JULY 2017 PT Member Retreat Minutes


Robyn Bernstein Donati, Massachusetts
Terry Greene, Massachusetts
Dianne Hudder, Florida
Colleen Kelly, New York
Diqui LaPenta, California
Valerie Lucznikowska, New York
Ari Radcliffe-Greene, Massachusetts
Terry Rockefeller, Massachusetts (by Skype for Iraq Committee update)
Phyllis Rodriguez, New York
Gloria Williams, New York

Katharina Feil, PT Coordinator and Dalia Bender (Katharina’s daughter, who joined to lead a yoga session)

Sat July 22, 2017

10:30am Phyllis gives historic background to PT:

In the beginning Orlando wrote the letter “In Our Son’s Name” drawing attention to family members who did not want war or revenge as a response to 9/11. This drew many responses, even prior to printing. Rita and Phyllis connected on a talk show. Kathy Kelly from “Voices in the Wilderness” offered to introduce PTers Rita Lasar and Phyllis Rodriguez to others she had met through her organization. 2001: PTers marched from Washington, DC to Washington Square in NYC : David Potorti, Colleen Kelly and the Barry and Ryan Amundson participated. After Rita’s trip to Afghanistan with Medea Benjamin she returned to NYC and PT felt like THIS was the issue: Afghanistan. Cora Weiss gave PT space to hold a news conference at the UN”s NGO building. PT & the media: 4 months after the attacks PTers went to Afghanistan and the media was interested – continuing over the next 2 years. [PT was formed Valentines Day 2002].

10:45 Ari Radcliffe-Greene presents two Engagement Exercises


11am Terry Rockefeller calls in via skype to give Iraq Committee Report:

Terry works with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative: www:iraqicivilsociety.org. Promoting visibility to the work towards establishing civil society is one of the best ways other PT members can support this work (share via social media, follow their events…). We have been able to grow the relationship with groups in Iraq through the work of Italian and Spanish NGOs especially. Protests continue in the country on a weekly basis and nonviolent activists traveled to Mosul. The 7th annual meeting of this nonviolent movement is happening in Sulaymaniyah in September.

Q: How have we aided their efforts through your assistance?
A: I do a lot of translating – helping with the English when Arabic gets translated.

Q: Is LaOnf still an entity?
A: Yes, it has been revived by,…..?…….., a deep scholar of Ghandi.

Q: How can we stay informed?
A: We do not have the finances to be directly involved. Stay informed through the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative website. I will get information to KF so she can share it in the monthly updates.

TKR sates that she would like to share Iraq updates on PT-Discussion to reach as many PTers as possible.

Q: Would media for them work?
A: The Iraqi and Kurdish Social Forums all are in Arabic. Their Facebook pages are as well.

TG: Noted that Rethink Media offers free webinars, including the following on how to best use twitter to engage reporters (many reporters follow us @peacefultomorro). Here are recordings for Rethink Media webinars on Twitter 101 and Using Twitter to Engage Reporters. You can find accompanying blog posts for each on the ReThink Blog.

TKR: Anything we can do to amplify awareness of the Iraqi nonviolent activists who are trying to reform their failing government, we should be doing.


11:30am Gloria Williams & Robyn Donati / Islamophobia Committee Report:

GW describes her work with The Interfaith Center of New York. A new coalition has formed in NYC: The NY Coalition Against Islamophobia and Gloria works with them. Their plan is to block the Freedom of Information Law. They also support immigrants’ rights.

Gloria explains about her work with interfaith youth and hopes to create collaborations. This includes civic engagement.

Robyn reported back on her collaborations with the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, which in prior years included visits with the Governor. She has also worked to connect with Metrowest and statewide interfaith community organizations that are combatting Islamophobia.

Terry Greene discussed PT having spoken at other rallies this year against Islamophobia and for immigrants (note many members not present at the retreat have given speeches and were featured in the media – Our opinions were publicized by Huffington Post, on Fox News, by REUTERS, Policy Mic and Pioneer Press/Radio as well as on NPR. Additionally, PT members, Talat Hamdani and Anne Mulderry, attended the rally in Battery Park on February 16. CLICK HERE to view the media coverage received.)

PT gave testimony at hearings before MA legislative committees. We were told by state legislators that our message of support for immigrants could be vital in moving forward legislation. The Massachusetts Safe Communities Act is proposed legislation that would be the most protective in the country and is a model for other states to adopt. We have been promoting advocacy among our Massachusetts members and allies. Our testimony, emphasizing real security over superficial measures based merely out of fear and discrimination, is available for those in other states to replicate. See: https://www.miracoalition.org/safe-communities and / http://peacefultomorrows.org/911-victims-family-members-appeal-massachusetts-legislature-support-strengthen-provisions-h-3033-act-relative-enforcing-federal-law/

Dianne Hudder added to their remarks and spoke about her work with the Miami Conference on Christians and Jews (MCCJ) in Miami, FL. Their work naturally extends to Muslims and Sikhs. The MCCJ is the oldest interfaith group in the nation. Dianne regularly attends interfaith services, and Iftar dinners. During these dinners clergy comes together – on a grassroots level – to have dinner and to get to know each other. She helped organize a protest in February against the Trump’s immigration policies (reported in the Miami Herald:                         http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article130676849.html) and support offered in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting.


12:30pm – WELCOME to everyone from Gloria and Robyn on behalf of the Peaceful Tomorrows Steering Committee. Everybody introduces themselves.

– Welcome new member Dianne Hudder from Miami! Dianne is a Minister at Christ Congregational Church in Palmetto Bay, Florida who has been active in interfaith events and local and national collaborations for many years. She lost her brother on 9/11, William Russell Peterson. She shared that she and her father reacted shunning retribution, not wanting anyone else to suffer as they have.


1pm Colleen Kelly / Guantanamo Committee Report

History of Guantanamo (G): in Sept 2006 high value prisoners were brought from black sites to G. 2008 arraignment by military commission. Dec 2008 all plead guilty – and the judge at G did not know what to do. Switched to federal trial. 3 years of limbo follow until Holder announces that they will again be tried by military commissions. May 5, 2012: arraignment of 5. The trials have been going on for more than 5 years with no end in sight. Judge Pohl never rules from the bench but takes – usually – months to decide. The planned two weeks of pre-trials sessions (which PTer Anne Mulderry had planned on attending) were cancelled and we do not know whether the August session will happen. Hearings are currently abated (on hold) because transportation of judges to the island of G needs to be figured out.

To be continued tomorrow morning.

1:30pm Shelby Sullivan-Bennis of reprieve.org, another Tides project

… reports about her work as a defendant lawyer of 7- 8 clients who are not tried through the military commissions and who are at Guantanamo. There are a total of 26 of inmates at G who are not part of the military commissions.

Shelby spoke about the Periodic Review Board (PRB), which recommends whether certain individuals held at Guantanamo are safe to release or transfer or whether they should continue to be held without charge. The 7-8 clients represented by reprieve.org have a right to counsel at no cost to the US government. These clients also have an assigned PR person and a private counsel. They are being advised to

  • not complain about torture
  • express gratitude for the education they receive
  • to cite specific books they read which are Western – incl the Bible

********LUNCH BREAK IN CONFERENCE ROOM**************

Shelby continues her presentation: “How To Build A Campaign”

Try to get a google analytics grant (not too hard to get) to gain better understanding of the demographics we are engaging.

Shelby can be reached at Shelby@reprieve.org.

Strategic Planning

Members engaged in a “Strength/Weaknesses, Opportunities/Threats” (SWOT) analysis of the organization. The results were laid out in a matrix (photo attached). Among key strengths: Our unique and respected voice and moral authority, ability to draw media. Among key areas of weakness: Limited and dispersed membership, few resources. Opportunities include building on new and renewed interest; including younger members who have recently joined. Threats include all of the challenges posed by the current political and social climate.

************ YOGA FLEX ******************************

Strategic Planning (Continued)

Review Efficacy of Strategies

Diqui and Terry facilitated consideration of strategies along a matrix of how impactful they might be on advancing our mission contrasted to how feasible (or easy to difficult) they are to accomplish. Several strategies that are the focus of PT Committees emerged as being impactful actions that PT would have a uniquely important role in advancing. Some of these, such as efforts involving publicity and participation in rallies and speaking at events and providing testimony that draw attention to our concerns, may be relatively easy for PT to accomplish given our strengths and weaknesses. Others, such as actually organizing large events or campaigns would be more challenging. There are some that are not certain whether we could realistically accomplish that the committees will explore – such as filing amicus briefs to legislation that pertains to Guantanamo. Coordination of the International Network for Peace has proven difficult; although working to help some of the partners in their activities has been advanced over the years. Many groups are working to address the threats of expanded militarism and lack of diplomatic solutions to conflict, as well as the growing Islamophobia and general anti-immigrant policies. PT needn’t lead the charge, but can have a particular contribution as endorsers and in speaking to how we are not safer through militarism and climate of fear and hate.

Terry G inserts a quick report from the Afghanistan/ Int. Peace Committee:

The Afghanistan Committee donated money to support both the Duvet Project and the Street Kids School Project – both mentioned on the “Journey to Smile” website. They have been trying to engage more youth to join in international efforts.



CK points out that ACLU / WA is informing us that Sep 5, 2017 will start the trial of James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, the psychologists who teamed up with the CIA to design, implement, and oversee the agency’s torture program, which ensnared at least 119 men from its inception in 2002 until it was shuttered in 2008.

ACTION: Diqui contacts her civil rights lawyer husband to see whether he could help PT here.


Sun July 23  – 9:30am

Guided Meditation: Led by Dianne

Discussion of how to address organizational weaknesses

Members were asked how to better address challenges that we work so remotely with limited structure. Discussion followed of whether communications between office and membership or among membership could be improved/ are satisfactory:

It was discussed that is very important to alert members that Katharina, our Project Coordinator, had moved to Philadelphia (commuting for two days/week to work in NYC; otherwise out of Philadelphia). While it had been noted in SC minutes, it was agreed that members would be officially alerted as to the move and related procedures. The main impact of the move mentioned were difficulties reaching the office by phone and the cost of rent in NYC for space that is not fully utilized.

To ensure communications, members will have access to Katharina by cell phone during her working hours. With only one staff member, members will, to the extent possible, engage in advance planning to make sure that requests are fulfilled to coordinate actions (rather than last second requests).

Members were updated on how we had to move PT office last August (our lease was broken because the church needed space its own staff) and how KF had – a second time – successfully found a new space for the office at a reasonable cost for NYC. The specter of Katharina’s move led the SC to institute a review period to consider impacts. The SC also has discussed hiring an additional part-time position as back-up and extra support. Having extra room in the office led to PT having asked Tides to publicize the space among its other projects in the area to share (none have responded). Discussion about office space followed with members questioning whether a space in NY is actually needed/cost-effective

11:30am – noon:

Colleen presents detailed information on Guantanamo and possible next step strategies. This includes action to address the use of the death penalty.

Noon: Closing reflections facilitated by Dianne. END OF RETREAT Sun noon

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