August 2020 “Justice Matters” Reflection & Celebration / WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Hello, WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

The team of 30+ members and allies who put together our big WeROC/MOSES virtual “Justice Matters” event last Thursday feels that, despite some minor bumps in the road, it was a big success — hope you do, too!  After this Tuesday’s primary, we want to hit the ground running to build on what we made happen, and you can be a part of that, too:  Our next meeting (combined with our August WeROC meeting of the Whole) will be a region-wide Celebration (don’t we need some of that!) and some Reflection on what to do now, locally and regionally, with this powerful cross-racial momentum we’ve built.  This Thursday, August 6, 6-7pm –Register Here:

Also, before you leave this email, please scroll down to briefly learn about two more ways that our strength in numbers is needed right now–

  • A call from our founding institution and partner EMUFT for community support in their contract negotiations.  
  • A County Commission meeting considering a public health/senior services millage for the November ballot.

More on those items below.  But first, a bit more about the Townhall, which you can view if you missed it (or go back for seconds!) at this link.

  • So, 390 of us participated from 4 counties (that’s 400 in organizer-speak!) by Zoom and Facebook Live, and we all showed once again that numbers of organized people who care really shows our power and gets serious results.  At the Townhall, and in the weeks of organizing leading up to it, we met all our goals and then some —
    • spreading understanding of the critical office of County Prosecutor/District Attorney,
    • getting commitments from candidates that we’ll be able to hold them accountable to if they win Primary, including a promise to meet with us county-level events in September, AND
    • helping build the broader movement for serious criminal justice system changes, the broad, united movement that we’ll need to turn the urgent calls from the streets into solid, systemic changes.

We can’t thank those of you enough who found time in your busy lives to help our collective experiment in democracy to happen!

August 4 (Tuesday!) Primary election.  PLEASE make sure you and those around you VOTE.  And if you’re not already helping get out the vote, an easy way to do that from home Monday is to join in our WeROC/MOSES mass phone bank effort, for as much time as you can manage.  Just email Jeremy at jeremywaechter@gmail.com to quickly get plugged in for a last push for calls from home…and THANKS for being a part of this rewarding and effective people-to-people outreach.

And two more easy things you can do right now that can make a big difference:

  • EMUFT (EMU Federation of Teachers), representing lecturers at EMU, was one of the institutions that created WeROC years ago, and has been a faithful partner over the years. Now THEY need OUR help:  After months of what seemed like constructive negotiations for their next contract, EMU’s Administration threw a wrench in the process with an unexpected demand to remove the remaining opportunity for part-time lecturers to move toward full-time positions.  
    • EMUFT has decided that they just can’t accept that, and is asking for allies in the community to show that we’re watching and that we care, and we expect better of a key institution in our community as the bargaining now gets tougher.  Two things they’re asking as many of us as possible to do:
      1. Take a selfie of yourself with a sign that says “#IamEMUFT” and send it to Matt: cooper492@yahoo.com or text it to 734-536-8891 (See mine below!) so they can show tangible community support, AND
      2. Join an in person rally by the Ypsilanti Water Tower on Thursday August 13, 11 am – 12:30 pm, weather permitting and with social distancing and masks.  Example signs to bring: “I support the Part-time lecturers” or “Job Security for EMUFT!”
        • Also, if you prefer, drive around in a circular route around the Water Tower protest area, with supportive horn beeping!
  • ONE MORE THING: Tune into the Washtenaw County Commission meeting this Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30pm:
    • The Board plans to vote at their August 5th Board of Commissioners meeting on a resolution that would add a Public Health and Senior Services millage to the November ballot. If the resolution passes, it will add ballot language asking voters to approve a new levy of .5 mills for six years.  Much needed services at a time of COVID-related financial crisis, but there are also concerns about the extra tax burden, especially on residents of Eastern Washtenaw and other lower-income residents.
      • More about this issue, and the link to join the County Commission meeting, here.  

Questions?  Contact Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out and share our new, improved Website:  werocmi.org —  including the section on “COVID-19 Resources.”

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi.

July 2020 WeROC/MOSES Justice Matters Townhall

The criminal justice system has been broken for a long time, especially for poor people and communities of color. The recent murders of unarmed black men and women have created a national conversation on the system as a whole, but we fear one of the most important agents in the system is being overlooked: County Prosecutors/District Attorneys.

To help us all move together to solidify real fixes to the current system, WeROC and MOSES are organizing a four-county virtual Townhall event on Prosecutorial Accountability and Voter Education on July 30th at 6pm. We’ll learn more about the critical role of Prosecutor and use our strength in numbers to get commitments from the candidates who want our votes in the August 4 Primary Election – from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb counties – so we can hold the winners accountable as they take office. Please register now, and encourage others in your congregation, union, organization, or network to do so as well.

Register for our July 30th Justice Matters Virtual Townhall here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2e5ITr3rTSKMTZm_LFwA0w

Watch the Facebook Live interviews by WeROC/MOSES leaders with the three Washtenaw County Prosecutor candidates:

Hugo Mack: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3157585820994962

Eli Savit: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=296939731454983

Arianne Slay: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1336358936729543

July 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

We’re devoting this month’s WeROC Meeting of the Whole to bolstering the Washtenaw arm of our joint four-county WeROC/MOSES Prosecuting Attorney campaign — toward a major July 30 “Justice Matters” Town Hall.    Join us this Thursday, July 9, 5:30-6:30pm.  Register in advance for this meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ocO2sqzIqGtwccz0Xb7nufZkBoNbNHNbv

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

More info on this special campaign…  

As many of you know, we’ve created several temporary committees that are merging together to build a large virtual “Justice Matters Town Hall”, to get serious public commitments from County Prosecutor candidates July 30.  Thursday’s WeROC meeting will help us bring more Washtenaw folks together — hopefully including YOU! — to build this campaign.

  • It feels like a meaningful way to meet this historic moment, with an election of the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” in Washtenaw and other metro counties – the Prosecuting Attorney.  Here in Washtenaw, it’s been decades since we’ve had an open Prosecutor seat at stake.

At this Thursday’s meeting, we’ll learn more about the critical role of Prosecutor AND continue to build this Campaign over the next 3 weeks.  Several committees that you may want to participate in… on our Voter Guide and candidate interviews, on a deeper version of phone banking, on Poetry and Politics, and on designing a powerful program for July 30 and creating a major (virtual) turnout that day.

And looking ahead, of course we can’t stop at the Primary, or even the General election.  As the grassroots leaders and activists of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and events throughout S.E. Michigan (and in every state and many other countries) are forcing all of us to confront more clearly every day:  We can’t allow ourselves to go back to a bad old status quo where we allow generational poverty and deep systemic racism to thrive. 

  • We want WeROC and our MOSES partners to be a meaningful part of building the kinds of smart, powerful, and durable cross-racial coalitions — locally, regionally, and statewide — that can win fundamental change and build that Beloved Community that feels like it may be closer than we’ve ever seen it.

Let’s keep physically distancing, BUT socially connecting?  

–Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website:  werocmi.org —  section on “COVID-19 Resources.”

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi.

June 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

First, WeROC (virtual!) June Meeting of the Whole will be at 5:30-7:00 pm Thursday June 4 — we hope you’ll join us with the link below.

This heartless virus can take away away lives and livelihoods and our sense of stability; it can keep us away from each other; and it can give us all lessons in what real leadership looks like.  (Elections really do matter, yes?!).

  • But it can’t keep us from finding creative ways of collectively using our hearts and our minds to “triage, transition, AND transform”!  WeROC is so blessed at this time to have access to resources through MOSES and local and statewide allies to make a real difference together for the better.

Here are some things you can do right now that will help us all leverage the great power we have when we’re together, even now.

  • Please take this poll to help us understand the different ways the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting different individuals and groups, and what you think we might do together as WeROC in the coming months.
  • If you haven’t already, please help us gear up to engage the WeROC community by replying to this email with your first and last names, your best email, your best phone number (textable if possible), and your mailing address.
  • Additionally, WeROC (with MOSES) is using the Outvote app to help us all do powerful “relational organizing,” including around local COVID-19 issues and the upcoming elections. If you haven’t already, please download the Outvote app to your phone or device.
    • Once you have it, search for and connect to the MOSES campaign.
    • Then watch for specific WeROC actions to easily share with your family, friends, and members of your congregation/union/organization/network.  We’ll be devoting much of the June 4 meeting to learning more together about Outvote.

So…disrupted as our lives are, please plan to attend the June 4 WeROC Meeting of the Whole at the link below.  Let’s all get better at using using the tools and resources available to us to maximize our collective power together, even from home.

 

WeROC June Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84376837395

Meeting ID: 843 7683 7395
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,84376837395# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,84376837395# US (Chicago)

 

Physically distancing; socially connecting!    

Contact:  Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website:  werocmi.org — especially our regularly-updated section on local “COVID-19 Resources.”

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi.

 

NOTEOne more easy action we can take together THIS WEEK:  Join folks all around Washtenaw in signing up for the COVID-19 Five-Day Equity Challenge from the Washtenaw County United Way.  COVID-19 is exposing the inequities deeply rooted in Washtenaw County. 

  • Daily emails 5/25-5/29 will invite us to explore and confront bias and privilege, on our own and with friends and family.  Sign up here.

May 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

May Meeting of the Whole, Thursday, May 7, 5:30-6:30, Zoom video conference

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…Exploring the special role of WeROC in the local responses to the crises…

Well, as if the disruption, grieving, uncertainty, stress of this time wasn’t enough for every one of us, we have to deal with the ugly reality — now clearer than ever — that some sadly see it as economically and politically beneficial to themselves to try to take advantage of this moment for their short-term and, frankly, greedy purposes.  Bad enough to see them ramp up their constant efforts to try to divide us from each other along racial and economic lines.

  • But now to to see them try to implement policies that would actually shift the health dangers and economic devastation even more to the backs of poor and working families, who were already fighting hard for a decent life…AND then blow the tired dog whistles that hint it’s their own fault.

It’s NOT fair.  It’s NOT moral.  AND it’s NOT a foregone conclusion that we need to repeat the ugly past this time.  Join in WeROC’s conversation and practical grassroots leadership development and action aimed at using this moment to build on what we’re seeing in large majorities of people right now — broad agreement beyond race, income, geography, and politics — that we need to finally lean into where our power really comes from:  love, compassion, shared dreams, and caring for oursleves AND each and every one of our neighbors.

On Thursday’s Zoom meeting, we we’ll be exploring several ideas for how we can bring our special resources to bear alongside the many local efforts, to make sure we end up with MORE equity across Washtenaw County, not LESS, whenever we’re on the other side of this thing!

Zoom Meeting: May 7, 2020 05:30 PM 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83640617169

Meeting ID: 836 4061 7169
+1 312 626 6799

Physically Distancing, Socially Connecting, right?  Contact Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website:  werocmi.org — With the NEW section on COVID-19 Resources.

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi

#     #     #

Joining a Zoom Gathering (Thanks to Church of the Good Shepherd UCC!)

  • Use the unique link and Meeting ID above for this meeting
  • If you are joining by computer, tablet, or smartphone, click on the link.  If you’ve never used Zoom before, you may need to download it and give it permission to use your camera.
    • If you don’t have a camera on your computer, that’s OK.  We won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to see us!
  • You can also call on at the number above from any phone and enter the same Meeting ID.  We won’t see you, but we can hear you and you can hear us!

Zoom Tips and Etiquette

  • Only one device:  It’s best to log into the meeting on one device.  Using multiple devices (i.e., computer and cell phone) can lead to feedback.
  • Menu:  You will have a menu of icons toward the top or bottom of your screen, including Mute, Stop Video, and Chat (sometimes listed under “More”)
  • Muting: In large groups, co-hosts will automatically “mute” you to avoid everyone trying to talk at once.
  • Stop Video: If for any reason you don’t want your camera on, you can click on the “Stop Video” icon, shaped like a video camera.  You will still be on the call.
  • Chat: Since it is not practical to talk all at once on Zoom, the chat feature allows everyone to ask questions or give feedback. The Chat icon is shaped like a cartoon speech bubble.  When you click on it, a chat screen will open up on the side of your screen…the space to type is towards the bottom.

Thanks for your patience!  We know many of you are learning something new and those of us leading the meeting are learning what works as well.

April 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

April Meeting of the Whole, Thursday, April 2, 5:30-6:30, Zoom video conference

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

Well, here we are, all of us suddenly learning together how to adjust our lives to being apart from each other during a huge and scary and stressful health and economic crisis like none of us has ever seen.  But WeROC is about being and working and winning together — and the relationships we build and maintain seem more important than ever, even if we need to be at a distance, right?  

  • So instead of shutting down, WeROC’s leadership team has decided that we — with lots of you faithful members and supporters and new folks, too — have a historic opportunity now to focus together on creative ways that we can all use WeROC as a tool to stay engaged AND be effective together.  

WeROC leaders are of course still figuring this out, but for starters, we want to invite you to join us for our April Meeting of the Whole — for the first time as a Zoom video conference!  The link for this meeting is: https://zoom.us/j/774764359, Meeting ID: 774 764 359Or call in at  929-205-6099; 774764359#.   (Whether you’ve used Zoom before or not, please scroll down for some tips for a successful Zoom call.)

Questions?  Contact Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

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!

WeROC Meeting of The Whole 2-2-17

WeROC Meeting of the Whole Thursday, Feb 2, 5:30-7:15, First Congregational UCC, 218 N. Adams, Ypsi, 48197, between Washtenaw and Emmet.  Light food provided.  We’ll continue our focus on relationship-building for the long haul, and planning a major local community organizing training in March/April.

Dear WeROC Colleagues…so glad that we’re together at a time like this…

 Using our WeROC/MOSES/Gamaliel way of thinking about the challenges facing us, we can see that the power of organized money is up against the power of organized people, especially those among us who were already hurting before the latest wave of attacks on working and lower-income families. Nothing new there, really, right? But it does feel different right now. The people that control huge and growing hoards of organized dollars are getting people who will do their bidding elected to office at all levels. It seems they are beefing up their old techniques and coming up with alarming new ones to try to get what they want — especially trying to keep voters fragmented, discouraged, and weak. And they are more “in our face” than we’ve seen in many, many years.

So what a wonderful blessing that, rather than roll over and wait 4 or 8 years, historic numbers of Americans who care about each other and our country are ALSO brushing up old organizing techniques and inventing new ones. And more quickly and in larger numbers and with more solidarity than most of us have seen, maybe ever. We are beginning to take powerful action together that is nationally coordinated, but also very local — even before the other side can settle in and fully get their footing,

Many of us are participating in these historic, ongoing democratic actions. Among the most important are:  The emerging next local action steps after the inspiring and record-breaking Women’s Marches in DC and 600+(!!) other places.  “Our First Stand” rally in Macomb County and 70 other communities 2 Sundays ago, to save health care (6000+ in the cold in Michigan alone).  The viral downloading of the brand new “Indivisible Guide” handbook, and the 1500+ local Indivisible groups that have already formed to put effective and constant pressure on Members of Congress in every District, Republican and Democratic.  And Rev. William Barber II’s “Restoring the Breach” coalition, building on the experience of the “Moral Mondays” movement in North Carolina, fusing together progressive movements for racial and economic and social justice in powerful new ways in many states. All of these have online portals for plugging in.

And we need you, and all of us, to be a part of figuring out how WeROC and MOSES can play our special roles as things quickly develop. Nobody has all the answers, but we in WeROC have some collective know-how. We exercise a disciplined focus on relationship-building, on building healthy grassroots power, on training ourselves and new partners in techniques shown to work (so we don’t waste that precious volunteer time and energy), and on taking powerful, strategic, smart action together around thoughtful local issues with larger connections.

Next Thursday’s monthly meeting will be our next chance together to “be the grownups in the room.”  We’ll keep fine-tuning our current plans to 1) continue our Listening Campaign to complete “One-on-Ones” with targeted new folks and potential leaders within our organizations and networks and 2) Schedule a major, in depth community organization training event for ourselves and our new and potential allies. Please try to be a part of this major new movement for justice and equality.

Blessings and Solidarity — Tad Wysor, Volunteer WeROC Organizer

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