HELADA Meeting Notes

 

2011 MAR 21 Greek Taxes: The Changes and the No-Changes
Greek attorney and HELADA member Karolina Andriakopoulou presented a lively and informative talk on changes in the Greek income tax law and practical problems faced this year by tax filers as new changes are taken into consideration. Video excerpts from Karolina' presentation are available on the
Forum, while the handout she prepared is available here
2011 FEB 21 HELADA took its first look at a knotty issue, "Immigration in Greece: Seeking Positive Outcomes." A panel of informed experts representing government, academia and immigrant organizations shared their views and efforts, with everyone agreeing we had barely scratched the surface of immigration issues currently facing Greece. Participants included Takis Andreas, General Secretary of Population and Social Inclusion, Ministry of the Interior; Arianna Papadopoulou representing the Ombudsman, Department of Human Rights, City of Athens; Moawia Ahmed, President, Greek Forum of Migrants; Martin Baldwin-Edwards, Co-Director, Mediterranean Migration Observatory, Panteion University; and Theodoros Polyzoides, President, Demokratikoi (Greek party). 
2011  JAN 13 HELADA gathered at the Athens Centre for the New Year Pitta Cutting and film. After loading up with a savory pitta, provided by Kristin Zissis, and wine samples from Mitroioannis wine purveyors of Kalivia, HELADAns settled down to watch Michael Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story. The evening was seen as a 'cutting-edge' start to a challenging year ahead.
2010 DEC 13 HELADA celebrated the holiday season with its second annual Holiday Dinner. Marc Blake and Geoffrey Wallace put together a just-right menu, which the Maritsa's staff pulled out the stops in the kitchen to produce! The evening was social, with time for chat and good cheer! The cover price included a contribution to a local feeding kitchen for the poor, and many members also brought in-kind donations of warm clothing, blankets, and small utensils which were given to the Mother Theresa society.
2010 NOV 8 Natascha Barrymore, founder and director of Chance International, presented on "The Power of One to the Power of N" a personal journey that has resulted in a highly effective, low-overhead community support program for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in the Indonesian province of Banda Aceh. Chance International is one of those rare NGOs that manages to get 99% of its donations directly to those for whom they're intended. Small size, local focus and self-determination, and a good bit of lateral thinking help direct the aid to solutions the recipients themselves define as needed. The results are pretty impressive! And Natascha's personal commitment came across as truly inspiring for those present. The underlying philosophy and the hands-on approach that make Chance work hold valuable lessons we can use in our own endeavours here. Some details of the program are here. For more information visit the Chance Int'l website:
Information on Chance International and its efforts in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, at 
http://www.chanceinternational.net/
You can read Natascha's personal story of her journey into Banda Aceh here.
http://www.chanceinternational.net/appendix2.php
2010 OCT 
2010 SEP 13 HELADA looks at "Obama Administration Accomplishments" of the last 18 months, in light of the Upcoming US Midterm Elections. Guest speaker, Yvette Jarvis, chair of Democrats Abroad Greece. 
Detailed chronology here
Photos on the Forum, Members Corner here.

Jarvis focused on two main aspects of the elections ahead. The rash of political opposition since Obama took office has stymied some important efforts and generated disappointment among progressives. At the same time, outright disinformation from the extreme right -- particularly from talk radio and corporate media such a Fox News -- has attempted to sully the president's image.

 This is offset by a review of the actual accomplishments in the first half of Obama's first term. And these are impressive, put through both as major legislation and as executive action and agency appointments. Agency appointments have put function -- passed out to political cronies under the Bush administration -- back in the hands of experienced managers and credible scientists. While many vividly remember FEMA's failed management during and after Hurricane Katrina, most departments (except the Pentagon) were brought to near impotence, with budgets gutted and political hacks put at the helm. This has been and continues to be corrected under Obama. Among major legislation enacted were the economic stimulus, health system reform, and financial industry reform. Due to blockage by Republicans, chiefly by threat of filibuster in the Senate, legislation fell short of progressives' hopes, bringing stinging criticism. And yet, given the political realities Obama and congressional Democrats have faced, there is much to be commended. First and foremost is the passage of the first health system reform since the enactment of Medicare in the 1960s.

Before opening the meeting to discussion of specific accomplishments, Jarvis noted that DAGr will be conducting major GOTV (Get Out The Vote) activities throughout the pre-election period. She also urged already-registered voters to re-request their ballots for the election. The new MOVE Act requires overseas voters to register and request ballots each election cycle. A number of states routinely send ballots, without additional requests, to registered voters. There is a possibility that these voters, receiving ballots without requesting them, may have their votes challenged by the GOP, and possibly nullified. To remove the threat of challenge, it is paramount that every voter request their ballot. Forms to do this can be obtained, online, from state secretaries of state, county boards of election in some states, or by using the Democrats Abroad registration tool at www.votefromabroad.org.

During the discussion, a recent article by progressive activist Scot Galindez set the tone. His view is that despite disappointments such as the failure to include a public option in health system reform, progressives need to get out and vote. Once Democratic majorities are again assured in both houses, voters need to demand they pursue the changes for which they, and Obama, were elected in 2008. To allow the GOP to regain a majority will give them the opportunity, not only to block further legislation still in the works, but even to dismantle legislation passed to date.

Announcements: 

The likely 'program' for October will be a group 'outing' to hear Steven Hill, American political analyst and author, sponsored in Athens by the Athens Chapter of DAGr, as part of a multi-city European tour. The tour focuses Hill's most recent book, Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. TBA.

Jimmy Katsinis has farm/organic eggs to donate, his distributors having left the business. He has requested anyone knowing of a food program or other charitable outlet to contact him. ASAP!

2010 JAN 18  HELADA Pita Cutting and Eye on 2010, 7 pm, Athens Centre For various reasons ... including meeting conflicts and bad directions in the announcement bulletin ... members straggled in, for a closing count of 19 in attendance. Discussion was open and free flowing, with pita cutting tucked in the middle. John supplied what everyone agree was a wonderful pita, although not a no-bake eco-fruitcake. (next year?) Athan found the coin, propitious since it was also his name-day. Money for Haiti relief was collected in Jimmy's hat, the Tomato being detained at another meeting, and will be deposited in a bank collection account, likely ActionAid, by Chris.

Main discussion topics follow, not necessarily in the (dis)order discussed.

Website/Forum: The opening round of discussion, returned to at several points, was the Forum. Murray noted he'd still like to see an email in/out posting facility. Karen said the current software doesn't support this, although a newer version may. It would be best if our IT person handles the installation. In the meantime, there are workarounds:

- Using RSS readers to follow the Forum posts is handy. Some allow direct posting to the forum. 
- Others, e.g. Google Reader, allow emailing of an interesting post to friends. 
- Another method is to open the Forum directly from http://www.helada.gr/forum/. In this mode (unlike opening it in the website homepage at http://www.helada.gr), the browser 'address bar' at the top of the screen will show the unique address (URL) for each post. And this address can be copied into an email to friends, suggesting they may want to read the article and comments at that location.

Other Forum matters included the clear indication that further 'instructions' are needed. There is a growing body of these on the Members Corner, Forum FAQs location. These instruction must be worded to be understandable to the least-techy member, i.e. not just to those with high computer skills. Acronyms such as RSS and URL need to be defined. And instructions should include the points above about how members can distribute their articles to the widest number of people, both regular Forum readers and their wider mailing lists. Also in the Members Corner are new categories for recommending books, films/videos, and music, as well as a Classifieds section for announcements, e.g. puppies to adopt, that might not be of interest on the 'public' parts of the Forum. Chris, Cassi and Karen will meet this week to address these points.

Focus 2010 Survey: The survey went active Sunday night, and by mid-Monday, eleven people had responded. To date, the results indicate people prefer informational and hands-on activities, albeit with a bit of social in the mix. Most of the Issues listed were seen as high importance. The Survey will be open for the rest of the week.

Racism in America: This was briefly discussed in light of an essay topic assigned to students in one of the high-profile private schools (which has received US funding) and reached an interesting crescendo before others recommended that the subject be carried further on the website. Look for a discussion in the Forum, Racism section. John and Alec have particular interest in the essay trigger for this issue.

Benefits of Tequila: Put another way, the Taco/Margaritas/Medicare night set for April was discussed. The Mexican-theme 'party with purpose' will feature a presentation on Social Security/Medicare as we plan and receive these here in Greece AND information on a pilot program put together by Dems members in Mexico. Mexico is a prime candidate to try out paying Medicare benefits to AmCits, as many Americans are retiring over the border to stretch their pension dollars. The date for the event, shortly after Easter, will be ironed out after Anna nails down a day with the speaker's schedule. Judy and Stevia will be feeding in more info on the Greek-US bi-lateral agreement. Liz noted that any information gathered can go up on her 50-Plus website, which is gathering the range of info on retirement issues. Karen will contact the restaurant host and will send the contact info to Marc who will speak to him directly.

Next meeting: Feb 22, Athens Centre. Tentative program - Taxation. A look at recent Greek tax law changes, and general US tax filing concerns for Americans in Greece. 

2009 DEC 14 HELADA gathered for a Middle Holiday Dinner, rescheduled from the previous week due to street disorder. It was a fine, social event. Read more here and check out the photos.
2009 NOV 9 HELADA's new Forum, and getting the most out of it through RSS feed Readers. A powerpoint walkthrough was presented by member Karen Lee. Q&A followed.  
2009 OCT 12

HELADA heard post-Greek-election views of smaller parties not in the Vouli. Tassos Krommydas and Giannis Sakiotis, representatives of the Eco-Greens and Demokratikoi Parties, spoke about furthering the 'green party' agenda and the role of the 'active citizen.' Full report here.

2009 SEP 14 HELADA September meeting on "Swine Flu Precautions and Protocols," at the Athens Centre. Read a wrap-up on John Lewis's presentation here.
2009 JUL 21 HELADA July meeting at The Acropolis Museum. 
See Marc Blake's introduction and group photo here.
2009 JUL 8 HELADA attends ICCPNW presentation "Was DU Used in Gaza?" by Jean-Marie Matagne, president of ACDN (Action of Citizens for Nuclear Disarmament), France. See our reports on ACDN website at:
http://acdn.france.free.fr/spip/article.php3?id_article=531

2009

JUN 15

HELADA attends student performances at Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theatre. Casual 'meze' meal before performance at To Koutouki, Philopappou, near theatre.

2009

MAY 22

HELADA attends Athens Centre presentation of The Sudden Death of Everyone, a solo performance in English by Catherine Rogers. "Long before terrorism became a daily headline, a young Catholic girl in upstate New York battled her own private terrors: Dante's Inferno, The Red Scare, high school love, the AIDS crisis and her first Argentine Tango lesson scheduled for September 11, 2001." Catherine Rogers appears with the assistance of a 2008-2009 Fulbright Award. See the article in Athens News: http://www.athensnews.gr/athweb/nathens.print_unique?e=C&f=13330&m=A23&aa=1&eidos=S

2009

APR 27

HELADA Public Event 
"A World Without Nuclear Weapons: What are the prospects?"

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FEB

2009

JAN 20

Inaugural Celebration, 20 January, at ACS - Monthly Meeting Deferred 

Helada provided over 40 volunteers for the event, attended by over 800. We also mounted a powerpoint presentation in the organization displays area of the lobby. The presentation was compiled by Lyn Waldie with help from .....

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2007

DEC 10

HELADA Monthly Meeting  

7 PM, Athens Centre, 48 Archimidous St, Mets 

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2007

JUN 20

HELADA Monthly Meeting  

7 PM, Athens Centre, 48 Archimidous St., Mets

13 people, not bad considering the number of members currently out of town. 

PROGRAM We had another VERY informative presentation, this time by the head of KAPE (CRES) on wind energy generation, in Greece and EU. Chris Woodfin will be sending more detailed notes on the content shortly.

OLD BUSINESS . John Lewis noted that the showing of An Inconvenient Truth on the 17th did not have the turnout we'd hoped for, due to several reasons, not the least of which was the late date the distributor finally gave us (and co-sponsors, DAGR) and the welter of other showings by Goulandris and EcoWeek. There is still some interest in letting Gore know the state of play here. Alicia noted that the film has been playing since release in commercial cinemas all over Europe, and ergo reaching a much larger audience. We agreed that the AIT organizing committee will get our facts and speculations sorted out, and decide on a letter to Gore at the next meeting. Alicia will rough up her observations for the committee to flesh out. John also pointed out the need for more efficient communication facilities for 'busy' projects such as this one.

There seems to be consensus that meeting through the summer is a good idea, so we can get a leg up on autumn, when projects need to be well in progress, and when pre-primary activity for 2008 will be in full swing.

The meeting adjourned to taverna as usual, with some excited talk about supporting renewable energy development, and maybe even investing in it, as we left. 

2007

 

 

MAR 20

HELADA Monthly Meeting

2007

FEB 13

HELADA Monthly Meeting

 

2007

JAN 16

HELADA Monthly Meeting  and Pita Cutting

Tuesday at 7 PM, Athens Centre, 48 Archimidous St., Mets

Taverna afterwards, just down the street!

2006

DEC 12

HELADA Monthly Meeting
Twenty of us met to hear presentations by Philippos Dragoumis of MIAFYSI (www.inaturenet.org) and Nick Pournaras of Ergo Politon (www.citizenindeed.gr).

MIAFYSI International Nature Network is a Greece-based international NGO that specializes in promoting international environmental volunteerism. They work closely with ALKIONI, the Aegean Wildlife Hospital on Paros. Their spring 2007 event is a March 21 wetlands cleanup at Artemis (Loutsa) on the east coast of Attiki. Philippos was intrigued by the idea of an event at Lechaio near Corinth. Note that www.inaturenet.org has links to veterinarians in Athens and elsewhere, and instructions for when you find an injured animal.

Ergo Politon is a government-sponsored organization for promoting volunteerism in Greece. They are building an on-line data base of donors and volunteer organizations, at which HELADA can register.

We also discussed education reform in Greece, an issue triggered by the December 15, 2006 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/chronicle/). An article reports that the University of Indianapolis campus in Greece has improperly promoted deferments of military service. Various HELADA members would like to encourage the liberalization of higher education in Greece, including a strong role for U.S. universities. Brady volunteered to collect more information on this and send it to interested parties.

Next meeting, with Pita cutting, is set for Tuesday, January 16. We then dined festively at Vyrinis Taverna (12 euro a head).

2006

 

NOV 8

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

Helada convened on November 8 at 7pm at the Athens Center to review results of the U.S. midterm elections. There was much cheering for the Democratic sweep of the House and firm hopes for control of the Senate (final results delayed in Virginia and Montana). Cheers also on news of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Dan Jianu gave us a fine Powerpoint on the mid-term election results. Half-way through, phones started going off with the news of Rumsfeld's resignation. We watched bits of GWB's press conference on streaming video. 
We assessed interest in taking part in a valonia oak replanting project. Fifteen came to the taverna dinner afterwards.
 

2006

 

JUL 11

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

Tuesday at 7 PM, Athens Centre, 48 Archimidous St., Mets

2006

 

JUN 14

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

Twenty-three participants, chaired by Alicia Coriolano. 

Introductions - Stateside Reports Ellen R., led off with a report on New Hampshire, noting the state, once 'red' seems to have a good opportunity to go blue over the next 2 elections. Nicolas P. reported on Florida where the senatorial campaign of the infamous secretary of state Katharine Harris seems to be floundering. Matthew J. described the efforts of progressive voters to replace Senator Lieberman, while other members raised current concerns that Lieberman might then run as GOP or, worse, as an independent. Vivian noted that another Republican had narrowly won the special election to replace jailed California Republican congressman Duke Cunningham. Karen Lee predicted that Dems would take the two principal races in Ohio -- US senator and governor -- due to rolling scandal revelations all involving GOPs. 

Vote Integrity - Karen Lee presented the main points on vote integrity in the US and as it concerns AmCits abroad: Purging of voter rolls; strong-arming vulnerable voters; disallowing provisional ballots; discouraging voting w/ long lines, waits; confusing machines, instructions; hacking touch-screens, no VVPAT o Hacking scanner/counter programs o Failing to count absentee ballots Because of pressure to buy new voting machines -- to eliminate problems seen in Florida in 2000 -- counties have ordered touchscreen machines. There are many delays, software flaws and bad security. But in order to get the state and federal money for purchase, counties have forged ahead.

Many state Dem parties are mounting efforts to recruit poll watchers and to counter local efforts to suppress the vote. It was recommended that members see what's going on in their home states and offer to help. If you're in the US later this summer/fall, volunteer. If you're abroad, contact your county Board of Elections and ask them to make sure you're registered, your ballot has been sent/received/counted. Let them know you're keeping an eye on them.

Voter Registration Drive - Progress Report Brady Kiesling shared the 'Myths of Voting' news release he's prepared, based on a release we got through Dems Abroad. This was translated by Vanya C, and late additions were quickly edited on-site by John L. More 'how to register' cards were passed out for members to take with them to outlying holiday destinations. If you need more cards, the file for printing on card stock is on the website.

Website-Blog - Update Cassi reported on the blog facility. The goal is to link blog-type software to the HELADA website, ideally replacing the current yahoo list as an integrated tool for member communication. We are currently working out the wrinkles to provide privacy, control of who can read/post, and to solve other 'preference' issues, such as the ability to continue accessing the communication site via email. (Some members prefer to read online; others like to read via email.) All these preferences need to be addressed. The facility should be ready within the next month.

Event Planning - Film: An Inconvenient Truth Anna Haughton, Alicia Coriolano and Ellen Rocco are looking into the possibility of getting an Athens showing of Al Gore's important film on environmental degradation. This is in early-stage planning but hopefully will end up as a co-sponsor with a local cinema and, possibly, with DAG.

Secretary and Press Secretary - Needed Alicia asked for volunteers to help with two roles in the group. 

The meeting closed with a Flag Day presentation of theTakeBackTheFlag page on the website, with Dana Lyons' song 'Lubricating the Red, White and Blue' playing in the background. The TBTF project was conceptualized last year by Christine Counelis with a number of other members contributing artistic expressions on the theme.

2006

 

MAY 17

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

 Twenty-one participants. Had a sometimes impassioned discussion of impeachment of President Bush, led by Karen Lee with spirited assistance from a number of participants. Brady asked what the impact of an aggressive impeachment campaign would have on HELADA's profile in Greece.

We all accepted gratefully the following formulation by one of the wise lawyers present:

"We believe President Bush and members of his Administration have committed impeachable offenses, and therefore thorough investigation by Congress is warranted."

We then went off to the taverna.

2006

APR 10

HELADA Monthly Meeting

We were about 26 people all told, including newcomers.  We began with a slide show of photos from the Mt. Hymettus clean-up (thank you Danish Institute for the projector).

 

Community announcements included an update by Cassi Moghan on her human rights/migrant blog "ThisIsNotMyCountry" at  http://deviousdiva.wordpress.com/. Reminder of Animal Rights organization SOZO's annual bazaar in Kolonaki Square this Saturday, April 15, 10 AM till 5 PM. Lots of good plants and other things.  

Distinguished poet Craig Arnold reads his work at Athens Centre Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 PM.

 

Many of us had read and been horrified by the New Yorker piece by Sy Hersh, according to which President Bush believes he has a personal duty to prevent Iran from developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons, including by preemptive U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Iraqi nuclear facilities. If Hersh is correct, the U.S. government is on the verge of imposing a nightmare, one that cannot possibly work in the real world.

 

Karen Lee did a PowerPoint presentation on prospecting for voters.  We'll put our bilingual fliers on the web site shortly (Brady passed around some two-sided business cards Judy Blish and he had designed). Meanwhile, Chris Woodfin volunteered to do some e-prospecting, and Aliki Ammerman to translate our voter outreach press release. Mimi Ninos Torre and other volunteered to plug voter registration for the ACS Spring Fair and at Tasis. Please call Beth Hondros at 693 666 6462 to volunteer for DAG's voter registration kickoff May 5-7.  

 

John Psaropoulos, editor of the Athens News, made a cameo appearance to solicit community input on how to improve his worthy weekly. We congratulated him on his efforts to broaden AN's utility to the community.

2006

MAR 13

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

We had a big turn-out at Athens Centre, 27 people in all. Thank you Kristin and Karen for finding more wine! Yvette did a great briefing on Habitat for Humanity. Fliers are almost ready for our register-to-vote drive. Sentiment on impeachment was evenly divided. Brady briefed on wiretapping scandal. And then lively dinner at Vyrinis. Please spread the word to all your friends on Habitat and Hymettus. 

Presentation: Friends of Habitat for Humanity, Greater Athens 

Athens City Council Member Yvette Jarvis and Habitat for Humanity Office Manager Angela Kousouli gave us an inspirational briefing on the work of Habitat for Humanity in Greece. Their primary mission is to help the homeless and ill-housed in Greece, but after Hurricane Katrina they mobilized for a charity concert that raised $80,000 for New Orleans reconstruction. Projects in Greece now include refurbishing a building for Smile of the Child, helping a day-care center for migrants in Patision, and working with stranded infants at the Alexandra Hospital opposite the U.S. Embassy. The obstacles are many, including slow, complex bureaucracy, but they've already transformed some buildings and lives. Our members offered various suggestions.

Friends of Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers of all kinds, including unskilled people willing to scrape paint. A gift from heaven would be a trained engineer to help them evaluate old buildings, and masons, plumbers and electricians. Donations, of course, are vital. President is Dr. Connie Burke. Their office is at Stratigou Eindou 14, 18536 Piraeus, telephone 210 418 2251, e-mail hfhgr@hol.gr. Angela runs the office M-F, 10 AM until 4 PM. A web site is in the works. Donations through Hellenic Bank, IBAN No GR71 0320 0010 0000 0000 0683 029

Hymettus Clean-up 

There was an inspiring show of hands for participation in the April 2 Hymettus clean-up. John Lewis of Biotrek offered sacks and Girl Scouts. Regina Tassitano, Rosemary Donnelly, and Caroline Littell have volunteered to coordinate the picnic. Judy Blish is working on tee shirt designs. Recruit your friends, and send Brady a quick email at brady@helada.org.

Get Out the Vote - Registration drive 

We are reaching out to the thousands of Greek-Americans, scattered throughout Greece, who do not vote in U.S. elections. Judy Blish has designed a fine get-out-the-vote flier. Once it's approved, we'll e-mail it to all of you with a request that you post it in places where Americans hang out, pass it on to U.S. absentee voters and potential voters, and work with Greek local media, governments, businesses, and organizations to make sure every U.S. citizen in Greece understands how easy and necessary it is to vote in the November 2006 Congressional elections. Sofia Sianis pointed out the important role of the Greek-American organizations, such as her own Pan-Arcadians. 

Impeachment Resolution 

There wasn't enough time remaining to do justice to this major U.S. political question. Brady introduced the arguments for lending HELADA's name to the impeachment campaign against President Bush. John Lewis argued strongly that impeachment is a lousy way to run a democracy. Karen Lee had multiple counterarguments that might have shifted some votes, but the chairman cut off the debate and passed around paper ballots asking a yes or no on impeachment. A near-perfect deadlock ensued, 12 to 12 with one blank, one not voting, one "not yet" and one "censure but not impeach." We will raise the issue again with better preparation and a specific text to discuss. 

Issue Reports: 

Judy Blish reported briefly on the lack of progress of migrants in getting legal residence in Greece. There is a new move to recruit 50,000 temporary agricultural workers, but it sounds unworkable. Kristin highlighted the cuts in higher education funding in the U.S. Brady gave his interpretation of the Vodafone wiretapping scandal and what it all meant. He noted the ongoing scandal about warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens in the U.S. It looks as if the Senate plans not to investigate but rather to accept a White House idea of toothless Congressional oversight of the illegal program in exchange for making it retroactively legal.

Twenty of us then walked off to dinner at Vyrinis. 

2006

MAR 11

Steers Meeting with visiting Democrats Abroad Austria Chair Kristin Smeral.

Steering Committee members compared notes on voter mobilization and other tasks.  For Karen's synopsis, click here.

 

2006

FEB 13

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

Monday at 7 PM, Athens Centre, 48 Archimidous St., Mets

 Harolynne Bobis gave a presentation on Overseas Vote Foundation and its nifty new voter registration software. Kristin Zissis gave a brief talk on Bush administration educational program cuts and their disastrous impact.  We agreed that the next volunteer event will be a Mt. Hymettus clean-up event on April 2, 2006, with picnic and archaeological/environmental talks.

 

2006

JAN 23

HELADA Monthly Meeting and New Year Pita Cutting 

Eighteen of us met, cut our vasilopita (flouri found by Ellen Rocco), had a lively conversation on the agenda:

Primary Season opens in March:  Voter Registration, Absentee Ballot Requests

Helada's web site glitch (Geoffrey has a web-literate friend)

Alito - Send letters, faxes, calls NOW!

Enviro project ideas (beach cleanup or something more ambitious

Dems Abroad France is calling for Bush's impeachment. Should we join ? 

 

We repaired afterwards for dinner at our local taverna.

2005

DEC 12

HELADA Monthly Meeting

Eighteen of us, including several newcomers, drank rotgut wine (the price was right) and talked about U.S. economic policy and the Patriot Act for half an hour.  We then watched "Control Room," the 2004 award-winning al Jazeera documentary, on the big screen (thanks to the Danish Institute for the loan of the projector).  The film was excellent, bringing out the essential impossibility of covering a war "objectively."  The film is essential to understanding the raw emotions that are very close to the surface.  Central Command Press Officer Capt. Josh Rushing was a welcome reminder of the intellectual and moral caliber of many of the men and women in U.S. military uniform. 

2005 NOV 14

HELADA Monthly Meeting 
At the Athens Centre, 18 attended, including newcomers Joanna Trilivas and Kristin Zissis, and Canadian friend Roy Gaetz.  Roy gave a fascinating brief account of the 
issues a corporate lawyer faces negotiating big energy

Roy Gaetz.jpg (67444 bytes)

deals in poor African countries.  Exxon-Mobil searches for political stability, but oil wealth is inherently destabilizing in a corrupt, divided state. The U.S.-wide Democratic National Committee house parties was the springboard for a lively discussion of the problems of the Democratic Party. Judy Blish alerted us to upcoming events of the Migrants Forum (www.migrant.gr)  Planning proceeded for the November 26 HELADA Thanksgiving potluck (see above).  Then a cheerful dinner at Vyrinis Taverna in Mets.

2005

OCT 10

HELADA Monthly Meeting

There were 21 attendees, including guests.   After the usual glass of wine and a brief discussion of burning political issues in the U.S., Judy Blish made a brief presentation on the Greek Forum of Migrants.  Each of the main nationalities represented in the Athens migrant community has an organization to represent the interests of its members with the Greek state, not always very successfully.  The U.S. community, however, has no such representation.  With Judy and Karen Lee at work, HELADA is a natural organization to speak out for U.S. citizens.  We will explore this further.

 

We reminded all of the Habitat for Humanity Greece efforts at Katrina Relief Fund-Raising Efforts, particularly the concerts on 19 October and 2 November.

 

We welcomed Greek farmer Panayiotis Manikis and his three Japanese visitors.  Panayiotis gave a presentation on his efforts to spread his natural, non-anthropocentric ideas about reseeding the deforested Greek landscape.  His philosophy, which draws deeply from Taoist doctrine and the work of Japanese farmer-sage Manasobu Fukuoka, insists on leaving the final voice to nature.  We hope that the autumn rains cause the clay balls of seeds we helped scatter on Pendeli to sprout and flourish.  He hopes to do a large-scale reseeding project in Kenya in the coming months, the first major experiment with the method. 


Demetres Karavellas, the Director of  World Wildlife Fund Greece, backed by Fundraising Director Emily Kern, gave a brilliantly well-organized 15 minute presentation on the ambitious programs of WWF Greece.  With 37 full-time staff and some 300 volunteers among 18,000 Greek supporters, WWF does environmental field work in sensitive ecosystems, environmental education/awareness programs in schools, policy/legislative work.  WWF Greece is looking for skilled volunteers, and clearly has the organization capacity to make use even of volunteers who do not speak Greek.  Their telephone is 210 331 4893, website www.wwf.gr

 2005

SEP 12

HELADA Monthly Meeting 

We were 22 strong at the Athens Centre.  After the meeting, 20 of us continued conversation at a local taverna until midnight.


Katrina Relief Fund-Raising Efforts:  HELADA will support the Athens American Community fundraising event spearheaded by Yvette Jarvis, and are awaiting details. Per a suggestion from the floor, check out AlterNet's excellent list of ways to help Katrina victims.


After a good discussion of ways HELADA can help environmental awareness and policies in Greece, Alicia Coriolano volunteered to reach out to Greek environmental organizations for input.  Brady Kiesling volunteered to put together another beach cleanup like last April's, aiming for Sunday, October 16.  This was superseded, however, by word of a possible October 9 tree-planting event on Pendeli. Volunteers will be needed to coordinate carpool, pot-luck picnic, publicity, and community outreach.  

 

The HELADA consensus is that your senator needs to hear from you, preferably by telephone, that John C. Roberts has not demonstrated the commitment to civil liberties and minority rights to be a safe choice for the American people as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Several HELADA members, led by Joan Weaver, undertook to take action here in Athens on September 24 to echo and reinforce the anti-war protests in Washington DC on that day.  Send her an e-mail to volunteer your interest or call her at 22980-53634. The protests are inspired by the vigil of grieving Iraq War mother Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas, now on a bus trip across the country. 

2005

MAY 4

HELADA Monthly Meeting

The HELADA May 4th meeting was held at The Athens Centre and attended by 22 people. The main conclusions from the meeting are summarized here:

 

Information Content and Distribution

There are too many sources of information on political events. Many of these have to be sorted and distributed quickly, which is impossible for one person to do. It was recommended that people interested in different issues consolidate sources of information using RSS feeds on the Yahoo site.

 

Promoting the HELADA Website

HELADA members are free to disseminate the HELADA website to contacts in the USA and further afield. This includes exchanging links. If links are to be exchanged, please contact Philip Ammerman (pga@navigator-consulting.com) to arrange for posting of links on the HELADA site.

 

HELADA Issues

HELADA is an issues-based network. We want to offer the opportunity for interested participants to coordinate issues that they believe should be addressed. Our work includes analyzing specific issues, forming a general statement or position, and working to change the current status through outreach, mailing, information dissemination and other means. Coordinators should also provide a form letter that can be sent by HELADA members to their Congressional Delegations and other recipients.

The following issues should be set in the HELADA agenda:

 Humane Treatment of Detainees: Joan Weaver (ioanna@acadia.net) is interested in taking the lead on this issue. Detainees at Guantanamo and other detention facilities (including Iraq and Afghanistan) should be treated under Geneva Convention rules. The policies of rendition should be fought against. A Humane Treatment page has been started.

Patriot Act: Under Title 3, Article 386, it is impossible for US citizens living outside the US to open bank accounts, invest in financial instruments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds) or undertake other transactions. Brady Kiesling (brady@helada.org) has already begun work on this (see our Overseas Banking page) and will coordinate this issue.

Iraq Invasion: Several members voiced their fundamental disagreement with the invasion of Iraq, and stated that this should not continue unchallenged. We do not have a coordinator for this issue. An Iraq Page has been started.

Bolton Nomination: The nomination of John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations is seen as another sign of US arrogance and hubris. John Bolton has, in the past, opposed the very existence of the UN, and has a history of inappropriate behavior towards people who don’t agree with his point of view. HELADA opposes his nomination. Members are asked to write to their Senate delegations to oppose his nomination. Time is running out. We do not have a coordinator for this issue.

Immigration (US Citizens in Greece): This refers to Greek government policy towards US citizens living in Greece. This is a field where lobbying by HELADA could try to ameliorate the situation. We do not have a coordinator for this issue.

Environment, Waste Disposal, Recycling: Several HELADA members expressed an interest in raising standards and awareness for environmental management in Greece. We do not have a coordinator for this issue. An Environment page has been started.

Increasing Volunteerism in Greece: US citizens have a wide range of experience in volunteer organizations. Volunteerism showed its potential in the Olympic Games, but since then has died down. HELADA members indicated their interested in volunteering and promoting this concept. We do not have a coordinator for this issue.

Human Rights / Rule of Law: The issue of the US respect for individual human rights and the international rule of law is highly sensitive in Greece. Issues such as the US support for Turkey despite the invasion and occupation of Cyprus as well as its policies towards the United Nations, Serbia and Iraq have inflamed Greek public opinion. The representation of an alternative US foreign policy is necessary, which also must be actively communicated to the Greek public. It would be useful to see that there are Americans who have a different view of US policy. We do not have a coordinator for this issue.

Darfur: The situation in Darfur is turning into a potential genocide, yet the US government is not reacting. HELADA members should promote a change in policy. We do not have a coordinator for this issue.

 

Future Events

The HELADA group agreed to the following future events:

June 11th (Saturday)             
Flag Day: Take back the Flag

The image of the US flag has been expropriated by the neo-conservative movement as a sign of extreme patriotism and support for Bush administration policies. We believe that the flag has the power to represent a different image of America and American beliefs. On Saturday, June 11th we will meet at Diane Katsiaficas’ house in Kokkino Limanaki, Rafina to create new images and meanings of the US flag. We will arrange on online and possibly “live” exhibit of our work. Coordinator: Christine Counelis (carpedm@otenet.gr) and Karen Lee (Karen@helada.org

July 2nd (Saturday)             
Fourth of July Picnic/BBQ

HELADA will hold its 4th of July picnic / BBQ on Saturday, July 2nd. We are determining the venue: it may be at the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS) or elsewhere. Philip Ammerman (pga@navigator-consulting.com) will coordinate the event. 

November 24th (Thursday)             
HELADA Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving will be held on November 24th. HELADA will organize a Thankgiving Dinner (date, venue to be arranged). The event will be coordinated by Karen Lee (Karen@helada.org

TBD             
Speaker Invitation

HELADA would like to invite a high-profile speaker in order to raise interest and present our positions in Athens. Potential candidates could include Paul Krugman, Senator Paul Sarbanes, or others. This is a very complex undertaking in terms of time and resources needed. Philip Ammerman (pga@navigator-consulting) will coordinate this function. 

TBD      
Fall Environmental Activity

We will continue our environmental activity in the fall. Options include a site clean-up (possibly Sounion); a tree-planting event; or a bike-a-thlon. Brady Kiesling (brady@helada.org) will coordinate the event.

P.A.

2005 FEB 21
Some 17 people attended the monthly HELADA meeting on Monday, February 21 at The Athens Centre.  A lively discussion took place, and the night-owls retired to a taverna afterwards.

Democrats Abroad Greece (DAG) is having their election meeting on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 at 6:30 pm.  Location is the office of Nick Angelakis at 129 Vasilissis Sophias, a couple of blocks north of the U.S. Embassy on the same side of the street.  In lieu of a HELADA meeting in March, we encourage all Democrats Abroad members to show up and express support by voting for the new board.  As far as we know, the sole candidate for DAG Chair is Beth Tate Hondros.  She deserves and will need lots of support from the community, as Bill Kiritsis steps down after his years of sometimes thankless service as Chair.

There's an excellent taverna nearby, Vlassis at Pasteur 8, and we Heladites (non-members of DAG of course included) will head for it afterwards. Reservations are a good idea there, so let Brady know to reserve a place. We're guessing 9 pm, but call Brady on mobile to confirm before you set out:
6946- 578-290

The HELADA web site is coming along nicely, at www.helada.org thanks to travelling webmaster Philip Ammerman.  Please visit it and e-mail your suggestions for links and material to Philip or Karen Lee.  The on-line membership registration page is almost ready, but send Brady a separate email to confirm that it worked.  We urge everyone to volunteer his or her name for the membership list with a one or two-sentence description.  This will give HELADA the respectability it deserves.  We promise that neither the FBI nor the IRS will call. All members and friends are encouraged to try their hand at a one-page policy sheet with relevant links on any political issue that strikes them as of interest to HELADA members.  We are moving material off the greekdemocrats Yahoo site as best we can.

At the meeting, we went over Philip's ambitious memorandum of goals and responsibilities for HELADA.  We are looking for additional volunteers for the steering committee and regional coordinators.  There was considerable enthusiasm for the idea of taking HELADA on the road this summer, going to beaches and mountain villages where Greek-Americans cavort in August.

Brady presented the Rhamnous Beach Clean-Up for Earth Day.  Most of those present expressed interest in volunteering, and we're already well past the critical mass needed. Based on discussion of the academic calendar, we moved the date to April 17.  Please forward the flier liberally, and print out to post in a visible place where potential volunteers can be found.  We would like to broaden the event to gather maximum attention for HELADA and for environmental causes generally.  Ideas include a commemorative T-shirt based on Brady's flier design, a garbage sorting report perhaps linked to a venerable University of Arizona garbage study program, and ties to various local groups.  Please e-mail Brady to volunteer.

We had a lively discussion on potential participation in a March 19th "Out Now!" event in Athens.  Members showed themselves ambivalent on the message they wanted to send about the current presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. There was no ambivalence at all in the group that HELADA should take to the streets with everyone else should the Bush Administration attempt to invade Syria or Iran.  We are waiting for ideas on events we could support in Athens.

Brady again solicited stories and ideas for a project on the American image in Greece.  You are encouraged to e-mail him your stories and ideas about how Americans are seen in Greece.
Brady Kiesling

2005

JAN 17

HELADA Monthly Meeting and New Year Pita Cutting

HELADA's January meeting saw 20 members gather at The Athens Centre to cut the Vasilopita and inaugurate a promising New Year.  We heard presentations on the Ohio elections, social security reform, Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales, Not-One-Damn-Dime Day, and future HELADA projects including on the American image in Greece.