Get Out the Vote!

Are you in a tizzie over politics? There’s a fix for that: action! When we start doing something about a situation, anxiety tends to fade. 

There are two ways we can get involved politically: partisan and non-partisan. We exercise our partisan muscles as private individuals when we support specific candidates. Tax-exempt non-profit organizations such as UUFD cannot support specific candidates but do get involved in non-partisan efforts to make the democratic process freer, fairer and more inclusive. Working to increase eligible voter participation is perhaps the most important way to do this. 

Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower grassroots volunteers like us UU’s to help register voters from under-represented demographics and encourage them to vote. Vote Forward builds tools to enable Americans, wherever they may be, to encourage fellow citizens to participate in our democracy. Each of us signs up, is approved and selects a specific group of 5-20 people to whom we write letters. These are people whom Vote Forward has identified as eligible but unlikely to vote.

How does it work? You go to the Vote Forward website and register. If you are approved (you will be), Vote Forward gives you a list of 5-20 names and addresses. You download form letters and write your personal message within. Please, no partisan messages. Place in stamped addressed envelopes and wait for directions from Vote Forward when to mail – not too early, not too late.

Bonnie Miller (Social Responsibility and Justice) and Sherrod Beall will help organize our UU effort. For fun and encouragement, we might organize a virtual letter writing party and try for some funding to support mailing costs.  

After looking at the Vote Forward website, if you are interested in joining a UUFD Get Out The Vote campaign, just let me know. Go ahead and download however many letters you plan to write.  Bonnie, Sherrod and I will let you know about the virtual letter-writing party when we all would complete our letters.  Prepare your heartfelt story on the importance of the vote so you are ready to complete your letters at our gathering. Current thinking is that the mail date will be mid-late October, but that could change if Voting Forward judges that USPS is slipping in timely mail delivery. 

We hope you will join us to Get Out The Vote!!

Graham Smith (505)-320-5928

Site for Transitional Community for Homeless – Sample Letter – August 28 deadline

Neighbors In Need Alliance, an interfaith community organization focused on solutions for homelessness in La Plata County, has received a $90K grant to provide a managed transitional living community before this winter.  The identified location is the city owned Elkview site close to Manna and NINA is seeking to lease the property from the city.  UUFD Basic Needs Team has been a partner with NINA in exploring viable options since beginning their work about a year ago.  Your voice is needed to help NINA acquire this location.  If you support this option to help our homeless neighbors, please contact City Council members and County Commissioners to express your strong support.  Emails are needed before their vote on September 1, so please send your e-mail no later than August 28.  Here is their contact information:

CityCouncil@durangogov.org

clyde.church@co.laplata.co.us

gwen.lachelt@co.laplata.co.us

julie.westendorff@co.laplata.co.us

A SAMPLE LETTER IS PROVIDED BELOW

To:Durango City Counciland La Plata County Commissioners

Subject:Managed Site for the Homeless

I have followed the efforts of the City of Durango and La Plata County to address homelessness. The time to act and provide a safe place to sleep for our unhoused community is now.

NINA is ready to implement the Tier 1 recommendation from the strategic plan developed by the city and county-sponsored Planning and Action Team on Homelessness (PATH) and has proposed a transitional community for the unhoused. 

Roughly 35 NINA individuals have invested thousands of person-hours over the past 16 months to: (a) identify the needs of the unhoused; (b) identify a viable option for safe shelter based on Camp Hope in Las Cruces, NM; (c) identify viable sites; (d) address public health and safety issues at Purple Cliffs; (e) procure $90K of grant funding; and (f) seek out and integrate concerns and interests of neighbors and various stakeholder groups. 

In NINA, the city has a free labor force of resolute volunteers to do the work required to get a transitional community up and running. With NINA comes access to funding that might not otherwise be available. It is incumbent upon the City Council (and County Commissioners) to do what they can to provide for the health and safety of ALL our community members and to otherwise follow through on the approved homelessness strategic plan. 

Additional Covid 19 funding and other grants are available, but the window of opportunity is closing. NINA needs to open the managed site by the yearend in order to utilize such funding. 

I strongly support Purple Cliffs remaining in place after the transitional community is established. This will provide a continuum of shelter options for the unhoused and will reduce the potential concentration of the unhoused in any one area of town. 

The time has come for the City of Durango to act decisively, and NINA needs their support to move ahead with the proposed site at Elkview. To open the site before the winter, a lease and access to the site is required before September 30.

I support NINA’s efforts to establish a managed community for those wanting to transition to permanent housing and strongly urge the City Council to approve the Elkview site to provide a safe place to sleep for our unhoused neighbors.

Sincerely,

Don’t feel helpless. Take action.

5 Ways to Help Migrant Children & Families Right Now .pdf

Social Justice Team Process

The SRJ Coordinating Team recently identified a set of criteria for how a new UUFD priority and team might arise and begin work. The emphasis is on interest and commitment to a justice area coming from the fellowship.  

Here are the criteria:

  • Minimum of 4-6 people express desire to form a team focused on an identified social justice need that supports the UUFD mission
  • 1-2 people indicate a willingness to lead/co-lead the team
  • Purpose and vision for the team is identified
  • Willingness to commit at least two years to the identified social justice team work
  • Commitment to regular communication and meetings to forward progress
  • Commitment to engage in education, advocacy, and partnership in the community as appropriate
  • Team leader(s) commits to participation in SRJ Coordinating Team

Use the form below to request approval for a new social justice team based on the criteria above.  Click the Submit button once form is complete. The SRJ Coordinating Team will review any requests, and talk with those expressing interest, looking to confirm readiness for successfully beginning a new team. Questions about a potential new team are welcomed and you can talk with any one of the SRJ Coordinating Team members:  Bonnie Miller, Barry Devine, Kathy Divine, Richard Butler, Chad Close, Nicci Unsicker, Sheryl Guy or Rev. Katie.

Application for a New Social Justice Team

  • Click the Submit button below.

Local Social Responsibility & Justice Activities Slideshow

Justice is at the core of our faith. Our congregations are called to make a positive difference in our wider communities. We work to serve, to raise awareness, and to support and partner with people who face injustice. We advocate, organize, and act for justice to live out the values of our faith. More from the Unitarian Universalist Association website»

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. UUSC’s innovative approaches and measurable impact — in promoting economic justice, bolstering environmental justice, and protecting rights at risk — are grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights.