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Fall Interim Business Meeting Highlights

About 40 Friends gathered on October 3rd and 4th for Fall Interim Business meeting, held at the Tampa Friends meetinghouse. Tampa Friends provided a warm welcome and a delicious and ample lunch.

While it’s impossible to share all of what Friends are doing, here are some highlights:

The Nominating Committee reports that some critical positions remain open: Interim Business Meeting/Executive Committee Clerk, Assistant Yearly Meeting/Interim Business Meeting Clerk, YM Gathering Program Coordinator, YM Gathering Registrar, Coordinator and Trainer(s) for the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP), one more member of the SEYM Trustees, and two more members needed for the Nominating Committee. Friends are asked to suggest names for these positions to the committee. Contact Ed Lesnick , Nominating clerk.

The Peace & Social Concerns (P&SC) committee had a lot of news to report. They are looking at how Friends can work with and support a number of organizations and initiatives, incuding the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, efforts to shut down the Homestead Detention Center, the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, Towards Right Relationship with Native Peoples (TRR), protecting the sovereignty of Native groups, and restoration of voting rights.

The Committee recommends that Meetings connect with local chapters of the Rights Restoration Coalition, who work not only to end disenfranchisement and discrimination against formerly convicted persons, but also to create a more comprehensive and humane reentry system that would enhance successful reentry and reduce recidivism. The Committee also is developing an action packet for Meetings who want to get involved with ending the use of prison labor by local governments.

George Lakey will be leading workshops on non-violent direct action campaigns in November. Here he is getting arrested. photo courtesy of George Lakey.

Cece Yocum, P&SC clerk, announced that George Lakey will be giving workshops on his tour through Florida in November. His new book is How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning. See the schedule of workshops here>

Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) leaders are continuing to bring workshops to inmates at the Coleman Correctional federal prison. AVP in Florida has been interested in supporting a group of family members in Tampa who have lost children through street violence.

Pete Ackerman (Gainesville) reported on his experience of going on a Prayer Walk around Lake Okeechobee led by Betty Osceola, Everglades advocate and member of the Miccosukee tribe. He talked about Pond Lily House, where he lives, works, and gardens, and offers hospitality to activists and sojourners. Pete is active in efforts to restore the Oklawaha River, as well as taking action to get Putnam County to divest from use of Department of Corrections contracts for prison labor.

The Peace & Social Concerns committee is planning five workshops for the SEYM Gathering in April, with topics such as the Green New Deal, Rights Restoration, Non-violent Direct Action Campaigns, the Fair Food Program and Immokalee farmworkers, and Child Detention.

The SEYM Youth & Young Adult Coordinator, Kody Hersh, offered a full weekend of Youth Program from Friday night to Sunday morning, with overnight tent camping on the Tampa Meeting property. One family attended for part of the time, enjoying the fun, fellowship, and camping. Kody is optimistic that once families get used to the idea that there will be a full Youth program at Interim Business Meetings, more will attend. Help us get the word out!

Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) Advocacy Team Manager Shoshana Abrams spoke to FIBM on a speaker phone about the Advocacy Team Program. The teams are community-based groups who build long-term relationships with members of Congress and their staff, visiting their offices in their districts. In-district, in person meetings are the most effective way to lobby. There are 120 teams across the country. Tallahassee Meeting has an Advocacy Team working not only on FCNL’s national issues, but also on Florida issues in the state legislature. FCNL offers to visit and train groups who want to form a team; new teams are forming for 2020. Learn more>

Swimming at Half Yearly Meeting. photo: Jane Westberg

Half Yearly Meeting will be held over Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 28- Dec. 1. Registration opens October 10th. Houston Cypress, two-spirit poet, artist and activist from the Otter Clan of the Miccosukee tribe and a director of the Love the Everglades Movement, will be our featured speaker on Saturday night. Read more & register>

The Worship & Ministry committee reports that their work is focused on the spiritual health of our Yearly Meeting community and on intervisitation.

The Committee on Ministry on Racism asks, “How do we become an actively anti-racist organization? How can we be allies of people of color?” Open communication is key to developing understanding and awareness. The committee is working on gathering more resources (see lots of resources here>). Friends shared some books and media they found especially enlightening, such as United Shades of America (on CNN), Devil in the Grove, and Warmth of Other Suns. To learn more, see the Ministry on Racism Committee report in the DIAs.

The SEYM Treasurer gave the 2018/2019 Fiscal Year End Report. Meetings and Worship Groups contributed 90% of the requested apportionments. The Treasurer will be working with a CPA to do a review of policies, procedures, and the books.

Dinner Saturday night at a local restaurant.

Other reports and action included:

  • A committee was named to review the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP) manual.
  • The Archives Committee asks Monthly Meetings to send in their minutes and records of key events in their past to include in the collection at the Smathers Library in Gainesville. Contact Bill Rapp, Phoebe or Neil Andersen.
  • The YM Gathering Committee is starting to work on the program planning. Though Susan Wade, SEYM Secretary, will fill in as Registrar, and Vicki Carlie will fill in as Program Planning Coordinator, these critical positions still need to be filled.

Several other written reports were submitted in the Documents In Advance.

Saturday evening, About 18 Friends enjoyed fellowship and dinner at a local restaurant.

The FIBM Minutes will be posted soon.

Friends gathering for afternoon business at FIBM.