FIA News

Sep 2020
Faith in Action News:

Faith In Action Roundup – Fall Pandemic Edition
CONTINUING OUR IMPORTANT WORK

 
 
These are challenging times for our many congregational groups that thrive on in-person connection and collaboration. For FIA groups, it means that much of what we do feels like it has been put on hold. No workshops, screenings or in-person speakers; no assembling lunches for the needy or marching to City Hall; no packed and lively Cottage meetings over coffee and snacks. Still, we have done our best to keep meeting via Zoom, to stay grounded, and to keep the work going, one way or another. As we look ahead to Fall and the new congregational year, with hope that we will all see each other again before too long, here’s some of what’s happening now and coming soon.
 
2020: The Call of Racial Justice
 
Summer 2020 has ushered in a civic awakening and re-invigorated the movement against racism and state violence driven by yet more tragic deaths — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and how many more? — and continuing unrest all over the country. Here in LA, local Black Lives Matter leaders whom we know and support have been attacked, and peaceful protests have been violently disrupted. Many in our congregation are asking how we can continue and strengthen our work against racism under the current circumstances.
 
How to Be An Anti-Racist: As a redux of its Winter 2020 workshop, the Peace & Social Justice Committee will sponsor another group discussion of this celebrated and timely book by pioneering scholar/activist, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Concise and clear, personal and powerful, this work has become something of a “common read” for racial justice this year. Join us! Dates TBD September/October.
 
 
Ongoing Anti-Racism Study + Action Group: Beginning this Fall, Peace & Social Justice and Adult Programs are collaborating to launch a new group that will meet monthly, on an ongoing basis, to study racial justice and work together to put our learnings into action in our own lives and the world. Using the viral “100 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice” as a roadmap, we will focus on one area of study (political, spiritual, and/or personal) and one corresponding action item that we can take collectively or individually per month. The leadership of this group will be collaborative, and we will aim be accountable to one another to stay engaged and accomplish our goals. The work of this group will complement the decades-long work of FIA Commission members to work for racial justice alongside our community and interfaith partners.
 
Police Reform and Justice for Victims of LAPD Violence: Deaths of (often unarmed) people of color at the hands of law enforcement have been tragically frequent in Greater LA, and are still occurring with near impunity. We continue the work of many years to march — or these days, to socially-distance caravan — alongside community allies such as BLM-LA and others to seek justice, accountability, and reforms. Currently, there are actions centering around the families of the late Alex Flores and Daniel Hernandez, and protests continue to seek action from LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Contact Sarah Mae Harper at justice@uusm.org to learn more.
 
2020 Elections
 
Our congregation is supporting the UUA’s campaign to #UUtheVote — to amplify our values and defend the democratic process in this year’s elections.
 
 
 
Members of Peace & Social Justice are proud to have helped launch the campaign for Schools and Communities First last Fall, which is now on the ballot as Prop. 15. Learn more about how to participate here.
 
 
 
Just & Equitable Pandemic Response
 
Healthy LA: The UUSM Faith In Action Commission is signatory to the Healthy LA Coalition, a constellation of local faith and community groups that has helped to guide the city and county’s response to this year’s health and economic crisis. Healthy LA has called for prohibition on evictions, enhanced worker protections and increased support for the homeless community. Join us at an upcoming forum to learn how we can continue to advocate for desperately-needed community health and economic protections  during this time.
 
 
Interfaith Solidarity
 
We support our friends at the Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace & Justice for persevering though the pandemic to hold a virtual edition of the annual LA Interfaith Solidarity March on Sunday, Sept. 13th. As ever, the goals of this community event are to unite with many local faith and secular groups to support the freedom of worship/belief for everyone, and to stand against all religiously-motivated bigotry, oppression, and violence. The Peace & Social Justice Committee and UUSM members have supported and participated in this event since its 2016 inception, at a time of growing threats against our Jewish, Muslim and Sikh neighbors in particular, and together we can continue to strengthen this community event and interfaith network. Register here!
 
 
 
Green Living and Community Support
 
In addition to meeting regularly via Zoom and hosting occasional guest speakers on climate policy, the Green Living Committee has organized a program to deliver organic produce bags from our longtime time South LA partner Community Services Unlimited to members of our community — and thereby to help fund CSU’s efforts to provide  healthy, fresh food at low cost to residents of LA’s largest food desert. Contact Alison Kendall to learn more. 
 
Backyard Bounty Returns
 
Thanks to the efforts of McCartney Hutchinson, Hunger Task Force is reviving a socially-distanced Backyard Bounty program. Do you have fresh produce from your garden that you can donate? Can you provide dry goods or other needed items to help neighbors who are struggling during this time? Contact hunger@uusm.org to schedule a pickup and have your donations delivered safely to recipient Grass Roots Neighbors, and read more here.
 
Contact Faith In Action: justice@uusm.org
 
Join Green Sanctuary Email list: green@uusm.or
 
Join Peace & Social Justice Email Group: https://groups.google.com/g/uusm-peace

Backyard Bounty Is Back, Fighting Hunger Right in Our Community
August 31, 2020 Newsletter Staff Faith In Action

 
 
In past years, the green thumbs among us have brought their surplus produce to church on Sundays and the Hunger Task Force has distributed donations to organizations fighting hunger in our community. During this time when we are not able to congregate, food insecurity among our neighbors is greater than ever. Hunger Task Force member McCartney Hutchinson is spearheading a revival of Backyard Bounty to provide a pickup service (contact-free), collecting extra produce and other donations and dropping them at local agencies.
 
Our first recipient group is Grass Roots Neighbors in Playa Del Rey. They are a local volunteer organization focused on meeting the needs of those that are experiencing a housing or food crisis. Founded by Stephanie and Vlad Popesce, Grass Roots Neighbors is a lifeline for the households they serve with regular food deliveries. With a long waiting list, demand is easily double what they can currently serve. They are in urgent need of increased donations.
 
In addition to produce, Grass Roots Neighbors welcomes pantry staples, personal care and baby items, and cleaning supplies. Of course, cash donations are gratefully received.
 
Rice/ Beans
Pasta
Pasta Sauce
Canned Goods (tuna, chili, etc)
Oil
Canned fruits and veggies
Cereal/ Oatmeal
Condiments
Baby formula
Snacks – granola bars, chips, cookies Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Laundry Detergent
Disinfectant (Lysol, Clorox, Bleach)
Hand and body soaps
Shampoo and Conditioner
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
 
To donate your produce or other grocery items, email hunger@uusm.org to schedule a contact-free pickup.
 
Community Services Unlimited Produce Bags
 
UUSM’s long-term relationship with Community Services Unlimited (CSU) is flourishing during the pandemic. About 20 Westside friends and congregants pick up deliveries of CSU’s locally grown, organic produce bags every Friday in Santa Monica, which supports sales of half-price produce to South LA residents. For more information on the great work that CSU does in in its community, and their partnership with UUSM, see this month’s Generous Congregation article.
 
In addition to pickups, everyone is welcome to drop off donations for the Backyard Bounty project, produce or other, at the CSU Friday-afternoon pickup point in Santa Monica. Email hunger@uusm.org for the address.
 
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, food insecurity is surging across the US and right here in Los Angeles. It’s especially the case for employees in the retail, restaurant, entertainment, and hospitality service industries, where thousands of workers — who often live paycheck to paycheck — have been laid off. In other cases, parents of young children and certain at-risk individuals are forced to miss work. Most of us are fortunate enough to not have to choose between rent and food. Let’s help our neighbors in need.
 
McCartney Hutchinson
Member, Hunger Task Force