Valeriya's Reflections on the 2020 UM Environmental Justice Summit

On February 13th, I attended The Michigan Environmental Justice (EJ) Summit commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the 1990 “Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards." The conference back in 1990 catalyzed significant momentum towards EJ policies at high levels of government during the Clinton administration. Building off this legacy, the 2020 EJ Summit convened Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability students, activists, and national and local leaders in policy-making, community organizing, and academia to reflect on and celebrate all that has been accomplished over the past 30 years, and to rededicate ourselves to the fight ahead. The Summit speakers represented the north star of the EJ movement. Listening to their wisdom was an incredible gift.

Read ahead for a summary of highlights of the community leaders panel and the national panel, with photographs of the speakers. Click here to see the schedule for the day, complete with the full speaker lineup and video recordings (sans captions) of both panels, as well as of the student “flash talks.” 

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Welcoming DJJ's New Organizer for Culture and Resources, Blythe Kim!

Hi! I’m Blythe and I’m the newly hired DJJ Organizer for Culture and Resources.  

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Ben's Thoughts on Facilitating the First Listening Party (and Listening Rager)

Two listening parties down, eight to go! I believe that the best way to organize any sort of organization or project is to do so by listening to learn from the people involved so that you can build an organization that works with and for those people. So, when Allie reached out to me about being a facilitator for a series of listening parties, I was excited to be a part of the process. I got to have a sneak peak at DJJ's goal of reshaping it's process and structure to resource and empower leaders and learn more about how to facilitate this sort of listening party. 

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Gabe's Reflection on Hosting the First Listening Party

Hosting the first DJJ listening party was a fun and thoughtful experience. Co-hosts Barry, Allie, and I filled the house with snacks and then DJJ leaders started arriving one by one. This gave us a chance to catch up with friends and also to meet new leaders showing up to their first DJJ event. As we settled in and got to talking, Ben, the facilitator, did a nice job of offering  a mix of facilitated group conversation as well as the opportunity to interact with other leaders one on one.

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Listening Party? What's a Listening Party?

DJJ has launched a series of Listening Parties to solicit feedback and reflections from our community leaders about the way we have done our campaign work and to envision what this work could look like for us moving forward. There will be ten parties held on different dates and at different locations all around Metro-Detroit. This way we can include as many people as possible in this process!

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Shine a light on the right to water

Photo Credit: Antonio Rafael

In celebration of International Human Rights Day, our partners at the People’s Water Board braved the freezing cold. They shouted to Detroit and to the world: “Water is a Human Right”. In lights!

When I saw the coverage in the Detroit News I could see the faces of our beloved allies and DJJ leaders poking out from underneath their winter hats. That’s Barry! And Reb Moshe! I felt so proud to see DJJniks standing among this group of incredible activists.

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Winning Immigration Justice in Michigan: A message from Bobbi Spiegler

I’ve been organizing for justice for decades. 

I’m so grateful that at this moment in my life, and at this moment in our country, to be doing this work Detroit Jews for Justice. DJJ provides an outlet for me to take meaningful action on the issue I feel most passionate about today: immigration.

As a part of the national movement to commemorate Tisha B’av (the Jewish holiday of mourning) with a “Close the Camps” action, DJJ spearheaded a demonstration at the Dearborn Police Headquarters. We partnered with Muslim and immigrant communities to challenge the policy of collaboration between the Dearborn Police and ICE. We turned out nearly 200 people, along with a dozen faith and political leaders. Guess what - we won! Within the week, the Dearborn City Council ended the police contract with ICE. You can hear Rabbi Alana’s reflections on the win by following this link. 

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Your Money’s No Good Here.

Everyone who gives to DJJ has a story.

 

Their ancestors were immigrants and refugees.

Their rabbi taught them to pursue justice.

Their rabbi did NOT teach them to pursue justice.

They live in the area and are striving to be a good neighbor.

Their family left Detroit and they want to stay connected.

This is the Jewish community they’ve been waiting for.

 

These are the stories that fuel our work. 

So your money’s no good here - not without your story!

 

We know we can count on you to help us raise $5000 before the end of the year. That way we’ll be able to pay our rent, compensate our talented employees, fund training for passionate leaders, offer respectful honorariums to our powerful partners, etc. 

 

But we need more than that. We need to know how giving to DJJ helps you live your values, so we can keep shaping this organization in the image of our hundreds of supporters like you.

 

So when you give to DJJ before year-end, and we really hope you will, we invite you to tell us why. With the help of your gifts of stories and funds, we can channel energy, build momentum, forge partnerships, and move our community forward.

 

Thank You!

Rabbi Alana Alpert

Donate to Detroit Jews for Justice 

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Allie's Reflections from Jewish Left Action Camp!

Last weekend I attended a non-violent direct action training that was put on by If Not Now, Never Again Action, and a new organization called Jews Against White Nationalism.  

It was a really cool experience to be in the room with Jewish folks of all ages, from all over the country, some with differing political views who were ready to throw down and acquire new direct action skills together, as the #NewJewishLeft.  It feels hard to summarize all of the things we covered, because there was so much content and so much of it seemed powerful, but below I’ll highlight the parts that stuck with me most: 

HOW WE PLAN AND CONCEIVE ACTIONS

Points of intervention:  This was a concept that was explained to us as a way to open up the way we think about planning actions.  So often, we plan our actions at the point of decision- i.e. causing a disruption at the place where the destructive decisions are being made.  We learned that there are tons of other ways to approach direct action by changing the point of intervention. Beautiful trouble has a ton of awesome resources that can help to diversify how and where we demonstrate our power through direct action.  It was a great exercise to think through different issues and all the different ways to demonstrate power at different points in the process.

Tactic, Tone, Setting:  As another exercise to open up the way we plan actions in new, creative ways, we did the tactic, tone, setting activity.  Essentially, there were three piles of note cards. The first pile had a different setting on each card, i.e. grocery story, public library, carnival, the park, etc.  The second pile had a different tactic on each card, i.e. mass disruption, sit in, die in, boycott, rally, political theater etc. The third had different tones on each card, i.e. serious, aggressive, sad, silly, etc.  The challenge was to pick one card from each pile, and to use 5 minutes to plan and act out an action that fits the three criteria. This made for some really interesting action ideas, and challenged me to expand the way I approach what actions can look like.  Also I laughed a lot when I watched a wedding officiated by Mike Pence, to celebrate the union of the republican party and white nationalism. 

 

Bonus points if you can find me in this joyful group photo!  

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Watch: "Examining Antisemitism One Year After Tree of Life Webinar"

Our friends and comrades at Bend the Arc, Carolina Jews for Justice, Jewish Community Action, Political Research Associates (& many more!) bring you an excellent resource. 

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