WESPAC Membership Letter

August 19, 2009

Dear WESPAC Foundation friends and members,

I am really pleased to announce that WESPAC is moving ahead with lots of ideas, programming and action for the year ahead. We are committed to strengthening the capacity of the organization, and we need your input in this important process.

We have decided to start a monthly WESPAC Poetry Cafe, the first Friday of every month. These gatherings will be a space to meet each other, socialize, support our precious organizing center and celebrate achievements together on a regular basis. Our kick off poetry cafe will be Friday, September 4th at 7pm in Pleasantville, where we will spend an evening listening to the poetry of Lynn Beville, Mirene Ghossein and Geoff Smith. Come prepared to offer a $10 contribution to the space; of course no one turned away. If you would like to perform at upcoming coffee houses or poetry evenings, please contact the office.

That same weekend, we are celebrating the birthday of Surya Peterson at a social gathering in Ardsley on Monday, September 7th. It is the 6th Annual Anti-Racist Alliance Brunch where we kick off the Autumn season with friends and social justice organizers and activists. You are welcome to stop by anytime from 10am to 4pm that day with a small food offering for the table of friendship. Contributions will be accepted and shared for the work of both WESPAC and the Anti-Racist Alliance. Please RSVP to [email protected] if you plan to attend. Directions will be e-mailed to you. Also please note that WESPAC is fully supporting the symposium on September 21 aimed at reducing racial disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare system. Please visit EndRacialDisproportionality.com for all details.

We are also scheduling regular WESPAC Members meetings, where members can discuss and share the work that they are doing, connect with others, learn what other WESPAC members are working on, and coordinate their work in the different issue areas: economic justice, racial justice, militarism, environment, war and occupation both at home and abroad. Our next membership meeting will take place on Monday, August 24th at 6pm in our Pleasantville space. Please come at 5pm to help with phone banking.

The board has decided that it is way over due to thank those WESPAC members who have been consistently sending in automated pledges every month to help sustain the organization. We will thank these members at a social in Ardsley on Sunday, September 20th. If you are interested in serving on the board of directors, this would be a good time for you to mingle with the board, learn about board functions and expectations, and decide if you would like to present yourself as a candidate for the board at the Annual Meeting of Members which will take place on Monday evening, October 26th at 7pm at our Pleasantville office. Only members who are in good standing for the past two years (2009 and 2010) will be allowed to vote at this Annual Meeting.

At our August 4th members meeting, interest was expressed in planning a WESPAC Fall Retreat where members can get to know each other better, share skills and spend time on WESPAC organizational work. Five people have expressed interest in serving on a committee to plan this retreat that will be open to all members. If you have ideas and would like to get involved, please contact the office.

It is important for all of you to know that this year the Memorial United Methodist Church will be running the Fair Trade Festival on December 5th at the church. WESPAC’s role will be to organize a follow up to the Lower Hudson Valley Social Forum at the church that same day. We will continue to highlight the organizing going on locally on a wide range of issues and we will help support the fair trade festival by bringing lots of people to the church. This past March, 250 people attended the social forum, thanks to the hard work of Antoinette, Jalal, Roger and several others.

Jalal and Roger recently offered a media workshop entitled "Westchester Media Rapid Response Network" at the WESPAC space that was attended by people representing a range of issues and interests. The outcome of the workshop was the creation of a network of people that are able to support each other in the local media as issues arise in the community dealing with an area that we are working on. The purpose of the Rapid Response Network is to strengthen our ability as activists to respond to local media coverage of key issues. We have people who have committed to reading the local papers every day and who will forward relevant articles to those who are working on the issues covered by the article. If you would like to join this network, please contact Roger at [email protected].

In other good news, Nada is organizing a Fall Lecture Series on Wednesday evenings that WESPAC and Pace University are co-sponsoring. The first presentation will take place on Wednesday, September 30th at 7pm with Felice, Daniel, Ceil and Tom talking about their recent trip to Gaza. Palestinian artist Lailati Nar has been invited to share some of her art work with us that same evening. Also, Nada’s article on challenging institutional racism (available on our website www.wespac.org ) has received wide circulation and feedback. All WESPAC members are encouraged to sign up for the Undoing Racism workshop scheduled for October 1, 2 and 3 at Fordham University in White Plains. For all details please visit the http://antiracistalliance.com .

We need your support to sustain our work, our meeting space and staff. Please renew your membership at this time. The board is suggesting that starting on September 1, 2009, $100 a year is appropriate for dues, or a monthly pledge of $10 a month that you can set up as an automated check with your bank. The dues for 2008/2009 up to August 31st remain unchanged at $45. Please take the time to review if you are up-to-date on your membership dues.

If you are a senior citizen, on fixed income, a student or low-income/unemployed, membership dues will be $50 a year. We are happy to accept volunteer hours in exchange for monetary dues. We need help with mailings, an online newsletter, website work, phone banking, fundraising, office maintenance work and more. We are happy to accept 20 volunteer hours a year in exchange for dues, or a combination of dues and volunteer hours. For those of you who live outside of New York, we have a special "associate" membership category. Membership dues for this category are set at a minimum of $25 per year.

Please also help the board with its strategic planning process by filling in the questionnaire on the back of this page and returning it with your membership check. The questionnaire is also on our website and can be returned to [email protected] .

We deeply appreciate your input, ideas, enthusiasm, energy, and support and we hope that together we can create spaces to strengthen our justice work on many different levels.

For a stronger WESPAC,

Khusro Elley


WESPAC Foundation Board