WeRoc March 2018 Meeting Recap

It wasn’t pretty, but a good group was able to connect by phone while the snow piled up last Thursday. (Thanks again to Community Church of God for being willing to host, even if it didn’t work out for us to be there!). Here’s a summary of key things you’re going to want to know about, and/or contact key WeROC leaders about, to learn more or find out how a little of your time, added to many others, adds up to a powerful, unified voice on our issues. Join an Action Team or Committee with however much or little time you have, and remember that even if they look like different paths, they are all closely linked to each other (that how we WIN, right?!

NOTE: Next WeROC Meeting of the Whole will be on April 12, 5:30-7:30 (NOT April 5). Location TBD. More to come on that, but most of the focus will be on a focused training session for us all, to learn about the successful techniques for a serious fundraising event with an action-oriented organization like WeROC. (See below)

Education Action Team: Chair Pastor Jeff Harrold gave this update on the Ed Action Team’s current plans. Let him or Tad Wysor know you can be a part of this new and continued work, and we’ll get you on that list.

Advocate with CMH to provide more treatment for k-12 students who have experienced trauma, as a preventative measure to decrease behaviors that lead to suspensions and expulsions.
Advocate for all school districts to have trauma response teams to respond to acts of racial violence
Advocate for district-wide policies against racial violence
Advocate for training for teachers and other school personnel on how to respond to issues of racial intimidation
Plan a half day retreat to develop action steps to accomplish the above goals.
Use technology such as Zoom and conference call application to allow people to participate virtually in our meetings.

Mental Health Equity Action Team:

Convenors for this team — Pastor George Waddles, Pastor Victoria James, and Sheryl Kelly — have created a gathering aimed at the faith community for March 15. With the Community Mental Health Advisory Committee (Pastor Waddles is a member) beginning to work in earnest to provide community input to decisions on how to spend the millions of new dollars from the November millage, this meeting will provide critical “bottom-up” input to make sure the money is spent in the best ways to meet the broad needs in the community, especially in eastern Washtenaw. Contact Tad Wysor for more info on the event.
We also heard from Lois Richardson that a similar advisory committee being set up to recommend how the other big chunk of
The Action Team is also paying attention to the remaining millage dollars that are going to individual municipalities with their own police departments, to be sure that those communities appropriately focus some of their millage dollars on mental health crisis as well as public safety..

Veterans Action Team:

Jim Anderson and John Hollingsworth are organizing an upcoming meeting for this committee. Focus of this new Action Team include pushing for better coordination of local services for our veterans, especially veterans of color, and to carve out veteran-specific priorities for how the millage money is spent as it relates to the special challenges of our veterans. See Jim or Tad for more…and please point the veterans in your life toward this exciting new vehicle for improving the lives of veterans and those around them.

Fundraising Committee

Plans are well underway for the Inaugural WeROC Prayer Breakfast fundraisier. Here’s another way to plug into WeROC, as we work to ensure that we have independent dollars, no strings attached, for our unique organizing work. As Sister Lois said on the call, we need a few more to help get it off the ground, but it will be up to ALL of us to turn it into a big success. Target date is on a Saturday Morning in June or July.
Because we have such a good model to follow about how to do a fundraising event that, yes, raises funds, but also builds our grassroots power with our “big sister” organization MOSES in Metro Detroit, we will focus most of the next
Final note: Those of you who took petitions at the last meeting on Earned Paid Sick Time and on One Fair Wage, please talk to Tad about returning those you’ve circulated to your congreagation, organization, or network, and get more if you need them!

For more information, contact Tad Wysor



WeROC Letter to YCS Supt. Edmondson and Board of Education

February 19, 2018

Dear Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent Edmondson and Board of Education Members:

We as clergy, leaders, and members of WeROC congregations and organizations and our WeROC Education Action Team are, as we expect each of you are, deeply disturbed by the vile racist and violent email that someone recently sent to YCS students.  We know that a community that stands together in unity against the perceived divisions that others seek to create and widen among us becomes less hospitable to the actions people like the perpetrator(s) of this distressing incident.

We continue to be committed to building that unity and solidarity in the school community and more broadly, including ongoing work with you on interrelated issues like reducing the damage of unnecessary suspensions and expulsions and expanding our students’ access to early and quality mental health resources.  We will monitor actions taken by the YCS administration and Board as you work with law enforcement agencies and others toward appropriate, effective, and permanent responses to this and other incidents.

Signed, to date, by the following (affiliations for identification only):

Pastor Jeff Harrold, New Beginnings Community Church of Washtenaw County and Chair, WeROC Education Action Team
Anne Brown, WeROC Ed Action Team
Rita Paye,  WeROC Ed Action Team
Peri Stone-Palmquist, Student Advocacy Center
Lois Richardson, WeROC
Carissa Collins Watson, WeROC
Jim Anderson, Strong Tower Ministries
Rev. Christine Thompson, Interim pastor, Emmanuel Lutheran Church (Ypsilanti)
Sheryl Kelly, Reach Church
Charlotte Tillerson, President YCEA
Pastor Keith Geiselman, Ypsilanti First Presbyterian Church
Nancy Heine, AFSCME/Washtenaw County
Martha Kransdorf, Beth Israel Congregation
Cindy Bodewes, Church of the Good Shepherd UCC
Valerie Przywara, WeROC
Erica Mooney, REDY
Tad Wysor, WeROC, First Congregational UCC Ypsilant

WeROC January ’17 Meeting

WeROC Issues Convention, Thursday January 4, 5:30-7:30, Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N Adams, Ypsilanti (Park on street, city lot across Adams, or First Congregational lot at 218 N Adams.) Light dinner provided.

The year is brand new, but there’s nothing new about the serious challenges that we and our neighbors are facing in 2018. Those of us who care about each other and our future together in Washtenaw know we have our work cut out for us, maybe now more than ever.
Thankfully, despite all of our differences — really, BECAUSE of those differences! — we have the ideas and values, the energy and numbers and unity that we need to make meaningful changes in 2018 for all of us in Washtenaw, especially our neighbors who right now are the most vulnerable and the most affected by policies of division and greed.
So bundle up this Thursday, and bring yourself and members of your congregation/organization/network to this extra-special “First Friday” Meeting of the Whole.
We’ll devote our time this month to carefully considering several issues that have risen up, each of which we’ll systematically consider together, and decide which will be best for WeROC to focus on in 2018.
Under our overall banner of County Equity — working to address in all we do the unacceptable inequities across our County — here’s the list of potential issues that some of you have already brought to the table for discussion this Thursday:

  • Mental Health Equity — The massive win for the Mental Health/Public Safety Millage in all parts of our County in November (great work everyone!) will make millions of new dollars available to address the many-sided crisis in mental health related services. At least 4 areas that WeROCers and our allies are already becoming involved in, as County officials begin to make decisions about how the new millage funds will be spent:
    • How the Sheriff’s Department and other local police departments can improve how they address mental health issues.
    • How the Washtenaw County Community Mental Health department can creatively deploy the new dollars.
    • How the system can better address the special mental health needs of our veterans, especially veterans of color.
    • How the system can better reach troubled young people earlier and better, and support teachers and parents, with more mental health and social workers for our schools.
  • Accountability and equity in local economic development projects, starting with the landmark Community Benefits Ordinance being considered by the City of Ypsilanti.
  • Keeping kids in school by reducing unnecessary suspensions and expulsions. Continuing to build on the work the WeROC Education Action Team in recent years, now with a strong bi-partisan state law in place to back up our grassroots efforts.
  • Plus, there are a few larger issues we’ll discuss how WeROC might participate in:
    • Earned Paid Sick Time (Statewide ballot initiative to make sure everyone has time off when they or family is sick without losing their job. WeROC led the 2014 effort in Washtenaw.)
    • One Fair Wage campaign (Statewide ballot initiative that would raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 per hour and phase out the lower wage for tipped workers.)
    • Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival – (Potential WeROC involvement/support in for Michigan piece of the 25-state campaign, including helping build “fusion organizing” for massive grassroots action on moral issues in Lansing and 25 other state capitols, beginning after Mother’s Day this year. More here )
    • Voters Not Politicians (Statewide ballot initiative has already submitted over 400,000 signatures; seeks a fair, transparent, and impartial process for drawing voting maps (that is, an end to partisan “gerrymandering”)).

I hope you’ll agree that there’s a place for each of you on at least one the existing or forming Action Teams and committees on these issues, or others that may be agreed on Thursday. Come learn more, help us decide our united direction, and find out where you might be moved to direct a little of your precious time, energy, and creativity in 2018!

December WeROC Meeting – Thu 12-7

Hello, WeROC members and supporters m
Hoping you can join others helping build our momentum at the December WeROC Meeting of the Whole is THIS THURSDAY, December 7, 5:30-7:30<, at Strong Tower Ministries (134 Spencer Ln, Ypsilanti in the “Annex” building at the south (Michigan Av) end of the lot.)
Setting the Stage:  We’ll catch each other up on the developing issue campaigns that have been building steam
  • Our Clergy and Leader Caucus met last Thursday and began discussed what pieces of the huge crisis in mental health services in Washtenaw an organized community voice might most effectively focus on.  How often do we have the promise of millions of dollars of new funding — generously voted by all parts of the County last November — and the responsibility as residents to be sure those dollars are spent well to help the County as a whole?  Attendees will catch you up Thursday.
  • WeROC and the spontaneous grassroots organizing efforts in Ypsilanti to push for a Community Benefits Ordinance (to involve the community formally in new economic development projects) are exploring how we can all mutually benefit by working together.
  • Our Education Action Team will have a report about the status and proposed plans for continued action to reduce unnecessary school suspensions and expulsions, as well as the potential for new funding provide serious numbers of mental health counselors and social workers in schools, to help reach troubled young people early.

Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

Monthly Meeting Thursday Nov 2

Hello WeROC Community…
Your chance to build relationships and build a better future for everyone is this Thursday, Nov 2!  WeROC’s monthly Meeting of the Whole, 5:30-7:30 Thursday Nov 2, Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N Adams, Ypsilanti.  (Parking across Adams in the city lot, or in the First Congregational UCC lot just to the north.)  Light dinner provided.
It really feels like almost every day there are new attacks on our families and neighbors, attacks that are all the more immoral because they hit people with low incomes and people of color first, and hit them hardest.  Isn’t that what WeROC is about at our core — An effective way for the people most affected.to have their voices amplified and their leadership recognized, and to win actual victories that mean something?  People most affected by wages not moving — by jobs disappearing — by health care (including mental health services) being slashed — by our God-given land, air, water, and climate that everyone needs for a healthy and productive life being desecrated — and by voter suppression and intentional and intentional divisiveness.  Isn’t a powerful, united movement of regular people just what we need at this dangerous time in our history, more than ever?
The campaigns that WeROC clergy, leaders, and members have taken on recently are ripe for additional ideas and vision…
  • We’ll want to hear from people about ideas for getting serious funding back into crucial county mental health services, including the November 7 millage vote, as part of our County Equity theme.
  • Our Education Action Team is eager for more help in exploring how any new mental health funds can also be used to expand the services available in area school districts, supporting young people earlier and better.
  • And we’ll also want to hear each others’ ideas for making sure that in the future, much more transparent processes happen in decisions about economic development projects throughout the area and how WeROC might play a positive role, including involving more people that are have to live with any negative consequences in those decisions.
So bring your passion, your curiosity, your vision of a better future for Washtenaw and join with organizations and neighbors who are also serious about finding new, more effective ways of living out our positive values of unity, democracy, and care for each other — in these tough times when greed and division are winning way too often.  Hope to see you Thursday!
Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

WeROC Statement on Mental Health Millage

A Note to WeROC Members and Supporters:

As many of you know, WeROC participants have been struggling together about how best to address the crisis that has resulted from the immoral de-funding of badly needed mental health services all around our county — especially for residents in eastern Washtenaw and other areas with larger numbers of underserved neighbors. WeROC’s Clergy Caucus and other leaders have now met with several key County elected officials, to inform a collective decision about supporting the County-wide millage on our ballot this November 7.

This has been a tough decision, but the decision by the leaders present to support a YES vote on this millage was unanimous. With little expectation of more funding from Lansing or DC any time soon, the consensus was that we need strong action, and now. The millage would also maintain the Sheriff’s Department coverage of police services around the County, while also supporting jail diversion programs to get people the services they need, when the need them, not a criminal record. The tax increase for the average home (and usually passed through to rentals) would be about “a cup of coffee a week”, as the “YES” campaign says.

Many of us wish the proposal had been less complex, but the need is great and urgent. Plus, if it passes, WeROC is prepared to be on the front lines of pressuring County decisionmakers — the Sheriff, the Board of Commissioners, the Community Mental Health Director, and others — to direct the money where it’s needed most, and with full transparency — including increasing the embarassingly low pay of mental health workers in our County.

WeROC leaders hope you will vote YES for the millage, and encourage you to pass the word to your congregations, organizations, networks, families, and friends.

More information from the campaign is at this link: https://www.facebook.com/yesonwashtenawmentalhealth/

Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

WeROC October Meeting of the Whole

WeROC October Meeting of the Whole, this Thursday, October 5, 5:30-7:30, Strong Tower Ministries, South Building, 134 Spencer Ln, Ypsi Township (first building off E. Michigan Av). Light dinner provided.

Some of the special strengths of WeROC are our commitment to find ways together to address meaningful community issues — in ways that connect to other issues, AND in ways that make us stronger and more united for the next fight. That’s why it’s important for as many of us as possible to meet face-to-face as often as possible, so we can develop and test relationships, learn from each other, take chances together…things that work best in person. Serious input from leaders and members from the faith community, local labor movement, and other parts of the community is so important at a time like this. Please try to make the time to participate Thursday!

We’ll be discussing how two unexpected but important organizing opportunities fit into our “County Equity” theme:

Countywide Mental Health Services/Public Safety Millage (November ballot): Clergy and other community leaders have recently met separately with our first three County Commissioners and are scheduling a meetings with Sheriff Clayton and others We’ll discuss what we’re learning from these conversations, about how a more organized community — congregations, local unions, organizations, and other institutions and individuals working more effectively together — can make a serious difference in addressing the crisis in mental health services and funding in our County — and in ways that are more equitable across all parts of Washtenaw.
Consistent Policies toward Community Economic Development: As the City of Ypsilanti faces the potential of AND the challenges of a major new economic development project (International Village), and likely others, WeROC is exploring how we might learn from the surge in grassroots involvement in the fast-moving events and how we might work with others to develop consistent development policies for the future from the ground up, including the role of Community Benefits Ordinances and Agreements. Not an Ypsi resident? Well, there’s no reason why new approaches to community invovlement in economic development that Ypsi residents are creating with City Council and others, should not not become a model for others around our County and region, right? Another case of “we’re all in this together”!

Support WeROC Allies EMUFT!

WeROC friends and supporters — 

First, an important announcement:  We’ve decided it makes sense to cancel the September WeROC Meeting of the Whole.  In the meantime, our Clergy Caucus has been taking the lead in exploring how WeROC might best participate in the November county-wide milllage vote for mental health and public safety funding.  Expect a report soon from meetings with key County Commissioners happening this week, which may be leading to a major public meeting before November.  Please begin thinking about how we all would turn out big numbers from our organizations and networks for such an event.  More to come about the October 5 Meeting of the Whole..

Now here’s the urgent request:  Our good friends — and WeROC co-founders — EMU Federation of Teachers needs our help at an especially frustrating point in their many months of bargaining.  At the very time when WeROC is ramping up our narrative about moving toward greater equity across Washtenaw County, EMU’s administration is suddenly digging in on a position that would be another blow not just to employees of the University, but more broadly to the the economy of our County, especially in the eastern part that EMU calls home.
Please read below about the administration’s misplaced priorities and their short-sighted effort to “balance the budget on the backs of the lowest paid teachers.”  Then take 5 minutes to call the offices of the President and the Provost as soon as you can.  Say you’re a taxpayer, and you expect your tax dollars to go toward boosting, not draining, the economy of the communities around EMU — which clearly includes a fair contract for part-time lecturers.
We can all be proud of the work we’ve done to build WeROC to this point.  Now let’s show the EMU administration what community solidarity looks like!
Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer   tadwysor@gmail.com
[From David Hecker, President of AFT of Michigan]
 Support EMU Part-Time Lecturers, Call EMU President and Provost
After six months and more than 120 hours of negotiations, EMU administration’s proposals continue to slash job security for Part Time Lecturers, who teach 45% of the courses, and give clear financial incentives to hire new lecturers over existing PTLs.  Lecturers are represented by the Eastern Michigan Federation of Teachers.
EMU’s lead negotiator insisted that monetarily the proposals are “literally everything we have.” and that they need to “establish an entry level tier that [they] can balance the budget on”.
–      This “entry level tier” is a pay cut of $450 per course taught.
–      This “entry level tier” is below the first bargained rate by EMUFT in 2011.
–      Since 2011, tuition at EMU has increased 37%
–      Only 7% of the tuition revenue generated by a typical class goes towards PTL pay.
President Smith’s bio begins: “President Smith has led an active initial year at Eastern, undertaking many positive strategic initiatives.”
–      Are gutting job security and cutting pay for the lowest paid teachers both positive and strategic initiatives on campus? Call the President at 734-487-2211 and insist that a fair contract for Part Time Lecturers is a positive and strategic initiative on campus! 
Provost Longworth said upon her appointment, “Our committed faculty, staff and leadership team serve and inspire students day in, day out with their dedication and commitment.”
–      Does this explain why we should accept devastating cuts for the lowest paid teachers on campus? Call the Provost at 734-487-3200 and demand her dedication and commitment to Part Time Lecturers through a fair contract!
By the way, head football coach Chris Creighton last month was offered a 2.5% raise every year until 2022, bringing his current base salary to $425,000, and President Jim Smith received a $60,000 raise over his predecessor when he was hired for $400,000 last summer. EMU is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the lowest paid teachers on campus while putting athletics and administration first!

WeROC August 2017 Meeting of the Whole

Join us for our next WeROC Meeting of the Whole:

When: Thursday, August 3 at 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: First Congregational UCC Church, 218 N Adams St, Ypsilanti

This month, we will discuss how we can best become involved in designing and passing a major county-wide millage to fund critically needed general mental health related services through the Sheriff’s Department.

Tad Wysor  – tadwysor@gmail.com

July ’17 Meeting of the Whole

Join us today for our July 2017 WeROC Meeting of the Whole:

Thursday July 6, 5:30 PM
New Beginnings Community Church, 4859 Ellsworth, Ypsilanti

(Light dinner provided.)
Here’s what’s happening: If you’ve been to any of our community organizing trainings, you know that the lifeblood of WeROC and MOSES is action…smart, collective, effective action, that lives out our values. Not only that, though, we design our action campaigns to create meaningful improvements and at the same time build WeROC as a powerful local and regional organization. Well, as you read this, WeROC leaders have begun seriously exploring how we can best become involved in designing and passing a major county-wide millage to fund critically needed general mental health related services through the Sheriff’s Department.

Tad Wysor  – tadwysor@gmail.com