Meeting of the Whole 12-1

Please join WeROC for our upcoming Meeting of the Whole:

What: WeROC December Meeting of the Whole:
When: Thursday, Dec 1, 5:30 pm – 7:15 pm,
Where: Grace Fellowship Church, 1301 S. Harris, Ypsilanti (just north of Grove St.)

Relationships. Simple human relationships. At a time when we suddenly find huge, even overwhelming uncertainties all around us — when we can guess but really don’t know how things are going to unfold at the national, state, and, yes, local levels — don’t we need to be together, maybe like never before? And think about it… aren’t the human relationships we have built, and the new ones we choose to start building right now, aren’t they one of the few things we know — for sure — is a GOOD thing?

Some of us think it’s the most important thing at a time like this… probably always is, whether or not we’re actively paying attention to our connections with each other in a serious, intentional way. Depending on when you began paying attention to WeROC (and MOSES), and what your interaction has been, you may not know this: But THE fundamental building block that we use in our “state-of-the-art” grassroots community organizing model is just that — systematic, thoughtful, disciplined one-on-one relationship-building. And for WeROC, it’s time for another round of it.

The leaders of WeROC hope you will make a decision this week to be with us on Thursday. And not just as an observer, but prepared to agree to sit down with one, or three, or ten people over the next few weeks. People you know. People you don’t know. People who could be allies. And, heck, people who may be adversaries. Human beings all, right? People with deep stories and passions and hurts and gifts. People who may also be curious about who YOU really are! Thursday evening, we’ll have some tools, some tips, some partners for you in this simple, but critical, work together.

And we’ll also have some opportunities in the near future for us all to get back together and share and process what each of us is hearing. And begin piecing together powerful, strategic, collective action campaigns. Winnable campaigns led by people whose voices who aren’t heard enough and allies we help organize, to make real change happen in our area. We’ll probably have to play some defense for awhile, but we won’t let that prevent us from playing some smart offense whenever we can, to keep making forward progress together.

–Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

Two upcoming events

Seems most of us are dealing with a whole range of emotions right now as we try to process what happened at the national level last week and to deal with the uncertainty of what’s ahead for us, our families, and our neighbors. But let’s not forget to be proud that more locally, we saw strong friends of low and middle income and working families win tough races at the state, county, local, and school board levels. And it happened with with our help, both individually volunteering and through our nonpartisan WeROC voter education efforts for County Commission and area school boards.

I also think the instinct of most of us WeROC types is, take a deep breath, take care of each other, and begin to dive back in — to stay active, to get planning, and get into smart, effective, unifying action together when the time is right. In that spirit, a couple of things that will help prepare us for likely next collective steps for our organization:

  • We can learn more about Restorative Justice, this Thursday, Nov 17, 6-8, McKenny Hall, EMU: [flyer] A Community Conversation organized by, among others, our friends in the Faith Leaders Forum on Policing and Racial Justice and Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.
  • And I hope all of us will take 15 minutes…why not today?…to fill out the important local online survey “Prioritizing Race and Policing Policies”. The same allies helping organize this Thursday’s conversation, including Pastor Jeff Harrold of our Education Action Team, put this together, and are now encouraging broad community input as we move toward action together. You can take the survey here!

REMINDER: We will be having our first Thursday Meeting of the Whole, December 1, at Grace Fellowship Church in Ypsilanti (1301 South Harris)!
-Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

November 3 Meeting of the Whole

Please join WeROC for our next Meeting of the Whole:
Time: Thursday November 3, 5:30-7:15 PM.
Place: Beth Israel Congregation, 2000 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor (Smaller building to the left of the main building).

Easy parking, light dinner, courtesy of Beth Israel. One important task will be for all of us to take the major local survey “Prioritizing Race and Policing Policies”, prepared by our friends at Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the Washtenaw Faith Leaders Forum, to help us and all our area allies focus our collective action on criminal justice and structural racism.

Looking for ways to get involved in local electoral politics in the next few weeks? There are several different campaigns you can join:

1) Is FINALLY connecting SE Michigan together with 21st Century regional transit something you’re passionate about? Well, in that case, volunteers like us are making the difference in Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. Here in Washtenaw, the local YES on Regional Transit campaign is setting up these opportunities for us to plug into — Please call Tad Wysor (734 883 3225) to take a shift, link up with other WeROC folks, or to find out more.

Phone banks (at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor) Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: there is a special big push for calling Wednesday. Volunteers can show up for any amount of time between 5 and 8pm next week and Monday November 7, 3-8pm

Canvassing Saturday 10-2, Sunday 12-4 and Monday before the election 3-7pm — people-to-people is our strongest tool,

Staffing key polling places to hand out YES literature on Election Day, early morning and evening.

Also, can we put a “YES” sign in your yard? They just got the signs in — show your neighbors they’re not alone in wanting serious, connected transit in SE Michigan!

2) And finally, please continue to distribute to your congregation, organization, or network in whatever ways you can our first-time WeROC Voter Education Packets, available at these links:

Ypsilanti Community School Board Candidates: [pdf]

Ann Arbor Public School Candidates: [pdf]

Washtenaw County Commission District 2 Candidates: [pdf]

Even if some of these candidates are not on your ballot, we urge everyone to read the carefully-selected WeROC questions and the different responses, and to spread the information far and wide. As always, the smarter each of us is about local affairs, the stronger WeROC will be in our future action campaigns. And if you or your organization can make use of hard copies, let us know and we’ll get those to you.

Voter Education – Wash County Commissioner Dist 2 Candidates Q&A

As part of our non-partisan voter education campaign, WeROC members posed questions to Washtenaw County Commissioner District 2 candidates, Michelle Deatrick (D) and Dan Smith (R). Here are the results:

WeROC Washtenaw County Commissioner District 2 Candidate Questionnaire (PDF)

Stay tuned for results of a WeROC questionnaire posed to school board candidates from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor schools.

Interfaith Rally for Justice – 2 pm Sunday 10-9

When: Sunday October 9, 2pm
Where: Location: Washtenaw County Courthouse, Corner of Huron and Main in Ann Arbor (Pubic parking structures are located on the corners of Washington and Fourth Ave. and Ann and Ashley, free on Sunday).

Recent events such as the posting of racist graffiti at EMU, posting of racist flyers at U of M, and statements by a professor at Concordia, along with recent police shootings in Tulsa OK, Charlotte NC, Columbus OH, and El Cajon CA call for a continued community response. Sponsored by the Washtenaw Faith Leaders Forum, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and WeROC.

Upcoming WeROC Opportunities

Fellow WeROC Members and Supporters…

In the middle of an intense and unusual political season, it’s hard to also pay any attention to what happens AFTER the election, in the coming months and years. But isn’t that our special role as community organizers — to, yes, participate thoughtfully in selecting the best candidates and issues this Fall, but also to keep our eyes on the future prize?

By participating in as many of the following opportunities as possible, and encouraging others from your congregations, unions, organizations, and networks to join in, you become part of a stronger WeROC with the capacity to seriously tackle the root of the economic and social issues increasingly challenging our families and communities. Please organize your life to help these happen…

1) October “Meeting of the Whole”, Thursday October 6, 5:30-7:15pm, Strong Tower Ministries, 156 Spencer, Ypsi Twp. Light dinner provided. Come for camaraderie, solidarity, strategizing our next important steps together.

2) MOSES Annual Public Meeting: Monday, October 10, 7:00-8:30 pm , bus leaving Strong Tower Ministries at 5:30 pm (arrive earlier!). Our chance to help our partners MOSES win on major regional issues AND for WeROC to learn how better to act as a power organization locally. By attending, our leaders and members will be able to connect to issues that are impacting us all here in SE Michigan, including the need to choke the School-to-Prison Pipeline, create a connected public transportation system, and move toward more fair election districts.

We need your help in recruiting 50 people to justify a WeROC bus — you can promise people a rare combination of fun while helping real change happen. Contact Tad Wysor with tentative names for the bus as you talk to people.

3) YES for Regional Transit! Everyone in SE MI, especially lower income families, will benefit from supporting the Regional Transit Master Plan on the November ballot, and that’s why WeROC and MOSES were early endorsers of the campaign. Now WeROC is being asked to help the campaign win big in Washtenaw. Please help spread this opportunity for a fun canvassing event: Saturday, October 8 out of the Ecology Center Office, 339 E Liberty, suite 300, Ann Arbor .

4) WeROC Voter Education: This year, there’s only one contested race for Washtenaw County Commissioner, in District 2 in North and Northwest Washtenaw. As an aid to voters, WeROC sent 7 questions on issues that matter to our members to the both candidates. Look for a follow-up post that will include the candidate’s responses. Please think about how your congregation or organization can spread the word. Let’s help informed democracy work!

Also stay tuned! Our creative Education Action Team has sent out a questionnaire to School Board candidates.

WeROC Meeting of the Whole 10-6

Join WeROC for our monthly WeROC Meeting of the Whole, our chance to get together with other awesome folks committed to positive change in this community, and to catch up on current actions and plans:

When: Thursday, October 6, 5:30-7:15 pm,
Where: Strong Tower Ministries, 134 Spencer, Ypsilanti

Strong Tower Ministries is located just north of E Michigan Av. The meeting will be in the Annex at the south end of the lot.
Light dinner provided.

Support EMUFT Lecturers and RTA Kickoff!

A few important upcoming events were announced at our recent September 2016 WeROC meeting:

1) Support the lecturers’ union at EMU (EMUFT):  Rally to support a fair contract for our lecturer friends and colleagues:  Wednesday, Sept 7, 12:30, in front of Welch Hall, near the Water Tower, Eastern Michigan University campus . Facebook event. We’ll help the administration remember that treating staff right is good for the whole community!

2) Kickoff for the county “YES on Regional Transit” campaign, Thursday Sept 8, 5:30-7:30 pm, Ladies Literary Society, 218 N Washington, downtown Ypsilanti.  The RTA campaign is well-organized, it’s a strong coalition, and we have a great chance of winning connected, 21st-century transit in Southeast Michigan if we all do our bit.  Facebook event.

3) The MOSES Public Meeting is October 10, 7pm, Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Most of the regional issues our MOSES partners will be raising with public officials at the meeting reinforce our local work, AND it’s a great opportunity for new people — pastors, leaders, members, friends — to get a personal taste of what our collective community power feels like.   We’re looking to fill at least one bus with 50 people from Washtenaw, so please start talking it up within your congregation, organization, or network, and let Tad (tadwysor@gmail.com ) know as you have people sign up.

WeROC Monthly Meeting Thurs 9-1 5:30

What: WeROC Monthly Meeting
When: THIS Thursday, Sept 1, 5:30-7:15pm
Where: Trinity Lutheran Church ELCA, 1400 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor (Just west of the stadium)
Hope you can make the important WeROC Monthly Meeting this Thursday, in Ann Arbor

Hello, WeROC supporters…

Democracy is what WeROC is really all about, right?  Creating ways for members of our community whose voices often aren’t heard, and allies, to organize for action together, so people’s collective voice is amplified and we can make long-overdue social and policy changes really happen.  And elections are a time when democracy is out in the open.

For WeROC, election time is far from the only time when we need to creatively use our democracy for positive change, but it’s sure an important time — especially during a wild year like this one. On Thursday, we’ll hear from our MOSES friends about the powerful “Integrated Voter Engagment” approach to the election season — and how we can make good things happen in November while at the same time building our power as grassroots organization.  So that AFTER the election results are tallied in November, we can make sure that the community isn’t forgotton.  And we’re being presented with exciting opportunties to engage on things like…
Helping voters understand where local candidates in key races stand on issues we care about.
Making sure we win big in Washtenaw County on the vote for Regional Transit.
And a sneak peek at the longer-term statewide campaign to win fair election districts and stop gerrymandering over the next year.
PLUS: a preview of the October 8 MOSES Public Meeting, where we’re needed to help build the numbers to win on regional and state issues.
Note to Ypsi area folks:  Rita Paye has graciously invited us to meet at her church in Ann Arbor…let’s face it — with most meetings being in eastern Washtenaw, it’s only fair to our Ann Arbor sisters and brothers have a chance to meet closer to them once in a while, right?  Should be easy access and parking at Trinity Lutheran, just start a little early!

That’s THIS Thursday, Sept 1, 5:30-7:15pm, Trinity Lutheran Church ELCA, 1400 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor (Just west of the stadium).

Also, please read the Statement from our EMU American Federation of Teachers colleagues and co-founder organization about the attempted intimidation by the Eastern Michigan University Administration..

 

Reflections on the Current Moment and WeROC’s Role

A message from a WeROC organizer, Tad Wysor, of Ypsilanti MI:

“Hello, sisters and brothers…

Late last night, after the phenomenal [Black Lives Matter / Police Task Force meeting at Ypsilanti High School] event that I was able to witness for a couple of hours, Jim Anderson (who gave a powerful personal testimony to the crowd and the public officials) called me, and we found ourselves unpacking a little of all the intense history-making that seems to be swirling around us in real time right now. For what it’s worth, I wanted to share one brief insight that emerged for me out of that conversation.

What was so amazing to me is what happens when power is more balanced, even if for a brief moment. In the YHS auditorium, filled beyond capacity, dozens of people who don’t share my background or privilege felt able to do something very rare, to speak, in public from their hearts and personal experience about how the deep insidious workings of the “dominant narrative” we’re all immersed in, but that people who look like me do much more than our share to maintain and benefit from. Given an opportunity to feel safer and more supported than usual, they were able to express their anger and disgust and frustration, and also wisdom, love, and hope, in a much more public and powerful way than is usually possible.

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Jim Anderson speaks of his experiences at Ypsilanti Black Lives Matter / Police Task Force Meeting, 7/11/16

There was also the widespread expectation that it would all lead to nothing. To me, this was not so much cynicism, but just a sickening fact. Potential wannabe allies like me most of the time go back to our comfortable realities. And whatever brief shift of power toward working people and lower income people and people of color they were able to create then quickly dissipates.

This is huge, and complex, and deeply rooted, I know. But, really, it may not be as complicated as we usually make it, you know. Last night, in just a few hours, people who haven’t had nearly enough voice showed me how quickly they can build a sense of community solidarity and power, and how effectively they can get the serious attention of public decision-makers, if only briefly.

That’s where WeROC and MOSES come in, right? No local organization is better situated right now to help turn this flash of healthy grassroots power into something more long-term. Maybe we need to consider finding the time and leadership and resources for a major, well-designed community organizing training event (or events), where a lot of people personally facing these issues on a daily basis have a rare chance to explore together these issues of how power really works, how to more effectively build it in healthy ways, how to strategically use it, when and how to join with potential allies who aren’t directly affected (like me) — and how to help each other generate and support powerful and savvy new community leaders. And how to make this a long-term enterprise, not just a brief reaction to a horrible moment.

That’s the kind of thing that will be on my mind as I try to listen and learn tonight. To the extent that some of this makes sense to others, I hope we’ll consider some serious conversations soon about some kind of action like this. I’m obviously motivated to do what I can to help it happen, but I’m wide open to suggestions. Our unique WeROC project may be needed right now as much as we ever have been. — Tad

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Pastor Jeff Harrold reflects on structural racism at ICPJ/Faith Leaders Forum rally at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor 7/12/16