In my early 20s, I worked as a web developer for a feminist non-profit. One of my tasks was to manage the databases that drove communications. As I tested new features, I used my own email address, over and over, to subscribe and unsubscribe from dozens of mailing lists. Soon, I started receiving a plethora of emails about social justice issues, from a wide variety of organizations. While I cared deeply about many of these causes, it wasn’t realistic (or even possible) for me to participate in all of them. But it was important to me to know what was going on in various movements and consider what I could manage to do to make a difference.
Since I’ve become UUCF’s lay minister for social justice, congregants have started sending me invitations to and announcements from their various social justice activities. I’ve been so impressed with the breadth and depth of the involvement of UUCF members in our community. But I’ve also heard another message – from people who want to get involved but aren’t sure how. There’s so much happening, and it moves so quickly. How to keep track? What does one actually do at a local government meeting? Who is organizing this teach-in? Which protest is this week, and which is next?
I’d like to encourage us to encourage each other. Not by guilt-tripping or spamming, but by offering opportunities and making them more accessible. If you’re asking people to attend a protest, have you offered to meet them there and walk with them? If you are holding a meeting, have you considered providing child care so that busy parents could attend? Does your letter-writing event involve snacks, so that people coming straight from work (or who are struggling with food insecurity) can participate?
One resource we haven’t used as much as we could is our UUCF Social Action Facebook group. We have about 30 members, but I know there are more of us interested in social justice opportunities. This group provides a chance to find ways to connect to social justice movements, and to let others in our community know what opportunities are upcoming. I’d like to encourage folks who aren’t part of this group but have an interest in social justice to join, and for those who are organizing within our movement to share the work they’ve been doing.
Right now, we’re in a liminal time. We have posted the job description for a social justice coordinator, but we haven’t hired one yet. (The posting closes Nov. 15. Please encourage anyone you think might have the qualifications to apply!) While we’ve discussed where we think our social justice ministry should grow, we haven’t made many changes yet. But that doesn’t stop us from growing our own personal social justice ministries or growing together as a community.