Peace & Justice = Community Outreach to Silicon Valley

PEACE & JUSTICE COMMITTEE

The Peace and Justice Committee is a key component of St Thomas’ outreach to support the Sunnyvale and surrounding Silicon Valley community.  It’s work is founded upon Our Baptismal Covenant (BCP – Book of Common Prayer, Page 305), which calls us to this work:

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God’s help.

COMMITTEE REPORT AS OF MARCH 2021
  • Sunnyvale Fair Redistricting:
    We are working on redistricting of Sunnyvale city council districts. This is required because the 2020 Census results will change city demographics for the districts. Redistricting is important for justice to make sure the districts represent communities of common interest. We are working with Sunnyvale Fair Redistricting; a group sponsored by the League of Women Voters and California Common Cause. City staff has sent an update to the draft ordinance for redistricting and comments were submitted to the city staff and council at the city council meeting on March 16.
  • Housing and PACT:
    We recently had a meeting with People Acting in Community Together (PACT https://www.pactsj.org).  An outcome of that meeting is that we are looking into how we can help renters and landlords who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. There is relief for both in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.  PACT is researching the details of what happens in Santa Clara County as a result, and how we can participate in helping to educate renters and landlords.

    If you are interested in or have questions about these topics please contact Cal Cornwell (refer to the parish directory or request contact info from the Parish Office at 408.736.4155). 

HISTORY OF PEACE AND JUSTICE COMMITTEE EFFORTS

There are many issues confronting people in Silicon Valley that need addressing: housing, immigration, education, and police accountability. Additionally, we are confronted with environmental issues such as global warming and pollution that affect so many.

COMMUNITY ORGANIZING – MOBILIZE FOR CHANGE

Community organizing for public ministry is a proven way to affect change. Some examples are the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights.

Organizing on a smaller scale may involve how to get better crosswalks in a neighborhood or increasing safety for cyclists. Community organizing works because many people get involved in action to change. It mobilizes the people most affected by an issue to take charge of getting the change to occur.

THE CRUX OF IT – What community organizing entails:

First – Relationships
It depends greatly on relationships with between individuals, team members, allies and others who can help.

Second – Details
To address any issue, we need to know details to understand its complexities.

Third – Leaders from Those Most Affected
Our job as organizers is to help the people who are most affected by an issue to select leaders from their own group. Then we help those leaders get their people to cause change.

The people most affected by an issue have the most passion and stories about how the issue is affecting them.

Stories are very important because they are powerful tools in getting decision-makers on the right side of an issue.

INITIAL COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES BEGINNING 2018
  • Contacting allies and building relationships
  • Training committee members on the principles of organizing.
2020 ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE COVID PANDEMIC

The committee reached out to folks having difficulties with Covid-19, the economic virtual collapse and the state of racism in our country. This was done via a process called phone banking because, in which we called a bank of phone numbers of folks who were believed to be having difficulties.

In this effort, we continued to work with People Acting in Community Together (PACT https://www.pactsj.org ) as we have in the past. The purpose was to understand what’s happening with people who were hurting and what they thought would help.

During this time, committee members received training on phone banking from Christopher Logan of PACT.

We then supported PACT (People Acting in Community Together) by making phone calls to voters to hear their stories about their specific issues and concerns. Each caller was given a list of 15 – 20 numbers to call. One learning was that it was difficult to get people to answer their phones so fewer conversations happened than we had hoped for.

RECENT VICTORIES
One out of ten workers in California is undocumented, and their labor has largely fallen into work deemed “essential” throughout the pandemic—in agriculture, food distribution and service, elder care and child care among other occupations. They pay billions in local and state taxes, and they contribute over 180 billion dollars to our California economy. And they have been ruthlessly left out of federal relief even though they pay federal income taxes.

On May 5, 2020, over 1,200 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom, along with 10 Bishops (including Bishop Lucinda of El Camino Real) and 9 state legislators to press Governor Newsom to expand the Cal EITC. More than 1,000 faith and community leaders signed on to a letter in support of the expansion, and in the thick of budget negotiations organized hundreds of leaders to send letters to the Governor and to the top leadership of the senate and assembly. St. Thomas parishioner Cal C. was also a participant in this meeting and called Gov. Newsom and local assembly and senate members urging this legislation be passed.

INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING/LEARNING MORE?

If you are interested in participating or learning more, please Contact Pastor Salying.

GOOD TOPICAL READS

Stand Up! by Gordon Whitman

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