Contacting Legislators!

Steve Buckingham, chairperson of the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM-MD) and a member of UUCF, gave an excellent update at today’s Friendly Forum on state legislative accomplishments during the recently-ended General Assembly.  Copies of the handout are available from Steve and in the Social Action Committee cabinet in the atrium. Steve emphasized the need to effectively contact our legislators.  A few years ago at the annual meeting a UULM-MD member told us,

“Call legislators—one rep said she was tired of hearing from UUs, which we take as a compliment! Phoning can be more efficient than letters because security issues delay mail sent via USPS.”

At today’s FF, I said I would re-post from last February 2.  This information, from a member of the Frederick Meeting Friends, is clear and direct.

Work to Pass a Bill that You Passionately Support

State & National Legislators: If you’re in West Virginia click here to track the status of a bill, here to contact Senators, and here to contact members of the WV House. In Maryland, simply click here and type your zip into the bar at the top. And click the underlined to find all US Senators and Representatives.

Then contact him or her. This advice from Friend Anne Buttenheim makes it easier than some other advice I’ve read and it makes sense in today’s world:

“Friends! As some of you know, I used to work on Capitol Hill as the person in charge of all the incoming phone calls to my Senator’s office. I have some insider tips to make calling your reps easier and quicker.

  1. Give your name, city, and zip code, and say “I don’t need a response.” That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.
  2. PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell a piece of your mind, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don’t try to make this up; I could often tell who was lying before I even picked up the phone from the caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan’s ACA poll.
  3. State the issue, state your position. “I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US.” “I am in favor of stricter gun control legislation including background checks.” “I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s it. That’s all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn’t matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.
  4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones on Capitol Hill already have the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well, and for a month now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our Senators could not represent us.

What does this sound like?

“Hi, my name is Mark, I’m a constituent from Seattle, zip code 98***, I don’t need a response. I am opposed to any ban on Muslims entering the United States and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!”

This is how I wish every caller had phrased their message. It makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice. Also, when you’re reading off the same script as 100 other callers that day… well…they can tell.

Pick one issue each day, use the above format, saying I am in favor of _____ or I oppose ______, and call your 2 Senators and 1 Representative on their DC and State Office lines, and you’ll be on your way to being heard.”

Steve noted that sometimes when calling state legislators, your call will be taken by someone who seems to be receptive to hearing more information.  Perhaps even the representative or senator him- or herself.  Be prepared to quickly articulate your reason(s).

More questions?  See Steve, who also is considering conducting an advocacy workshop.

 

Third Annual Book Sale, with Roger’s Photos!

More photos to come, but here are a few!

Update—UUsed Book Sale

Our third annual UUsed Book Sale is Saturday/Sunday, April 29-30, with set-up April 27-28. This sale gives the Social Action Committee (SAC) money to help Kenyan girls with an education, sponsor Student Peace Awards in Jefferson County, WV, and Frederick, put money up front for bus rental to marches, contribute to speakers selected by the Dismantling Racism Team plus much more.

If you can contribute two or more hours, please sign up Sunday at the table near the SAC cabinet or contact writer@marybk.com / 301-712-6828. We especially need:

  • Help sorting and putting books on appropriate tables 4/27-28, 10am-2pm.
  • Help unload donated books before Sunday services April 16 and 23.
  • Monitor Crew (4/29-30)—Keep book tables orderly.
  • Cashier Crew (4/29-30)—Handle purchase (cash only; paperback $.50, hardbacks $1) of books.
  • Clean-up Crew (4/303-4pm)—Return furniture and tables to storage, sweep.
  • Unsold Books Disposal Crew (4/30, 3-4pm)—Load Patricia Cronin’s truck and unload books at Wonder Books or other location TBD.

To have a UUsed Book Sale, we need your books! Please build a box of books to contribute. Take books to UUCF and put in coatroom. Help available for unloading before services April 16 and April 23.

As I mentioned before Rev. Carl’s Banned Questions of the Bible last evening, Phyllis Liddell and I are co-chairs and right now I am the stronger one to do the job! One look at me and you know I need all the help I can get. Please sign up!

UUsed Book Sale: We Need Your Books & We Need You!

UUCF’s Third Annual Book Sale! 

Have you been thinking about a bigger role in social action? NEW MEMBER ALERT (long-time members also welcome)! We need two (relatively) young, strong people to help Phyllis Liddell and Mary Kruhm chair the Social Action Committee’s third annual UUsed Book Sale! Benefits: First dibs on books, camaraderie, satisfaction, heavenly rewards (?).

It’s a time-limited job, with set-up April 27-28, sales Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, and cleanup last day. This sale gives the SAC money to help Kenyan girls in Oltorotua attend school, sponsor Student Peace Awards in Jefferson County, WV, and Frederick, put money up front for bus rental to Women’s March on Washington, and contribute to speakers selected by the Dismantling Racism Team plus much more. Please contact writer@marybk.com or 301-712-6828 to talk further about co-chairing.

 

Potpourri of Thoughts from UUCF Members

From Carol Antoniewicz:

Many of us have been admiring Kenny Wiley’s writing and work as shared in UU World. Please, please , please visit his website www.kennywiley.com. If you identify as Black, I hope you will feel lifted up. If you identify as White, I’m guessing you may squirm a bit but hopefully also feel inspired. I especially recommend “Who are my people?” from Oct 2014. It was referenced on Blacklivesuu.com
We have much work to do together, for ourselves and our suffering world.

From Karen Russell:

From Bill Butler via UUSC, the social action wing of UUA:

The Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world and are currently the target of mass atrocities at the hands of the Burmese military. Aid workers, journalists, and independent human rights monitors have been barred from the area. The Burmese government not only steadfastly denies that any rights violations are occurring, but they remain unwilling and unable to effectively investigate these violations. Establishing the truth is a critical first step in ending the violence and holding the perpetrators accountable. It takes less than a minute to add your name. 

Thoughts about Sunday’s lunch with Islamic Society of Frederick

The first (and only) committee meeting to plan our luncheon with the Islamic Society of Frederick included members of the ISF, UUCF, and two Jewish visitors who work for interfaith understanding, a total of 14 men and women. I went into the meeting with some trepidation: Could we work together? Were our thoughts about food and program for this joint meal similar? And lots more….

My concerns were unfounded. The meeting was one of the most constructive and downright fun I have ever chaired. We planned and laughed and realized we had much in common, with a goal of getting to know and support each other over a meal.

Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. luncheon is almost here and, if you’re one of the 75 UUCF or 75 ISF members or guests, we hope, as we do, you look forward to the event. (We wish our church building were larger and could hold everyone who wanted to attend.)

Oh, and an important note: Tom and Marilou Barratt won’t be able to attend but Tom sent this tag, which you can print off to identify ingredients that might concern.

 

Beloved Community & Alternatives to Violence Intersect

This guest post is courtesy of Nancy Hutchins. She wrote me that “This is one oif the clearest explanations of non-violence that I  have read.” Since UUCF’s March 19 split-plate is Alternatives to Violence—Maryland, it’s a good time to share it.

With my Mind Stayed on NonViolence

Posted: 27 Feb 2017 12:43 AM PST

Last weekend I went to a training on NonViolence by Bernard Lafayette and his wife, Kate, and Mary Lou Finley.  Bernard founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when he was 20 and he was part of Dr. King’s inner circle.  He is now 77, and still fighting for justice.

My reaction to the training was to feel like I was in a familiar place because as a birthright Friend I have literally been raised with the 6 principles of Nonviolence that Bernard shared with us.  In fact at one point when he named the influences on King’s development of his own philosophy of nonviolence he mentioned “the historic Peace Churches” and then listed them out.  Dr. Lafayette also was one of the creators of the original Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop at Greenhaven Prison in NYState.   So my many years of involvement in AVP also made the principals of nonviolence that he shared with us very familiar:

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice, and utilizes the righteous indignation and the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.
2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future.
The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.
3. Attack forces of evil, not person doing evil.
The nonviolence approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reaction to one’s opponents or their personalities.
4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal.
Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grown in a spiritual as well as a humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.
5.  Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.
The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign.  It provides mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to help maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
6.  The universe is on the side of justice.
Truth is universal and human society and each human being is oriented to the just sense of order of the universe.  The fundamental values in all the world’s great religions include the concept that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice.  For the nonviolent practitioner, nonviolence introduces a new moral context in which nonviolence is both the means and the ends.

I realized among other things that having been raised in Chicago where various civil rights leaders from Dr. Lafayette to Jesse Jackson spent time, and also having spent time on the eastcoast in Boston and DC. I was exposed to peace and social justice activists who were deeply steeped in these attitudes so they were normative to me when I moved out to Seattle.  They are not typical attitudes in Seattle whose Wobbly past leans a bit more towards a Sal Alinsky approach that very much identifies opponents as enemies and directs anger at the opponent, often making a person the enemy.   This has also been a painful part of doing peace and social justice work in Seattle for me.  The 5th principal itself comes into things like do you chant angry chants or do you sing songs of hope and determination?  Principal 3 comes in for me to questions of how you pick the targets of protests and the focus of campaigns.

Since history is written by the victors for the most part the history of nonviolence has been obscured or rewritten.  It is way beyond the “white washing” of Martin Luther King’s quite radical legacy.   I seriously during the debates around non-violence at Occupy Seattle had to endure people saying (and meaning it) that nonviolence had never been successful in history except in freeing India and sort of in the civil rights movement.  This is an ignorance of the dozens and dozens of successful nonviolent government change overs that have happened just since WWII and the fact that those are escalating. If you are not familiar with the research of Erica Chenoweth on the efficacy of nonviolence I encourage you to visit her blog https://rationalinsurgent.com/.  Dr. Lafayette did a wonderful job of telling us stories from his many decades of experience with active engagement in non-violence: from Selma, to Wounded Knee to being Kidnapped in Columbia.  I will write more about this in another post.  But I am left wondering why there are not camera crews following around Dr. Lafayette, Dr. Lawson and Rev Jessie Jackson while they are still alive, before this amazing oral history is lost forever.

Dr. Lafayette explained that the civil rights movement distinguished between “non-violence” (the absence of violence which can lead to passive peace) and nonviolence which is the whole significant “technology” that is represented by Kingian nonviolence as described in the 6 principles above and this he said leads to “active peace” a peace that includes social justice.  For me this was a helpful light into why I am often in the room with people who ascribe to non-violence as a tactic and yet know that we are actually not talking about the same thing.  I know I want to live and act from the true Spirit of nonviolence.  While we sang at the end,  sang: “Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Freedom.”  I saw that the words stuck in my head were “with my mind stayed on Nonviolence”!

Bus for

Guest post today is thanks to Karen Russell

BUS LEAVES FOR ANNAPOLIS “DON’T FRACK MD” RALLY, MARCH 2

Don’t Frack Maryland is a coalition of environmental groups with one objective—to pass a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Maryland. On March 2, the coalition is organizing a demonstration in Annapolis. A bus leaves Frederick County at 9:00 a.m. from the Frederick Park & Ride at New Design Rd. (I-70 exit 54) and returns to the same location at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10. To sign-up visit Don’t Frack MD. Questions? Contact Thomas Meyer at tmeyer@fwwatch.org. As of this writing, UUCF members Bob and Jane Ladner, Monica Greene and Karen Russell are known to be going.

Further background information:

The House (HS1325) and Senate (SB0740) bills to ban fracking are scheduled for hearings at the end of February. However, Senate bill (SB0862) aimed at resisting the effort to ban fracking permanently, has been introduced by Senator Joan Carter Conway, chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee. With this bill, Senator Conway hopes to delay the decision to ban fracking for two years, until October 1, 2019. Frederick Senators Ron Young and Michael Hough are among the co-sponsors of this bill. Further information can be found in a blog post by Thomas Meyer on the Envision Frederick website: http://envisionfrederickcounty.org/good-news-bad-news-and-an-opportunity-for-action/

February’s Split-Plate Will Support Frederick County NAMI

NAMI, our country’s largest grassroots mental health organization, has a special association with UUCF. The Howes, long-time members of our congregation, worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness from its early days and were founders of NAMI’s Frederick County chapter. Because NAMI is our February 19 split-plate recipient, I asked Gerry Blessing, a volunteer, to chat with me about what NAMI-Frederick County does. Gerry is a facilitator for support groups and feels these groups, along with Family-to-Family classes and other events and workshops, help participants realize they are not alone in the difficulties they face. “Everyone has a story that’s just about overwhelming, but we all say we wouldn’t trade places with anyone else.”

I hope my few words about NAMI here encourage you to contribute next Sunday, but see the very helpful website that details local NAMI activities, events, and training. Basically, NAMI assists people and families facing mental illness by providing the help an old-fashioned milk stool does, with each of its three legs representing a different area:

All families have issues; NAMI families learn ways to deal with them. Some of the advice Gerry mentioned include:

  • Understand there is no quick answer and the problem won’t go away.
  • Keep a record of interactions. “You forget the trail of hurts and conflicts that happened.” Often this record can be useful, from court documentation to seeing a pattern of behavior that might help a professional better understand how to help.
  • Learn more about Hippa laws that have changed advocacy issues.

Gerry also told me, “For us, the UUCF contribution is significant and goes directly, and only, to our local chapter.” Your offertory on February 19 will especially help NAMI-Frederick printing costs and also provide binders for workshop materials. “That’s big,” Gerry said. Please give generously!

Channeling Your Anger & Frustration → Social Action

Channel can mean hollowing or gouging out, which sounds pretty violent and may be the way we’d like to act these days. A more positive definition is movement in a different direction. Below are some ideas to harness your anger and frustration through social action.

Of course, my first suggestion is to join UUCF’s Social Action Committee. Our SAC general meetings are the third Tuesday of each month, UUCF, room 113. In February and March we are meeting 3:30-5pm but, as daylight hours grow, we will move to 5:30-7pm, which allows us to stay on if Rev. Carl has an ongoing class. Find information on classes here.

The Art of Peace, Sponsored by Frederick’s Four Rotary Clubs

Generations have studied the ‘Art of War’. What if we instead examined the ‘Art of Peace’?

During Rotary World Peace and Understanding Month in February, Rotarians in the four clubs in Frederick County and the community will engage in a highly-interactive facilitated forum to examine and educate about the meaning of Peace.

The four Rotary Clubs will gather at the Arc of Frederick at 6:00 PM on Thursday, February 23, 2017 for a fast-paced, interactive forum titled ‘The Art of Peace’. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations will be provided. Click here to register.

Potluck Dinner with Islamic Society of Frederick

Put Sunday, March 19, 1:30pm on your calendarPlanning has begun for UUCF to host members of the Islamic Society of Frederick as we enjoy an informal gathering to get to know and support each other.

Work to Pass a Bill that You Passionately Support

State & National Legislators: If you’re in West Virginia click here to track the status of a bill, here to contact Senators, and here to contact members of the WV House. In Maryland, simply click here and type your zip into the bar at the top. And click the underlined to find all US Senators and Representatives.

Then contact him or her. This advice from Friend Anne Buttenheim makes it easier than some other advice I’ve read and it makes sense in today’s world:

“Friends! As some of you know, I used to work on Capitol Hill as the person in charge of all the incoming phone calls to my Senator’s office. I have some insider tips to make calling your reps easier and quicker.

  1. Give your name, city, and zip code, and say “I don’t need a response.” That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.
  2. PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell a piece of your mind, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don’t try to make this up; I could often tell who was lying before I even picked up the phone from the caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan’s ACA poll.
  3. State the issue, state your position. “I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US.” “I am in favor of stricter gun control legislation including background checks.” “I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s it. That’s all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn’t matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.
  4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones on Capitol Hill already had the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well, and for a month now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our Senators could not represent us.

What does this sound like?

“Hi, my name is Mark, I’m a constituent from Seattle, zip code 98***, I don’t need a response. I am opposed to any ban on Muslims entering the United States and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!”

This is how I wish every caller had phrased their message. It makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice. Also, when you’re reading off the same script as 100 other callers that day… well…they can tell.

Pick one issue each day, use the above format, saying I am in favor of _____ or I oppose ______, and call your 2 Senators and 1 Representative on their DC and State Office lines, and you’ll be on your way to being heard.”

Work to Dismantle Racism 

Anti-Racism Training Workshop: Saturday, February 11, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. sponsored jointly by Mount St. Mary’s University (MSM), the Frederick County Human Relations Commission, and the Thurmont Ministeriam. The workshop will be held at MSM’s Frederick branch located at 5350 Spectrum Drive, Frederick, MD.

Courage for Racial Justice with Chris Crass, Anti-Racism Movement Builder: Saturday, March 11, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., All Souls UU, Washington, DC. Co-sponsored by 7 area Unitarian Universalist congregations (including UUCF) and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) DC. This event is geared towards white people and open to everyone. Our nation needs more people working for racial justice, and white people have particular roles to play.

See this week’s midweek announcements  or contact Karen Reilly for more information on the the work of the Dismantling Racism Team.

There’s lots more to suggest but chin up and move in a positive direction!