Jan 2007 KTA: Town Halls By the People, For Our Congress People!

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY? Long before the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, local human dignity groups were pressuring Congress and the White House first, that there be no war, and then that the troops be brought home. Congress controls the budget and has the power to cut off funds. Public sentiment has shifted to oppose the war. Now is the time for members of Congress to stop funding the war.
We are holding a People’s Town Hall in every district in the state during the February Congressional Break (2/17-2/25) to testify to the Co$t of War. It’s time to show what needs are going unmet at home while billions from Oregon fund war.   This month’s KTA is to create your group’s plan for how your community will be represented in your district’s Town Hall.
WHY THIS ACTIVITY? Starting this past summer, human dignity groups joined in a unified demand that our members of Congress hold a Town Hall in their district on the Co$t of War. We heard little back aside from irritation. We kept the pressure on and wove the message into our 2006 election work. Recent meetings with Oregon delegation members have given us little hope for ending this war quickly. Congressperson Kucinich is leading the call that Congress, who has control of the budget, refuse any further appropriations for this war and use current funds to bring the troops home now. (The Pentagon has declared that they will ask for another $130 billion to fund the occupation.)
Letters went out by certified mail to each Oregon Congressperson requesting a date (evening or weekend) for a Town Hall in their district. The Town Halls will be “By the People, For our Congress People.” We want to show the support that they have from their constituents district-wide to vote against further funding for this war.
Part of what makes our Town Halls unique is their location. They will all be in small town communities (Estacada, Grants Pass, Madras, Forest Grove, and Lincoln County). There will be representation by small town Oregonians from every corner of the district. Each human dignity group will decide who will represent them and how they will share their community’s local Co$t of War story.
1. Get this on your January agenda! During your group’s regular meeting (or set a time) gather your peace & justice leaders to review this KTA, Town Hall History, and Letter to your Member of Congress (visit https://rop.org/CostofWar.htm). Check out the local Cost of War Survey (attached). The survey is designed for community members (from elected officials to service providers to service recipients to next door neighbors) who can testify to how the community is impacted by funding cuts.
2. Create a plan to create your community’s local cost of war story. How will your community be represented at this Town Hall? Who will you survey in your community? Whose testimony do you want to collect? Start by surveying 3 people. For example, the librarian, head of your local union, the food bank, your county commissioner – local folks that our Congress People would want to hear from.   Decide who will talk to them and by when. We want to get as many surveys done by January 15th as we can. That way we can ask people with compelling testimony to get the Town Hall on their calendar and prepare to attend. 
3. Select your community’s delegation to travel to the Town Hall by February 1st. We would like to know:
·         Roughly how many people will be part of your community’s delegation to the Town Hall?
·         Will you need housing or other support?
4. Finalize your Town Hall plans with ROP by February 12th, including:
  • Final roster of names for your delegation, their willingness to testify, and focus of their testimony.
February 17th -25th : Your district’s Town Hall. (Exact dates will be announced January 16th.)
April 28th: ROP’s Annual Rural Caucus & Strategy Session
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