Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Movement’

Day 19: Addressing Systemic Inequalities

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The message below went out on Friday, February 3, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.


Recently while browsing around the Internet, likely procrastinating instead of studying, I came across the “We are the 99 Percent” blog. Though I have mixed opinions and a certain amount of skepticism about the Occupy Movement, I’ve been riveted to the compelling first-hand stories shared there–by the veteran that is supporting her children with food stamps, by college students like me that are struggling to get by and faced with uncertain job prospects and a mountain of debt upon graduation, by young parents that are suffering with untreated health conditions because they don’t have insurance.

However, I know that not all communities are facing these difficult economic times on equal footing. Numerous reports demonstrate that traditionally marginalized communities–people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people–are particularly impacted by our country’s trying economic situation and its subsequent effect on access to employment, housing, and healthcare.

The core goal of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign is understanding and responding to identity-based discrimination. For today’s daily action, let’s lift up the challenges faced by those who are already discriminated against because of their identity by submitting a letter to the editor. You can draft your own and submit it to your newspaper, or use our online tool.

Write a letter to the editor using our online tool.

You can also use the fact sheet that we have compiled on economic justice in marginalized communities.

Download the factsheet.

Please take a moment today to educate yourself and your community about the systematic inequalities faced by certain members of our society. Today I will be writing my own letter to the editor of my hometown paper, speaking up in my own way to call for economic justice for our society’s marginalized communities.

Will you join me?

In faith and love,

Meredith Lukow
Program Assistant
Standing on the Side of Love

Jesse Jackson, Meet Occupy Philly

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peter and more in tennt

Rev. Peter Friedrichs, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and others in the Quaker-sponsored interfaith tent. (Credit: Ashlee Espinal/Philly.com)

Famed civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson stopped by Occupy Philly this week to start a discussion about bringing more diversity to the Occupy Movement. While he was there, he asked our own Rev. Peter Friedrichs to lead an interfaith group in prayer before the press conference. Check out the video here.

Rev. Jackson came to Philadelphia with the goal of engaging clergy and people of color in a meaningful diversity dialogue. Some people of color had previously felt unwelcome in the Occupy Philly community and Rev. Jackson wanted to discuss the creation of a more diverse movement. They also talked about how the  economic justice issues at the heart of Occupy often have a disproportionate effect on people of color.

philly inquirer

Rev. Friedrichs and his Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt made it all the way to the cover of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Before he left, Rev. Jackson made a commitment to link the interfaith working group at Occupy Philly with local African American church leaders in an effort to incorporate more voices into the movement.  He also drew a clear connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Occupy Movement, describing it as a continuation of the same work. Rev. Friedrichs reported that it was inspiring to be in Rev. Jackson’s presence and that the discussion left him energized and hopeful for the broadening of the Occupy Movement.

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Rev. Peter Friedrichs is the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County. Read more about his work at Occupy Philly in his blog posts (here, here, and here).

Rev. Friedrichs is just one of the many UU ministers and lay people across the country that are involved in the Occupy Movement. Join the conversation about Unitarian Universalism and the Occupy Movement at the OccUUpy Facebook group.

Occu-Pie Thanksgiving Week

5 Comments | Share On Facebook| Occu-Pie Thanksgiving Week Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 08, 2011
Rev. David Miller

Rev. David Miller

This brilliant idea comes to us from Rev. David A. Miller, Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Solana Beach, California.

He writes:

AN IDEA!!!

OCCU-PIE DAY!

Some day Thanksgiving week, a day chosen locally, a short service of gratitude, thanks and sharing sponsored by the Interfaith Community. An event where the community of Occupy supporters and friends bring pies of all sorts, (chicken, turkey, tofu, pumpkin, peach, apple) to share together in thanks and gratitude for those holding the space at your local Occupation and as a day of thanks for all those lifting up the issues of fairness, compassion and equality being shared by this movement. Mostly, it is a day of gratitude for what we already have, including each other.

UU Congregations in the DC Area Feed the Occupy Movement

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Post by Justin Martin, Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston and a ministerial candidate in the UUA.

Like many Unitarian Universalists, the message of the #Occupy movement and our local Occupy DC protesters resonated with me. But I didn’t know what to do about it.  Showing support in person is important, but I wanted our church to support the movement in a way that would allow our congregation to work together.  Several ministers in our area and other Unitarian Universalists felt that this sentiment was shared by many other people.  So many of us were searching for some way to show our support for our local Occupiers and stand up for the economically oppressed in our nation.

OccupyDC

Our faith calls us to strive for justice, and our nation’s growing income inequality is fundamentally unjust.  Recent statistics show that those in the top fifth of household incomes make more than all others in our country combined[1] and of that top fifth, most of the wealth is concentrated among the top one percent.  This trend has a much larger impact on minorities. Poverty rates for those in historically marginalized communities continue to grow and are almost double the median national poverty rate.[2] The #Occupy movement brings focus to this disparity and its goals could make significant progress to alleviate the unequal burden on oppressed communities. We naturally want to sustain their momentum and support reaching these goals.  So, after putting some thought to the task of how we could best help them keep going, we decided to do one of the things churches do best: feed people.  Churches use food to build community.  We serve meals in times of celebration, and we serve meals in times of mourning.  By sharing our food with the #Occupy community we could serve them in a way that brings us closer together.

From the outset it didn’t look easy.  I went down to the Occupation to talk to them about what feeding the entire protest group would take.  When I walked into the food tent I was met by three people who looked busy and more than a little stressed.  I met a man named Doug who said he had been cooking for the group for two weeks.  When I told him about our plan to bring meals to them Doug got really excited.  Apparently keeping everyone fed as best they could was really tough and took  up most all of his time.  He would love to have some time to actually do some protesting, rather than just cook.  He said that each night he and the great people in the cooking tent try to feed around 150 people using little more than camping stoves.  I was blown away.  Even with the full kitchen in our church I wasn’t sure if we could put together a meal for 150, and they were able to make it happen from a tent.

After we found out what the group would need for their meals, a call went out see who would be interested in helping.  The response was overwhelming.  A vast network of volunteers organized from all around the DC region, and plans went into motion to bring huge amounts of food to the Occupation site.  In the end, the Unitarian Universalist churches and congregations in Arlington VA, Fairfax VA, Reston VA, and Rockville MD came together to bring meals for each and every protester in Freedom Plaza for four nights.  Each night when our group brought down the food the thanks we received was amazing, and we heard from several Occupiers who said that it really brought the group’s spirits up to know that there were so many people supporting them. The food did what it was intended to to – energize the movement and support its mission.

UUCR Works Together to Feed Occupy DC from Justin Martin on Vimeo.

The excitement was not limited to the Occupation site.  In our UU community, the support from our congregations was inspirational.  At the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, VA we were able to raise enough money to pay for all of the food that we cooked, and we still had enough left over that our minister, Rev. Erin Gingrich, was able to purchase a massive amount of vitamin C tablets that the protesters had requested so that they can stay healthy with the weather getting cold.  In fact the excitement has spread to even more congregations so the greater Washington DC-area churches are going to feed the protesters dinner for another week.  Right now we have plans to bring meals to the Occupy DC group in McPherson Square from Monday, November 14th through Friday, November 18th.

The massive outpouring of love that these churches have shown reflects our faith in the possibility of creating a more just and equitable society for all people. The connections our churches have made with the Occupy movement has energized both sides and created a wonderful larger community. When we share our resources and our time in this way we also share the hope and vision that lie at the heart of the Unitarian Universalist movement.  There is no greater work we can do than this.


[1] http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/WebSummary.pdf

[2] http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb11-157.html#tablea See Table B

Doing, Thinking, and Feeling at Occupy

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Doing, Thinking, and Feeling at Occupy Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 05, 2011
oakland

First Unitarian Church of Oakland at Occupy Oakland General Strike Day

Last week Rev. Parisa Parsa and Standing on the Side of Love asked you to join in a dialogue on what you are doing, thinking, and feeling about the Occupy movement.  The result is a vibrant and ongoing conversation about the movement’s inspiring nature, how UUs are contributing, and what more needs to be done.

A number of particularly thought-provoking comments are highlighted below.  If you have not already shared your thoughts, please visit Rev. Parsa’s blog post and join the discussion. How are you contributing?  Do you have reservations about the movement? Does this relate to the social justice work that your congregation is already doing?  Let’s keep the dialogue going.

“We have folks of all faiths listening to people’s stories, praying with people, and holding worship services of all kinds in the park… Every time I go there, I am impressed by the peacefulness of the gathering, and the cooperative nature. It continues to grow, and it continues to be a model of how we can be at our best.” —Madelyn Campbell

“I wish I could do more to support this movement… It was difficult finding the time to prepare the stew and physically challenging to carry it to the site from a distant parking space. But if a large number of people were to prepare food just once, we could help keep this movement going.” –Madeleine Cousineau

“It seems to me that if yellow t-shirts and SSL banners are to be in an OCCUPY location, that accompanying Ministerial leadership is essential…I would like to support a UU presence at the DC OCCUPY, but at strategic times and with articulate faith leadership.” –John Gubbings

“These [General Assemblies] are attracting about 100-150 folks who are a diverse mix of quite sincere and very well informed men and women of all ages, descriptive of a variety of local ethnic and economic constituencies. We engage politely and respectfully in a leaderless process that is emboldened by a level of professionalism that is undeniable and compelling. The desire to project love and respect in face of those who may have other competing agendas, is a constant theme of our conversation.” –George Higgins

“I really feel that the Occupiers are living our UU values in real time—with their bodies, hearts and minds. The level of organization, harmony and community democracy is simply astounding.” —Linda Hodges

“The spirit of empowered unity is exhilarating for the most part… I feel a deep need to connect with other UU clergy. I yearn for some other UUs with whom to reflect theologically.” –Kate Lore

“I am affirmed in my sense that it takes a big commitment to put your body on the line in this protest, and those of us who are glad to see it happening can be supportive in tangible needed ways if we have the courage to reach out and find out what is needed. We may find inspiration for our commitment to democracy, new ways of communicating, or the discipline it takes to put our values into action.” –Sonya Sukalski