Looking Ahead - What’s happening in all of our organizing efforts
By Laura Wagner, Executive Director
If we made the decision to plant a garden together with a goal of feeding all who were hungry, how might we go about this? We would have to know something about agriculture; but, if we became stuck on researching the best practices, no one would ever eat. If I asked you to choose which task is more important: planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, plant health, harvesting, storage or distribution - we would be distracted by a false conflict - it’s all important.
A project this big would benefit from many people being involved. It would also benefit from many areas of expertise and by people who work closely together, who share their knowledge and collaborate in their efforts. Our shared justice work is like this garden.
Our Vision for Justice - A World Where All People Are Honored and Valued
The following are the pathways to justice that move us closer towards our vision
* CWG=Certified Working Group
Resource: The Indivisible Guide: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda
CWG: Black Lives Matter
The purpose of this CWG is to continue to network among ourselves, as well as to share experiences going forward as we reach out to more potential allies in our local communities.
This group meets quarterly. The next quarterly meeting will be in Feb - for more info and to become involved with this group, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Committed to the abolition of fossil fuels and access to 100% clean, renewable energy.
Climate Justice one-pager
2017-2018 Legislative Priorities
Our Climate justice work includes a CWG for Divestment of the State pension funds from fossil fuels
Upcoming Important Events:
350MA, Rally Against Denial
When: Monday Jan 9th, 12 PM to 1:00 PM
Where: Park St MBTA Station, Boston
More info and RSVP link
In response to a call from 350.org for actions urging our senators to push back at Trump's Cabinet of Denial. We'll also be calling on Governor Baker to speak out against these nominees and for a leadership role for Massachusetts in fighting climate change, no matter what the federal government does.
MA Power Forward Lobby Day
When: Wednesday Jan 25th, 10 AM to 3:00 PM
Where: State House Boston
Facebook Event Page
The plan is still developing - it’s important that you register! This is how you will receive updates.
10 am: Gathering Time/Breakfast
10:30: Intro by MPF leaders
10:40: Speaker – Legislator
10:50: Speakers on each area of policies
Pipelines, Nuclear, Gas Leaks, Environmental Justice, Solar, RPS
11:20 – 2:00 Breakout groups
Go to a lobby meeting and then report back
Go to a MPF training on doing local clean energy in your town
Go to a training on how to do local business canvassing to gather endorsements against pipelines
2:00 Convene to share experiences from the day. Brief remarks about next steps/ways to stay engaged.
The planning team is working on material - as soon as these are available, they will be shared.
Chapter Meetings, 350 MA Metrowest Node:
When: Thur Jan 5, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
(meetings are typically the 1st Thursday of the month)
Where: First Parish UU, 327 Concord Rd, Sudbury
2017 will offer many paths to sustainability: educating others to the threats and opportunities in our home towns and the state, including: community solar, repairing the ubiquitous methane gas leaks, increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard, implementing the state Global Warming Solutions Act (2008), convincing towns to become 100% renewable energy by 2050, opposing the new natural gas pipelines, carbon pollutions pricing, and divesting from fossil fuel equities. In the past two years our focus has been on state legislation. In 2017 with more members we will shift gears and include local initiatives in conjunction with state legislator advocacy. The goal of this meeting will be feasible local and statewide action plans.
Upcoming Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) Public Hearings
Public hearings will be held:
When: Monday, February 6, 2017
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and at 6:00 PM
Where: MassDEP Boston Office, One Winter Street, Boston, MA
AND: 9:00 AM at the MassDEP Southeast Regional Office, 20 Riverside Drive, Lakeville, MA
When: Wednesday, February 8, 2017
9:00 AM and 6:00 PM
Where: MassDEP Central Regional Office, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA
AND 2:00 PM at the Springfield Central Library, 220 State Street, Springfield, MA
Note: If one or more of the previously scheduled public hearings is cancelled due to inclement weather, additional public hearings will be held on: Friday, February 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM at the MassDEP Boston Office, One Winter Street, Boston, MA
AND MassDEP Central Regional Office, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA
The last hearing at each location will remain open until all parties in attendance have been heard, with the exception of the Springfield Public Library that closes at 8 PM.
Ending Mass Incarceration
Incarceration in Massachusetts has increased 5 fold since the 1980’s. The current criminal justice system perpetuates systems of oppression, particularly against people living in poverty and people of color. This must end.
UU Mass Action’s working group, EMIT (End Mass Incarceration Together) together with the Jobs not Jails Coalition, have identified a number of priorities which are listed below. In is anticipated that these will be incorporated into a Jobs Not Jails omnibus bill as well as the bill being developed with the Council of State Governments (CSG). In addition, there will be several single issue bills that UU Mass Action will support. By January 20th (bill filing deadline) the bill details as well as the specifics for UU Mass Action’s advocacy plan will be clarified.
In addition to legislative advocacy, UU Mass Action is exploring plans for supporting congregations in welcoming returning citizens and developing restorative justice programs in your community.
Developing EMIT Priorities:
Solitary Confinement Reform
The Jobs Not Jails Priorities:
A. Before Prison to lessen numbers of people incarcerated
Ending long mandatory sentences on non-violent drug defendants…these are part of the ”went too far War on Drugs legislation passed in the 1990’s”. Chief Justice Gants found, “in 2013, 44% of all persons convicted of drug offenses were persons of color, but 75% of all persons convicted of drug offenses with mandatory minimum sentences were persons of color”.
Change the threshold for a felony for theft from $250 to $1500; hasn’t been changed since 1987.
B. During Prison to enable people to get skills when they are released Increase funding for programs for
Job Training and Education and other needed programs.
C. After Prison to enable ex-prisoners to get jobs
CORI Reform to reduce CORI sealing times from 10 and 5 years to 7 years for felonies and 3 years for misdemeanors AND technical changes to insure that records actually get sealed
Repeal Probation and Parole fees that burden ex-prisoners working at low wages
Increase funding for reentry programs for job training, job placement, and education. Support increased funding for affordable housing and drug treatment for all who need this.
Expungement of juvenile misdemeanors
Diversion to Treatment for those with non-violent charges
Increased funding for public defenders
The Six Priorities of the CSG Community Coalition:
- Sentencing practices that lead to fewer people being incarcerated for the first time
- In-prison services that address risks and needs, resulting in lower recidivism rates
- Returning citizens receive appropriate community based re-entry support
- Policies that prevent or reduce collateral consequences of incarceration and criminal justice system involvement, particularly in communities of color
- Data and transparency are provided to ensure that justice reinvestment enhances public safety.
- Strengthen communities most affected by incarceration and reentry to increase family stability and opportunities.
Our Guiding Values:
1) All people should enjoy the fruits of their labor
2) A person employed full time should not be living in poverty
3) A person earning a living wage will no longer feel compelled to make money
in shadow market enterprises
4) All people should pay their fair share of taxes and contribute to the common
5) Investment is needed in jobs and education not incarceration
Our Legislative Priorities:
Fight for $15
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Fair Share Amendment
The Fair Share Amendment is a ballot initiative. There will be two more important legislative votes that will occur prior to the general election vote in 2018. The UU Mass Action newsletter will keep you informed about when action is needed.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour (Fight for $15) and the Paid Family and Medical Leave bills will be refiled this year. If the Raise Up Mass Coalition determines that legislators are not supporting the workers of Massachusetts, this effort will transition to becoming a ballot initiative. This means that volunteers willing to gather signatures will likely be needed in 2017.
UU Mass Action supports the Trust Act, which will be refiled for the 2017-18 legislative session; however, we are not actively involved with the organizing leadership this session. Instead, we are focusing on developing Physical Sanctuary in the faith community and creating a rapid response network for those threatened by deportation.
There are a number of resources on our webpage
which will be frequently updated. Please check this page often.
We are working with a number of community partners in developing this network. It is important to remember that a thorough discernment process and training is required to before a congregation will be ready to offer physical sanctuary. UU Mass Action is working with our partners to develop the resources to help with this process. Also, there are resources available to help with the updates your building may require to offer sanctuary. Please don’t be discouraged by potential roadblocks.
For every one congregation willing to offer physical sanctuary, multiple local congregations will be needed to provide support. Many individuals will be needed to support this effort.
Let us know if you’d like to be included:
Hunger and Homelessness
Many of our UU congregations respond to local hunger issues within their community through operating or supporting a food pantry or by providing community meals.
Advocacy to provide housing and end hunger at a state level is typically done through the budgetary process. These calls to action are communicated through the UU Mass Action newsletter as they occur.
Our partner is this work is the Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness
CWG: Economic Equity in Politics
This working group is focused on addressing the inequity in our political system. The statewide membership meets regularly via conference calls.
To contact us or to join the Economic Equity in Politics Certified Working Group, please go to:
CWG: First Nations Rights
This working group meets monthly via video chat and in person. The focus is to bring attention to local, Indigenous led issues and to increase UU involvement. The group works to develop relationships with indigenous people and communities and to create opportunities to learn about colonialism, first contact the history of the Unitarian church in regard to First Nation History. We believe that earning our history will better enable solidarity building efforts in today’s world.
New Resource: Study & Discussion Guide to, “Hidden People, Hidden Genocide,” by Dennis Cerrotti
The working group suggests that to help introduce this four-week study & discussion experience at your congregation, you first introduce the opportunity during a showing of the film, “We Still Live Here.” The film tells the story about the resurrection of the Wampanoag language more than a century after the last native speaker died.
Materials to introduce the film & discussion night
Study & discussion guide for the four-week program
Addendum: Readings from Southern New England Indigenous voices
Summary of Puritan to Unitarian evolution
Inks to all of these materials can be found on the First Nations webpage
Please let us know if your congregation will make use of this resource! We’d love to have your feedback! Contact, Laura Wagner: email@example.com
CWG: UU Justice in the Middle East
Justice in the Middle East works to increase awareness of Palestinian oppression and relates this to local Muslim issues and concerns. The leadership works to bring attention to local Muslim oppression and creates both education and action opportunities that are directed at confronting and dismantling Islamophobia in Massachusetts.
An anti-Islamophobia workshop and training event is scheduled for Saturday Feb 4th
at the Arlington Street Church in Boston. Planning for this event is underway - more specific info will be available in upcoming newsletters.
The following two working groups are currently not actively engaged in advocacy of action but it is anticipated that this will change as the new year unfolds.
CWG: Gun Violence Prevention
CWG: LGBTQI Rights