October 2015 Awards to Nine Local Leagues

Congratulations to nine Leagues awarded Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education Grants in October—a record number!  The grants, to Leagues in Brookline, Harvard, Needham, Newton, Plymouth, Sudbury, Waltham, Wellesley and Winchester, totaled $2,235.

For information on the grant program,  click here. Following is a description of the nine projects:

LWV Brookline: Citizen participation in land use policy decisions

The League of Women Voters of Brookline has committed to make Land Use Planning a priority for activity in the coming year. The Brookline League will launch the activities with the Annual Meeting, a public event in Brookline Town Hall featuring Anthony Flint, a Fellow and Director of Public Affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, who will speak on current strategies for land use planning.  Over the next year, the Brookline League will sponsor informational meetings in partnership with municipal government, convene panels of experts, and work to inform Brookline residents about proposed projects that can impact quality of life, open space, affordable housing, neighborhood preservation, traffic and transportation and more. This grant request is to support outreach and educational materials for community meetings.

LWV Harvard: Forums and information on housing issues

The League of Women Voters of Harvard is launching a series of voter education forums on issues related to housing. Harvard has had significant difficulties in getting affordable housing approved; an aging senior population with few options for suitable housing; and lack of diversity of housing stock. LWV Harvard hopes that the forums will both raise awareness and spur people to become involved in one or more activities to adjust zoning as needed, work on important town committees, or work to drive change in the town’s governance structure so that it will be easier to make important decisions regarding housing. The series is co-sponsored by the Harvard Council on Aging and Friends of Council on Aging, which will also be contributing to the program costs.

LWV Needham: Citizenship education project with Mass Bay Community College

Dr. Jill Silos-Rooney, an Associate Professor of History at Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley Hills, in collaboration with LWV Needham, will run one workshop a semester, open to the public, to help any American resident prepare to take the United States Citizenship exam offered by the State Department. Massachusetts Bay Community College will provide classroom space and refreshments, and the League will fund workshop citizenship study materials. Massachusetts Bay Community College will promote the workshop, which will be free and open to the public. The workshop is planned for a Saturday morning in early November.

LWV Newton: Signage for public events and forums

This generic League signage will increase LWV Newton’s public presence and serve to notify the public of League events taking place. LWV Newton holds forums throughout the year on many different topics and presented by our different LWVN committees (Voter Service, Environment, Civics Bee, Education, Transportation, etc). These forums are open to the public and located in public spaces. This signage will be useable both indoors and outdoors and we will be willing to share it with state League upon request.

LWV Plymouth Area: Civics Bee

The Plymouth Area League is planning its second Civics Bee to be held April 3, 2016. Since one of this League’s missions is to promote community involvement and understanding of local, state and national government, the Plymouth Area League envisions that this event will enliven its communities’ interests in these areas. The 2015 Civics Bee with five school participating was extremely well received.

LWV Sudbury: Public educational forum on marijuana in Massachusetts

This forum is open to the public and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Sudbury. There will be four panelists who will discuss these subjects:

  • Senator William Brownsberger, “In favor of legalization of marijuana”
  • Representative Hannah Kane, “In opposition to legalization of marijuana”
  • Robert Moura, Director of Pharmacy, Emerson Hospital, “Is there any scientific support for the use of marijuana?”
  • Mike Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO, New England Grass Roots Institute, “In favor of non-pharmacists dispensing medical marijuana”

LWV Waltham: Materials for participation in social justice impact week at Brandeis and civic education programs for the Ugandan and other immigrant communities

LWV Waltham has been invited to have a presence at the DEIS Impact festival at Brandeis University. This is a weeklong Festival of Social Justice. In order to participate, LWV Waltham needs promotional materials, posters, flyers, etc. The WalthamLeague has been working to put together a program to encourage civic engagement among Ugandans and others in the area and will highlight that work at the festival.

LWV Wellesley: Public panel discussion on proposed changes in town government

LWV Wellesley will sponsor a public panel discussion of how proposed changes to our town government will impact Wellesley. Panel members include Michael Ward, Director of Municipal Services-Edward Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at U Mass/Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, as well as Jennifer Wilson and Dan Matthews, representatives from Winchester, MA and Needham, MA, who have served on their towns’ boards. Wellesley formed a Town Government Study Committee and they have recommended Wellesley hire a Town Manager. This proposal is up for a vote at this fall’s Town Meeting.

LWV Winchester: Public program on the incarceration of women and its impact on children and communities

LWV Winchester will use March, “Women’s History Month,” to examine the incarceration of women and some approaches to reform, including the alternatives of community reinvestment. On March 8, 2016, this League will sponsor “The Incarceration of Women and its Impact on Children and Communities: Building up People, not Prisons.”  The speaker will be Andrea James, founder and director of Families for Justice as Healing, which focuses on raising public awareness about the incarceration of women and its impact on children and communities. Ms. James, a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow, will discuss the high number of incarcerated women in the United States and her efforts to reduce the number by shifting from prisons to community wellness alternatives.