Considerations

considerations-01

Questions to Consider

How does your group fit into the landscape of other UU and interfaith education, organizing and advocacy groups?

  • What are UU churches in the state doing already?
  • Which churches have active advocacy programs?
  • What interfaith or community based advocacy groups do churches already belong to?

What will success look like?

  • Stronger UU social justice ministries at the congregational level
  • Visible presence of UUs at the state legislature
  • Timely information to clergy and lay leaders on issues important to UUs
  • UUs making a difference on specific issues
  • UUs valued among partner organizations for contributions to key issues

How will this network grow us spiritually? Does our definition of success include:

  • Strengthening our connections within our congregational communities
  • Building our leadership
  • Making room for spiritual development. How?

Who should be on the planning committee?

  • Recruit respected leaders. Some will turn you down. However, if they do, ask them if they would be willing to endorse this work. More to come on endorsements.
  • Does the committee include ministers and lay leaders?
  • How many churches are represented?
  • How large is the committee? If you are too small you may not adequately represent the interests of the state, too large and the process can get bogged down.
  • How long has the committee members committed to this project? Planning is not a short-term process. Try to get a one-year commitment.
  • Be sensitive to existing advocacy efforts. Monitor support, opposition and concerns from UU organizations and members.
Approaches to Social Change

(Adapted from:Inspired Faith, Effective Action by the UUA Witness Ministries;Terra Viva’s Workshop 7 – We Are Community Organizers! Understanding How to Organize Our Community;and the Approaches to Social Change Workshop, Southern Empowerment Project © 1995. Deposited with National Organizers Alliance, 2007.)

Direct Service

Direct service is helping meet the direct and immediate needs of people by providing what they need. Example: food, shelter, money for a light bill, transportation, etc. In addition to the direct benefits to others, service is an opportunity for individuals to build relationships and grow spiritually. As such, reflecting on the service is equally important as the service itself.

Education

Teach-ins, community forums, guest speakers, roundtables, workshops, and skill trainings are all effective forms of education about and around social justice issues. Based on the ideas of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, popular education is grounded in class consciousness rejects the idea that education can be politically or socially neutral. Popular education models incorporate theory and praxis of antioppression
activism into their pedagogy, modeling the world we want to create in our action to do so.

Organizing

Community organizing is when people come together to build collective power in order to win improvements in their lives and find long-term solutions to their problems. When communities are more organized, they are in more control of what happens to them; they can accomplish more; they can do things more easily. Unitarian Universalists often engage in community organizing within their congregations,  building the collective power of the individuals within their church to change their congregation and
larger community for the better.

Advocacy

The roots of the word advocacy have to do with lending assistance, calling for a voice to speak out. Advocacy is a way of raising your voice, speaking on behalf of yourself and those people or causes you stand with. In this case, we use advocacy to mean lobbying and anything else that brings your voice to your elected officials, or to others who change and make policy. Advocacy can include personal lobby visits, phone calls,
emails, letters, or petitions. Group lobby visits are one of the most highly effective forms of advocacy.

Witness

The goal of UU public witness is to increase awareness of Unitarian Universalism as a force for good in the world and promote public awareness around social justice issues. Public witness can come in the form of public events like vigils, direct actions, rallies, or protests; media outreach on local and national issues; and public awareness campaigns using social media.

Knowing Your Community

(From Inspired Faith, Effective Action by the UUA Witness Ministries)

About your community:

  • Who lives in your community? What are the demographics? Do not assume that you know; do some  research. What do people care about? Who is marginalized?
  • What social justice organizing is already going on?
  • What relationships does your congregation already have within the community?
  • What relationships do members of your congregation already have with community members or organizations independent of the congregation? Could a congregational connection be made?
Benefits of Community Partnership

Benefits of community partnerships and coalitions include:

  • Fitting your work into an existing structure- not re-inventing the wheel! Filling a
    niche in the community organizing that may be empty
  • Strength in numbers!
  • More people = more hands. More people = more impact
  • Opportunities for future collaboration on other issues
  • Doing your work in an accountable way
  • Bringing different constituencies together
  • Cross barriers of race, class, sexual orientation and other differences
  • Work is more effective
  • Increase community connections
  • Groups can specialize and take responsibility for different facets of the work
  • Wider message
  • Increased opportunities for media
  • Seeing issues from multiple points of view
  • Spreading the impact of Unitarian Universalism!
  • Others?
Retaining Volunteers

Important Steps in Retaining Volunteers

FOLLOW UP: Thank-you, “no show” and reminder calls are all an important part
of keeping volunteers.

INCENTIVES: Frequent helper points, certificates, etc., really make a difference.

FLEXIBILITY: Not everyone can make it to the meeting. Find things to do for
those who can’t.

FUN: People should look forward to the next time they volunteer!

DEMOCRACY: Everyone likes to have some say in what they’re involved in.
Share decision making when possible.

RITUALS: They don’t have to be fancy; just regular “customs” that build organizational
culture — like special ways of opening or closing meetings, welcoming new volunteers,
etc.

EFFICIENCY: Respect people’s time, be organized.

PRODUCTION: Make sure you accomplish something and always acknowledge
what you’ve done together.