May 1995 Home   Newsletters

June-July 1995

August-September 1995

Cancer Killed Miller But Did Not Beat This Peace Activist (Rod Ohia)
Leaguers Remember Rhoda
President's Message: The League and Its Future (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Country Zoning for Lihi Lani Illegal (Astrid Monson)
Report on Education (Pam Christoffel)
State League Convention Notes
Violence Prevention (Cindy Spencer)
Planning Conferences (Jackie Parnell)
Annual Meeting Notes (Jean Aoki)
Abercrombie Challenges League (Jean Aoki)
Membership Updates
Rhoda Miller Peace Garden (Helen Griffin, Betty M. Jacob & James McCutchen)
Focus on School Reform

President's Message: The League and Its Future

After two months in Southeast Asia and Africa, I gained a new appreciation for the kind of participation in public affairs we take for granted here. In my travels I found no groups of women or men that remotely resembled the League of Women Voters. More than ever I've come to respect Leaguers' ability to research and analyze community issues, come to consensus about what would be to the greatest public good, and then talk, write, testify, lobby, argue and, if necessary, litigate to support our position. Although I met a few people who understood the role of organizations like ours in a democracy, there were not many.

So I was all the more shocked to read on my return about the dissension that developed between long-time (and older) members and younger employed staff in one of Honolulu's highly esteemed public interest organizations.

As is the case with most volunteer organizations, including LWV, the past 10 or 15 years have seen a change in the amount of time and effort any membership can give. More and more of the work is done by fewer members, and because younger women today have full-time jobs, it falls to older members to volunteer.

In the above case, the organization had the financial resources to employ paid staff, a solution increasingly being turned to by those who can afford it. Unfortunately, a division grew as to how the group should function and what kinds of issues the organization should address.

This brings me to the League and its future. So far we have managed to keep going with limited funds and without paid staff. Members like Arlene Ellis, Annie Kim, Jean Aoki, and Astrid Monson spend full time and more on League work. Others give days and hours on vote counts, putting together and mailing the Voter, telephone trees, video productions, special events and meetings.

But if League is to survive, we have to involve more of our rank and file. Even if we could afford paid staff, we know from the above case that serious problems can occur unless the larger membership is actively involved and retains the vision and the control of League's program.

I have talked to various new and old members to ask how they could become more active. Many said they'd like to but feel they don't know enough about what we're doing; they can't be useful. I can only say that most of the "old-timers" who seem to know so much probably started out ignorant too. What did I know a year ago about transit, zoning, campaign spending, ethics, gun control, or violence in the community? I went to committee meetings, listened to testimony being given, talked to knowledgeable people, read reports, and got informed. So can you.

At our Annual Meeting, Congressman Neil Abercrombie spoke of League's value, our credibility, our important role in the political process. He was right. But if we're to continue in a meaningful way, it's up to the membership, all of us.

Please, call the office, come in. GET INVOLVED!

Suzanne Meisenzahl

May 1995 Home   Newsletters August-September 1995