Weekly Update 02.05.18

"When you wake up every day you have two choices: you can either be positive or negative, an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It's all a matter of perspective and choice."

     There are many new events in this week's email, friends. Scroll down to check out new listings that include yoga benefiting our community, tax help courtesy of United Way, and a self defense series at the Cotton Mill in Brattleboro that starts today (Sunday).
     Take a look and consider alleviating your cabin fever by attending an event this week...we hope to see you there. 




Starting Today: Self Defense Group 
Sundays February 4th, 2018 - March 28th, 2018 at Sangha Martial Arts (74 Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 4pm-7pm. Cost: $10 per class ($80 total). 
Part class and part group exploration on the topics of Self Defense, Self Reliance, and Self Empowerment. 
Join facilitator Matt Hoffman for 8 weeks of progressive physical and mental exercises designed to help participants change the relationship to movement and conflict in practical and accessible ways. No previous experience required. Minimum age requirement is 16 or 14 with parental involvement (permission and waivers).


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Weekly Update 11-13-17

"I don't attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
Danica Roem 
-when asked about her opponent, Robert G. Marshall (who proudly referred to himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe”) after her state legislature win- 

Happy Sunday, WeCAN family. We have a lot going on this week so let's dive right in:


Looking at the 2nd Amendment: Politics of Disarmament
Sunday, November 12th, 2017 at St. Michael's Episcopal Church (16 Bradley Ave, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 9am-10am. 
This Forum will be led by Meg Mott, Professor of Politics, Marlboro College. The November 12 Forum on the Second Amendment is the first of two related forums; the November 19 Forum on gun regulation will be led by Ann Braden, founder of GunSense Vermont. Important enough to be given almost top billing, the right to bear arms has always played a central role in the American system of justice. Without a robust militia in the states, argued the Framers, the Federal Government could easily lean towards tyranny. While the current Supreme Court has not worried so loudly about tyranny, it has started to read this constitutional right as a fundamental liberty of individuals. What does it mean when a bulwark against tyranny becomes an individual right?



Fossil Free Windham County Launch Party
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at The Root Social Justice Center (The Whetstone Studio for the Arts, 28 Williams Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). First Floor. 6pm-8pm. The Root is fragrance and nut free. 
In conjunction with 350.org, join 350 Brattleboro for a Fossil Free campaign launch party. Working together, we will end the use of fossil fuels and transition our world to 100% renewable energy for all. Find out what you can do in your town to begin the Fossil Free future we need and connect with other activists equally passionate about this work. Pizza and snacks provided. Contact: brattleboro@350vt.org for more information.


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Weekly Email Update 11.6.17

“The goal of real healthcare reform must be high-quality, universal coverage in a cost-effective way.”
Senator Bernie Sanders

Happy Sunday, weCAN Family! We'd like to take this opportunity to relay some important information about Vermont Health Connect's Open Enrollment as information about the Affordable Care Act may be (intentionally) hard to come by this year.
2018 Open Enrollment for Vermont Health Connect is open NOW through December 15th, 2017During this time individuals and families can sign up for new healthcare coverage or make a change to existing coverage.

Who is Vermont Health Connect for?

•  Vermonters without health insurance.
•  Vermonters who purchase insurance for themselves.
•  Vermonters who qualify for Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur, whether or not they are also offered insurance from a job.
•  Vermonters who are offered “unaffordable” coverage by their employers.

Through the Vermont Health Connect portal you can:

Do you need a Healthcare Advocate or Legal Aid?

The Office of the Healthcare Advocate may be able to help. Call 1-800-917-7787(8:30am-4:30pmMonday-Friday, except holidays) to speak with a health care advocate, or fill out our Help Request Form. The Office of the Health Care Advocate is not an insurance company and is not part of Vermont state government. It is a special project within Vermont Legal Aid, an independent non-profit law firm.

Vermont’s HCA HelpLine is a free resource available to help all Vermonters solve problems related to health care. We:

•answer questions
•help you solve problems with Vermont Health Connect and other health coverage
•tell you what free and lower-cost programs you may be eligible for
•help you apply for and get free and lower-cost health coverage
•find out what your health plan covers
•provide advice about how to solve billing problems and make complaints 
•work for fair treatment and affordable health services for everyone

Here are some additional Vermont Health Connect basics you should be aware of, thanks to Stowe Today (a local newspaper out of Stowe, VT): 

  • The Department of Vermont Health Access is offering an open enrollment webinar with representatives from all three insurance carriers on Thursday, November 9th, 2017 for people who’d like further assistance navigating Vermont Health Connect. Sign up at here. Recordings of the webinars will be posted at vermonthealthconnect.gov.
  • the open enrollment period is halved this year to only six weeks instead of three months so Vermonters will have less time to navigate their health care
  • The enrollment period began this week and runs through Dec. 15th, 2017
  • Most Vermonters will find 24 options for qualified health plans – including four new bronze plans – from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP, as well as dental plans from Northeast Delta Dental.
  • Every plan offers the same basic services, including preventive care, emergency care, mental health services and prescriptions.
  • For Blue Cross, the Green Mountain Care Board approved an average 9.2 percent increase in premiums for the upcoming year. For MVP, the board approved an average 3.5 percent increase.
  • The penalty for not having insurance has gone up to 2.5 percent of a household’s income or $695 per uninsured adult and $385 per uninsured child. That’s up from $295 per adult and $147.50 per child. There are some exceptions to this requirement, including individuals who 1) have an income that is low enough that they do not file income taxes (this equals an annual income of about $10,000 for an individual), 2) have specific religious beliefs, or 3) are unable to find an affordable plan.  You must apply to the federal government directly for an exemption. Learn more about the individual mandate on healthcare.gov.
  • Vermonters who miss the Dec. 15 deadline could have to wait until January 2019 to start health coverage, although those who qualify for Medicaid can sign up throughout the year and those who qualify for a special enrollment period due to a change in employment, loss of health coverage, getting married, having a baby or adopting a child generally have 60 days to sign up.
  • Existing members who want to stay in the same plan can simply continue to pay their bills on time and will automatically be renewed into the 2018 version of their current plan.


We hope this helps you to navigate the Vermont Healthcare enrollment period a little bit better. If you have additional questions please seek out assistance before the enrollment deadline to ensure you have coverage in 2018. Thank you and Be Well!

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Weekly Update 10-23-17

“Those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution.” 
Glenn E. Martin, Founder of Just Leadership USA

Thank you, WeCAN Family, for your support at last week's WeCAN Cafe event! We were so pleased to see see so many familiar (and unfamiliar!) faces last Thursday evening and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this Activist Cafe a huge success.

Now that you've had an opportunity to recharge, here are a few ways* you can meaningfully support (or continue to support) Social Justice where you live:

-Educate yourself on a particular movement or cause: read up on mission statements, look to see what kind of programs their donations fund, etc.
-Work on your own habits and beliefs: eliminate words from your vocabulary, learn to be a better ally, be an activist regularly.
-Take action in your community: Use your knowledge of your community to determine where your time might best be spent. Speak with your friends and neighbors to get a sense of the injustices affecting those around you and seek out a group or organization that may directly help your community grow and flourish. Write or call your elected officials  regularly to let them know you support or disagree with them. Use your voice whenever you can for as long as you can. 
-Go to a protest, vigil, or demonstration
Practice active resistance in your own community. Make signs, chant, march, and sing for justice with like-minded people. Be aware of your surroundings, follow a permitted route, stay on the sidewalk, and follow these safety tips
-Volunteer your time:
This is a simple one: donate your time without expecting compensation in return. 

* http://mashable.com/2016/03/26/social-justice-get-involved/#IA4vx7aDaGqY, accessed 10.21.17. 

Now, on to this week's events...


Divest the Globe Vigil & Speak Out
sponsored by Post Oil Solutions & 99th Monkey Affinity Group
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 at TD Bank Brattleboro (215 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 
Holding Vigil: 9am-4pm
Speaking Out: 4pm-5pm. BRING SIGNS!
We will be holding vigil all day, calling upon TD to divest itself of its investments in tar sands and fossil fuel infrastructure and to the rest of us who do business with the bank to end our relationship. Please join us at any time during the day, and especially during the Speak Out portion to express your feelings on how important it is to get banks and other financial institutions out of the business of investing in fossil fuels.
Indigenous leaders from Mazaska Talks are calling on climate justice activists throughout the world to take action for Divest the Globe. They are asking allies and activists everywhere to target the banks that are funding projects that “desecrate Mother Earth” - pipelines, tar sands extraction, fracking. In Vermont, TD Bank is our target, and actions will be happening in multiple locations: Burlington, Bennington, Manchester, Brattleboro, and more. TD Bank has long been a funder of tar sands extraction in Alberta, and they currently extend multi-billion dollar lines of credit to TransCanada - the company that wants to bring the Keystone XL pipeline back from the dead. A recent report shows that TD also financed over 3 billion dollars to companies engaging in extreme fossil fuel activities, from 2014-2016. TD Bank has many branches in Vermont, and up until this summer, held banking contracts with the state of Vermont. Recently, TD Bank lost its contract with Vermont, in part due to our demands! Now it’s time to boot TD out of Vermont completely.




Progressive Party Windham County Caucus Organizing Meeting 
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 at The Root Center for Social Justice (The Whetstone Studio for the Arts,  28 Williams St., Brattleboro, VT, 05301). First Floor. 6:30pm.  
The Progressive Party is, steadfastly, the progressive agenda. Vermont has the strongest Progressive Party organization in the country.  We have seven House and three Senate seats in the state legislature and two state offices, David Zuckerman, Lieutenant Governor, and Doug Hoffer, Auditor.   There are also progressives scattered among city councils and Select Boards. Most of the progressive legislation in Vermont is either introduced or heavily sponsored by Progressives.  If you're ready to enlist in the political life of your democracy, where it counts, in the Statehouse or the local municipal arena, please join us.




Climate Change Café
a project of Post Oil Solutions presents
International Climate Expert Calls for Agents of Sustainability
Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at Brooks Memorial Library (224 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301) in the Main Room at 6pm. Free. Light Refreshments Available
Note: It is strongly recommended that you make a reservation for this talk. Please email bereal@vermontel.net to place a reservation. 
The Climate Café is honored to host Dr. Edward Cameron, an international climate expert, and one of the architects of the Paris Climate Accord. Dr. Cameron will focus his presentation on three areas: individuals adopting low carbon lifestyles; communities building resilience in the face of the growing climate impacts; and states like Vermont creating economic opportunities. Cameron is also acutely sensitive to climate justice, a consciousness that was undoubtedly enhanced during his time working for the government of the Maldives, where he was responsible for their public diplomacy and climate change, as well as the World Bank where he worked on human rights and climate change. “It’s no accident,” he states, “that people of color and low income populations are the people who are hit first and hardest by these events. They don’t have the necessary resources to prepare and rebound from an extreme weather event.” Ultimately, Dr. Cameron states, individual responsibility is essential to reducing emissions and building resilience. “I would like people to think about how they can become agents of sustainability in their own right. What type of action can they take on their own, that includes taking a closer look at their choices as a consumer.”




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