November 2017:Accomplishments recognized, actions to organize!
For the past few years, UUANI has focused mostly on the first part of our mission: strengthening UU congregations through faith-rooted relational organizing – building a base for powerful collective action. This year, we are starting to pivot toward the other two parts of our mission: connecting UUs with each other and with partner organizations, and mobilizing to put our values into effective action together.
Our Actions of the Week are one way we have begun mobilizing our network. So far this year, almost 700 UUs have sent over 5600 messages to state and federal officials in support of policies reflecting our values. Here are some successful campaigns we helped win this past year:
Passing a state budget funding more compassionate and competent government through targeted advocacy by congregations with legislators in key districts around the state (in partnership with the Responsible Budget Coalition).
Passing a bill expanding worth and dignity for citizens returning from incarceration by dramatically expanding eligibility to have their records sealed (in partnership with Community Renewal Society and the UU Prison Ministry of IL).
Passing a bill respecting the interdependent web of existence through one of the strongest clean energy bills in the country (in partnership with the Illinois Climate Table).
Passing a bill expanding worth and dignity for people who are transgender by allowing them to correct their birth records to reflect their gender identity (following the lead of Equality Illinois).
Passing a bill promoting welcoming communities with liberty and justice for all by limiting local police involvement in federal immigration enforcement through the Illinois TRUST Act (in partnership with Protected by Faith and other organizations).
We look forward to hosting local gatherings in several parts of the state this spring, where we will roll out our current campaigns:
Economic Justice: Fair Tax (with the Responsible Budget Coalition) – for a more equitable state income tax in Illinois. UUANI is well placed to move this issue as there are UU congregations in or near all 10 districts whose representatives voted across party lines to override the governor’s veto and pass the state budget.
Restorative Justice: Love Resists (a joint campaign of the UUA, UUSC, the UU College of Social Justice, and the Coalition of UU State Action Networks, along with local partners) – to end cash bail, limit solitary confinement, ban the box in higher education, and do voter engagement (deep canvassing).
Environmental Justice: Ready for 100% (with Illinois Climate Table) – a voter engagement campaign (pledge cards) promoting 100% renewable energy.
Intersectional: Poor Peoples Campaign (with Rev Barber, UUA, Faith in Place, CRS, etc.) – a public witness campaign lifting up moral values in the political process.
Early next year, we plan to send out an action kit to each UU congregation offering ways to get involved in these campaigns, as well as resources for small groups or committees to reflect on their social justice work.
These continue to be difficult times. But there is much we can do when we organize ourselves and come together with others to put the strength of our values into the public sphere. To paraphrase Wayne Arneson’s blessing:
Take courage, friends.
The way is often hard, the path is never clear,
and the stakes are very high.
For deep down, there is another truth:
We are not alone.