Leading the Leaders
IN the best of all possible worlds, the League of Women Voters leads the community in which it resides. We are women and men who understand that one can be political without being partisan and that democracy is an action word. Today we hear from a leader of leaders in our own community. In elegant language, she paints our responsibilities to one another and to our community.
The League in Your Community
by Victoria Damiani
Voting in Pennsylvania will be very different this spring and fall from what it has been in the past. With no-excuse mail-in ballots, more time to register to vote, the end of straight-party voting, and other changes, it is more important than ever to stay informed. In keeping with its goal to promote political responsibility and active participation, the League will be partnering with various organizations and service providers throughout Chester County to enhance voter awareness.
In March, the Malvern Public Library will host members of the League for a discussion of upcoming changes in the voting process. Presentations will also be offered in local schools, assisted living communities, and social service locations throughout Chester County. Those attending can register to vote prior to the presentation.
In addition to voter education, the Chester County League also addresses issues related to effective government, preservation of natural resources, and fair social policies. The League is non-partisan and does not support or oppose individual candidates, but instead provides fact-based information about issues and positions.
Do you have an idea for a program that would enhance community participation and awareness in your community? Would your organization like to partner with the League in hosting a gathering? Contact Mary Lou Dondero at 610-692-3299.
Criminal/Juvenile Justice – Laurie Shannon-Bailey
Upcoming March 19th is a tour of Chester County Youth Center in West Chester/Pocopson for a small number of those who attended last fall’s conference for National Juvenile Justice Week. Hoped for in the future is a tour of the Chester County prison, also in the West Chester/Pocopson area.
This group hopes to invite specifically Chester and Lancaster County Republican legislators to work with their Democrat peers and the Governor’s Office on legislation pertinent to Juvenile Justice statewide. For those who wish to make legislator calls and develop a working relationship with legislators on issues that matter to youth, this committee is for you.
LWVCC Voter Services – Loraine Deisinger; MaryLou Dondero (610) 692-3299
This is what we have planned:
Short training sessions in advance for both Voter Registration & League Forums;
- Local coordinators responsible for scheduling, set up, materials;
- Volunteer schedules are confirmed by email and phone;
- League members will be asked to serve two-hour segments for Registration, 2.5 hrs for Forums.
We will need a large number of volunteers for:
- Registering new voters and answering questions at League tables at various events: Naturalization, fairs, libraries, schools, etc.
- Working at League Forums: Greeting audience & explaining guidelines, sorting questions to be given to Moderator, Timekeepers, Moderators explaining the League’s role and Forum rules, reading questions to which each candidate responds.
Good Ideas From Other Leagues
Leagues around the state have great ideas for making our own League better. Each month we’d like to feature an event or practice from other Leagues that spark creative thinking and motivation here in Chester County. Constant innovation keeps us all fresh and excited about what the League can be. This month I share a link to an event I wish we had at Chester when I joined.
Quote of the Month
Each month we hope to feature the voice of someone wiser, funnier, more eloquent than ourselves to encourage us on the long (endless, really) road to fairness for all. This month we feature the galvanizing words of Carrie Chapman Catt, Founder of the League of Women Voters 100 years ago.
“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!
The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act!”
― Carrie Chapman Catt, Founder LWV
• Celebrate our 100 Year Anniversary
Join us for a customized tour of “Votes for Women: A Visual History” followed by buffet lunch overlooking the scenic Brandywine River during colorful spring bloom.
Brandywine River Museum of Art Tour and Lunch
Date: April 22, 2020
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Brandywine River Museum of Art
1 Hoffmans Mill Rd, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 19317
Join us for a customized tour of “Votes for Women: A Visual History” led by Amanda C. Burdan, Curator, Brandywine River Museum of Art. Explore this special collection of drawings, illustrations, banners, cartoons, magazines, posters and even fashion that visualize the complex political messages conveyed by suffragists. The exhibition tour is followed by a buffet lunch (including beverage and dessert) at the Millstone Café overlooking the scenic Brandywine River during the colorful spring bloom.
Event cost is $35. Parking is free and all day admission to the Museum is included. Reservation deadline is April 6, 2020.
Mail your check to LWV-CDC, P.O. Box 131, Wallingford PA 19086.
• Malvern Public Library
In March, the Malvern Public Library will host members of the League for a discussion of upcoming changes in the voting process. Call Victoria Damiani for details
• The National League
The National League will hold its Convention and 100th Year Anniversary of the League of Women Voters in Washington , D.C., June 25-28, 2020
• WHYY radio series on important women
Welcome to WOMEN 100, a year long celebration marking a century of progress since women won the right to vote and set the agenda to achieve economic, political and social equality. WHYY’S Marty Moss-Coane hosts the weekly spots focused on the achievements of women who changed our world.
• The State League – LWVPA
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette (2/16/20) featured an article and video entitled Celebrating the suffrage movement 100 years later focusing on longtime League leader at the state level, Eileen Olmstead.
And here is a response published a week later inspired by that earlier feature piece:
All Chester County Reads – Fran Pierce
Kick-off for new League project All Chester County Reads begins April 1st. Since the fall, Pam Marquette, CCCLS adult program coordinator and three members of both AAUW-WCCC and the League of Women Voters, Pam Gray, Barb Lathroum and Fran Pierce, have been meeting to discuss the creation of a joint Centennial project. The result of these discussions is All Chester County Reads.
The project goal is to educate the general public about the struggle to gain voting rights for women waged during the 19th & 20th centuries. Discussion of the struggle for voting rights was likewise experienced by African-Americans & immigrants, and the struggle continues for unrestricted voting rights in America.
Event promotion will run through the summer as people look for summer reading. Below see book covers for recommended titles: Around America to Win the Vote (Ages 3-6 yrs) available Chester County Library and Amazon, Rightfully Ours (Ages 6-10 yrs) available Amazon, Why They Marched (Adult) available Chester County Library and Amazon. We still seek a Young Adult title if anyone has insights or can do the research. Contact Barb L. with your suggestions.
August 26 is the 100th Anniversary of the actual signing of the law granting Women’s Suffrage and most groups will hold discussions and related events beginning late August and through the early fall season.
Fair Districts PA – Carol Kuniholm, Patricia Rooney
Across the state Fair Districts PA volunteers have entered a period of heightened attention and energy. Every cosponsorship by a state House representative now is hard-fought and face-to-face as we enter the final four months of this legislative session. The new Senate bills are gaining momentum and cosponsors weekly. Encouraging legislators to prioritize the bills we endorse is a big ask with literally hundreds of bills and resolutions taking their attention.
Those signed up for FDPA email updates will be asked to send letters and postcards to State Government Committee leaders in March to encourage them to bring the bills to the floor for a vote. Form letters are connected to the link and local postcard parties are being organized.
East and Southeast Chester FDPA organizing is managed by Liza Jane Bernard firstname.lastname@example.org (East) and Mark Pavlovich email@example.com (Southeast). Write or call one of them to help organize a postcard party.
Rally Day on Monday, March 23rd will bring people from around the state to Harrisburg to meet with legislators to make this ask. Join us! Buses are available, leaving from Exton. Sign up here .
Hot Topics – Barbara Lathroum, Sandy Schaal, Judy Curtin
At once a source of interesting and impactful information as well as an opportunity to spend time with other nonpartisan women, Hot Topics is a speaker series designed to provoke, inform, and motivate to action. Meetings are sometimes daytime hours, sometime evening hours.
The committee is currently planning quarterly meetings beginning late March.
The first topic will be on the opioid crisis in our local county, is apparently far more pervasive and insidious than some members realize, affecting a generation of young people in ways hard to fathom. Many youth have experienced the deaths of friends and have seen or experienced addiction at a young age.
Topics being considered for later in the year are climate change and the closing of an immigrant holding facility in Berks County. Dates to be determined. Those with ideas for topics, speakers, locations are encouraged to speak with a team member.
Newsletter – Patricia Rooney, Debra Gallek
This may only be a one-time event, this newsletter, but I think it would aid communication if we could work together to make a once-monthly communication interesting and informative. The only experts I need to make this work are experts in picking up the phone, reading someone else’s copy, and people that have opinions. Can you help?
It doesn’t take much specialized skill to pick up the phone to clarify some information that had been left out, or to search for interesting photos or have an opinion on style. I also need someone to check for errors before it goes out. I write fast and make mistakes. I often don’t have time to check as carefully as I need to. This is often the kind of help I need.
I also want beautiful photos—not necessarily League working group photos but beautiful individual portraits of our leadership team at work. We want them to look great. We might also arrange some photo shoots so we get the kind of group photos we need. And we want beautiful generic photos that sort of describe the work we are doing in Committees or in Projects.
Anybody with writing skills, design skills, color skills, ideas for a newsletter or opinions about those things? Get in touch with Patricia Rooney.
Voters Guide – Lisa Forsyth, Brett Dolente, Val Thomas, Linda Kerr, Linda Westphal, Deb Gallek, Tracey Walsh, Patricia Rooney, Pam Gray
We’re starting early this year on the Voters Guide because we’d learned that other counties do a more extensive Voters Guide that includes municipal and school board races. We called LWV-Lehigh to ask how they did it. LWV Lehigh was kind enough to send a document that explain their process and a link to their webpage https://lwvlehighcounty.org/voters-guide/current-election/ where they describe how they do it each year. I attach their advice here for those interested in logistics.
Right now the Voters Guide team numbers approximately seven. The first meeting was held the first day of March, Sunday, at Brett’s house in Kennett Square at 1:30 p.m. At that meeting we will discuss if it is possible to consider something as extensive as going to the municipal level.
- One consideration of going big is cost: sending out the invites so that candidates can load their own candidate material onto the vote411.org website.
- Another consideration is how much information we will compile on each candidate—or ask candidates to provide. We will talk about these things at the meeting.
- If we were to consider doing a paper guide, the costs could be prohibitive. We would need to discuss this and estimate costs.
- Other counties do not seem to have much trouble with fundraising for a Voter Guide, so conceivably Chester would be able to do the same.
- First we need a list of all races, and a list of all candidates for each race.
- We would need to get from all candidates their contact info and possibly bio info and one or two nonpartisan questions the candidates answer.
- We need to discuss whether they load this material onto the site on their own or not.
- All of the data would need to be uploaded onto to Vote411 site before the primary.
“The past is not dead. It isn’t even past.” —Faulkner
League member Brett Dolente generously opened her Kennett Square home to the Chester League in the weeks before Christmas. The sun is what I remember, streaming through the windows to wooden floors and space…enormous space for multiple seating areas and dining.
Lots of women I’d never met before were there, and though I’d thought I’d recovered from a months-long cold, as soon as I spoke above a whisper I would experience a coughing jag. So, regretfully, I’d had to leave early. But a memorable experience for me was briefly meeting the somehow ever-present and enormously hard-working (in our newsletter, communications, publications) Debra Gallek. We did not get a picture of that elusive creature.
Catherine Palmquist, another gem in the crown of the Chester League because of her willingness to share her skill with a camera, was present and shared some lovely photos, these you see here. The food was excellent and the moment memorable and warm and festive.