Months before the election for several Tulsa Public School Board seats, 500 leaders from 14 institutional members of ACTION Tulsa assembled to establish a public relationship with school board candidates and press them to work with the organization on issues surfaced through several hundred conversations among parents, grandparents and students.
Parent leaders like Dania Gaona, told stories around lack of safety for young students walking to school, mental health, teacher support and campus safety.
In Gaona's case, because her three daughters live within 1.5 miles of the school, they are not eligible for bus service. With no crossing guards at busy street intersections, Gaona says her family Ubers to school, but that "we have many children who walk unsupervised to MacArthur across the busy intersection.”
Most candidates publicly committed to collaborate with Tulsa ACTION leaders, who pressed candidates on behalf of their schools, congregation and neighborhoods. The assembly was part of a large-scale effort to build nonpartisan citizen power with the capacity to improve conditions in the community.
After the meeting Tulsa ACTION leader Claire Tomm declared,
"I hope [people] leave feeling inspired to get out and vote in April, and to get more involved, and most importantly just to strike up a conversation with neighbors, community members about what matters."
[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Caldwell, Public Radio Tulsa]
Candidates for Tulsa Public School Board Meet to Hear Citizen Concerns, Public Radio Tulsa [pdf]
After publicly calling on Kent County to put expanded support of childcare on the upcoming November ballot, 120 Together West Michigan leaders, including multiple religious pastors, piled into a County Commissioners meeting to reinforce that call.
Parents, grandparents, clergy and supportive members of the community asked, "How are the children?" before demanding that Kent County allow voters to decide on a millage that would finance the expansion of childcare services for residents.
Advocates Call for Expanded Childcare Funding, WZZM 13 News
Leaders of EPISO and Border Interfaith join with a large and united group of organizations across El Paso in opposing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attacks on Annunciation House, an organization that has been tirelessly serving migrants for decades. Migrants and those who serve them should be treated with dignity and respect, not scapegoated and persecuted for short-term political gain.
EPISO and Border Interfaith represent a broad-based coalition of churches, schools, nonprofits and neighborhood associations. Leaders from across our organization have been active volunteers with migrant shelters in El Paso and know first-hand the invaluable support that Annunciation House and others offer migrants on their difficult journey.
Statement in Support of Annunciation House, Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso
Vatican Official Dr. Emilce Cuda Joins COPS/Metro & West/Southwest IAF for Dialogue About Organizing
COPS/Metro Alliance leaders welcomed the Vatican's Emilce Cuda, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, for a tour of San Antonio's West Side, followed by a two-day conversation about faith, organizing, and the role of the Catholic Church in confronting the crises facing its communities.
Cuda met with local parish leaders and organizers, and toured neighborhoods that have been transformed by the work of the COPS/Metro Alliance in developing neighborhood infrastructure, housing, health care, job training programs, and other economic development measures....
Meeting with organizations like the COPS/Metro Alliance, as well as other communities/organizations in the United States, Cuda said, is helpful to this mission because they’re able to share best practices for and approaches to community organizing....Cuda said that this push for community organizing is in line with the agenda of Francis.
“[Francis] said the way to arrive to a better life is better politics, and the better politics to him is a social dialogue, and my work is how to help to his agenda, so to open different ways to build bridges, to start a social dialogue between people that have a different interest and different necessities.”
Vatican Official Says Pope Francis Will Cause New Social Dialogue in Argentina, Crux Catholic Media [pdf]
On Friday February 16th, TMO leaders gathered a press conference to call on Governor Greg Abbott to overturn the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) permit that would allow construction of a concrete crushing facility next to the LBJ Hospital. Concrete crushers can have dire consequences for the communities that surround them including particle and noise pollution, damaged roads, and cracked windshields. Houston Public Media warns that the risks of fine particle exposure can include "elevated levels of heart disease, stroke, asthma, cancer and other respiratory issues."
To sign the petition and voice your support, click here.
Community Leaders Urge Greg Abbott to Reverse Permit for Concrete Crushing Plant Near LBJ Hospital, Houston Public Media [pdf]
Community Organizers Ask Governor to Pump the Breaks on Concrete-Crushing Facility, Houston Press [pdf]
Houston Religious Leaders Protest Concrete Crushing Plant near Hospital, Chron.com [pdf]
Religious Leaders Join Opposition Against Proposed Concrete Plant by LBJ Hospital, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Urges More Cities and Counties to Invest in VIDA
Valley Interfaith leaders Rosalie Tristan and Joe Hinojosa celebrated VIDA's recent fundraising success as the culmination of 28 years of dreams and hard political work. Almost three decades ago, Valley Interfaith established and, over the years, sustained the labor market intermediary to help transform jobs in the Rio Grande Valley.
Valley Interfaith Leaders Proud of VIDA's Success, Rio Grande Guardian
“Tax breaks should be decoupled from school funding and from school board decision making, period,” said Rev. Miles Brandon, a [Central Texas] Interfaith leader and pastor of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church...
Brandon said the new program is better than what existed previously because it no longer includes direct payments to schools, which he described as a “perverse incentive” for districts to approve deals despite the cost to the state's overall education system. He also said the decrease in the total size of each tax abatement is an improvement over Chapter 313, as is the requirement that each deal must pass the governor's office.
But he said Austin Interfaith will continue to encourage school board members to vote in opposition to any request by a company to participate in the new program...“As we see how this law unfolds, I think we will continue to oppose" applications, Brandon said."
[Photo Credit: Arnold Wells, Austin Business Journal]
What we kept hearing was housing, affordable housing in particular, and rental housing,"
said Barb Quijada of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler.
....VIP had been hosting open house meetings for about two years, where representatives ask people about the real-life problems they are confronting.
Interfaith Group Maps Campaign for Dominion, Arizonan SanTan Sun
“Despite our differences in theology, we have so many things in common across the different denominations,” said Quijada, who is a member of Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
One of those things in common is affordable housing in the Valley. These congregations, which include Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians and even Muslims, are all coming together through VIP to fight for issues they believe are worth fighting for.