Minutes of Eighth Meeting of VINN (Vermont International Nonprofit Network)

Wednesday January 28, 2004, Population Media Center, Shelburne 12:30 – 3:00 pm

Members Present
ECOLOGIA –Randy Kritkausky, Carolyn Schmidt, Sallie Mack
Global Health Council – Erin Gooch
Green Across the Pacific - Peter Lynch
Institute for Sustainable Communities – Justin Johnson
Peter Ames Non-Profit Consulting – Peter Ames
Population Media Center –Bill Ryerson, Christopher Lytle
Project Harmony – Jim Thorn
Salzburg Seminar – Meg Harris
VANPO – Jane Van Buren
Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program – Phyl Newbeck

Visitor Beth Comolli, Consultant

Absent with notification
Animals Asia – Andi Mowrer
Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, Middlebury College – Charlotte Tate
Save Our World Vermont – Marion Leonard
Vermont Refugee Resettlement Council – Stacie Blake

Thank you to Population Media Center for hosting this meeting.

1. Networking / Introductions Once again, we all enjoyed hearing first-hand accounts of participants’ recent activities. Ongoing organizational growth, evaluation and exploration of new ways to carry out long-range missions were common themes. In addition to being a diverse group, we are also clearly a dynamic one.

Beth Comolli, Charlotte, Consultant. Beth has just moved to Vermont after three years of work in Central Asia on civil society and organizational development work in the NGO sector. She attended as a guest of Jane Van Buren from VANPO. She is very interested in connecting with internationally active organizations now that she is establishing a home base in Vermont.

ECOLOGIA – Randy Kritkausky, Executive Director– ECOLOGIA is currently developing its “Vermont SNOW Initiative” which would provide Vermont ski resorts with publicity and credit for their efforts to reduce global warming. This links local Vermont industries with ECOLOGIA’s global-level negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Health Council – Erin Gooch, Grantwriter/Researcher. GHC is preparing for their annual conference in June. They also recently carried out a study tour of India, for members of the US Congress. (Interestingly, most of the Congress members who went on this tour were Republicans.) The purpose was to show the health needs and opportunities for GHC in India; it met with a very positive response.

Green Across the Pacific – Peter Lynch, Executive Director –GATP is planning an annual Vermont-based summer program in environmental science and natural resource management. Starting in Summer 2005, the participating American and Chinese high school students would pick one issue (such as tire burning) and study it in great detail. The following summer, the students would do a similar activity in China. GAPT is also currently recruiting for its summer exchange progra in China this year.

Institute for Sustainable Communities- Justin Johnson, Communications Manger - ISC is developing proposals for work in Central Asia, Russia and the Balkans. They are getting good results working with long-term partners to build on their earlier environmental program focus, incorporating civil society, energy efficiency, eco-tourism and business development.

Peter Ames Non-Profit Consulting – plans to be in Greece in March, working for the Greek Museum of Natural History.

Population Media Center – Bill Ryerson, Executive Director: PMC is currently in a major expansion; now moving into India in addition to their long-running work in Ethiopia and Tanzania. Using their popular soap opera format for presenting healthy lifestyle choices, they highlight population control, sexually transmitted disease prevention and women’s rights, and have recently added anti-child slavery (Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire).

Christopher Lytle, Development Director, described an evolving program in Rwanda, dealing with population and sustainability in the larger sense by focusing on the declining population and habitat of the mountain gorillas. PMC is trying to incorporate habitat issues, reduction in human population growth, and the economic potential of tourism into their media work.

Project Harmony – Jim Thorn, Associate Director of Development – Project Harmony has just finished developing a program on Women’s Leadership in the Caucasus. They are currently hosting a delegation of Armenian educators, have people from Azerbaijan participating in the “Community Connections” program, and are planning for the upcoming meeting of their high-school level international Technology Ambassadors.

Salzburg Seminar – Meg Harris, Special Projects Coordinator, reported that they are currently developing their program for 2005 to include sessions on Trade, Aid and Development, NGO Philanthropy, and Architecture and Public Life, just to name a few. The Seminar is adding cultural and historical tour opportunities to their exchange offerings starting this year and is also launching an International Study Program for undergraduates and faculty of colleges and community colleges in the U.S.

VANPO (Vermont Association of Non-Profit Organizations) – Jane Van Buren, Director – VANPO supports non-profits in three different ways: 1) assistance and networking; 2) education, by holding workshops on management, accounting, budgeting, board building, marketing, etc. and 3) public policy and advocacy, working with the state legislature to advance the visibility and legal protections of non-profits. Jane herself has extensive experience in western Africa and central Asia, in addition to her VANPO work supporting non-profits of all sectors in Vermont.

Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program - Phyl Newbeck, Director. - Vermont Teacher Diversity’s goal is to recruit teachers for Vermont public schools from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. Their most recent good news is that they were included in the Governor’s budget for the next fiscal year, at a higher level of funding ($100,000) than previously. They are currently working with teachers from Bosnia, Venezuela, Mexico and Thailand.

Reports from Those Unable to Attend:

Rohatyn Center, Middlebury College – Charlotte Tate credits the VINN members who participated in Middlebury’s “Careers in the Common Good” Symposium in November. Barbara Felliti (Institute for Sustainable Communities), Jared Cadwell (Project Harmony), Randy Kritkausky (ECOLOGIA), and NaHyun Cho (Population Media Center) were tremendous contributors on the panel for international NGOs. She writes, “They generously shared with Middlebury College students their career experience, and they made a strong case for careers in both the international arena and the nonprofit sector.”

Save Our World Vermont - Marion Leonard writes that Save Our World- Vermont “will become a Vermont non-profit, educational part of InnerHarmony, a new community wellness center in Rochester……There is space for books, videos and other Earth literacy material, as well as a place to hold meetings and study groups.” Between January and April, Save Our World- Vermont is hosting a series of discussions titled, “Democracy, the Earth and You: Creative Responses to Twenty-first Century”.

Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program – Stacie Blake, Director was called to testify to the state legislature today, and thus was unable to get to this meeting. She writes, “Refugee arrivals are picking up. Recent arrivals have been from Azerbaijan, Somalia, Sudan and Congo. We are always in need of host families who can assist a new arrival for their first 1-2 weeks until we have found an apartment. The interpreting business stays busy, currently answering calls in 13 languages and about 200 appointments a month in Chittenden, Addison, Franklin and Washington counties.”

2. Practical Issues - Publicity and Public Outreach

Suggested actions to take:

We set up a WORKING COMMITTEE on Publicity and Outreach: Justin, Erin and Randy. They will meet online and send out a memo with ideas for us each to evaluate and comment on. At the next VINN meeting, they will bring recommendations based on their work.
Among the issues to be discussed are: Whether our primary goal in public outreach should be action or awareness? Which audiences do we most want to talk to; where do we want to direct these audiences’ energies? Justin recently attended a meeting of Interaction, a Washington-based NGO support group to which ISC belongs, which dealt with many of these questions. Erin made the point that above all, people do not want to feel helpless; we need to ensure that our outreach and publicity efforts are have a positive impact.

3. Liability, Travel and Other Insurance Costs: Bill Ryerson of Population Media Center brought up the issue of insurance needs and costs. He would like to survey our members, with the goal of determining whether group purchases of some forms of insurance would be worthwhile and cost-saving. He has put together a questionnaire for VINN members, about each of our organization’s current insurance purchases and anticipated needs. Each member organization should respond to the questionnaire (10 minutes or so), and e-mail it back to Bill before March 1st.

4. Criteria for Membership in VINN
We revisited this question, which had been discussed at our last meeting. This meeting’s attendees voted to make the official registration requirement (criterion # 1) less restrictive.

Current Criteria for VINN Membership now are:

  1. A tangible Vermont connection – maintaining an office and having Vermont-based activities (replaces “having Vermont non-profit registration as an IRS 501(c)3.”
  2. Demonstration of a commitment to international work, as shown in the mission statement or in specific programs
  3. Participation in VINN meetings, or other ways in which the organization can add value to VINN. Any organization which misses three consecutive meetings without notification loses its membership status.
  4. Contributing financial support. Those organizations now listed in the Brochure and on the website have each contributed $50. New members are expected to contribute $50 upon joining.

5. Next Meeting: Wednesday April 28, 2004 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, at Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program in Waterbury – Phyl Newbeck, Director.

Directions: Take I-89 to Exit 10.

  1. Networking /Introductions
  2. Effective Use of Media and Publicity – Report from the Working Committee on Publicity and Outreach (Justin, Erin, Randy)
  3. Implementation and Action decisions.
  4. Summary / Conclusions concerning Liability and Other Insurance
  5. Other issues, on request and as time permits
  6. Schedule next meeting time/place