Discerning, envisioning and empowering the way we work for justice within, among and beyond the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville

This opportunity allows you to donate for a good cause and receive beautiful art by undocumented artists involved in the DreamActivist organization.  Are you looking for meaningful art for yourself or as a gift for your friends?  Want to make sure the money you spend goes toward a cause you support?  DreamActivist is a network linked to Puente, NDLON, the NC Dream Team, and other immigration and workers’ rights groups who our UU congregations have supported since 2011 with the Standing on the Side of Love campaign and by sharing our money and time as we are able.

Reposted from DreamActivist.org:
At DreamArtivist we’ll be working with some pretty talented, usually undocumented, artists, helping them showcase their work, and at the same time raising some money to continue ours. Each month we’ll be offering 100 limited edition prints. Each of these prints express the stories of struggle, resistance, and perseverance, through the eyes of the undocumented artists, themselves.

FebPrint

You can grab one print for $20, shipped, or better yet grab the yearly package to get a print every month (only $200 for the whole set).

 

IMMIGRATION: BRING THEM HOME RALLY
Monday, April 14th at noon, a vigil will be held outside Kay Hagan’s office downtown. Ask for justice for those still detained. Skarlett Salazar, whose mom Eva is currently detained in Arizona, will be there, along with several other family members and supporters from around the state.

Update :The past month has been long and difficult for families attempting to reunite through the Bring Them Home campaign. First, some encouraging news and some heartbreaking news: Lupe was released from detention and is now home with her children in Marion. Mariela, a Dreamer from Monroe, was deported without warning Monday night; six others remain locked up in detention centers in California and Arizona. Their families are publicizing their cases and pressuring NC elected officials to intervene.

EARTH AND SOCIAL JUSTICE MINISTRIES MEETING!!
Next meeting: Tuesday, April 22, Potluck at 5:30, Meeting 6pm to 6:45 Sandburg Hall

ROOM IN THE INN
April 20-26 (offsite). In partnership with Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, we will host up to twelve homeless women, and our gift to them this traditional “Easter week” will be a safe place to rest each night, as well as meals for the week. For further information on how you and your family can be part of this springtime celebration, contact Paula Massey at Massey.paula@gmail.com or Iris Williams at mnvegan@charter.net

HOPE RISES!
An Earth Day Celebration at Pritchard Park from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on April 22nd.

Western North Carolina Green Congregations invites you to join us for HOPE RISES!, an interfaith vigil celebrating God’s creation and, in response to our changing climate, calling on people of faith to care for it. We will gather, for an evening of song and ceremony, and to hear a message of hope from local faith and community leaders. Mark Ward will be speaking. All are welcome!

SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVIE NIGHT
Friday, April 25 at 7pm Sandburg Hall, “The American Teacher” Film and Discussion. FMI about Movie Night, contact Charles Wussow at 505-0839.

PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE
Ongoing campaign. Please come and get involved. Tom Dessereau

MOVE TO AMEND
The MABCO Executive Committee Meeting is Monday, May 5 at 7pm at the North Asheville, Library. contact Ruth Christie at ruthachristie@gmail.com

PEACEMAKING POTLUCK
Please join the Peacemaking Potluck on Wednesday, May 14 Discussion of the last twenty stories of A Peace of My Mind, beginning with Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi and American citizen, (p. 72), and ending with Zafar Siddiqui, an American Muslim. The May peace practice is Being for Peace.  Contact Bruce Larson 545-5459.

HAYWOOD RESPITE CARE CENTER
Please donate any of the following items for the Haywood Respite Care Center for homeless, recovering patients: look for the bin as you enter Sandburg Hall. Needs: toiletries, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, toilet paper, powder, cleaning supplies like Clorox wipes, furniture polish, etc. For more info on how to help, contact Barbara Kruszewski at bkruszewski@bellsouth.net

PRITCHARD PARK BREAKFAST
Next date in Summer, 2014. Meet in Pritchard Park to prepare breakfast for those in need. Contact Gene Zimbalkin/ Krestrel3@gmail.com

HUNGER IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY
The Hunger Committee collects healthy food donations to supplement Manna Foods provision for needed families of students at Issac Dickson Elementary School 2x a month. This involves drivers going to Manna to pick up the bags and bringing them to Edwin where we are supplementing with juice, fruit and a protein when space allows. Our biggest need are some folks to be a part of the committee. Contact Susan Steffe/ ssteffe@gmail.com

REPEAL THE DEATH PENALTY
Contact Gene Zimbalkin/ Krestrel3@gmail.com

Reflection: Voter ID law

Our last posting asked our members to turn out for a hearing today, Thursday, April 10 at 6pm in the County Administrative Building Room 130 (200 College St.).  Below, the Asheville Citizen Times included a viewpoint explaining further why it is important that this mot be allowed to produce a chilling effect on voters from lower-income communities, or areas that have historically been populated by people of color.  We strive, as Unitarian Universalists, for a world with peace, liberty, and justice for all, and we do not believe that limiting access to voting will help to achieve these ends.  Therefore, we ask you to come out tonight to witness at the hearing.

A small victory, perhaps, for voting bill
N
orth Carolina’s infamous voter ID law may finally be doing some good, though not in the way most people expected. The results do not change the inherent unfairness of the law.

A little-noticed provision in the law mandated that state elections staffers check the data for North Carolina’s voters, more than 6.5 million of them, against a database covering 101 million voters in 28 states.

Elections Director Kim Strach said her staff has identified 765 registered North Carolina voters whose first names, last names, birthdates and last four digits of their Social Security numbers appear to match information for voters in another state. “Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud,” she said.

“Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.’’

This doesn’t mean 765 people voted in two states. The15 states that checked their rolls against other states after the 2010 elections found only 11 cases that warranted prosecution.

“There may be cases of fraud, but the true scale and conspiracy involved needs to be examined more closely before those with political agendas claim they’ve proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Bob Hall, director of the non-profit Democracy North Carolina.

Republican legislative leaders were quick to claim the news vindicated the voter ID law. House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden quickly issued a joint statement. “While we are alarmed to hear evidence of widespread voter error and fraud, we are encouraged to see the common-sense law passed to ensure voters are who they say they are is working,” they said. “These findings should put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist and help restore the integrity of our elections process.” A 2012 report from the Pew Center on the States showed voter rolls around the country are in fact a mess, with one in eight registrations inaccurate or invalid. Nearly two million dead people were still listed as active voters, and nearly three million had active registrations in multiple states.

Voting in two states would not be stopped by requiring the voter to show a photo ID at the polls. The problem with North Carolina’s solution to whatever kind of voter fraud might be out there isn’t that the new legislation might catch an illegitimate voter or two; it’s that it will throw up barriers to thousands of legitimate ones. For all the issues with the voting system, North Carolina has offered solutions to problems that don’t exist. The voter ID requirement seemed to be designed to thwart people showing up in person and impersonating another voter. That problem does not exist. We have no sympathy for people who vote fraudulently. One only has to look at elections around the world to see how trust in institutions is undermined when voter fraud is rampant. We agree with the mandate to compare voter rolls to those of other states. Frankly, it’s sad it took so long for that commonsense measure to be implemented. We find the allegations of double voting troubling. But at this point allegations are just that, allegations. It’s not unusual for someone to leave the state without canceling their voter registration. The check of rolls showed 155,692 registered North Carolina voters whose information matched voters registered in other states but who most recently registered or voted elsewhere. People who do not belong on the rolls should be taken off. People who vote fraudulently should be prosecuted. But North Carolina’s voting “solution’’ is to make it harder to vote by raising ID requirements, dropping some voting sites and curbing early voting. The aforementioned Pew report showed 51 million voters — a quarter of the eligible population — weren’t registered to vote.

That’s the problem we should be trying to fix.

Citizen-Times viewpoint

This was forwarded from a member of the Earth and Social Justice Ministries.  As Unitarian Universalists, this is an opportunity to defend our 5th principle value of the “use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” 

Here’s a note from Democracy NC about a crucial voting rights hearing happening this Thursday in Asheville. Please attend if you can!

vote

Many of you attended the recent Buncombe County Board of Elections hearing brought forth by the NC-based voter suppression group Voter Integrity Project. The hearings challenged the voter registration status of 182 active and inactive voters in 11 targeted low-income precincts in Asheville. Some of the challenges were dismissed, but this Thursday, April 10 at 6pm in the County Administrative Building Room 130 (200 College St.), the remaining 95 challenges will be heard. See the flyer here.

It’s likely that most if not all of the challenged voters will not be there as many had registered at homeless shelters and transitional housing in 2008 and have never voted. They didn’t commit any “fraud” and their names would be removed from the registration roll in due time following the normal list maintenance process. Please make no bones about it, this type of voter challenging is an intimidation tactic meant to “chill” the political participation in low-income and communities of color. Just like at the preliminary hearing, we need a room full of people who are ready to protect the vote. As you know, an important part of fighting the Voter Integrity Project and groups like it is to make sure they know that people are paying attention by shedding light on their voter suppression tactics.

Since the hearings are quasi-judicial, the general public will not be allowed to speak during these hearings but their presence is crucial.  Also, there will likely be a press conference prior to and/or after the hearing for voting rights activists to speak out.  We have an opportunity to frame the issue for what it is: old-fashioned bullying of our community’s most vulnerable populations under the guise of “voter integrity”. These are tactics that should have been left in the Old South long ago.

For more information, contact Sarah Zambon, League of Women Voters, at sgzambon@gmail.com.

The following statement comes to us via the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice and was co-authored by a number of Young Adults across the North American continent, including Elizabeth Mount, a member of UUCA.  It is endorsed by a broad selection of continental UU Young Adults. 

We understand that the issue of divestment is one which has not yet been decided on a denominational level, and the Earth and Social Justice Ministries of UUCA encourage you to do research, comment on our blog, and use this writing among others in helping you to draw your own conclusions on the issue.  Our UUCA delegates will be called to vote on this issue at General Assembly in June in Providence, RI.

“Religious liberalism affirms the moral obligation to direct one’s effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community.” -James Luther Adams

Opponents of divestment claim it is hypocritical to divest from fossil fuels when we are so utterly dependent on them in almost all areas of our lives.  Rather than undermining the need for divestment, this points to precisely why divestment matters: it is a way of loosening the grip fossil fuels have on our economy, our political systems, and our imagination. It will move us forward towards carbon-restrictive legislation, one of the few tools able to affect the level of systemic change needed to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. In almost every divestment campaign to date, from Darfur to tobacco to South Africa, divestment campaigns successfully lobbied for restrictive legislation of stigmatized firms. Environmental groups have unsuccessfully lobbied for carbon restrictive legislation for years. We believe divestment will help create the political space for such legislation to pass.

The systems that are destroying our planet are large and pervasive. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed in the face of powerful vested interests, and confused and guilty about our own complicity with those interests. It is easy to dismiss any single action as inadequate. On its own,  fossil fuel divestment is certainly inadequate as a response to climate change, but it is one important strategy within a larger movement with an end-game. We can be part of that movement towards a liveable future for all people.

Yes, we may be profiting from fossil fuels, and yes, we could continue to profit from them in the near future. But we have to ask ourselves what it means to invest in an industry like this. What does it mean to profit from–not just participate in, but profit from–unjust social and ecological relationships? When we invest in something, we are saying — in a material and meaningful way — “We want this to grow. We want there to be more of this in the world.” But our fossil fuel use needs to begin shrinking immediately in order to minimize the already-occurring effects of climate change.

Further, because of the movement for legislative restrictions and the increasingly evident unfolding effects of climate change, fossil fuels are a decreasingly sound investment. Stock prices may be affected by stigmatization, and will be affected by carbon restrictive legislation. Financial advisors are realizing fossil fuel companies with large reserves may be significantly overvalued. Financial circles call this phenomenon “the carbon bubble,” and compare it to the overvaluation of mortgages prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Morgan Stanley Capital International’s number one 2014 trend for investors to watch is divestment and options to reduce fossil fuel exposure.

If we want to honor our UU Sources, including: “Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science,” then the choice for divestment is clear. To choose to continue profiting from this industry is to fall victim to the idolatry of money and economic growth which is poisoning our world and our bodies, and doing particular violence to indigenous peoples and other frontline communities. And that false idol is fickle.

This is a question of faith. Do we place our faith in the market, believing we can ensure our future by maximizing the performance of our endowment fund? Or do we place our faith in each other, believing that it is our moral obligation to act with integrity in the present to create a more just and sustainable community together?

Why are we speaking to this issue as young adults? For one thing, younger people will live with the effects of ecological instability to a greater extent, both in terms of time and intensity, than our elders. Young adults are also less likely to see continued economic growth as an inevitable feature of our world, since we understand that a finite world cannot sustain infinite development.  Our material resources have limits, yet there are no limits upon the creative power of intergenerational community committed to working for a more just and sustainable world.

Unitarian Universalists have long been leaders in social and environmental justice movements, and our decision to divest from fossil fuels will build on this legacy.  As Young Adults we pledge to live out our vision of just and loving communities. In Providence, where Love Reaches Out, we will consider the impact of our choices on the world around us. See you there!

The Black Thief Stereotype:
Shopping While Black and Consumer Racial Profiling in the 21st Century
Lecture by Shawn Gabbidon, PhD
http://harrisburg.psu.edu/faculty-and-staff/shaun-gabbidon-phd

If you would like to print out an Event Poster and advertise, please do so.

WNCCEIB is proud to co-sponsor the 6 PM,  Thursday, March 27 visit to UNC-Asheville of Shaun Gabbidon, PhD.  See UNC-Asheville’s detailed News Release about his visit and bio below my signature.  Note: parking is convenient and next to Kimmel Arena.

The Center for Diversity Education is bringing him to town in response to a Mall department store’s false accusation and treatment of Cheryl Johnson, with whom WNCCEIB worked last fall.  Ms. Johnson will introduce Professor Gabbidon and has been working on the planning committee for his visit.

So come learn from a national scholar and expert about this terrible scourge on our land AND support Ms. Johnson as she stands up by making sure shoppers know their rights and employers know how to create employee protocols to prevent  “shopping while Black.”   Ms. Johnson was pleased the store apologized and made things right, but she doesn’t want it to happen to anyone, anywhere.

Criminal justice scholar and racial profiling expert Shaun Gabbidon will present The Black Thief Stereotype:  Shopping While Black and Consumer Racial Profiling in the 21st Century at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, Mission Health System Mountain View Room. The impetus behind Gabbidon’s lecture, according to the sponsors, is a recent false accusation of shoplifting in Asheville, as well as high profile cases alleged to have involved racial profiling in other cities. This event is free and open to the public.

Gabbidon is professor of criminal justice at Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg, has served as a fellow at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute and taught at the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent co-authored books include Race and Crime (SAGE, 2012) and, A Theory of African American Offending: A Theory of African American Offending (Routledge, 2011). Gabbidon has received numerous awards, including the 2009 W.E.B. Dubois Award from the Western Society of Criminology and the 2011 Outstanding Mentor Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Services.

This lecture is sponsored by the Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Christians for a United Community, Asheville Branch NAACP, Asheville/Buncombe Community Relations Council, YWCA of Asheville, Asheville PARC and WNC Citizens Ending Institutional Bigotry. For more information, contact Deborah Miles, director of the Center for Diversity Education, at dmiles@unca.edu or 828.232.5024.

Lee Ann Smith from the POWER Action Group sent this update:

As many of you may know, the CTS site is a Super Fund Designated site of the former CTS plant in our very own South Asheville.  POWER has been working with the EPA for a number of years to clean up the site, but progress has been slowed by stalling efforts by CTS.  Lee Ann sends the following update

A large area of TCE (a known human carcinogen) continues to migrate without control from beneath the former CTS of Asheville plant which sits near the top of a hill. The site is now on the EPA’s Superfund list. Data from July 2009 show extremely high concentrations of TCE in two top-of-bedrock monitoring wells on the the site: 35,000 parts per billion (ppb) and 42,000 ppb. The EPA’s maximum contaminant level for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb. 
 
Because of bedrock fractures, it is not clear exactly where this unconfined mass of TCE is going, but it clearly poses a threat to humans, animals and the environment beyond the site itself.
 
POWER is suggesting that the EPA’s immediate focus be on getting this already-identified source material (TCE) under control and removed as soon as possible.
 
In short, we say:
“Stop the known high levels of contamination oozing uncontrolled from the top of the hill and do it now.”

Feel free to call the EPA and/or our US Senators to express your concern.

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