United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP)
Valley Insight is one of fifteen faith communities that make up the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). UVIP concentrates on direct action across lines of religion, race, class, and geography by building collective power to influence decision-makers. Our current campaigns focus on immigrant rights and rolling out the UVIP-created curriculum “Useful Tools for Aging with Dignity.”
Information about ongoing vigils to support undocumented people is below the Micah Award announcement. We also participate in the important actions of NH Voices for Faith when the NH Legislature is in session. Policy (i.e. political) changes have occurred spurred by the numbers of people who have marched in Manchester and crowded into the halls and galleries of the NH Legislature. Your presence matters! An Update from Mary Boyle and Karen Summer. Karen (email@example.com) and Mary (firstname.lastname@example.org) co-represent VIMS on the Executive Council of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). Please contact Mary or Karen if you would like to know more.
The Micah Celebration will be held Sunday, October 28, 2-5 pm in the Claremont Senior Center. See here for more details.
June 2018, A New Lead Organizer
Welcome, Asma Elhuni, the Lead Organizer for UVIP! In her own words:
“I am excited to be joining the United Valley Interfaith Project team. Like many of you, my passion for organizing is rooted in my faith and experiences. Raised in a working-class immigrant family, I know firsthand some of the struggles that accompany families that try desperately to make ends meet. I have also experienced the difficulty that comes with navigating this country as an immigrant and a person of color. Additionally, I come from a culture that values and respects the elderly in our community; so, I am honored that organizing around aging is a part of UVIP.”
• The most recent projects for the group include UVIP’s Immigrant Justice, Economic Justice, and Aging with Dignity initiatives. For more details, please explore the UVIP website ( http://www.unitedvalleyinterfaithproject.org ) . • A search for someone to fill UVIP’s Lead Organizer position is currently underway. The position is being temporarily covered by contract organizers Aron DiBacco and Nancy Glynn.
This month, we highlight immigration solidarity
The emerging Immigrant Justice initiative became ever more urgent in the current political environment, with its immediate threats to immigrants without documents living peacefully among us. UVIP has partnered with its sister organization, Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) in its efforts, and a New Hampshire Immigrant Solidarity Network has been formed.
How does this relate to what we hear is going on across our nation and New Hampshire? And how can Valley Insight Meditation Society, as individuals and families, support these efforts? Many educational opportunities are taking place now:
• A Sanctuary Slideshow explains the organizational support needed;
• Immigration 101 explains the complicated path to US citizenship;
• Know Your Rights Training by the ACLU addresses legal aspects to be considered when providing physical sanctuary, or when an immigrant is raided by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE);
• The Rapid Response Training for volunteers who are willing to be observers during an ICE raid is another vitally important training to support the immigrant without documents.
Attending the monthly vigils in front of the Federal Office Building in Manchester at 8:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month is another way that the VIMS community has shown visible support to immigrants who must check in with ICE.
Thanks to all who are involved in these important initiatives. Please contact Mary or Karen if you would like to know more.
Karen Summer (email@example.com) and Mary Boyle (firstname.lastname@example.org) co-represent VIMS on the Executive Council of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP).
Valley Insight 2017 Micah Award Nominees Announced
Valley Insight is one of the fifteen faith communities of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP), which holds an annual ceremony, the “Micah Awards,” to recognize and celebrate the important work being done in our regional community toward social and economic justice. Those selected serve as representatives of the heroism present in each of our lives. All of us really are “heroes” in that we all are dealing nobly with the many challenges that face us as a people––individually and collectively––as best we can. We all understand at a deep level that we are not alone in this world, and we are all doing our best to walk harmoniously with those with whom we share the world. The true spirit of this award acknowledges this shared sense of community while honoring groups and individuals who can inspire and affirm our efforts.
This year we are recognizing the importance of nurturing human thriving within the prison system by nominating our own Prison Project volunteers, shown in the photo above, as representatives of the generous heart. They are Joanne Bernard, Terry Gustafson, Landon Hall, Barbara Woodard, and Claudia Brandenburg. Their bios are within Doreen’s October essay, which will be posted soon. More information is also on our Prison Sangha page. Information about the ceremony itself is here.
Vigils to Support Undocumented Immigrants – Sign-up url for car pooling below.
People who believe in supporting undocumented immigrants are prayer vigiling at the ICE Office (Norris Cotton Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester, NH) when immigrants without documents have to report to ICE for their periodic “check-ins”. We carpool from CCBA in Lebanon at 7:00 AM SHARP. If you can attend only 1, go the first Tuesday of each month. We need to maintain visibility even though the initial push by ICE appears to have been thwarted by the Federal courts and by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Governor Chris Sununu (R) working together to halt the immediate deportations of 30 Indonesians who came to the U.S. in the 1990s. There are many others at risk. We need to remind ICE that we are watching!
A SignUpGenius link is below where you can sign up for any and all of these vigils. For each date you can join us, you can choose among 3 options: (1) I will meet you at CCBA at 7:00 AM but cannot drive; (2) I can meet you at CCBA at 7:00 AM and CAN drive; or (3) I will drive separately but meet you in Manchester at 8:30 AM.
Response to Terrorism in Charlottesville:
On behalf of VIMS, our guiding teacher, Doreen Schweizer, as our clergy representative to the wonderful, engaged, and active United Valley Interfaith Project, has signed a national RESPONSE TO TERRORISM IN CHARLOTTESVILLE. The document, from a coalition of faith-based groups around the country, is calling for wisdom and clarity as well as strong, balanced action in direct and immediate support for people of color. It is truly in support of liberty, justice, compassion, and sanity. Although some of the document’s language is not language we might use to express our basic beliefs, the spirit of solidarity and action called for are important. To read the petition, go here.
Song and Serious Talk at Vermont Interfaith Action’s Annual Convention
by Karen Summer
The Upper Valley defines us as bi-staters. The same is true for the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP), as this organization is affiliated with the larger Granite State Organizing Project and Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA). As one of Valley Insight’s reps to UVIP, I had the pleasure of attending the VIA convention on August 16, 2017. The pastoral invocation reminded us to “Let love grow amid the thorns of bigotry,” and that “We are the people of persistence and resistance.” Sprinkled through the day were three rousing hymns. If you like to sing, attending street protests and the Resist movement will give you many opportunities!
Criminal justice reform and lack of affordable housing are the foci of the Burlington area activists. Homelessness is the target of those from Washington County (Barre, Montpelier, and Plainfield Buddhist Fellowship). A Burlington restaurant is experimenting with “round-up” donations (rounding up totals to the nearest dollar) to collect funds to alleviate hunger. There’s a concerted effort in the Winooski schools to counter refugee and generational poverty.
Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman told us that the most effective principles for working with legislators are patience and persistence: we need the perspective of time. For example, the campaigns for marriage equality in Vermont took eight years. (Investigating causes and conditions as a dharma teaching gives lots of lessons in the perspective of time.) Zuckerman would like everyone to participate in democracy on a regular basis; how about 30 minutes per week?
To receive UVIP email notices about demonstrations and other activities, please send your name to Mary.N.Boyle@gmail.com. Mary and I are co-reps to the UVIP Executive Council.
UVIP News for August, written by Mary Boyle
New Hampshire Immigrants Affected by Recent ICE Crackdown: UVIP (and VIMS) Keep Vigil to Lend Support
How, where, and in what ways can we meet those who are hurting? This is the question we come back to within the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP) of which Valley Insight is a member. We will continue to do more listening, deep listening, as we go forward using a true grassroots process. How do we engage more actively with UVIP within the VIMS sangha? “Power is a product of relationship” – the power to go forward for the voiceless.
Most recently, UVIP has been actively participating at the vigils in support of immigrants at the monthly check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester, NH. Several people from VIMS have shown up these past three months on the first Tuesdays, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., where more than three hundred supporters were present in June, sixty in July, and over one hundred this month, so far.
Sadly, on August 1st, ICE detained at least three people, while their family members wept in shock. And many others (20+) were told to return next month with plane tickets for their flights to their home countries. What we have been dreading is beginning to unfold. Sincere gratitude for the more than one hundred people who joined us in songs, prayers and silent witness at the August 1 vigil, and to the many, many others who were present in Spirit. UVIP’s response to this urgent situation will be on the agenda for the August (monthly) meeting.
If you want to receive email notices about social actions (immigration, the continuing healthcare fight, etc), please notify Mary at email@example.com
Mary is now a core member of immigration support under the leadership of Cayla Dyer, UVIP Lead Organizer.
As the affected families, their faith leaders, and immigrant community leaders identify next steps, let us hold them with metta and healing thoughts. We will let you know about future actions in the coming weeks, as we seek ways to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters.
UVIP continues with its fundraising campaign to uphold its work for social justice in discernment on how we can best meet the needs of those who are hurting. Two VIMS sangha members are part of the UVIP fundraising team: Karen Summer and Mary Boyle. We could use your help! Click here to give financial support for UVIP’s efforts.
Questions? Please contact Karen Summer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mary Boyle (email@example.com). With a deep bow, we honor the metta from the sangha.
News from the United Valley Interfaith Project UVIP, by Mary Boyle (written June, ’17)
Sangha member Mary Boyle spoke with VIMS’s UVIP co-representative, Karen Summer, for a summary of recent UVIP news.
Valley Insight is a member of an important organization of fifteen faith communities that work together toward social and economic justice, the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). UVIP’s executive director has taken a new job, so Rod Wendt, former president of UVIP’s Executive Council, has agreed to serve as an unpaid executive director of the organization. Rod’s major focus will be to secure grants. Grants are becoming more difficult to obtain as many funders have changed their criteria since the November election. Individual donors have become increasingly important. Your support is needed more than ever!
The issue of Sanctuary for undocumented people is being energetically addressed by local activists, and, as engaged Buddhists, VIMS plans to stay active as this work takes shape. More than ten people from VIMS attended the Hanover Friends-sponsored information forum on immigration protection, held in April. Along with keeping the subject alive in your thoughts and discussions with others, here are 2 ways you can be involved in the effort: (1) Accompaniment — going with undocumented immigrants to their ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) appointments. The next “accompaniment” action will be in early June in Durham, NH; (2) Rapid Response hotline (in planning stage) — be part of a phone network that would quickly mobilize support so that ICE actions are documented and publicized. The goal is a hotline that immigrants could call for help when they are confronted by ICE in their homes or work places.
On an organizational level, the April forum addressed the idea of a “Sanctuary Network” to provide physical support for undocumented workers. All attendees were asked to ask their faith communities to enter a process of “discernment” about whether or not there is energy in the UV to work on this network. The VIMS Advisory Board and the Teacher Team both support our ongoing engagement in this local sanctuary movement. For more information, please contact Karen Summer karen.summer2[at]gmail[dot]com.
The Valley News article about the April 8 Community Forum is here.
Community Forum on Immigration: What About Sanctuary?
Saturday, April 8th, 10 AM – 3:30 PM
Hanover Friends Meetinghouse, Hanover, NH
Open to the public. All are welcome.
10:00 AM–12:00 PM Immigrant Voices and Stories
12:00 PM–1:00 PM Light Lunch and Informal Discussions
1:00 PM–3:30 PM Sanctuary Movement and Legal Perspectives
United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP): Priorities in the Post Election World
UVIP held a gathering on January, 17, 2017 to discern and prioritize the most effective ways to assist those in need in our communities. Participants in this grassroots organizing project included representatives from UVIP member groups as well as other interested individuals. Two questions were posed: How do we reach people who need help most in order to understand their concerns? And, who are our allies (i.e. which organizations are already working on the problems)?
Participants attempted to assess areas where help might be needed. These could include those without healthcare, the elderly or disabled, those recently moved to the area, people without shelter or transportation. How can we meet those who are hurting? It was clear that deep listening needs to happen before next actions can be decided.
As a sangha, how do we want to engage with those in need? Do we want to consider holding a discernment gathering modeled after UVIP’s? Can we participate in person-to-person listening sessions in order to hear the stories of those who are hurting. UVIP is planning formal training.
Might VIMS consider joining New Hampshire Voices of Faith (led by the New Hampshire chapter of American Friends Service Committee) in weekly vigils at the New Hampshire Statehouse? Carpools leave Lebanon CCBA parking lot most Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. sharp and return by 12:30 p.m. On January 19 they stood to vigil in opposition to an anti-labor “Right to Work For Less” bill. On January 25 they stood in support of a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. On January 26 they stood in vigil in support a variety of family-friendly measures. The premise of the vigils is that we are visible to remind legislators that we are here, we care, and we believe in the power of moral witness.
Check out the AFSC – New Hampshire State House Watch newsletter by Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty: “…published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights. We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.” People can subscribe by emailing the address below and asking to be added to the list. Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions? Please contact Terry Lyons email@example.com or Karen Summer firstname.lastname@example.org
Creating Long-lasting Change
United Valley Interfaith Project News:
An interview with Karen Summer, VIMS co-representative
One December 8, Mary Boyle sat down to speak with Karen Summer, VIMS co-representative to the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). Valley Insight is one of fifteen faith-based member groups belonging to UVIP, and the two discussed UVIP’s central premise, current aims and actions, future plans, and––spoiler alert–– the appointment of one of VIMS’ advisory board members as new co-representative to UVIP.
About UVIP: Projects within UVIP revolve around social change, such as aging with dignity and economic justice (for example, fighting predatory lending and increasing the minimum wage). The UVIP website states: “We believe that when people come together with common values to build grassroots power we have the ability to create real, long-lasting change.” This grassroots organizing has the purpose of raising people’s awareness so they will take the lead on their own and by their own engagement serve to tackle an issue. United Valley Interfaith Project is “an organization committed to changing the world through the process and techniques of community organizing.” (UVIP website).
Current UVIP Actions: UVIP’s most current action has to do with homelessness; in particular, there is great concern for a camp of homeless individuals living behind the Hannaford Supermarket in West Lebanon. On December 7, the Lebanon City Council approved a new ordinance meant to supersede the existing State of New Hampshire ordinance, a criminal trespass law. This new ordinance is meant to soften the process of how to deal with the homeless, however, many feel that it will continue to criminalize homelessness. It does not solve the problem. The bigger issues are the lack of affordable housing and the lack of continuing mental health care. Through its network, UVIP gathered ninety-five signatures in two days for a petition to the Council, asking them to not pass the ordinance during the winter months and also mobilized citizens to demonstrate at the City Hall before the Council met.
What’s next? The UVIP’s Executive Council and members of the Social Justice Team will meet in mid December to talk about what projects would be most needed as Donald Trump takes office and the Republican-majority New Hampshire Legislature convenes. There is a nationwide effort among other grassroots organizations to reassess and reprioritize goals; namely, to find ways to bring in people who are hurting and provide sanctuary for them. Further conversations will be how to effectively implement these efforts.
A celebratory note: Advisory Board Member Terry Lyons is now the UVIP co-representative with Karen Summer for VIMS. Our thanks to Terry and Karen for taking up this important work and representing Valley Insight.
Valley Insight 2016 Micah Award Nominees Announced
Valley Insight is one of the fourteen faith communities of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP), which holds an annual ceremony, the “Micah Awards,” to recognize and celebrate the important work being done in our regional community toward social and economic justice. Those selected serve as representatives of the heroism present in each of our lives. All of us really are “heroes” in that we all are dealing nobly with the many challenges that face us as a people––individually and collectively––as best we can. We all understand at a deep level that we are not alone in this world, and we are all doing our best to walk harmoniously with those with whom we share the world. The true spirit of this award acknowledges this shared sense of community while honoring groups and individuals who can inspire and affirm our efforts.
Each UVIP member group choses one such example of “heroism.” In bestowing our 2016 Micah Award, VIMS celebrates the local chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ). We nominate three people from our Dharma community for this year’s award, the group’s co-founder Carol Rougvie, planning committee member Peg Meyer, and Diane Root, a very active member. In doing so, we bow to the work of all those heroes who have been active in the courageous explorations that are at the heart of this group’s activities, and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Carol, Peg, and Diane as administrators and as workers.
SURJ works towards racial justice in these ways:
- They hold an outdoor vigil each Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Green in Hanover, across from the Hanover Inn, where they hold signs and banners encouraging an awareness of racial inequity in our country and support for racial justice.
- They meet monthly for a discussion group called “Difficult Conversations about Race,” in which, through sharing their experiences as well as relevant articles, they examine the depths of their own and the culture’s sense of white privilege.
- Periodically, they host film showings and speakers to raise awareness in the greater Upper Valley Community. All are welcome to these events. For more information on these and other activities, please go to their Facebook page or contact email@example.com.
We are grateful for the deep and honest self-searching process that is enabling those within SURJ––and all the others they encounter––to wake up and “see clearly” what is real. They do this so that we can all walk more fully and authentically together, aligned with one another as a people, to meet whatever life asks of us. The group’s work is bridging gaps and opening our hearts to the almost insurmountable history of racial prejudice that has brought our country to a standstill. Their work also opens us to the truth of other disabling prejudices––sexual, gender, religious, intellectual, and more––which threaten human civilization at this time. We recognize their strong determination to take direct action in the alleviation of suffering––and to do so with wisdom and compassion.
Valley Insight is part of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). Find more on UVIP and its projects here and its campaigns for the moral economy immediately below this article and on their website here. The UVIP Senior Stories Project was highlighted in a four-week photographic exhibition at the AVA Gallery this summer titled “Take Another Look: Aging with Dignity.” The exhibit also appeared at the Cornish Fair.
UVIP was named by Community Access TV (CATV) as their 2016 “Organization of the Year”. CATV’s Executive Director Bob Franzoni pronounced UVIP a “notable community partner whose involvement has allowed us [CATV] to reach a wider audience.”
A schedule for upcoming Demonstrations for the Moral Economy, focusing on the Fight for $15 will be posted soon.