By Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair
It goes without saying that the 2016 US presidential election was a shock to pretty much everyone. While most of us still have the “what if” soundtrack replaying in our heads, a number of things have become clear since Trump’s inauguration on 21 January 2017. First and foremost, we, as citizens, not only stand up for our beliefs, we also get involved, we get organized, and we get active. So, regardless of the threat to our democracy that many of us perceive, we’ve proven that our voices can be heard.
This is why I’m excited and looking forward to my coming term as Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria.
The critical issues that are keeping thousands of activists busy in the US and across the globe are the very same issues, actions, and events that are generating a new wave of members to become actively involved in DAA and will enable Democrats Abroad to help take back the Senate and turn Congress blue in 2018.
Directly after the November 2016 election, DAA couldn’t just sit still so, instead, we stepped up and responded in the best ways we knew: we organized a vigil; we joined in with and supported Caroline Kirkpatrick, who organised the “Women’s March on Washington” here in Vienna; and we gave our whole-hearted suport to the newly formed DAA Grassroots activists and started working on their monthly Solidarity Sundays. We’re investing a LOT of energy!
Over the coming two years, my goal as DAA Chair is to build on that energy and move it towards, not just the ExComm, but encouraging each and every one of us to take one step up. If you registered to vote from abroad, help us now to register others to vote for the 2018 mid-term elections. If you went to an event before, now help organize one. If you thought something wasn’t working right, then step up and help change it for the better. If each and every one of us takes just one little step up to the next higher level of participation, come November ‘18, we will have generated a Democrats activists’ storm–let’s make it a Category 5!
The new Executive Committee looks forward to meeting and working with many volunteers over the next few years! We would also sincerely like to thank our retiring board members, Mary Ann Balko-Koch, Stanley Hale, Christian Gauster, Eva Ciabattoni, and Fred Robinson for all their enthusiasm, hard work and commitment over the past years.
By Adrea Mach, Member-at-Large
“Who’s a ‘DREAMer’?” you may ask. Maybe you know one; maybe you even were/are one. Time to find out. Even if not, what does this have to do with you, DAA and Trump’s anti-immigration America?
“I’m one of those ‘bad hombres’—those Mexican guys Trump loves to bash,” says Juan David Cerda, an American of Mexican descent. “But I had the fantastic good luck to be born in the US—in a small agricultural town in the Central Valley of California. So I actually started out life as an American citizen, NOT as a DREAMer. I'm even more fortunate to come from a family that encouraged me to follow my dreams and to take risks.
My mother, Rosalina, was a risk taker. Born in Mexico, at age 16 she illegally waded across the Rio Grande River to Texas with only one sandal— the other one got lost on the way. So happy to have arrived, she made her way to California, slaved away as migrant field worker in the unrelenting heat during the summers and met David, her husband, my dad, who had been born in Texas and thus was legal. They fell in love, got married and the rest—including my two younger siblings—is current history.
My mother enrolled herself in a night school program to learn English, received her GED, went on to college, and now works at a pre-school. She also earned her American citizenship. I still remember, when I was about ten, helping her study for the civics exam with questions like: ‘How many members does the House of Representatives have?’ I’ll bet not even everybody born in the States knows the answer to that one. [435 is the answer.]
My father David, a mechanic, taught me the meaning of hard work and never to give up. I'm the first in my family to earn a master's degree; my sister is a teacher; and my younger brother is studying for a PhD. My parents did right by us.
Back then in the 1980s, they were both members of United Farm Workers Union under Cesar Chavez [Latino American civil rights activist in the California of the 1970/80s]. I grew up with that stuff in my backyard. Fighting for common decency. And passing on the benefits, both economic and emotional, to others, trying to realize their own dreams.”
What a great personal story to bring “DREAMers” issues to life!
Juan now works at an international organization in Vienna.
The DREAM Act”—short for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act—is focused on documented immigrant children. This US congressional bill was first introduced in 2001 with the goal of granting legal status to young people brought to the United States as children, stayed and attended school there. Although several versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress since 2001, it has yet to pass both houses and be enacted into law.
Although the term “DREAMer” originally took its name from the above congressional bill, it clearly has a double meaning: do America’s undocumented youth dare to dream of a better future? For recent details, check out http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/05/unauthorized-immigrants-covered-by-daca-face-uncertain-future/
Meanwhile, in 2012, Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. since 2007 and arrived under the age of 16 to receive work permits, access to welfare, and protection from deportation. More than 750,000 illegal immigrants are covered by the policy and 1.1 million would be eligible. Trump’s campaign trail promise to “immediately terminate Obama’s illegal executive amnesties” has NOT been put into action yet ... but it could at any moment. Ending DACA would be as simple as signing a new Executive Order. And we all know how much Trump enjoys doing that.
That’s why we’re writing to the “movers and shakers”—from congressional representatives to local sheriffs to editors of local newspapers. Every letter carries its clout! See the post about Solidarity Sunday Vienna #2 for more.
Democrats Abroad works hard for all Americans Abroad on a number of issues and on FATCA/FBAR in particular. As you may have become aware of over the past few years, Americans with accounts in foreign financial institutions with a total balance across all accounts at any point during the year of US $10,000 or more need to file a FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report) Form 114. This year, for the first time, the form is due for submission on 15 April, as opposed to 30 June as it has been in the past.
As Carmelan Polce, the Singapore-based Chair of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) wrote to the DPCA Leadership on 24 March 2017: “I appreciate it has been six months since you had an update from the FBAR/FATCA Task Force, but we’ve all had rather larger, more pressing fears and concerns to contemplate since last fall … and there hasn’t actually been much to say until now.” But now there IS—and the contents of this report are important for YOU as tax-paying Americans abroad. “You may be asked about FATCA and the Trump Government, so we hope these notes will help you to form answers.”
For the full report go to http://www.democratsabroad.org/fbar_fatca_task_force_report
Here are the highlights of the report in a nutshell:
- Democrats Abroad continues to support Residency-based Taxation and believes the proposal that has the best model will entail both fees and penalties for exercising the reporting exemption and be revenue neutral.
- FBAR is due on April 15, 2017 as opposed to June 30, 2017 as it has been in the past, although supposedly there is a six-month automatic extention. DAA does NOT give tax advice–you must check with your tax advisor or FinCen’s website for the filing due date.
- Many Americans living abroad know nothing of their obligation to report to the IRS the earnings they make in their country of residence.
- Double Taxation: Many areas of the tax code were developed without due consideration for the impact they would have on Americans residing abroad.
On March 18th members of DA-Austria met for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to review the previous year’s business activities and elect a new Executive Committee.
The evening started with a business review by outgoing Chair, Keith Jacomine, and Vice-Chair, Ashley Arreola. The Chair's presentation focused on the sizeable growth in membership over the past year, the increased level of volunteerism amongst members, DAA’s financial and leadership support to the Democratic Party Committee Abroad—plus our members’ emboldened political activism. The Vice-Chair‘s presentation focused on member engagement and the numerous events, ranging from social to political orientation, that were staged over the year 2016 to keep members active and aware.
After wrapping up the AGM’s business agenda, the floor was opened to audience participation. What followed was a spirited discussion of DA’s overrall role in the Democratic Party and many members’ desire for it to take on a more grassroots, progressive orientation. The discussion ended with an agreement that, regardless of which “flavor” or persuasion one is on the Democratic Party spectrum, we must all work together to beat the Republicans.
Post-discussion, it was time for the 2017-2019 Executive Committee elections. While the ballots were being tabulated, Chair Keith Jacomine and Member-at-large, Mary Ann Balko-Koch, entertained members with a politically oriented Trivia Quiz: "Real or Fake Headline/Who Said It Quotes" with the top winners walking away with "valuable" prizes. Since this is perhaps not so “trivial” after all, if you would like to test your knowledge, you can find the Quiz right here!
Following the announcement of the vote results, the new Executive Committee was introduced. They are:
Chair Jennifer Rakow-Stepper
Vice-Chair Keith Jacomine
Treasurer Marcy Fowler
Secretary Ellen Lewis
Counsel Bruce Murray
At Large: Caitlin Ahern
Our newly elected Chair, Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, then presented the priorities, focusing our efforts over the coming two years (2017-2019) to work on the issues we care about and use our work to rally voters to the polls for the 2018 mid-term elections. She closed her presentation with a call to “Be Active! Volunteer for an issue you care about! Get involved!”
Thanks to all the members and volunteers who have tirelessly given of their time and energy this past year. If you'd like further information on what was discussed at the meeting, please email Ellen Lewis, DAA Secretary at email@example.com
I’ve long had an open question in my mind about whether our efforts at DAA are actually reaching their intended targets. Therefore, I took the opportunity of the AGM to put together a questionnaire (which was also available via an online survey) to ask members their opinions about what we were doing and how we were doing it.
Altogether, 110 members responded within a few days and the results have made us rethink some of our approaches. A total of 85% of responding members receive their news from the emailed DAA newsletter. Thus, thanks to member-at-large, Adrea Mach, look forward to a newsletter that is both bigger and more substantive.
The survey also gave us a better idea of what kind of events members have attended, been popular in the past, and what types of events members would like to see take place in the future–think political actions and events and quarterly meet-ups!
Finally, out of 110 respondents to the DAA survey, almost half replied that they would like to help, but weren’t sure exactly what they could do, while twenty-nine said they would like to help with a specific issue, and another thirteen members sent their name and email saying, “Call Me”. That is a really enthusiastic response!
Overall, since the election, 11,000 members have raised their hand to volunteer to Democrats Abroad. DAA Excomm would like to thank everyone who responded to the survey and especially those of you who have stepped up to volunteer your time!
Click below to view the questionnaire results in full.
On Sunday, March 26, a good dozen members—including a surprise appearance by DA International Chair Katie Solon—and interested visitors gathered together for the second Solidarity Sunday at Vienna’s Amerlinghaus (Stiftgasse 8, 1070), which will now be this action’s permanent monthly meeting site. SolSun founding organizers Juan David Cerda, Antje Lewis and Tanya Lolonis steered this energizing event.
Juan, our guest speaker, brought the issues of “Dreamers” to light with moving, insightful personal stories (See “Round-up on “DREAMers”: Issues and Interview with Juan David Cerda” for details). We heard about the so-called “DREAM Act”—the acronym for the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act—a US congressional bill first introduced in 2001 aimed at stepwise granting of legal status to undocumented minor immigrants, allowing them educational opportunities and potentially paving the way to permanent residence and American citizenship.
After wide-ranging discussions on America’s public perceptions of “DREAMers”—from young refugees in need of support, education and protection to “criminals” to be immediately and en masse—we moved to “What can WE—ourselves American ‘migrants’ abroad—do to help our homeland counterparts?”
“Contact your Congressional Representative, Senator or locally elected Sheriff!” and “Write a Letter to the Editor of your voting district newspaper!” was Tanya’s answer. She provided us not only with letters-to-the-editor writing tips and a sample letter but also the comprehensive website—http://www.50states.com/news—to pinpoint the contact details of newspapers in our previous hometowns and/or current voter registration cities. Our “homework” was to:
- Look up the media channels.
- Identify a current “hot” political issue there—“DREAMers” or another burning issue.
- Draft/share your “LTE” letter with firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SUBMIT it per email to this news outlet or congressional or sheriff’s office within a week maximum! And, of course, if your “LTE” gets published, Bravo! Let us know what kind of feedback it produced!
After a brief DA global update by Katie Solon, we focused on our own SolSun thematic priorities for the coming months. Everyone was invited to propose topics, actions and hands-on help.
For those of you unable to attend these motivating “Solidarity Sundays” in person, our monthly DAA Newsletter will also do its part by previewing upcoming SolSun topics and reporting on their outcomes and follow-up channels, thus expanding our outreach. For queries or inputs, please contact email@example.com.
Popular Political Podcasts—Informative, Fun, and all for Free!
By Tanya Lolonis, Member and Grassroots Activist
Today’s fusion of media and politics, as well as media as a platform for politicians and movements, makes podcasts a terrific medium for exploring—and resisting—the Trump era. Some of the best discussions on U.S. politics are streaming through your speakers and headphones right now! Three standouts (all free on iTunes):
- Pod Save America is the ideological home of the resistance. Four former members of President Obama’s inner circle - Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor - enlist journalists, politicians and activists to discuss politics, the press, and the Trump presidency. Barack Obama’s last interview as president was here, and Tom Perez and Keith Ellison both featured in the run-up to the DNC election. Consistently at the top of iTunes podcast charts in the U.S.
- With Friends Like These is the cyber-space where political columnist and culture critic, Ana Marie Cox, conducts open, in-depth conversations with liberals and conservatives about what divides us. It’s billed as “a show about listening instead of arguing” and is a good place to get ready for those hard conversations with Trump-supporting family back home.
- Vox’s The Weeds is where wonkish journalists Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff and Matt Yglesias tackle complex, weighty topics — perfect if you want to use your daily commute or run to understand Obamacare, the history of U.S. immigration policy, or SCOTUS (i.e. the Supreme Court of the United States). Billed as the podcast for people who “love thinking about health care, economics and zoning.”
For further details, please contact Tanya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rational Readers Club
By Marcy Fowler, Treasurer
The Rational Readers Club of Vienna will be meeting on April 15 to discuss Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. And since we're meeting on Tax Day, we’ll also talk about current issues related to transparency in government. We’ll share tips on effectively calling our government officials and then will try out our enhanced skills by making calls to demand that Trump release his tax returns.
Details: Saturday, April 15 at 11:00 am at Café Phil (Gumpendorferstraße 10-12, 1060 Vienna). We would enthusiastically welcome new book club members--please just contact us in advance at RationalResistanceAustria@gmail.com.
We’ll be meeting again in May (details TBA) to discuss our next book, The Captive Mind, by Czesław Miłosz.
In this March 2017 issue:
2017 Annual General Meeting and Elections – March 18
Solidarity Sundays Vienna #2 – March 26
Issues and Actions
Grassroots Grow Roots
Reflections from the Outgoing DAA Chair
Solidarity Sundays #1 in Support of Planned Parenthood
Graz Meet-Up – Afternoon of Action
4. Member's Corner
- International Women’s Day/A Day Without Women – March 8
- April 15 Join Trump taxes call-in http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/tax-day-trump-protest-democrats-235064.
- April 22 Science March
1. Upcoming Events
- 2017 Annual General Meeting and Executive Committee Election
Please join fellow DA Austria members on Saturday, March 18th to recap a very eventful 2016 and elect members of the Executive Committee.
Date: Saturday, March 18, 2017
Time: 3:30 - 5:30 pm (doors open at 3:00 pm)
Contact: Mary Ann Balko-Koch, email@example.com
Please pre-register for the meeting by clicking here to contact -> Mary Ann Balko-Koch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Include your: Name, address, phone number and voting state in your email to her so that your record stays current. This will help us start the meeting on time and ensure that we have an accurate vote count. We encourage all members to pre-register, even if you're uncertain that you can make it, in order to minimize long waiting lines.
We are making a group reservation for dinner after the meeting at 6pm at The Brickmakers, Zieglergasse 42 (a five-minute walk from the meeting location) http://www.brickmakers.at. If you'd like to be included in the reservation, please inform Mary Ann when you pre-register. We need to tell the restaurant how many we will be, so we’d appreciate your pre-registration by Saturday, March 11 if you plan to join us for dinner!
- Solidarity Sundays #2: Action for DREAMERS & Team-building for Future SolSuns
2. Issues and Actions
- Grassroots Grow Roots
In the aftermath of the election, three DAA members, Antje Lewis, Tanya Lolonis, and Juan David Cerda, banded together to “Make America Safe for Democracy Again!” They set themselves the challenge of activating Democrats Abroad members and U.S. ex-pats in Austria, and to have fun while doing it. Since November, Grassroots of Democrats Abroad Austria Caucus has developed a format and a growing list of ideas to turn frustration into action.
In the spirit of the activist groups Indivisible and Solidarity Sundays, Solidarity Sundays Vienna plans monthly meet-ups to target a specific issue or non-profit organization under threat by the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled houses of Congress.
The goal of this grassroots effort is to build a community of activists in Austria. The ideas and energy that the group generates reflect a participatory approach: DAA members are encouraged to propose an issue to target and the Caucus will help you organize your action or event.
What issue do you wish to support? Join us! We’ll support you in constructing events that educate and activate, whether it be contacting our representatives, conducting teach-ins or read-ins, skywriting, or marching. Contact Tanya, Antje, or Juan to get the wheels in motion for a Solidarity Sundays Vienna action you’d like to see. Grassroots of DAA Caucus wants to hear from you: we know you have LOTS to say!
- Reflections from the Outgoing DAA Chair, Keith Jacomine
Four years ago at the March Annual General Meeting, I was elected Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria. My, how time has flown by. Over the past four years, we have seen the highs of the second term of the Obama presidency and the beginning of the nightmare of the Trump Administration. Could the contrast be any greater?
In looking back over this time, I'm proud of our many accomplishments: in both the midterm and presidential elections volunteers made thousands of phone calls to encourage members to vote and provide support on casting absentee ballots; we ran a very successful global primary where over half of our members cast a ballot; and we increased our membership significantly over that period. And it wasn't just hard work and no play – DAA became more active in the expat community and increased member engagement through social outings such as Fourth of July and Thanksgiving events, participation in the Pride Parade, wine tastings, theatre events, and Young Dems Pub Nights.
For all their help and support in making the past four years a success, I'd like to thank our many volunteers and my fellow members of the Executive Committee: Vice-Chair Ashley Arreola; Council Chris Gastner; Secretary Eva Ciabattoni; Treasurer Fred Robinson; and Members-At-Large Stanley Hale, Caitlin Ahern, Mary Ann Balko-Koch and Matt Stevens.
While some of the Excom members are running to retain their positions, both Ashley and I are not seeking reelection in our current capacities due to term limitations. Additionally, two of our long-serving Executive Committee members-at-large, Stan Hale and Mary Ann Balko-Koch, have chosen to retire at this time. I'd like to give Ashley, Stan a Mary Ann a special thanks.
Ashley has been an invaluable co-conspirator during my tenure as chair. She provided youth and vigor to the group and brought a fresh can-do approach to our discussions. Ashley is also directly responsible for creating the Young Dems group in Austria and getting them together for monthly outings.
Stanley joined DAA as Media Contact in 2006 and served until 2017, and also for many years formatted and dispatched the newsletter. Stan says one of his unforgettable experiences as our media contact was the early breakfast on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at the Lion Rampant pub in the 19th district with a group of delirious expats who had spent the night following the election results with live CNN streaming and the never-ending stream of journalists who interviewed him in German. We thank Stan for his many years ensuring that we, our positions and Democratic candidates are favorably represented in the press.
Mary Ann has been on the Executive Committee since 2010 and is responsible for membership and our member data base. Through Mary Ann's hard work and dedication, our membership data base has consistently been ranked as one of the cleanest and most accurate in all of Democrats Abroad. The accuracy of our data base and the resulting verified membership is important for things such as the number of votes our country committee gets to cast for some Democratic Party Committee Abroad business matters. I say this partly in jest but it's an accurate statement: I've known Mary Ann to spend countless hours emailing, writing or calling unverified members in an effort to ensure that they still reside in Austria. Since I became chair, Mary Ann has been my first call if a question arose that I couldn't answer. I thank her for her time, commitment and friendship during the past four years.
Knowing our slate of candidates who have so far tossed their hats in the ring, I am confident and optimistic that Democrats Abroad Austria will continue to be an active and vital organization in these challenging times and that DAA will continue to fight for democratic and progressive ideals – and we will work our asses off to get Democrats elected in the 2018 midterms and win back the White House in 2020.
Thank you again for giving me the honor to serve as chair. It's an experience I will cherish forever.
Keith M. Jacomine
Democrats Abroad Austria Chair
3. DAA Review
- Solidarity Sundays #1 in Support of Planned Parenthood
On Sunday, February 26, more than thirty members and non-members joined us at Die AU for the very first Solidarity Sundays Vienna. Thanks to the efforts of DAA members Allison Gutscher and Lizzie Stevens it was a HUGE success!
We watched a short film about the history of Planned Parenthood, discussed ideas for future actions, and listened to some great songs performed by Danny Chicago. It was a family affair and everyone did a lot of writing. On Monday, more than 100 postcards were sent by DHL to the States to be mailed with the USPS to our senators and members of Congress. Thanks to everyone who did their bit to make this event successful!
Join us at Solidarity Sundays Vienna #2 on March 26. Details TBA on our Facebook page, #SolidaritySundaysVienna. There is a lot of solidarity out there – we garnered 216 likes on the main Solidarity Sundays FB page! For more information about the threat to Planned Parenthood go to #IstandwithPP.
- Graz Meet-Up: Day of Action
On Friday, February 17th, a few motivated Dems braved the rain to meet up in Graz and brainstorm actions to take from “the Green Heart of Austria”. We composed a list of helpful links and resources, which is shared on the Democrats Abroad in Graz Facebook group (please join if interested!). If you’d like a copy of the document, or to stay in touch if not on Facebook, contact Caitlin Ahern at email@example.com.
4. Member's Corner
- International Women’s Day / A Day Without a Woman – March 8
In celebration of the International Day Without a Woman, and in support of all women around the world, our friends at the Rational Readers Club of Vienna will not be working on March 8. Instead, we will be meeting to discuss The Rebel by Albert Camus, recent events related to intersectional feminism, and the Indivisible Guide (https://www.indivisibleguide.com/).
We welcome anyone who would like to join us--please just contact us in advance at RationalResistanceAustria@gmail.com. We will be meeting again in April to discuss our next book, Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, and would enthusiastically welcome new book club members.
Details: Rational Readers Club of Vienna will be meeting Wednesday, March 8 at 11:30 am at Café Phil (Gumpendorferstraße 10-12, 1060 Vienna), and will be wearing red in solidarity with women around the world. Please contact RationalResistanceAustria@gmail.com to RSVP or to inquire about joining the book club. In addition, there are many events planned in Vienna for International Women's Day. Please click here for a comprehensive listing
- April 15 Join Trump taxes call-in http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/tax-day-trump-protest-democrats-235064.
- April 22 Science March - https://www.marchforscience.com/
In this February 2017 issue:
Vienna Young Dems Pub Night - Feb. 24th
Salzburg Meet-Up – Feb. 24th
Graz Meet-Up - Feb. 17th
- Solidarity Sundays Vienna #1 - Feb. 26th
Save the Date: Annual General Meeting – March 18th
Issues and Actions
Call for Nominations - Democrats Abroad Austria Executive Committee Elections 2017
Candlelight Vigil at US Embassy
Women’s March on Washington – Vienna
- Special thanks to the AIBC - Vienna
1. Upcoming Events
1. Vienna – Young Dems Pub Night – February 24
Young Dems pub night is back! It's been a while since we have gotten together, so we hope to reunite as well as welcome all the new people that have joined lately. We have a reservation for 10 people at 7PM in the non-smoking section at the same location we held our election night party. Our very own Doug Andrews will also be playing LIVE at 8:30PM, so some of us may stick around a little longer to listen to him. Please RSVP if you can via the website or our Facebook event. For questions, contact our DA Vice Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Friday, Feb. 24th
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: The Golden Harp Landstraße, Erdbergstraße 27, 1030 Vienna
Contact: Ashley Arreola, email@example.com
2. Salzburg Monthly Get-together
Our next meeting will be Friday, February 24 at The English Center at 17:30. Members and friends are welcome. So please give Mary Ann a quick call at +436645923408 (or send a text) to let her know you are coming.
Note: This will be our last meeting! If anyone would like to take over the Salzburg meetings, please contact Mary Ann!
Date: Friday, Feb. 24th
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Place: The English Center, Haunspergstrasse 37A, 5020 Salzburg
Contact: Mary Ann Balko-Koch 0664 59 23 408
The Women’s Week of Action happens to coincide with our semester break, so we are planning an afternoon of action in Graz either before or after – let’s take some time to sit down and brainstorm actions we can take from Austria’s second city. We’ll have laptops and phones ready to make calls and contact our representatives. Date and location is at Bar28 – please contact Caitlin Ahern firstname.lastname@example.org, +436503125572, if interested!
4. Join Grassroots of Democrats Abroad Austria as we stand with Planned Parenthood at our first Solidarity Sundays Vienna event.
Planned Parenthood is under attack like never before. Congress is gearing up to block millions of patients from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, and other care at Planned Parenthood, which will hit low-income folks and people of color the hardest. We must act now.
Who we are
As Americans in Vienna, living abroad has left many of us feeling disconnected from the actions being taken by our fellow Americans in the US. That’s why Grassroots of Democrats Abroad Austria is starting a Vienna chapter of Solidarity Sundays with regularly scheduled events focusing on issues that matter. We invite you to join us in building a community of activists here in Vienna.
At our first Solidarity Sundays Vienna event we will be getting personal by decorating and writing postcards to our government representatives to express our deep concern about the imminent threat to Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights across the globe.
The event will kick off with a speaker (to be announced), followed by introductions on why we are inspired to fight for Planned Parenthood and how the organization has impacted us personally. Then it’s time to get busy writing and decorating our postcards. The event will close with a few songs from Democrats Abroad Austria’s very own Danny Chicago.
Not American and still want to get involved?
You are more than welcome to participate! Following the #IdesofTrump action in the US to flood the White House mailbox on March 15th , we will also be writing and mailing pink slip postcards directly to Donald Trump to express our opinions of his policies on women’s reproductive rights.
What to bring?
- We will provide postcards and pens.
- 50 cents per postcard to cover postage (Estimate 2 euros for 3 cards to representatives and 1 to Donald Trump). We will be sending all postcards in a package to the US, which will be mailed from there to save on costs.
- Cash for food and drinks provided by die Au
- Craft items (markers, glitter, etc.) for those who want to get extra creative with your postcards
- Pussy hats
Where: Die Au
When: February 26th 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Please RSVP to this event on Facebook so we can gauge how many participants to expect.
For more information on how to get involved and support Planned Parenthood, please visit their PP Action site.
This event is hosted by Grassroots of Democrats Abroad Austria.
For questions about the event, please contact Allison Gutscher or Lizzie Stevens
5. Save the Date: Annual General Meeting – March 18th
Please save the date for our Annual General Meeting on March 18th in Vienna. Location and time TBA. See below for information on the elections held during the meeting.
2. Issues and Actions
1. Call for Nominations - Democrats Abroad Austria Executive Committee Elections 2017
Democrats Abroad Austria will hold its 2017 Annual General Meeting in Vienna on March 18th. At the meeting, elections will be conducted to fill the following positions for two-year terms:
• Counsel and
• up to 6 Members-at-Large
The job descriptions for the members of the DAA Executive Committee can be found below. If you would like to run for any of these positions, please send your name and a short bio to the Nominations Committee by February 14, 2017. Send to: email@example.com with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
A list of candidates and bios will be sent to all members – with the official announcement of the meeting on February 18th. Nominations will also be taken from the floor at the AGM.
Kate McGrath and Eva Ciabattoni
2017 Democrats Abroad Austria Nominations Committee
DAA Executive Committee Job Descriptions
From the DAA Bylaws:
Article V: Officers
The Officers of the organization shall be the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Counsel. The Vice-Chair shall be of the opposite sex of the Chair.
Article VI: Chair
The Chair shall be the chief executive officer of the organization, shall call and preside at all meetings of members and of the Executive Committee, and shall have responsibility for all activities approved by the Democrats Abroad Austria Executive Committee. The Chair shall sit ex-officio on all committees of the organization including Standing Committees, with full voting privileges.
Article VII: Vice-Chair
In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall call and preside at meetings of members and of the Executive Committee. The Vice-Chair shall have such other duties as the Chair shall define, such as chairing Standing or Ad hoc Committees.
Article VIII: Secretary
The Secretary shall keep minutes of all meetings and all files and administrative records of the organization. All such records shall be open for inspection by members.
Article IX: Treasurer
The Treasurer shall manage the finances of the organization, maintain its financial reports to members and make and maintain such financial reports as may be required by law (including without limitation the laws and regulations of the United States and of the individual states applicable to political parties and contributions to them). All such records shall be open for inspection by members. The Treasurer will co-sign with another Executive Committee member on the Democrats Abroad Austria bank account. With advice from the Executive Committee, the Treasurer shall prepare an annual budget to be approved by the Executive Committee. The budgetary year will begin and end near the date of the Annual General Meeting.
Article X: Counsel
The Counsel shall be available for consultation by the Committee or its Officers on legal and procedural questions relating to Democrats Abroad Austria and its activities. If no Counsel is available, Democrats Abroad Austria will rely on the DPCA International Counsel.
Duties of the Members-at-Large are not spelled out in the Bylaws; rather they are self-selected in consultation with the Executive Committee. Current Members-at-Large have taken on a variety of responsibilities including:
*Social Media and member communication
3. DAA Review
1. DA Austria's Candlelight Vigil
Since the election, many of us have all been in a state of shock, disappointment & angst. On Friday, Dec. 2nd, some of DA Austria's members gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Vienna to hold a candlelight vigil in order to let the world know that we believe in diversity, stand up for civil rights and will continue to fight against hate and for human rights. Candlelight vigils and similar protests like this are being held across the world from Hungary to Japan to Guatemala in solidarity of the Women's March in Washington, and this was just the first of many that DA Austria will participate in. It was a very nice evening filled with great ideas as to how we as citizens can stay involved from abroad, because it is so very important to unify and overcome the hateful and discriminatory rhetoric that is coming from the White House right now. It is moments like these that we are reminded that it is crucial to continue to fight for the values of justice and liberty that we as a nation believe in. We were honored to hear the personal stories of members and were happy to provide a place of comfort for Americans to come and express their feelings and ideas. We were also proud to present our new DA Grassroots Movement in Vienna, so please let us know if you are interested in getting involved. Contact Tanya Lolonis at email@example.com.
At the Vigil, member Robbie Ierubino read a poem he composed expressing his feeling about the election results:
We the united
We the families
We the individuals
We the native
We the foreign-born
We the religious
We the free
We the oppressed
We the young
We the forgotten
We the divided
We the heartbroken
We the citizens
We the Americans
Are different than you think
We the people
2. Women’s March on Washington – Vienna
On January 21st, Americans, Austrians and people from all over the world took part in the Women's March in Vienna. At the march, Brigitte Hornyike of the Austrian Fraurenring spoke, followed by DA member Laura Rockwood. Despite the -8 degree temperatures, it was estimated that 1,500-2,000 people marched together from Karlsplatz to Stadtpark. After marching, women from One Billion Rising performed their internationally known dance, Break the Chain, and DA member Danny LoCascio performed “These Times They Are a Changin'” by Bob Dylan.
Following the march, the lead organizers of the Women's March on Washington and Women's March Global have continued their efforts to make change in the US and around the world. The Women's March on Washington released an action plan titled 10 Actions/100 Days. This action plan holds ideas in which Americans abroad, as well as those in the States, are able to take part. Members of DA have also been meeting together to talk about what we can do about the issues happening in the States while living in Austria. It is wonderful to see the new excitement and energy towards activism here in Vienna following the march. Let's keep it going!
3. Special thanks to the AIBC - Vienna
We would like to thank the AIBC for the use of the baseball field at the Prater for our very successful 4th of July picnic and softball game. Everyone had a great time and we strongly encourage those interested in volunteering to check out their needs for the upcoming season here!