People power. That’s my personal mantra for the Organizing Team, and a two word explanation for why I love Detroit Jews for Justice. Just when I’m feeling at my wits end about the political landscape, I get to show up for a meeting with my Organizing Team co-chair, Oren Brandvain, and DJJ’s organizer, Eleanor Gamalski and together we navigate the complexities of this work through laughter, French fries, yoga, and wildly stimulating conversation. I have to end each meeting letting them know just how smart I think they are.
Organizing Team is made up of much more than Eleanoren though (Eleanor, Oren, and Nora…get it?!). Our work is steeped in the leadership and planning of Rabbi Alana Alpert and Blair Nosan as well as our burgeoning TEAM! We’ve had two gatherings so far, and (as you’ll find out if you keep reading) we are diving head first into shaping and implementing the political work of Detroit Jews for Justice.
As if that task doesn’t sound challenging enough – we’ve already upped the ante: we are simultaneously working on a ballot initiative as part of the Time to Care Coalition while laying the groundwork for what Organizing Team will be. The Time to Care coalition is organizing to secure Earned Sick Leave legislation on Michigan’s November ballot. DJJ has made an internal goal of gathering 1000 signatures for the ballot proposal, and we are almost halfway to our goal!
We’ve decided to take on Time to Care because:
Earned Sick Leave is common-sense legislation that 83% of Michiganders already agree with; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, young, old, poor and rich – everyone in this state benefits when our workers can afford to take time off to ensure that they and their families stay healthy.
We’re conducting research through action! By participating in a pilot campaign, we will soon be able to answer questions like ‘What does it look like for DJJ to participate in a coalition-run campaign? How can we communicate, meet and work together to be effective partners in a coalition? How do we choose the issues and/or campaigns we want to work on?’ with real, shared experience.
All that said, it’s also just good fun! DJJniks have been getting together to canvas Eastern Market, Wayne State, and Downtown. We’re pairing up to visit Synagogues, Churches, and community events with the express interest in spreading the word about DJJ and collecting signatures. Within this political work there is also real opportunity for us to build relationships with one another - formally through small group and 1:1 discussion in our meetings as well as in the informal spaces of canvassing together.
You may be wondering at this point, how did the Organizing Team get all of this together in only two gatherings?! Well, as part of the Time to Care Coalition we had an hour-long training from Dessa Cosma, Director of the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan; and we’ve secured a small grant from the coalition to hire our very own Hannah Miller to help coordinate all of our petitioning efforts.
Our team is growing – there is a place for all of you in this organizing work that we’re building – whether it’s through Arts Culture and Community Building, reading our emails and spreading the word, or joining our next Organizing Team Meeting (March 10th at 7pm!) we can’t wait to work with you.