E-Newsletter: January 2016

E-Newsletter: January 2016

 

 January, 2016

ISAIAH News: Acting on our Faith
to Create a Different World

The People’s Congress

On Saturday, December 12, over 500 ISAIAH clergy and leaders spent the day at The People’s Congress with 1,000 leaders from 15 other organizations to help shape an emerging people’s movement.

Together, we committed to break free from the limits of a movement compartmentalized by issues and to unite around a power compass that allows us to see the work we all do as part of a larger effort to transform our state.

This was no small accomplishment, especially given that there are so many forces that divide us by faith, by race, by class and by geography. Despite the things that keep us apart, we came together and dedicated ourselves to finding common ground while acknowledging our differences. We came together because of our common belief that we could build a better Minnesota where the dignity of every person is not only protected, but nurtured. Read the full article here

Mass Incarceration

“There is so much violence in your silence.”
– Spoken word poetry at 2nd annual BRIDGE event

As we enter 2016, we continue to work toward the abolition of the sins of mass incarceration. We remain vigilant in our efforts to disrupt the school to prison pipeline; to advance juvenile justice and sentencing reform; to pursue the elimination of mandatory minimums and to restore the right to vote to formerly incarcerated people. You can keep up-to-date by joining our “Faith Can End Mass Incarceration” Facebook group.

•    In a big victory for our organizing work, the MN Sentencing Guidelines Commission voted to reduce the severity of sentences for 1st degree drug sales and possession. More than 100 people attended the public hearing and a press conference organized by ISAIAH and Jewish Community Action to support changes to sentencing guidelines. Congratulations to the many ISAIAH clergy and leaders who testified, called, wrote, showed up and held prayer vigils over the past few months to make this happen. (Photo Above)•    Governor Dayton took a laudable stand last week against the major expansion of prison beds and the re-opening of Corrections Corporation of America’s long-shuttered facility in western Minnesota. Governor Dayton’s stance supports ISAIAH’s position that Minnesota should be focused on closing prisons, working on rehabilitation and getting people reentered into society. For-profit incarceration in a racially unjust criminal justice system is a profound violation of human dignity.•    On the anniversary of Dr. M. L. King’s birth, a group of ISAIAH leaders gathered to pray before a Prison Population Task Force meeting where task force members were discussing “what works” in evidenced based practices in corrections. As appointed officials, lobbyists, and prosecutors passed by, ISAIAH leaders prayed they would look deep into their hearts and find the courage to work for wholeness, not just a paycheck or a re-election. As people of faith, we know that mass incarceration not only “doesn’t” work but has enormous costs to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.•    A delegation of ISAIAH staff and leaders attended the 2nd annual BRIDGE event at Lino Lakes prison on January 13. A few years ago, Kevin Reese, an inmate at the Lino Lakes state correctional facility, heard Voices for Racial Justice community organizer Vina Kay on a radio show. Kevin wrote to her, she responded, and soon after he started organizing fellow prisoners as part of the BRIDGE partnership. Read the full article here.

•    ISAIAH organizer Alexa Horwart teamed up with Carleton College student (and former ISAIAH intern) Todd Campbell to lead a power analysis training on Mass Incarceration for 85 Carleton students in Northfield focusing on who benefits, who suffers, and who makes the decisions.  (Photo Below)

 

The Whole Creation: A Faith Summit on the Environment and the Economy

As Pope Francis exhorts us to organize to heal and care for our common home, ISAIAH leaders are starting to confront this reality: the people hurt most by an energy system based on fossil fuels are the people who pay more of their income to support that system. Even as the state finds more and more ways to give people access to clean, renewable energy, low and many middle income people are being shut out of participating in the shift to a green economy.

The danger of doing nothing is that more and more people of means will find ways to tap into renewable energy, leaving a smaller, poorer group of people to pay more for a system that continues to contribute to global warming and is rapidly becoming archaic.

From Circle Pines to Northfield, from Minneapolis to Faribault, ISAIAH leaders have decided it’s time to take action. Specifically, we are uniting to hold a public meeting where we will ask Xcel Energy to work with us to find ways to give low and middle income people access to clean energy, allowing them to save money and play an important role in the shift from a fossil fuels energy system to one that is driven 100% by renewable energy.Join us Feb. 21 from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake for “The Whole Creation: A Faith Summit on the Environment and the Economy,” where we will begin our public negotiation with Xcel about providing access to the clean energy economy to ALL Minnesotans. Click here to RSVP. For further information about this work, contact Matt Gladue at mgladue@isaiahmn.org.

Perspectives on Black and White America

This 30-minute episode of Democratic Visions, a cable access program airing throughout the metro region, focuses on racial, police, justice and educational perspectives and issues in Minnesota and the nation as a whole. Pastor Paul Slack, North Minneapolis; Dr. Bert Phillips Dean Emeritus, Tuskegee Institute; St Olaf College veterans of 1967’s Tuskegee Institute Summer Education Program; and others are interviewed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0_dF2iywvY

Payday Lending

In early December, ISAIAH clergy traveled to Washington DC to join pastors from the PICO National Network and the Southern Baptist Convention in a meeting featuring the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Congressional leaders. The clergy were there to share stories that illustrate the effect of predatory payday lending in our communities and to encourage the CFPB and Congress to continue moving forward with new rules that would greatly restrict payday loans.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, promised that all but two of the members of that caucus would support the new CFPB rules. Those gathered were encouraged by Rep. Maxine Waters, a member of the House Finance Committee, to begin a larger conversation about taking on the entire shadow predatory economic system, not just payday lending, but car title loans, rent to own, etc. which are all aimed at the same poor communities.

Putting Families First Presidential Forum

Four ISAIAH leaders from Greater Minnesota attended the Putting Families First Presidential Forum in Iowa to help shape the national debate around mass incarceration, paid leave, childcare, and immigration. Arique Aguilar, a leader from First UCC in Northfield shared her story with Senator Bernie Sanders and asked what he would do about the inhumane raids that are tearing apart immigrant families.

Pictured above from left to right: Alexa Horwart (Organizer), Jessica Rohloff (Willmar), Greg Heins (Saint Peter), Leota Goodney (Northfield). Not pictured Arique Aguilar (Northfield).

 

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