Immediately following a justice workshop at the February, 2010 Pacific Northwest District (PNWD) Assembly, a small group of regional UU justice activists gathered in a hallway. We had become acutely aware of a shared need to be in contact. Working together through monthly calls over the next year, we uncovered common needs and explored the multiple ways we could strengthen our congregations' programs. As our needs clarified, we recognized that our needs were likely the needs of other UU activists and congregations in our region. We set out to address those needs.
We entered into conversations with our UUA district (PNWD), with our local State Advocacy Network (WA UU Voices for Justice), and with the UUA’s Congregational Advocacy and Witness Program. Some of us read John Millspaugh's report on the challenges of the UU State Advocacy Networks. We worked our e-lists.
As a result of this work, we found ourselves better informed, as well as fully aligned with the ongoing work of these groups. What we didn’t find was an existing (or emerging) organization that was positioned to connect UU activists and justice committees regionally, at least not one that supported the wide variety of justice activities and issue involvements that we knew characterized the Pacific Northwest.
We decided to create one.
In January 2011, our group evolved from collaborating activists to Network founders. By April, 2011, we were meeting in person, despite the distances involved. We had finalized our charter. We had a vision of how such a network could work and a plan for its development. Network development was scheduled in three phases: Visioning (2011), Year-1: Initial Implementation and Evaluation (2012 – The Project Year), and Year-2: Expanded Implementation (2013).
Network visioning will culminate this year with the hosting and evaluation of the first Northwest UU Justice Summit on October 22, 2011. At the Summit, area UUs will undertake inter-congregational collaborative work and will learn of justice resources and collaborations that are already powering the work of UUs in the region. Participants will discuss what is needed to support their justice work, and will provide feedback regarding the proposed programs and services under development by the Network. Finally, Summit participants will be invited to join together and help us create an effective, regional UU Justice Network that meets our region’s needs.