On the weekend of Feb. 14 and 15 around 75 SOA Watch local/regional organizers and representatives of partner organizations from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual strategy meeting. A large part of this year's meeting was devoted to laying out the foundation for the formation of the new decision making body for SOA Watch. This ?grassroots council? will be comprised of representatives of regionally organized local groups. Other agenda items included November Visioning/Report Back, Local Group Organizing, and presentations by the Legislative and Anti-Oppression Working Groups.
The meeting began with a ?State of the Movement? panel discussion. The panel was created to give a sense of where the movement is headed, and to highlight some of the challenges facing the movement from the perspectives of four different individuals. Panel participants were:
Hendrik Voss (SOA Watch staff), Charity Ryerson(recently released POC), Ken Kennon(SOA Watch Tucson/POC), and Deirdre MacDermott(SOA Watch NE). Some of the key issues mentioned included:
Openness (always need to strive to create this)
Building the grassroots (local and regional public education)
Keep building the legislative campaign
Nonviolence guidelines(need to be more inclusive, what is their purpose?)
The role of POC?s (what is their role in the movement?, need to be aware of the power status being placed on them)
The SOA Watch movement being a part of a broader movement
The need for more local outreach (we need to strengthen the grassroots)
White privlege and how it effects our work
Build more connections with people in Latin America (networking)
Actions around SOA grads that are living in the U.S.(Romero's assassin in Palm Springs)
The meeting concluded with a discussion on the new decision making body, the "grassroots council."
Regions that were consensed on are:
Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska)
Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico)
South (Texas, Alabama, Mississippi< Louisiana)
Southeast (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida)
MidAtlantic (DC, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Western PA)
Lower Midwest (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, S Dakota)
Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana)
Northeast (Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey)
Rockies (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah)
New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine)
Click here to read more about regions and regional representatives.
Each region will elect one representative to sit on the "council." The DC office and the Columbus office will each have a representative on the "council."
If you have any questions in regards to the strategy meeting or would like to recieve a draft of the meeting minutes, please contact Kristine Werthwein at
or at (202)234-3440.