[COMM-ORG] Virginia Organizing August newsletter

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Sep 6 09:19:37 CDT 2010

  From: Virginia Organizing <e-action at virginia-organizing.org>

August 2010                                              News From the 

The Name Changes, But Not The Ideal

By: Janice "Jay" Johnson


It was wonderful to see many of you this month as we celebrated our 15th 
anniversary. For those of you who could not make it, we had a great time 
celebrating with over 200 wonderful supporters from all across the 
state. The group that gathered in Richmond got the first peek at our new 
logo and were also on hand for the big announcement that we will now be 
known as Virginia Organizing!

We want our name to reflect our mission, which is long-term change in 
Virginia. The word "project" sounds temporary to some and make no 
mistake about it, we are in this for the long haul.

Our work and our challenges remain the same. And although these 
challenges mount every day, we can be optimistic for the next 15 years. 
We have the people working together as part of a strong organization 
that speaks truth to power. We will continue to listen to the people 
most affected, encourage them to raise their voices, hold rallies, write 
letters, monitor legislation, promote civic engagement and hold our 
elected leaders accountable.

The name changes but not the ideal. The logo changes but not the people!

Education and Accountability

It seems that the McDonnell administration brings an almost daily 
assault to many of the issues we care about like equal rights, health 
care and the environment. We are striking back with public education 
events to set the record straight and educate the public on critical 
issues. The Martinsville Chapter hosted a Dismantling Racism workshop 
and is working on dismantling racism in the school system. The 
Martinsville, Danville, Washington County, Charlottesville and South 
Hampton Roads chapters all held tax reform and budget workshops. The 
South Hampton Roads Chapter is holding a large forum on September 16 
featuring the regional director of Health and Human Services, Joanne 
Grossi, on the new health care bill at Ascension Episcopal Church in 

Looking Back on 15 Years

By: Joe Szakos

Executive Director

Virginia Organizing started in 1995 with the simple goal of bringing 
people with similar problems together in order to find practical 
solutions. When I look back at the accomplishments of the last 15 years, 
I am proud of what we have achieved together but I am also reminded that 
long-term change is hard.

Every battle has been hard fought. Providing a living wage to all 
workers is a common sense idea that has taken years to implement in many 
communities across the state -- and the fight continues. Making sure 
that a black man standing trial in Lee County has a jury that represents 
his peers should be a given, but it was a battle we were fighting in 
1998, not 1958! Seeing to it that every man, woman and child has access 
to affordable health care has been a goal for the last 80 years! After 
two years of citizen action, we are finally just starting the process of 
change. And thanks to our Attorney General, change in Virginia just got 
that much harder.

Virginia Organizing is not about simply an organization; it is about an 
idea. This idea was inspired by thousands of people across Virginia who 
got together and did the unthinkable: they got involved and spoke out 
together, challenging power structures along the way.

They fought for fair wages, pushed for non-discrimination policies, 
registered voters, renamed bridges and demanded to be heard. Over the 
last 15 years we have involved thousands of new people in the political 
and legislative process, whether it be testifying at the General 
Assembly, speaking out at local public comment periods or going to 
Washington to lobby members of Congress.

Since our start, Virginia Organizing has grown into a large organization 
with 90 employees. Besides our 17 chapters, we also have a "Joint Plan 
of Work" with 47 groups that operate under our umbrella, ranging from 
Advancing Green Chemistry to the Virginia Forest Watch.  Despite this 
growth, we have stayed true to its roots. We recognize that people 
coming together and speaking out is the only path towards long-term 
change. This idea is present in everything we do.

Despite the fact that long-term change is difficult, I appreciate that 
you have chosen the long road with us. It would be that much harder and 
a lot less fun without your support.

Donate Now

News in Brief

The Shenandoah Valley Chapter is partnering with the DREAM Act group to 
hold "Dream University," a forum educating people about immigrant rights.

Over 30 people with the Fredericksburg Chapter attended a meeting of the 
Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors and spoke about the need to relocate 
dangerous CSX railcars. On September 8, the group is having a  The 
Hazards Posed by Toxic Chemicals on Our Tracks forum.

As part of an ongoing local struggle, The Washington County Chapter 
attended the Virginia Gas and Oil Board hearing where they made a 
monumental change that actually lets landowners access their money from 

Danville, Charlottesville and Martinsville chapters celebrated a victory 
this month when Congressman Tom Perriello and both Senators Mark Warner 
and Jim Webb voted in favor of a $26.1 billion aid package which will 
help millions of unemployed Americans--especially hard hit Southside.

The Providence Mobile Home Park Affordable Housing Campaign has arranged 
stakeholder meetings with housing non-profit groups to develop a plan to 
save the "deeply affordable" trailer park housing in the region.

Pass it on!

Forward to a friend

Local Chapters





Northern Virginia

Newport&News/Hampton Roads

South Hampton Roads


Shenandoah Valley

Washington County

Lee County



On Campus: W&M, UMW,  VSU, UVA, CNU, E&H,  U of R

Connect With Us!




Are you a state employee? Please support our work! Virginia Organizing 
is participating in the 
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (for state employees) and our number 
is 3168.

Virginia Organizing Leader of the Month: Jeffrey Hunt

Jeff Hunt's first experience with Virginia Organizing involved knocking 
on thousands of doors as part of the 2009 summer Civic Engagement 
Project. Jeff, along with 39 other interns, braved heat waves, 
thunderstorms and angry dogs in order to register voters and talk to 
residents about their concerns door to door.

After the summer was over Jeff stayed on as a Virginia Organizing 
intern, working on a diversity of issues including fair housing and 
progressive tax reform. Jeff is currently part of the Balance Virginia 
Strategy Committee and is working hard to make sure we raise more 
revenue for our state rather than balance the budget by cutting vital 
services for the poor.

Jeff is studying economics at the University of Richmond. He is 
motivated to fight inequality- whether it be unequal civil rights or 
economic inequality. "I believe grassroots organizing is important 
because it is the best way to address local issues."

©2010 Virginia Organizing, 703 Concord Ave. Charlottesville, VA 22903 

Randy Stoecker

e-mail:  rstoecker at wisc.edu

Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
350 Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, Wisconsin

Tel: (608) 890-0764
Fax: (608) 262-6022

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