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Be a wetland

Right on time Side with Love got to be with the good people of Minnesota celebrating the justice ministry of the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance at their annual fundraiser and co-hosting Grow Racial Justice, a healing retreat with MUUSJA and the People’s Movement Center

We retaught each other what we already know: 
Grow things and eat them
Cook for each other
Sit by the fire together
Disagree and tell the truth at the kitchen table
The systems of our bodies and the wider body of our earth have the wisdom we need

One of the practitioners from the People’s Movement Center said to us “We heal so we can struggle better, not feel better. We feel better when we all feel better.”

UUA Youth and Young Adult Ministry Associate Sara Green who led the gathering taught us a song taught to her by Deirdre Smith. We sang call and response: Do you heal? Yes I heal. We’ve got all our medicine right here. 

The morning that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to her truth and thousands more testified our truths to each other, to our families, to our own hearts, I heard the artists and organizer Ricardo Levins Morales say “Liberation struggles are about restoring power to people whose power has been taken away. Which is also a definition of trauma healing. Be a wetland. Detoxify what is upstream. Pass on liberation.”

Be a wetland. 

Let whatever touches you or your communities, come out with less harm, less harm, less harm. 

Adrienne Maree Brown says “We are not passive observers. We are survivors who have learned and are learning to alchemize our pain into futures that don’t hurt our children’s children. Our stories are our slingshots, and we are moving forward. And none of us move alone.”

There are a million things to do. Phonebank for our family with felonies who need the vote. Knock on doors for a ballot initiative that would get our people out of jail in Ohio. Open your home and heart to sponsor asylum seekersRage and disrupt today and next Friday and the next.

And it is enough of a struggle to love your own self. Do that. Eat food. Feed someone else. Sing. Scream. Sob. Do what is where you are. 

Pass on liberation. Alchemize new futures. 

Restore power that has been taken away. Be a wetland. 

Our faith believes survivors

I am beyond outraged at what we have watched transpire in the Kavanaugh hearings. A man who has multiple allegations of assault should not be able to occupy the highest court in our country, especially not without even an investigation.

Tomorrow I am traveling to bear witness in Washington. Will you add your name to this growing list of Unitarian Universalists who oppose the nomination and believe the women? I want to take all of us who are for justice with me tomorrow and share your reasons why.

I have looked for a moral or faithful voice to bring but first and foremost I am speaking with a woman's voice. This makes me so angry.

 In partnership with the United Church of Christ, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.

In partnership with the United Church of Christ, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.

Like too many, I know what it is like to be blamed for your own harassment, to name it and have men do nothing but turn around and use it against us.

I know I am not alone in my outrage. I'm proud that our churches are places where young people learn healthy sexuality, learn consent, and learn the opposite of the abuse Kavanaugh is accused of and is so cavalierly dismissing. I'm heartened by the letter UU Women's Federation signed on to.

And I believe we have to do more.

I do not believe a man should be able to lie his way to the Supreme Court or that we can let the GOP codify that sexual assault doesn't matter with his nomination. Please sign here if you agree.

This confirmation is not a done deal; there are still nails we can put in this coffin. I am fighting my own moments of powerlessness to remind myself that we can stop this.

I will be strengthened tomorrow if those in the DC area can join the silent march as UU's together and if I know that UU's all around the country are calling their Senators, visiting offices, and doing what we must to be on the side of love, to believe women, to stop this lie from becoming the law of the land.

Our faith positions us uniquely in this moment to bear witness, to take action, and to speak out against what should not be and for what we are taught and what we embrace as our core values.

I believe Christine and the other survivors coming forward.

Please sign if you do too and call your Senators to tell them as well.

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Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President

Risking from where we are

Greetings from Side with Love!

As we enter this sweet new year in the Jewish calendar, this beginning of the school year, as we fire up around electoral campaigns where we have a chance to support visionary leaders and ballot initiatives that put our values into action, we are asking again: how can we risk, from wherever we are, on the side of love?

We witness our comrades in prison striking, risking retribution, violence, and suppression. 

We witness beloveds from Minnesota to Louisiana, risking charges, police brutality and backlash to protect the water. 

We witness imperfect, committed leaders risking personally and professionally to run for office with integrity and boldness. 

We witness regular people, you and I, trying to figure out what we must risk now. For our ancestors and for the ones who come after and for our own souls. 

At Side with Love we strive to practice the spiritual task of discernment in where to prioritize our energy, love, resources and skills. We ask:

  • Where are frontline organized communities who do not have the support of people of faith?

  • Where can we push faith-based justice work to be more unapologetic and courageous? 

  • Where is the organic energy flowing? 

With that discernment, consider joining us:


From wherever we are in ecosystem - whether we are creating mutual aid networks to meet our needs right now, confronting the systems that oppress us, using the electoral process to win within our lifetimes and elect leaders that can change the game, may we risk what we must. For justice. For love. 

Call to Action! Solidarity with Water Protector Little Feather

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Michael “Little Feather” Giron is the first Indigenous Water Protector who was arrested in relation to the DAPL pipeline resistance at Standing Rock to be sentenced to a substantial prison term. He is currently incarcerated at USP Hazleton in West Virginia, a maximum-security prison over 1,000 miles from his home. At our UU General Assembly this June, in a nearly unanimous vote, delegates from our congregations adopted an important Action of Immediate Witness. This AIW calls us now to act in solidarity with Water Protector Little Feather.  

USP Hazleton has been on lockdown since August 6th. Little Feather's family, spiritual community, and even lawyer cannot reach him by phone, email, or visit. Visiting is suspended until further notice with no timeline or reasoning given. As part of the lock down, Little Feather has been denied access to his Indigenous spiritual practices, including inipi and pipe ceremony. Please be direct and unflinching in regards to Little Feather needing contact with his attorney, loved ones, and ceremony, but do not be confrontational for the sake of his safety.

Today, please call, email, and fax to ask that:

  1. Little Feather's loved ones be able to contact him by phone, email, and visit.
  2. Little Feather's lawyer be able to do a wellness check and contact him by phone immediately.
  3. Little Feather be allowed the weekly practice of inipi and pipe ceremony protected by his right to the free practice of his religion.  
  4. Little Feather's location of sentencing be reviewed. He is at maximum security USP Hazleton in West Virginia despite the judge's recommended that he be in a medium security prison within 500 miles of New Mexico, his home.

Regional Director Angela Dunbar of the Mid Atlantic Region of Federal Bureau of Prisons:
Email: MXRO/ExecAssistant@bop.gov
Phone: 301-317-3100
Fax: 301-317-3119
            (If you copy and paste the email address, use: MXRO/ExecAssistant@bop.gov)
 
Warden Joe Coakley USP Hazleton:
Email: HAX/ExecAssistant@bop.gov
Phone: 304-379-5000
Fax: 304-379-5039
(If you copy and paste the email address, use: HAX/ExecAssistant@bop.gov)
 
Central Office Federal Bureau of Prisons:
Phone: (202) 307-3198
Email: https://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp
 
Also – please write to Little Feather, if you can commit to replying to him if you receive a response:
Michael Giron 25201-075
USP Hazelton
U.S. PENITENTIARY
P.O. BOX 2000
BRUCETON MILLS, WV 26525
 
With gratitude and in solidarity with all at USP Hazleton and solidarity with all political prisoners,
 
Leoyla Cowboy, Little Feather’s wife,
and Karen Van Fossan, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bismarck, ND

P.S. Sample Letter/Call Script
 
To Whom It May Concern,
 
I'm a caring community member inquiring about the safety and well-being of Michael “Little Feather” Giron 25201-075, a Water Protector who is a political prisoner being held at USP Hazleton. His family and lawyer have not been able to visit him by email, phone, or in person since August 6th and have not been given any information about his well-being or the timeline for future contact. As part of the lock down, Little Feather has been denied access to his Indigenous spiritual practices, including inipi and pipe ceremony.
 
I'm requesting that:

  1. Little Feather's family be able to contact him by phone, email, and visit.
  2. Little Feather's lawyer be able to do a wellness check and contact him by phone immediately.
  3. Little Feather be allowed the weekly practice of inipi and pipe ceremony protected by his right to the free practice of his religion.  
  4. Little Feather’s location of sentencing be reviewed. He is at maximum security USP Hazleton in West Virginia despite the judge's recommended that he be in a medium security prison within 500 miles of New Mexico.

 
In solidarity with prisoners at USP Hazleton and solidarity with all political prisoners and with regards,
 
__your name here_____
 
Free fax services:
 
https://www.myfax.com/free/ – can send up to 2 faxes free every 24 hours. Simply upload your document and press send. No account or sign-up needed.
 
https://faxzero.com/ – 5 free per day, max 3 pages per fax. No account or sign-up needed.
 
More at: https://www.freelittlefeather.com/call-to-action and follow on Facebook to stay in touch. 

Thank You!

When I joined Side with Love over four years ago, I could not have predicted the assaults, experiments and possibilities that were before us. I’m writing to let you know that my time with the campaign is coming to a close. It has been a pleasure to be able to connect with you - online and in person - helping us guide and grow Side with Love into who we will become. I am planning to spend some time in Georgia this Fall with Mijente’s Gente4Abrams team building power and getting out Latinx voters in support of Stacey Abrams for Governor (who is amazing & you should look into!) along with diving deeper into my interest in doula work, informed by doula training through with Ancient Song Doula Services (check them out!).

On my way out, I’m hoping to leave you with a few of my favorite things - a short bullet point list of reflections, a mixtape of some of my current favorite tunes and some questions i’m leaving with. The reflections are heavily informed by Black and POC organizers within and outside of the faith. Thank you for supporting our work and keep on building.