Energized in NYC

at-maryhouse

Our backdrop at Maryhouse on Friday night. Photos by Ed Hedemann.

November 1-3 was National War Tax Resistance’s semiannual gathering, held this time in Manhattan, New York. We were hosted by Maryhouse Catholic Worker and Sixth Street Community Center, as well as for our Saturday dinner in Brooklyn by Ruth Benn, NWTRCC coordinator, and Ed Hedemann.

As usual, it was energizing and cheering to be with everyone, meeting old friends again and getting to know some of the local war tax resisters from New York who I haven’t met on other occasions.

Friday morning I sat in on NWTRCC’s Administrative Committee meeting and discussed some things relating to my work as social media consultant.

After lunch at a local deli, I broke off from the Ad Comm meeting to head over to the Interference Archive in Brooklyn, a great resource of social movement literature, flyers, zines, posters, books, buttons, and more! If you’re doing a social movement research project, I recommend dropping by there. They even have some war tax resistance literature on file!

Friday evening was one of the highlights of the weekend, with a panel on the subject of “economic disobedience,” based on a tax resistance movement using that same phrase in Spain. Panelists were Andrew Ross, an NYU professor and participant in Strike Debt; Tom Gogan, from US Labor Against the War; Taleigh Smith, green jobs organizer with Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, and a war tax resister; and Joanne Kennedy, part of the Maryhouse Catholic Worker community.

Weaving the practice of war tax resistance into economic resistance and solidarity, Taleigh Smith challenged us to work with organizations that have focuses other than war and that have youth participants. Joanne Kennedy discussed Dorothy Day’s (Catholic Worker founder) refusal to pay or report anything to the IRS, and how modern Catholic Worker houses continue this stance. Tom Gogan described the work of unions in the anti-war movement and the progress being made in getting unions to take an anti-war stance. Andrew Ross described how the banking and debt system is structured, how the work of anti-debt activists and groups like Strike Debt expose possible interventions in the system, such as refusing to pay debt. Debt resistance is closely related to war tax resistance, as both taxes and debt interest enrich oppressive industries.

The terrific energy of the panel carried over into nearly an hour of discussions among the audience and panelists, even after the formal Q&A.

That energy sustained us throughout Saturday as conference attendees discussed future NWTRCC strategy, fundraising, getting younger folks into our aging movement, and supporting each other through our war tax resistance. On Saturday evening, at Ruth and Ed’s house, we enjoyed dinner, homebrewed beer, and watching some interview clips from a new war tax resistance documentary in the works by Paula Rogge and Jerry Chernow of Madison, Wisconsin.

The business meeting on Sunday was one of the most jam-packed NWTRCC meetings I’ve been to, with TEN proposals to discuss and reach consensus on. Thanks to our facilitators for keeping us on track; we finished just 15 minutes late. While the assembled members of the Coordinating Committee didn’t approve any major projects, due to our flagging budget (help increase our cash flow by donating here), we did express support for several projects. Here are some highlights (in my opinion):

  • Karl Meyer and Jason Rawn both issued proposals for a traveling organizer to promote war tax resistance. Jason is going to organize his own events at colleges and other locations around the country and report back on the progress in May, with the possibility that we would approve some financial support for a traveling organizer then.
  • We agreed on a letter that NWTRCC can send to organizations asking for them to endorse war tax resistance.
  • We agreed to extend Erica’s (my) social media position for another year. In related decisions, we agreed to reduce Ruth’s hours to 20 per week (at her request) and put those 5 hours into my social media work, which will also include more online outreach and fundraising.
  • We passed on officially endorsing an Office of Economic Disobedience campaign, but Strategy Committee will continue to develop this idea and individuals will follow up with contacts in their local areas or panels like the one we had on Friday night.
  • We also agreed to share our contact list for a one-time mailing from folks working on creating a new war tax penalty cost-sharing fund.

(If you like reading meeting minutes, see the full report here.)

Even though we didn’t take any big steps as an organization, I am excited for these individual projects: Jerry and Paula’s war tax resistance documentary, Jason’s independent traveling organizer project, individual Office of Economic Disobedience meetings, panels, and events, David Gross’ new book on tax resistance tactics, and the new war tax penalty fund. I am excited to continue supporting NWTRCC on the Internet and bring our communication tactics up to date.

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  erica-smilingPost by Erica Weiland
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More photos from the weekend

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