International Women’s Day Activities

danGaiMarchFor those who might want to participate, there are activities around the International Women’s Day Strike in Ann Arbor today, March 8 2017:

Rally and March – 5 PM, Liberty Plaza (310 S. Division St), Ann Arbor
Facebook event

Historical background:

The origins of the holiday can be traced back to March 8, 1857, when garment workers in New York City staged a protest against inhumane working conditions and low wages, according to the United Nations. The police attacked the protesters and dispersed them, but the movement continued and led to the creation of the first women’s labor union.

“Fast forward to March 8, 1908: 15,000 women marched in New York City for shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to child labor. The slogan “Bread and Roses” emerged, with bread symbolizing economic security and roses for better living standards.

“Many of those who protested for working rights were young immigrants from Europe who came to the United States seeking better opportunities, says Carol Rosenblatt of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.”…/where-did-international-women-…


WeROC Meeting of the Whole 3-2-17

Don’t forget 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.

Where: Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N. Adams, Ypsilanti
When: Thursday 3/2/17,
5:30 PM – 7:15 PM

Three ways to experience how we’re building healthy collective power locally right now:

  • Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Edmondson will be present as we explore with him how our broad-based, collective voice can be best engaged in continuing to reduce suspensions and unnecessary expulsions. (Thanks to our Education Action Team for organizing this!)
  • Report from WeROC Training Event Planning Committee about the plans-in-progress for our major local community organizing training session set for Saturday, March 25 (to be rescheduled for another date).
  • Keeping the momentum going for all of us to set up and do short but serious one-on-one meetings with those we need in our web of relationships.
One more thing…celebrating community victories: EMU Administration dropped all charges against students who protested the racist grafitti on campus after hours at the Student Center. Broad support from WeROC clergy, local union leaders, allies, and the broader community were key to the University reversing its position! Let’s never underestimate our influence when large numbers of us are united around our bedrock values of community, caring, equality, and solidarity — especially when democracy seems to be in more danger than it has for many decades.


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

Local Solidarity Rallies With Immigrants

Progressives in Southeast Michigan have 3 opportunities today to demonstrate solidarity with immigrants and oppose Trump’s Muslim Ban:

  1. Peaceful Protest Against Immigration Ban (And Everything Else)
    Where: Federal Building, 200 E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor
    When: 12 PM, Sunday Jan 29
    Facebook event
  2. Emergency Protest Hamtramck: We Stand in Solidarity with Muslims
    Where: Hamtramck City Hall, 3401 Evaline Ave, Hamtramck MI 48212
    When: 2 PM, Sunday Jan 29
    Facebook event
  3. DTW: Emergency Protest Against Muslim Ban
    Where: DTW Airport – McNamara Terminal- International Arrivals
    When: 4 PM, Sunday Jan 29
    Facebook event

Last night, unionized taxi drivers with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance used their power in an inspiring demonstration of solidarity with the rally against the Muslim Ban. Labor and faith communities in Southeast Michigan should do the same and stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters.


Ypsi March for Love, Resilience & Action

Join WeROC and other Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor faith and labor friends in  The Ypsi March for Love, Resilience & Action on Jan. 20th-21st. On Friday Jan. 20th, 7pm, at Bona Sera – 200 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti – there will be a pre-march evening of music, performance, and preparation.


On Saturday Jan. 21st, at 12pm, starting at Bona Sera, we’ll march with our community! In the words of the event’s organizers, “this is a time to express our grief and fear about how [Trump’s] political agenda may hurt many of us. But, it is also a time for us to show our RESILIENCE by marching to locations where activists, past and present, have bravely worked to transform our world through abolitionist, women’s, LGBT, civil rights, and labor resistance.”

Save the Affordable Care Act Rally, Sun Jan 15, 12:30

Via American Federation of Teachers:

When: Sunday January 15, 12:30 PM
Where: Macomb Community College, 14500 E. 12 Mile Rd., Warren, MI.

“People are fed up with this GOP attack on our health care and folks in Michigan are ready to stand up and say they have had enough. So join me, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, Congressman John Conyers, Congressman Sandy Levin, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, and Congressman Dan Kildee, along with citizens from throughout Michigan, and make your voice heard.”

WeROC Monthly Meeting – Thurs Jan 5

As we move from the holidays into an uncertain New Year, let’s keep building human relationships, and some healthy strength in numbers, for the serious storms we’re likely to face together.  WeROC monthly Meeting of the Whole, Thursday Jan 5, 5:30-7:15pm, Church of the Good Shepherd UCC, 2145 Independence Blvd, Ann Arbor, between Packard and Manchester. 

Also, consider joining the WeROC table(s) at our “big sister” organization MOSES’ 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr Banquet — always a good program, always important for us to show our support for MOSES. Sign up on Eventbrite here .

Those of you who have participated in WeROC (or MOSES or Gamailiel) trainings will remember this simple, but often overlooked observation: that power comes either from organized money or from organized people.  We’re so used to thinking about power in terms of money that we can forget that second part — that WE have power, too — very substantial power if our numbers are large enough and our unity is strong enough.

Of course the difference is, when we build healthy collective power as grassroots people and institutions, it’s not power based on greed and division, disrespect, hate and fear — no, it’s power based on our best human values.  Values of community. Of caring. Of “we’re all in this together.” Values including — but broader than — our own personal interests. And looking beyond the immediate present to a longer-term vision for the future.  Although there are always those who try to paint these values as signs of weakness, we know that healthy, collective power based on these values and built on solid human relationships is actually the strongest force for human progress and development throughout history.

That’s why the congregations, organizations, and individuals who are joining together as WeROC, and others who consider becoming a part of WeROC, represent one of the true lights at this gravely uncertain time in our country’s and our state’s history. Organizing people is in our name!  We can expect the representatives of “organized money” to try to do what they have said they will do with the new powers they now find themselves with: That is, try to shift even more income and wealth upward, defund programs lower income people depend on, privatize public schools and other democratic institutions, create fear and divide us as working people, damage unions. Overall, they seem hell-bent on just making it harder for the majority of people who don’t share their values to get organized and stand in their way.

There’s no sugar coating it… the economic and social threats to ordinary people may be worse than at any time in a generation. But we come from traditions of faith and solidarity, and we already have a head start on working together. Come help us apply the tools of state-of-the-art community organizing to whatever we need to defend against… and, yes, to win positive victories whenever we can.

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.