[COMM-ORG] Virginia Organizing August newsletter
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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
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.
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
South Hampton Roads
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
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."
Â©2010 Virginia Organizing, 703 Concord Ave. Charlottesville, VA 22903
e-mail: rstoecker at wisc.edu
Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
350 Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Tel: (608) 890-0764
Fax: (608) 262-6022
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