Diane Bianchi - LWVC Convention 2019 notes

Diane Bianchi - LWVC Convention 2019 notes

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Let's Talk About Power: Exploring Race, Identity Formation, and Organizing

Presenter: PaKou Her, Principal of Tseng Development Company

(Note: we arrived halfway through this workshop)

Power controls access to services. Those at the center of power maintain this control.  Those identified as occupying the Borderland Identities are constrained by the rules/codes determined by those who have power.  Those who make the Rules determine who has access and define what is Professional and Acceptable. These Codes are gendered and racially defined.

What is"normal" in LWV?  Do we communicate in other languages if needed?  Do we bring in people of diverse backgrounds to speak on issue? Are our speakers usually English speak, older white women? How can we partner with other groups? Some of the impediments to removing barriers include:

  • there is only the "League way" to do things
  • we preach to our own choir
  • time of day of meetings
  • do we provide Board match trainings to be on Board
  • do we have provide greater access to League events through social media
  • do we provide exemption of fees to lower income members

Messaging:  Are we asking too much of members of color to do outreach to their own communities?

Who are our spokespeople for our campaigns? The language we use may not always resonate with certain communities.  Are our Language materials critically and culturally competent?

What is racism? Racial prejudice and misuse of systemic and institutional power. 

Racism is  socially and institutionally constructed. Racial rules are coded everywhere and then we build institutions to support them. Racism shapes us on a deeper level. We are living in a race based system.  We are socialized to internalize racism and exhibit correlating behavior.

Systemic Racism Shapes Us.  The longer you swim in a culture, the more invisible it becomes.

How do we learn racism? Who teaches it to us? What behavior did it create in us? What did it teach us about power?

LWV is dominantly white. Assessing issues through a white lens results in solutions driven by this lens.  In the League what happens around race?  Are people of color invited in?  Are we gathering demographic date about inclusion? exclusion?

In order to build a better LWV organization:

  • build authentic relationships
  • how do we exude the values of the Borderlands?
  • Examine our own inflexibility and its impact on becoming a representative organization

On You Tube watch the film "White Feminism: A Brief Intro".

What would it take to move a historically White organization along the "Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multi-Cultural Institution" (see handout)? Systems of oppression are supported by Institutions. They create, maintain, and distribute the resources necessary to lift those in the Borderlands.


Don't Blame/Shame


Equality does not equal Equity

How can we talk about "power" to disrupt and challenge cultured power?

Read the book Borderlands: La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldria

League of Women Voters Convention 2019

Climate Change

What is the League doing?

  • Supporting SMART Growth
  • See  LWV Climate Change Task Force Website to see local actions and what other Leagues are doing
  • E.g. Santa Clara League has developed an Action plan based on national, state and community groups actions, then looked at their city's plans and results were very vague. Discovered Santa Clara had a better plan, but no monitoring
  • Advocate for "value" of ecology and its importance to mitigate Climate CRISIS.
  • Put together a Fair and partner with other advocacy groups (e.g. Sierra Club, NRDC etc.)
  • Mendocino LWV: ecosystem restoration camps
  • Promoting "regenerative agriculture" -no "til" gardens which disturbs carbon in the soil
  • Help public understand that carbon storage is a public health issue
  • Ask local TV to televise informative programming re. Climate Change.
  • Ask Co-sponsors to publicize the event
  • Look at Face Book League of Women Voters Climate Change Task Force
  • Climate Change Task Force will send speakers to come to our Leagues
  • Do our cities have a Climate Action Plan?
  • Diz Swift, Berkeley/Albany League will come and speak to us

Important that we mitigate methane gas leaks.  Move away from gas to electric

Change to electric heat pumps, heat, A/C, water heater and dryers.

Explore "grid alternatives"

Book: Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells


League of Women Voters Convention 2019


Caucus:  Census


Issues with Census:


  • Misunderstanding of why it is important
  • Citizens don't understand the impact of funding on their states
  • Citizens don't understand that Congressional representation is apportioned based on the Census


Who are our Partners:


  • Community organizations
  • Community Colleges
  • High Schools
  • Need to create Toolkit for the League




League of Women Voters Convention 2019

Voters Choice Act

Choose how, where and when you vote

(Hash tags #VCA 2020, #MoreDaysMoreWays, @CAVOTE, @VOTERSCHOICE

  • 12 counties have signed on to receive ballots by mail
  • Ballots may be returned by mail or may be returned to Ballot Drop Boxes which will be available 28 days before the election at County Election Centers . They will be open 8 hrs/day
  • Vote Centers replace polling places (10 days before the election)
  • Trained works will be at Voter Centers

League Involvement

  • Present VCA @ Pro/Con candidates forums and mock elections
  • Work with County Elections Offices and Community Groups

Resources & Challenges:

  • Board of Supervisors decides whether to implement VCA
  • Post Office can be remiss getting out ballots
  • Pull in diverse, underrepresented groups to assess needs
  • Put locations at sites that are inviting and safe.
  • E-Poll books @ Vote Centers can check by computers if voter has received a ballot and voted
  • Community Outreach (in Los Angeles)  Secured grants that offered @2000 stipend to community organizations to conduct outreach meetings on VCA (usu. 10-100 attendees per meeting on average.
  • Establish online portal for suggestions for Vote Center Locations
  • Working Partnership Coalitions:  E.g. Common Cause
  • How to engage with people with disabilities and minority groups
  • Need to be sensitive to their issues
  • Pasadena wrote information sheets and walked the streets with placards about Voting Centers and time availability

League of Women Voters Convention May 2019

Listening Across Differences: Building Bridges of Respect in a Polarized America

The discussion centered on developing skills to reach across differences.  The presenters have done a great deal of research and developed workshops. 

Resources: National Institute of Civil Discourse (University of Arizona)

Next Generation (works with State legislatures)

Common Sense America: citizen-based across USA and political spectrum in search of solutions

Divided We Fall-Better Angels: discussions between two different perspectives

National Week of Conversation

TEDTalk: Civility

Coming Apart by Charles Murray

Hidden Tribes

More in Common (organization) https://www.moreincommon.com/

Power of Democracy https://www.powerofdemocracy.org/

All Sides (used in schools) allsidesforschools.org

Podcast: Next Door Strangers

LWV Santa Clara hoses civil discourse on certain local issues

LWV Ventura is working with CSU Channel Island Students

LWV San Luis Obispo: City Council Concierge

A copy of the Power Point Presentation is available for review as well as worksheets with information on how to guide discussions and website resources for Civil Conversations.  I have downloaded this information and have it available for our League should we decide to pursue developing this with our members and others.

League of Women Voters Convention 2019

Finding Local Stores About the Women's Suffrage Campaign

  • Pasadena LWV is highlighting women each month on their cable TV
  • Feature a woman in the monthly Voter
  • Feature women in local newspapers
  • Feature women on Web and Face Book page
  • Focus on local stories in suffrage movement
  • Look at what local campaigns looked like in the past
  • Look up California Equal Suffrage Association
  • Look at graphics used in campaigns
  • Look at those who opposed suffrage
  • Look at the history of our own League
  • Send out email to our membership to see if anyone is a descendant of  suffragettes
  • Who was first elected woman in Contra Costa County?
  • Documentary is being made  entitled "Just the Beginning, A Century of Women's Political Power".  It is a feature length documentary film exploring the past, present and future of women's political power through the lens of the 199-year history of the League of Women Voters and allied groups.


  • 1896 California suffrage defeated
  • 1911 California suffrage wins
  • Look into Anna Howard Shaw/Susan B Anthony come to California in 1896
  • Women could run for office, but could not vote in elections
  • American women went to England to get more radical training
  • LWV is seeking grant to digitize documents for California Historical Society
  • Book: Born Criminal by Angelica Shirley Carpenter  (Radical, feminist, writer, suffragist, Matilda Joslyn Gage changed the course of history. She fought for equal rights not dependent on sex, race, class, or creed. Yet her name has faded into obscurity. She is forgotten when her comrades, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, are celebrated. To explain, Angelica Shirley Carpenter explores Gage's life, including her rise and fall within the movement she helped build.)