly Warden – served as AI’s local coordinator in Tampa, FL. Experience/interest working on refugee issues (lawyer? legal experience assisting refugees/asylum seekers).
  • Kathy Smith – AI experience letter writing, email petitions. Current AI interest Guantanamo issues.
  • Don Chapin – Coordinator for Veterans for Peace. Current AI interest torture issues. Perry Prince – international experience working with individual psycho-social trauma caused by war, natural disasters and refugee status. Current AI interest immigration/refugee rights and torture issues.
  • Grace Hamilton – United Farm Worker Union organizer with Cesar Chavez in California alongside former prisoner of conscience. Current AI interest broad, but perhaps focus on Sharia law.
  • Meera Censor – trainer in non-violent communication, sculptor with series in Hannon Library on non-violent leaders, including Peter Benenson. Current AI interest violence against women issues.
  • Stephen Jensen – retired social studies teacher, medic in Vietnam. Current AI interest to help get local chapter started, broad interest but perhaps focus on eliminate violence against women and death penalty.
  • Nadine Lefkowitz – fair trade global import gift store (Topanien) owner. AI experience on women’s rights (improving maternal health care), attended this year’s AI 50th Anniversary US National Conf. in San Francisco. Current AI interest – maternal health care, broadening AI’s local base.
  • Dave Lefkowitz – social studies teacher, legal experience with immigration issues. Current AI interest to help get local chapter started, willing to work on any of local group’s AI targets/campaigns.

2. Educational Section: Overview of origin of AI and case-study. BBC broadcast of interview with Peter Benenson and 15 year old woman from Uruguay who AI’s letter writing saved.

3. Action Items: Steve Jensen introduced two AI petitions and received signatures for the following:

  1. Petition to Support Women Demanding Equal Voice in Shaping Egypt’s Constitution (Currently women not on constitutional reform committee). This is addressed to to Egypt’s Prime Minister Dr. Essam Sharaf, cc US Sec. of State
  2. Petition to US Gov. (Pres. Obama and Oregon’s representatives) to apologize for extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria where he was tortured and unjustly imprisoned (Canada has formally apologized, so has US senior military interrogator in Iraq, Matthew Alexander)

Next Meeting: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 7-8PM, Ashland Public Library

  1. Begin to target our focus. Individuals are invited to bring information (including an action to take) on the issue on which they propose our group focus.
  2. Spread out roles (for example, notetaker/minutes, bloger, researcher, phone/email, media/journalism liason, entertainment, open/close venue ….)
  3. Reconsider venue/time for meetings.
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