Social Justice Committee
Social Justice Committee sponsors screening of
“Inequality For All,”
a film on the shrinking middle class and its affect on the U.S. economy and democracy
Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m.
Free and open to the public
The American economy is in crisis. Enter Robert Reich: Secretary of Labor under Clinton, revered professor, charismatic pundit and author of thirteen books. “Bob” as he’s referred to in the film, is our hero and guide, shining a light on the urgency of this issue. Economic imbalances are now at near historically unprecedented levels. In fact, the two years of widest economic inequality of the last century were 1928 and 2007 – the two years just before the greatest economic crashes of modern times. What is the link between high inequality and economic crashes? What happened to the Middle Class?
As Americans, we’ve been taught that there is a basic bargain at the heart of our society: work hard, play by the rules and you can make a better life for yourself. But over the last 35 years, this bargain has been broken. Middle class incomes have stagnated or dropped over the same period during which the American economy has more than doubled. So where did all that money go? The facts are clear – it went to the top earners. In 1970 the top 1% of earners took home 9% of the nation’s income. Today they take in approximately 23%. The top 1% holds more than 35% of the nation’s overall wealth, while the bottom 50% controls a meager 2.5%. The last time wealth was this concentrated was in 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression.
What’s the big deal, you may ask? Didn’t the wealthy earn it? INEQUALITY FOR ALL is happy to acknowledge that. There is no vilifying of the rich here. The problem is that wide income divisions threaten the health of both our economy and our democracy. When middle class consumers have to tighten their belts, the whole economy suffers. We saw this in the years before the Great Depression just as we see it today. The middle class represents 70% of spending and is the great stabilizer of our economy. No increase in spending by the rich can make up for it.
This is the moment in history in which we find ourselves: unprecedented income divisions, a wildly fluctuating and unstable economy, and average Americans increasingly frustrated and disillusioned. The debate about income inequality has become part of the national discussion, and this is a good thing. INEQUALITY FOR ALL connects the dots for viewers, showing why dealing with the widening gap between the rich and everyone else isn’t just about moral fairness.
INEQUALITY FOR ALL allows viewers to start with little or no understanding of what it means for the U.S. to be economically imbalanced, and walk away with a comprehensive and significantly deeper sense of the issue and what can be done about it.
For more information about “Inequality For All” and to view the trailer,
please visit: www.InequalityForAll.com.
For your reference:
UCN Fund for Social Justice Presentation to Bethesda Outreach Program
The Unitarian Church North Fund for Social Justice check presentation was made to Bethesda Outreach Program on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, at their church, Bethesda Church of God in Christ, 2810 W. Highland Blvd, in Milwaukee. The amount of the disbursement was $709.44. The money will be used to supply food for the meal service that they prepare for approximately 80 people, three days a week. Presenting the check were UCN members, Vicki Fuerstenau and Ed and Lucy Friedrichs. Receiving the check was Mother L.P. Bates (seated), coordinator of the Bethesda Outreach Program for many years and spiritual mother to the congregation and many neighborhood individuals. The pastor of Bethsda C.O.G.I.C. is the Reverend Dr. R.V. Bates, Sr.
UCN Social Justice Committee Summary - Summer 2013
Food Barrel - Coordinator, Vicki Fuerstenau
Non-perishable food items are donated by UCN members and friends and then collected from the barrel (located downstairs in winter; upstairs in summer) at the convenience of the coordinator and taken to the Bethesda Outreach Program at 28th & Highland in Milwaukee. UCN has been taking food to this food pantry for over 20 years.
Guest House - Coordinator, Mike Strauss
UCN members and friends sign up to prepare food in their homes and then deliver it for pickup to the UCN parking lot or to the parking lot at the Qdoba on Brown Deer & Port Washington Rds in Bayside. A small number of volunteers are also needed to serve the food to the men at this homeless shelter. Dishes are washed and can be picked up in the church kitchen the next day. This service to Guest House is bi-monthly, on Saturday evenings, and is announced in the Northliner and/or Friday Flyer. UCN has been providing this service for many years.
MICAH - Coordinator, Lucy Friedrichs
UCN has been a member of the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope since 2004. It began as a partnership following the congregation's involvement for two years in a Journey Toward Wholeness, a UUA anti-racism program. MICAH offers four areas of involvement, as follows: Education; Jobs & Economic Development; Immigration; and AODA/Prison Reform. These task forces meet at Issues Night, on the 3rd Thursday of each month, to plan and execute community involvement in these areas. Members of our SJ Committee, or any church members or friends, can attend Issues Night in the area of their interest. The MICAH Board meets on the 2nd Monday of each month to conduct the business of the organization.
Ozaukee Co. NAACP - Liaison, Lucy Friedrichs
UCN is nearing completion of a Silver Lifetime Membership in the NAACP, through the Ozaukee Co. Branch. Both groups share many of the same values and principles and keep each other aware of various activities. For your historical information, Mary White Ovington, a white woman and a Unitarian, was a founding member of the NAACP in 1909.
Ozaukee Co. Project - Coordinator, Pat Morrissey
The Social Justice Committee has been working since last August on developing a congregation-wide social justice project with the assistance of some of UCN's Leadership Board members. We first developed a congregational survey to be taken either during the church services or online. The congregation chose Poverty as their main area of interest. Next, two Barn Banters were held for the congregation to present their ideas on what kind of projects a focus on Poverty might elicit. With that feedback, the SJ Committee decided that Ozaukee County should be the area of focus. We then hosted a public panel discussion including 7 agencies and organizations in the county. They identified the lack of housing for children and families who face homelessness as one of the problems, as well as lack of transportation for the elderly. We are currently working with a national organization, Family Promise, on the area of homelessness. Concentrated efforts to engage other congregations and agencies will begin in August. A Community Meeting will be held on Oct.23 at the MATC, Mequon Campus.
Share the Plate - Coordinator, Jenny Goetz
This relatively new program (begun apprx. 5 years ago) was a combined effort of the Finance and Social Justice Committees. It involves giving 1/2 of the cash offering each Sunday for a month, each month, to a non-profit group (local, national or international). Besides providing vital financial resources, it also gives our church wider recognition and cooperation with other organizations. Congregation members may fill out a nomination form for an agency or organization and submit it to the StP coordinator, who then presents it to our committee, who decides whether it is an appropriate nomination, i.e., that it provides a service to others, stays within the boundaries of the UU 7 Principles, and is a 501c3 organization. The nominator provides information, in the way of stories and educational info from the organization to the coordinator, who presents it to the Worship Committee chair so that informational presentations can be made during the offertory on Sunday.
UCN Fund for Social Justice - Coordinator, Lucy Friedrichs
This congregational project was conceived in the fall of 1999 and formalized with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in the spring of 2000, as a response to the state government giving out $700,000,000 in tax rebates at a time when many needs remained unmet for those who were hungry, homeless, lacked affordable housing and adequate childcare, as well as adequate health care. The congregation donated $10,000 in rebate checks to start the Fund. Congregation members may nominate an organization that provides services for the above areas of need within the Greater Milwaukee area (Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee or Washington Counties). The Social Justice Committee chooses one nomination and the congregation votes to approve it at the annual meeting in May.
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee - Liaison, Mary Schlief
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is affiliated with the UUA and is located in Boston, MA. It provides training, direct-service opportunities, financial aid and education regarding various national or international areas of need, e.g. Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, some areas in Africa and the U.S. The congregation, especially through the child and youth RE programs, collects money for the UUSC through the Guest at Your Table boxes during the winter holidays. Our UUSC coordinator provides us with information about special UUSC programs throughout the year. Their website, www.uusc.org is an excellent resource.
Welcoming Congregation - Coordinator - not currently filled
UCN was recognized as a Welcoming Congregation by the UUA in 2004. We continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive place for LGBT persons to be a vital part of our congregation. Review and revitalization of this program is needed this year.
Compiled by Lucy Friedrichs, Co-chair
UCN Social Justice Committee
Social Justice Committee Information
The goal of the Social Justice Committee is to help integrate social justice programming into the life of the congregation. The committee fosters outreach projects, such as volunteering at the Cathedral Center for homeless women and children, and at the Guest House for homeless men. Food is also donated to a Milwaukee food pantry, and a yearly disbursement is made from our Unitarian Church North Fund for Social Justice to a direct service organization in the Greater Milwaukee area. In addition, the committee has three sub-committees: the Anti-Racism Working Group,Welcoming Congregation, and International Peace and Justice.
The Anti-Racism Working Group has been active for several years in developing awareness of racism, anti-racism efforts, and diversity initiatives through the study course, "Weaving the Fabric of Diversity," through guest speakers such as Journal Sentinel columnist, Eugene Kane, and through the weekend Unitarian Universalist Association workshop, "Creating a Jubilee World." An additional focus is the UUA Study/Action Issue, "Criminal Justice and Prison Reform."Our congregation, one of the first in the suburbs outside of Milwaukee County to do so, has joined MICAH (Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope). Our MICAH Core Team is incorporated into this sub-committee. We are also members of the Ozaukee County Branch of the NAACP. As part of the Working Group, the UCN Multi-Cultural Film Series provides opportunities for social gathering while viewing and discussing films that foster exploration and understanding of cultures other than the European-American culture.Welcoming Congregation welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people's involvement and membership in the congregation. We also engage in equality issues in the larger community.
Originally begun in the fall of 2001 as the Afghanistan Relief Committee, this group changed its name to the International Peace and Justice sub-committee in order to broaden its scope. Providing speakers, making peace literature available, drafting a statement of conscience regarding U.S. foreign policy for the congregation to debate through Talking Circles and Town Hall meetings, and presenting a public play reading of "The Night Throeau Spent in Jail," are examples of this group's work. This sub-committee also affiliates itself with the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) on issues such as the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, concern over the use of torture by the U.S. government, and other justice issues.
Social Justice Committee Past News & Events
UCN Social Justice Committee hosts discussion of state’s fiscal future
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Social Justice Committee of Unitarian Church North will present an analysis of Governor Walker's 2011-2013 Biennial Budget for the state of Wisconsin on Sunday, April 3, at 12:30 p.m. at the church, 13800 N. Port Washington Road, Mequon. The presentation is free and open to the public.
Joyce M. Latham, PhD., chair of the Social Justice committee, will deliver the presentation. The presentation focuses on six main elements of the budget: public school funding, higher education, local government agencies, health care, transportation, the environment. The presentation measures the stated goals of the budget document against the embedded funding strategies by focusing on the facts.
"We are interested in ensuring that the people of our communities have access to accurate information concerning the budget proposal,” Latham explained. “The bill itself is over 1,300 pages, which presents us with a lot to digest. Our intention is to help people begin to think about the issues which surround the debate about the budget bill. Please join us for investigation and discussion about the fiscal future of Wisconsin."
Budget Repair Bill Teach-in Update
Feb 28, 2011
The UCN Social Justice Committee hosted a Budget Repair Bill Teach-in Monday, February 28 at UCN. The statement below from UCN's Social Justice Committee was released prior to the meeting in response to Gov. Walker's budget repair bill.
UCN's Joyce Latham gave an enlightening presentation about the budget repair bill.