(The following summit notes were submitted by Sarajane Siegfriedt, board member of UU Voices for Justice)
Tools to Support Our Justice Work, facilitated by D.D. Hilke, Executive Director of Northwest Justice Network (NWuuJN)
Can you imagine doing more justice work, and doing it more easily, with other UUs? (Is it easier to do it with other folk than to do it with other UUs?) This is in essence the mission of the NWuuJN. It’s to make our justice work easier and to do more of it within the context of our UU congregations and values.
A group has been working for a year to forward this idea. The purpose of this summit is to gain help. They are planning these four goals.
- An annual summit
- Regional UU Justice Program Census (database)
- Networking by issue
- UU Justice website
Feedback is invited: Is this program needed? How might we best implement it? Is there an even better way to achieve these goals? Will YOU help us make it happen?
Regional UU Justice Program Census (database)
What if we compiled what justice programs are being done by UUs, who is doing them and who is working on what issues, so that you could easily look up and see what’s going on in our region. You could connect with colleagues and get involved in a program at a neighbor church.
Is this a good idea? Might you be interested in doing these? We’re looking for 8 to 16 congregations to participate. We want to network by issue, publish and share resources & learnings, and collaborate as it makes sense.
We could have issue-specific webspace, event calendaring, links to related UU congregations & orgs, links to other organizations…
Is this program needed? How can we best implement it?
Is there an even better way to achieve these goals?…
A website would allow us to search, publish and collaborate by:
- Issue with articles, links, resources, videos, flyers, pictures & RSS feeds
- Events calendar
An example is the human rights “doctrine of discovery” on the website that includes a video. It is linked to the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship and will be featured in a G.A. 2012 workshop. Beth Brownfield could also have a profile and a link to her other issues.
Is this website needed? How might we best implement this website?
In addition to these four programs, what’s missing? (Comments from participants follow)
- Training, e.g., community organizing, fundraising, communicating, networking
- Provide inspiration and passion. That’s what’s missing
- How does this NWuuJN relate to Washington UU Voices for Justice, which focuses on state legislative issues? Is it one of the ministries under this umbrella?
- We could have a spirituality component, or a theological component. How is this grounded in UU values? Why is this a religious issue?
- Funding the network: Are there grants for such purposes?
- Great, if this helps all UU churches become more active. Real community involves passion and activism. That can be our salvation.
- What about the people who don’t use computers? How do we touch people personally?
- Each of us is probably in four or five other UU networks, including UUSC, UUJEC, UU Voices and so on. How it relates to all these other networks within (and outside) our movement is important to determine.
How do we get from vision to reality? Is there another way to achieve these same goals? Is another organization needed? Our sense is that UUs in our region want to meet with and work with other UUs and to share information and projects.
Who ultimately powers this vision? Begins with the founders, together with first adopters (those at this first Summit and who begin to populate the Network's programs) and then other participants. As more information is gathered and accessed, the more valuable it is. This is how the network will grow.
A webinar is coming soon, where we can all learn to post event information and use the calendar, manage our issue work on the site and host our congregation’s justice committee on the website.
Often UU congregations feel too small to do what we are called to do. This is very helpful. We don’t have to do it all ourselves, and we don’t have to do it as interfaith groups.
Open Space Sessions
Open Space Round 1
- Doctrine of Discovery
- Tar Sands
- UUs for Justice in the Middle East
- UUSC Social Justice tools and initiatives
- Organizing Effective Lobbying Efforts
- Occupy Wall Street and the banksters (usury) Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt
Organizing Effective Lobbying Efforts—about 17 participants
For state action, we have Washington UU Voices for Justice with Rev. Carol McKinley as our coordinator and lobbyist in Olympia. They recommend personal contact, personalized emails or phone calls, emphasizing we are speaking as a UU person of faith. We will participate with the Poverty March on Olympia on ML King Day in January, Equality Day on Feb. 16th and Interfaith Day in March. The UU Voices has its Legislative Conference Nov. 12th at East Shore Unitarian Church. All 28 UU congregations are invited. Congregational coordinators are needed. Speakers are available. Now is the time when legislators are most available, before the session.
For Federal action, there is UUSC and UUs for Economic Justice, and others. Molly Griffard his here for Equal Rights Washington (www.equalrightswashington.org , part of the Human Rights Campaign, working on marriage equality.
There is no UUs in Government group (like Blacks in Government, etc.). Nick Maxwell works in Seattle city government and would like to have one.
Summary: Effective lobbying requires personal contacts with state government or local governments. UU Voices for Justice is our organizing arm and Rev. Carol McKinley is our lobbyist. We urge everyone to participate in Poverty Day in Olympia in ML King Day in January. Important budget decisions are being made at the city and county levels as well.
“Standing on the Side of Love” wearing their yellow T-shirt is an effective way of demonstrating our unity and numbers at marches and protests.
Open Space Round Two:
- Health Care
- State Budget/Revenue reform of corporate tax breaks
- Marriage Equality
- Campaign Finance Reform
State budget and reforming tax breaks
The level of cuts to make up $2 billion as a portion of the state’s discretionary budget is huge. It mostly falls on the health and human services safety net because much of the budget is protected, such as k-12 education. It’s more than trimming; we will be cutting whole programs, starting with the special session Nov. 28th. We can continue cutting, including cutting government employees, which makes our budget worse. Or we can repeal some of the corporate tax breaks. The total of tax breaks that could be repealed would equal the deficit. We need specific repeals,and we need to reform the system.
Think tank for reforming tax breaks: www.budgetandpolicy.org
Economic Opportunity Institute, see www.eoionline.org
Open Space Summary:
Middle East, Curt Bell, First Unitarian Church, Portland: UUs have not been out in front in the human rights for Palestinians. We could support the Palestinians by buying olive oil, for example. Resource is UUs for Justice in the Middle East.
UUSC, Linda Mckim-Bell, Regional UUSC Representative, Portland, OR: Discussed history and background in four areas, civil liberties, etc. UUSC Just Works trips to Haiti, what a good resource the website is.
Lobbying, Carol McKinley, Coordinator, WA UU Voices for Justice: Carol McKinley is our lobbyist in Olympia for UU Voices for Justice. They are available to speak to congregations and have a Legislative Conference Nov. 12 to discuss this years priorities.
Economic Justice: Move your money; Campaign finance reform; Sustainable development
Doctrine of Discovery, Beth Brownfield, Bellingham, WA: UUA Board is poised to add to UUA GA 2012; This is the doctrine that gave Europeans the rights to “discover” and occupy lands.
Tar Sands Pipeline, Carlos Voli: Decision by Obama before end of 2011; Nov. 6th action encircling the White House; assemble at Westlake Park in Seattle 10:30 that Sunday, or organize locally against the Tar Sands Pipeline; Remind Obama of his campaign promises.
Immigration, Frances Tanaka from Olympia: Proposing workshop for GA. The Round Table doesn’t do advocacy, so we need to. Track what Border Patrol is doing on the peninsula, and what happens following 9-1-1 calls. Meeting at MAPS in Redmond Oct. 27. See welcoming your neighbors on UUA website.
Health Care, Terry Sterrenberg, East Shore: Need to educate the public about what single-payer universal health care really does for people. Their movie discusses the difference between the Canadian healthcare system and ours. We need a paradigm shift. Why are Americans so resistant? Deep cultural differences in our view of government.
Marriage Equality, Molly Griffard: She is an organizer, looking to organize UUs to do grassroots, faith-based advocacy on this issue. Don’t let the other side own faith issues. Sign a postcard to your legislator today. Organize your congregation. Religious Coalition for Equality. There will be a lobby day in Olympia Feb. 16th, Equality Day.
Homelessness, Elaine Duffy, Westside UU Cong: A lot of people are doing a lot of things. Westside is working with an interfaith network to house families for overnights, a week at a time. Edmonds did that for a while. Now it’s a cold weather shelter, when it’s below 34 degrees. Cocoon House is a shelter for teens in Everett. There’s an Interfaith Housing group in Everett. Some groups provide an address for homeless people so they can vote. Westside’s network has a case manager that screens for mental illness or addiction, which they are not equipped to handle.
Campaign Finance Reform, Lezlie McDaniel, Chair, Social Justice Committee, Skagit UU Fellowship, Bellingham: Bellingham is organizing a “circle the Peace Arch” against the Tar Sands Pipeline on Nov. 6. Bumper sticker: “I’ll believe that corporations are persons when Texas executes one!” There are so many aspects of this, you need to pick one, and find someone else to work with.
Wrap-Up: D.D. Hilke
What have you accomplished today?
- People who can be helped with UUSC resources and staff
- New ideas
- Who are our experts
- Broad range of interests
- Planted and absorbed ideas
- Seeds were sown
- Found what I want to do
- Meeting someone personally and being able to follow up
- Found out what banks our congregations are invested in
- Looking at ourselves and basic issue of walk-the-talk or “put our money where our mouth is—where our principles are
- Four additional congregations signed up to do the program census, making seven in all
- Brought a lot of problems into our group consciousness
- Support in realizing we are not alone, but have UU colleagues
What have we accomplished today? What happens after today?
- Some seeds will grow and some will not
- We recognized the problem—the hardest part
- We have to take action; I have faith that people will to that
- How does understanding turn into action? A personal call and some colleagues to join with.
- Getting passionate, even angry, motivates action
- Democracy is messy and imperfect, but the best system there is
- We need patience; some things take long-range vision
- We still need theological reflection and prayer to ground what we do
What about this network idea? Do we want another summit? Do we want to connect on the web?
- Thirty people put this on, and 77 people and more than 20 organizations and congregations showed up on a Saturday to think about how to support justice work as UUs.
- An operational online network
- We need the support of all the ministers to get calls to action out to all the congregations, to get into their newsletters or to get an email blast, without or without a social justice committee in the congregation.
- With emails, ask local members to forward them to their congregational social justice group.
- If we know who is interested in what, we can email those who are interested in that issue.
- The website: www.trunity.net/uusconnect (that’s not trinity, but trunity!)
- At next year’s summit, let’s look back and see where we were today, in a new world of possibility, with accomplishments.
- Would anyone who led or recorded a group, would you be willing to send an email to D.D. to summarize the group? Open Space Reports for website.
- Participants can easily comment on today’s summit on the website, or post events or issues. This website is yours!
- Eleven sponsors stepped forward for the Summit. The UUA Grant Program is looking at today’s summit. We need comments on how it went and what the network could mean to you. Concerns are welcome, too.
- It would help so much to have a social/economic justice contact in each congregation!
- The more people we have, the better our network is going to work.
- A couple of congregations are working to assess interests within the congregation. They are refining technology to do this. There’s so much potential for uncovering interests.
- D.D. will put her presentation on the website. What about other presenters from today?
- Please post the Open Space guidelines on the website under Tools
The summit closed with words from Dorothy Day, ending in “No one has a right to sit down and feel worthless! There’s too much work to do!”