Heather Concannon is a Lucy Stone Cooperative planning team member, student, and activist living in the Boston area.
In mid-March, the Lucy Stone Cooperative hosted a collaboratively planned “Standing on the Side of Love” Leadership Training for activists and people of faith in the Boston Area. This event pulled together almost 40 people from various constituencies: the Lucy Stone Cooperative, a newly forming Unitarian Universalist (UU) housing co-op, Moishe Kavod house, a Jewish social justice house, City Life/Vida Urbana, a housing foreclosure community organization, and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Our Standing on the Side of Love Training was focused on building leadership skills for community organizers—for both people of faith and folks working in secular community organizations. We shared tools for effective organizing, including telling one’s personal story as a means to forward political change, getting great turnout to events, and framing the work of community organizing.
Sitting in one large room, talking about the skills we use to work towards social justice, with people I had never met before and whose work in the community I was sometimes unfamiliar with, was truly striking for me. It allowed me to see how many people are working toward building stronger communities; people whose paths I don’t often cross in my own work in the social justice world because of our different focuses and constituencies. To be able to connect with others across issues and across identities was an amazing experience in the potential for building communities of mutual support and empowerment.
This training was truly a collaborative effort, with workshops, childcare, translation, and materials available according to the strengths and resources each organization could provide. It is so rare to have groups with such varied constituents and focuses working together to achieve a common goal of learning together. The resources we shared with one another during the day were a wonderful example of the ways in which cross-issue coalition building can truly strengthen progressive movements for social change.
I found it perfectly fitting that we called this training “Standing on the Side of Love”. I think that it is a deep love that brings me, and many of us on the Lucy Stone Co-op planning team, to a life’s commitment to social justice and community building. At the training, I was struck by the deep well of love that people of faith and activists alike bring to social justice work in both faith-based and secular settings: it is the love for humanity that sustains and inspires us.
We do not have an exact blueprint for a world in which love, solidarity and justice are our core values. However, the deep knowing that change is possible and necessary is an act of faith—in the possibility of change, and in one another. As the Lucy Stone Cooperative works to build a home and work for social justice, we are standing on the side of love with all of humanity—a love that reaches across our differences, across various identities, and to the very core of who we are.
The Lucy Stone Cooperative is a newly forming UU housing co-op seeking to build an intentional community and serve as a center for social justice organizing-a place for all people to gather for spiritual renewal, organizing, education, & celebration. For information about how to get involved, to receive monthly updates, or financially support the Lucy Stone Cooperative, visit www.lucystonecoop.org.
Over the past nine months, the Standing on the Side of Love campaign has been challenging, energizing and fun. The video below chronicles some of the funny moments that have happened along the way while the camera was rolling.
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The Administration just announced changes in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this morning.
Unfortunately, it’s still illegal to be gay or lesbian in the military. The changes announced this morning just make it a little safer in the closet.
Under the new policy, being gay or lesbian in the Military is still reason for dismissal, but accusations will have to be made under oath, high ranking officers will conduct inquires and dismissals, and statements that soldiers make to their lawyers, psychotherapists, clergy or medical professionals will be confidential.
These are steps in the right direction, but we need a giant leap.
No mater how you feel about the military in general, I hope we can all agree that no one should be dismissed from any workplace just because of whom they love.
Health care reform is law. Whew… Do you feel physically relieved the way I do?
During the yearlong debate, I was often distraught and disillusioned – the tension somehow worked its way into my bones. This was rarely because of the actual policies being considered, but rather, because of the way the debate unfolded. It was ugly right up until the final moments.
In the final days before the vote, Members of Congress were spit upon, called racial and homophobic slurs, and had bricks thrown through their office windows.
I wish I could tell you that we have seen the worst, but I can’t. Since the vote, more than 10 Members of Congress have received death threats.
We are needed. We can’t stop angry attacks but we can hold the hand of those who are victimized and give them the courage to stand strong. We must band together.
Have you ever campaigned for a candidate or an issue that you feel deeply connected to? Do you remember the feeling of turning up at the campaign office and meeting neighbors you never knew, but who were just as passionate as you?
We need to find that feeling again. We need to remind ourselves that we do not stand on the side of love alone; we stand with our teachers, bartenders, insurance agents, pharmacists – our neighbors.
This weekend, I’ve found something that fits that bill. During March 27th and 28th, neighbors will gather in coffee shops all across the nation for the National Coffee Summit. The goal is to band together with other people who want civil political engagement, and to prepare for visits with Members of Congress to establish fruitful respectful relationships. Check out the video about it:
If you are interested in finding out more about it or finding an event near you, check out the website of the new sponsoring group, the Coffee Party USA. Hehehe…More >
Rev. David Carl Olson is Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. His work for social justice involves actions of solidarity with people of Central America and the Caribbean, the world-wide struggle for peace and local congregation-based community organizing. As a minister, he helped found CBCOs in Boston, Massachusetts and Flint, Michigan.
We were seven from First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. We drove to the Beltway in a couple of cars and then took the Metro into Washington, D.C. We would walk to the National Mall and join with the Standing on the Side of Love delegation to show our deep concern that this nation live into its promise.
I got to share a seat on the Metro with a family from Glen Burnie, Maryland, who were excited to be going to the March. Their three-year old son, Juan Carlos, wanted to see out the window, and so he sat in my lap.
I loved the chance to get to know this family better. They are from Guatemala, and have lived in Virginia and Maryland for a decade. They have always worked their jobs, paid their taxes, cared for each other, raised their little boy—and they fear, each day, that they might be deported. “Last week,” the mother said in hushed tones, “there was a raid in our town.” They wonder, “If I am taken, what will happen to our little boy.”
Juan Carlos is a United States citizen, born and raised here by parents who needed to find a better life than they could have in rapidly changing Guatemala. And so they came here, they overstayed their visas, they worked in ways that they could, learned English, tried to build a life here.
I shared with them the story of my own partner. Once he had received an AIDS diagnosis, he knew that he could never get access to the care that he needed in his home country, and decided that he needed to do anything he could to stay here. And so he, too, lived in fear of raids and deportation.
This immigrant family was proud that they were able to do something public. With friends and neighbors from CASA Maryland, they risked exposure to stand with hundreds of thousands who were calling for immigration reform. Mother and father and three-year old marched to say that they were willing to abide by the laws of our country if only they could stay together as a family, if only they could be part of the American dream.
This, of course, is what my own Irish and Swedish great-grandparents and grandparents wanted. My own dad, US-born, used to say, “I started my life in four rooms with a path (a house with no indoor toilet), and now my son has gone to college!” Always made him laugh!
I wonder what little Juan Carlos will say when he has the opportunity to look back on his life with his parents who risked everything for him. I hope he’ll have a chance to remember and appreciate, and even laugh.