HOW CAN I MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK?

During these uncertain times, we can join with others to act for justice by strengthening community and responding to injustice in its many forms.  Here are some ways you can put your Unitarian Universalist faith and its principles into action this week, and every week.

Saturday, March 11, 3-6 pmWASHINGTON RISE WITH STANDING ROCK.  Gather at Heritage Park for a march to the Capitol Building.  Prayer and blessing of the water at Heritage Park, followed by a peaceful march to the Capitol Building in support of the local organization, We Are Still Standing with Standing Rock and Clean Water, which opposes disregard of treaty rights and religious freedoms of native people.

1st) WE WILL GATHER FOR PRAYER AND BLESSING OF THE WATER at Heritage Park 3:00 pm
2nd) LOCAL GRASSROOTS LEADERS WILL GUIDE US ON A PEACEFUL MARCH to our Washington State Capital’s Legislation Building’s North Steps at 3:30 pm
3rd) WE WILL ALL GATHER TO HEAR OUR WASHINGTON TRIBAL REPRESENTATIVES TALK ABOUT THEIR ISSUES AND CONCERNS 4:00 TO 6:00pmsupport for our local Tribal Members and Water Protectors who continue to Pray for our Environment and Protect Our Mother earth. We are saying No More Pipelines! No More Coal! No more Fracking! No More Mining! Divest to Invest in Cleaner Energy! This is why we are honoring the Indigenous Coalition at Standing Rock.

Monday, March 13,  4-5:30 pm, at OUUC.   JUSTICE BUILDING INNOVATOR Julia Cochrane invites OUUC members and friends to talk about passions and engagement around social and environmental justice issues. She will also discuss how our statewide and national organizations, WA UU Voices for Justice, NW UU Justice Network, and UU Service Committee, can be greater resources for WA UUs. Her work is sponsored by the UUSC.

Thursday, March 16, 3-5 pm, at Lacey Timberland Library, 500 College St., Lacey.  BUILDING UNDERSTANDING IN CHALLENGING TIMES.  The Dispute Resolution Center and the Lacey Timberland Library invite you to a free communication and conflict resolution workshop that will focus on communication tools to help participants deepen their understanding of, and identify common ground with, those who have different perspectives, opinions, and experiences.

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 COMMUNITY KITCHEN DINNERS.  Kitchen Crew Coordinator Karmel Shields writes:

“Congratulations to the 5 hearty souls who came last month:  Bill, Mike, Sally, Diana, and Me!

In March we have two dinner services – March 17 and 31.  We will have Irish-inspired dishes:  our signature dish, Cottage Pie on 3/17 and the classic baked potato (what I like to call an Irish Sundae), with broccoli cheese sauce, sour cream, bacon bits, green onion, cheese and butter!  Ideally we need 8 kitchen crew members…so please join us if you’re able!

There was a great meeting with the Community Kitchen staff last week. A focus will be on food recovery and food composting, and more training on food safety. We also learned that the Community Kitchen still needs to raise $10,000 by June 30 to balance the kitchen budget.  If you’d like to make a donation to the kitchen, please consider it.

Kudos to all of you too!  The guest surveys came back.  Folks love our food, feel welcomed and full at the end of the meal!  What more can we ask?  Mark your calendars for the 5th Fridays in 2017: March 31, June 30, September 29 and December 29.  Please feel free to invite friends and family to add more crew members to cover our 3rd and 5th Fridays. I will be reaching out to our OUUC members too!”

Contact Karmel if you would like to be part of OUUC’s Community Kitchen Crew.  They have a great time cooking, serving, and meeting the guests!

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CONCERNED CLERGY OF OLYMPIA RESPOND TO EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR NEIGHBORS

Several of our local faith community leaders have formed Concerned Clergy of Olympia in order to, through our shared identity, to quickly address issues of common concern.  We felt an urgency to do so, since the executive orders are announced almost daily.  Recent statements express their solidarity with persons who feel targeted for their ethnicity, religion, or gender identity.    Our statement supporting the historic tradition of religious sanctuary was published in this column last week.

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THANK YOU!

BOOKS, BROWNIES AND BEANS continues to benefit programs supporting the homeless in our community.  Proceeds from last year’s sale, which had been held pending dissolution of Out of the Woods family shelter, were disbursed last month by Faith in Action Ministry Leadership Team.  Three life-giving and life-affirming community programs serving the needs of our homeless neighbors received the following 2016 funds: Interfaith Works’ Warming Shelter, $11,000; Community Kitchen, $1,000; and the Free Clinic, $707.

2017 BB&B sale proceeds (over $12,500 net!!) will be distributed to: Interfaith Works Overnight Shelter; Community Youth Services shelter for youth; Sidewalk; and Quixote Village.

OUUC’s financial support for programs to assist our community’s homeless persons is the result of the work of an amazing team of volunteers headed by chair Harmon Eaton.  Their work is one important way our congregation lives out its mission to “open minds, fill hearts, and transform lives.”

Much gratitude to OUUC book donors, book movers, booksellers, and book buyers!

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DARYL RODRIGUES, now the former Director of Thurston County Public Defense, is a consistent and powerful voice for criminal justice reform.  He is a consistent friend and inspiration to OUUC-based Justice Not Jails, making us aware of policies and laws that disproportionately affect the poor and people of color.

Recently Justice Not Jail’s Steve Tilley nominated Daryl for the Washington State Bar Association’s Local Hero Award.

Want to respond to keep Daryl’s ideas and justice moving forward in Thurston County?  Here are some ideas from Steve Tilley, chair of Justice Not Jails:

  1. Let the County Commissioners know about your disappointment at Daryl’s dismissal and ask what new direction they intend to take since they said that was one of the reasons.
  2. Urge the Commissioners not to hire Daryl’s replacement in secret. When Daryl was interviewed, it include a panel that included judges, staff at the Defender’s office and the Washington Public Defender’s Association. This could even include a member of the public so we know the person will not just be an administrative caretaker.

You can speak to the County Commissioners at the public comment period at 2 pm at their Tuesday meeting or write an email to any or all three of them at  http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/bocc/

Here are some longer-term actions.

  1. Office of Public Defense
  1. Urge creation of an independent board to oversee the work of Thurston County Public Defense. This board could provide an independent view of the office operations and engage with the community about defense in the criminal justice system.
  2. Research the American Bar Associations statement on political independence of defense in the criminal justice system.
  3. Compare the tenure and experience of attorneys in the Prosecutor’s office versus attorneys in Public Defense.
  4. Work to retain the current Public Defense budget and provide a means for the office to respond to increased case filings.
  5. Establish a fixed term of employment so the Public Defender’s work is not influenced by political interference.
  6. Investigate whether the Triage Center is working as intended. Are jail inmates being sent there for evaluation? Can clients make court appearances within the facility rather than being strapped to a gurney and rolled into court?
  7. Law and Justice Council
  8. Establish Public Defense as a formal member of the Law and Justice Council.
  9. Encourage the Law and Justice Council to engage the community on criminal justice issues.
  10. Encourage the Council to make progress on the initiatives they have identified.
  11. Keep non-violent offenders out of jail. Studies show that even a few hours in jail increases the risk of re-offending.
  12. Institute a diversion program for 18-24-year-olds. This has been funded by the County but not implemented due to lack of criteria from the Prosecutor.
  13. Urge more use of electronic home monitoring for non-violent defenders rather than keeping them in jail until their trial. Some are kept in jail to ensure that, if they are convicted, their credit for time served does not include time on home monitoring. This is not fair to defendants who are innocent until proven guilty.
  14. Bureau of Justice has statistics/report on how people who are jailed because they can’t make bail is counterproductive–it increases the percentage of people who re-offend.
  15. Support hiring police and jail employees with criminal justice and psychology education.
  16. Investigate why there has been a large increase in cases filed by the Prosecutor.
  17. Encourage a Community Conversation on the topic, “What is True Public Safety?” This could bring in a broad range of things: health care, mental health care, housing, treatment for substance abuse, changing the laws and changing the practices of law enforcement and the criminal injustice system.
  18. Coordinate among groups working on justice issues in Thurston County
  19. Create a working coalition of groups working on justice issues in Thurston County to share strategies and experience.
  20. Create a website to identify criminal justice reform needs that would increase true public safety while making the system more effective and humane.

Carol McKinley, faithinactionministry@ouuc.rg