Mothers Day on Angel Island

Hello Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. My husband and I took a lovely walk today on the 5 mile perimeter trail around Angel Island. It is Mothers Day and the Tiburon ferry crew was handing out flowers.

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Angel Island was an immigration station like Ellis Island. I started thinking about refugees and the great mass of humanity that came to our shores, integrated, and prospered. Now, I know not all of this is a happy story, but by and large our melting pot has been a great success.

What Can You Do? Call your member of Congress and ask them to create an affirming immigration policy, provide support for DREAMers and grant amnesty for the 12 million people that are already here and are making our country a great place to be. If you would like to know the kinds of things immigrants bring to and build in this country, check out this list from the International Rescue Committee.

Personal Reflection:  my family sailed by boat to the shores of this country in the mid to late 1800’s. They arrived before there were immigration stations. They simply purchased their fare and were able to arrive, travel to the Midwest, and start farming. I descend from these immigrants.

Later in our history, others came to these shores and some were denied. Now we have nearly a closed-door policy and that is not okay. Closing the door to immigrants and refugees do not represent my values.

This bench that I saw today on Angel Island says it all. We are better than the current policy of our government. Let’s work to open the doors again for those searching for a better life and safe harbor.

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Have a good week.

–Molly Hermes

 

Truth and Reconciliation

Hello Everyone,

A new and important memorial opened in Montgomery, Alabama two weeks ago. It is the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice.

In its own words, “the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”

In reporting on the new memorial, the Montgomery Advertiser issued an apology for its past coverage of the victims of lynching:  Montgomery Advertiser Coverage.  I read all the articles that the Montgomery Advertiser wrote about the New Memorial and walked through the on-line version of the EJI Memorial for Peace and Justice. I am not sure when I will get to Montgomery, so it is important to view this on-line.

What can you do?  Support the Movement for Black Lives, Black Lives Matter, Showing up for Racial Justice, Groundwork, Stay Woke, and the Equal Justice Initiative among many organizations. Become involved.  If you are a white person, seek out and receive anti-racism training. Call yourself into this movement. Vote for fair judges and district attorneys. Call yourself into action whenever you see racial injustice. Work to create a just future for all.  Don’t shy away from this ugly past for the truth will set all of us free.

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Reflection: This country has been shaped on slavery, racism, and treatment of the “other” in all forms. This is an ugly history and one that has not been acknowledged or resolved to the level necessary, especially by white people (my community).  Sometimes it is said “this is not my history, I wasn’t around at that time, what does it have to do with me?”  My answer is everything. This is OUR history. There are those that perpetrated violence and those on the receiving end of violence.  And that violence has a deep legacy. It is past time to acknowledge the truth.  I am deeply grateful the memorial was built and will go to Montgomery to see it.

We now have a coarseness in our politics that attacks people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, non-Christian peoples, foreigners, etc.  And, it is possible for this coarseness to exist because the ugliness of our past is still there, just under the surface, but it is emerging in most of our communities.

You can see this ugliness emerge in Charlottesville, Trump rallies, Welfare Reform 2.0, the Muslim ban, the comments around the Para Olympics, etc. You can see the ugliness emerge in my community with how our Sheriff treats non-citizens.  It is all related. If you can make the “other” out of one group, we are all harmed.

I was most moved by EJI director’s Bryan Stevenson’s statement that he and his team did the research and built the memorial because it is clear we will not progress in the law surrounding unequal justice of African Americans until we confront this past.

That statement hit home to me, because we need a sea change in progressing racial justice.  Let’s all work every day to bend that arc toward equal justice and treatment for all.

In gratitude,

Molly Hermes

Welfare Reform? Again?

Hello Everyone,

I hope you had a good week.  This blog post begins a series on civil rights, human rights, and the way we treat people.  With the coarseness in our politics getting worse, a good reminder is The Golden Rule:  “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt 7:12).

The Trump Administration is embarking on Welfare Reform 2.0. You can read about it from Wyoming Public RadioThe rents on HUD housing will be tripled.

Every community has people living in HUD supported housing.  Every community is grappling with homelessness. Every community is grappling with wage stagnation. At a time when taxes were cut on the wealthiest individuals and corporations, a modest amount of housing assistance is aimed to be taken away.

What can you do?  Call your Congresspeople and say NO to any cuts to HUD housing. The income qualifying limits needed to receive HUD housing are very small, and HUD housing overwhelming helps the disabled and elderly.

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Reflection:  5 million people in the U.S. receive rental assistance from HUD.   However, millions more receive no rental assistance, and many are homeless.  We see homelessness in every community, including mine. So, let’s increase supportive housing and not reduce it.  Here is a good article from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities where these facts come from.  Check out the data map for statistics on your state.

As my grandmother would say, remember the Golden Rule:  “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Until next time,

Molly Hermes

Education – Colorado

Hello Everyone,

Colorado teachers are headed to the State Capitol on Friday, April 27th. They are following behind West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona in demanding sustainable salaries and increased school funding. You can watch a good video here:  April 27th Colorado Teachers.

Colorado, like Oklahoma, has 4-day school weeks to save money in 45% of their districts. You can read a good article here from Colorado Public Radio: Colorado Public Radio Article 2017.

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Reflection: when I was growing up, my community put education first. Yes, it is costly, but education is the focal point of any community. Quality education levels the playing field, and is the economic and social engine of any healthy community.  It says a lot about our priorities as a country when we don’t put education first. And, we can’t compete with the rest of the world unless we do.  Let’s put children and families first in all that we do!

Have a great day!

–Molly Hermes

Children First

Are the Kids All Right?  A society that is civil makes sure to take care of the youngest.  Children do not vote, so how do they rank in the electoral process in your state? And who watches out for their interests?

Weekly Action: Universal prekindergarten would be a great benefit to families and to our economy.  Access to education and care during the first 5 years is critical to the success of any child over their entire life. Does your state fund prekindergarten programs? If this issue so moves you, how can you get involved?

  • Georgia was the first state in the nation to pass universal prekindergarten funding back in the late 1990s. An entire generation of Georgia children have had access to prekindergarten.
  • California tried and failed with their ballot initiative back in 2006, but a new coalition called Choose Children is going to try again by putting the interests of children front and center when we vote for the next California governor in November 2018.

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Reflection on Georgia:

Universal prekindergarten is now funded in Georgia without income limitations and is a bi-partisan electoral success. It is here to stay and benefits the state in so many ways. How did it come about? Here is a great article from the Atlantic:

Georgia’s program could be funded at a higher level, in order to eliminate the wait-list. However, Georgia, unlike California, has a solid base of understanding across all electoral constituencies upon which to build.

Each day, my thought goes out to how to build a more civil, supportive society that benefits all and becomes “the norm” upon which a vast majority can agree. Universal prekindergarten is one of those issues that can cross polarized political lines. Instead of arguing about what the future should look like, it is important to recognize that, in some states, the future has arrived.  Let’s all follow Georgia’s example and put children first!

Have a great week,

Molly Hermes

Education – West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona

My phone banking team was calling into Oklahoma in support of a State House candidate in October 2017.  The fact sheet said that the schools were only open 4 days a week due to state budget cuts.  I was dumbfounded. I had never heard of that before.  And here we are a few months later and that fact is in the news everywhere. Vox News has a great set of podcasts as to what is happening in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona and you can listen here:  Vox: Oaklahoma Walkout Explained

Why is education important? Because it is one of the tools that equalizes society and provides an engine for economic growth.  Without it, we will not be able to compete in the world. Period.

Weekly Action: what is the state of education in your community?  Is education a priority or is more support needed?  Please call your State and US Congressional Representative and thank them if the schools are in good shape. If the schools are underfunded, ask them to make education a #1 priority. The calls only take 2 minutes and they are the first step in putting an issue on your elected representatives’ radar. 

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Personal Reflection:  I grew up in a small town in Ohio with a school system that was first rate.  I didn’t always like going to school, but, I never doubted the value of the education I received.

The schools had a lot of community support. One year, my mom headed the committee to ensure passage of the “tax levy” to increase school funding. She always said that the tax amounted to the cost of a bag of groceries over a one-year period.

About that bag of groceries: If people in communities are getting raises in their jobs, then they have the money to give the schools a raise. If wages are not increasing and not equal, that bag of groceries becomes a big deal.

Without adequate funding, the schools start cutting back and do not provide art and music and other activities that make life worth living and it all becomes a downward spiral.

Let’s start an upward spiral and put families and communities first.

Have a great week,

Molly Hermes

The National Budget after March 23, 2018

Hi Everyone,

March 23, 2018 was the day the Continuing Budget Resolution that goes through September 2018 was signed. The government did not shut down.  The budget was not as drastic as feared mostly because lawmakers are facing elections in 2018. I, personally, was presently surprised that not everything I care about was gutted (as promised by some). However, our values at a national level are still under attack, make no mistake about that.

For more on the Federal Budget, please check out major newspapers around the date March 23rd online. I am going to do a bit more of a deep dive in preparation for next September and will publish a blog post detailing more.

Happy Sunday,

Molly Hermes

 

Illinois Primaries in March

Hello Everyone,

This Illinois primaries just happened on March 20, 2018, and I have updated the races to watch for the US House of Representatives, the Illinois State House, and the Illinois Senate.

Interesting Facts:

  • US House of Representatives:  there are 5 races that to watch and 4 to flip
  • The race I am excited about is for Lauren Underwood who is running for the US House in Illinois CD14. She is the kind of value’s centered candidate that I support.
  • The State House and State Senate races are interesting.  There are lots of incumbents not running which provides an opening for candidates with my values. Some of these candidates look really great, and some are so poorly funded that they don’t have websites. But, I found either a Facebook page or Twitter account for them all.

Check out the slates of candidates here:  US House of Representatives, State House RacesState Senate Races, and there are no new US Senate races as the next time for Illinois will be in 2020 (the US Senate is divided in 3 and the elections are spread out in 3 distinct cycles).

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Easter, Passover, and spring!  My memories of this time from my childhood is having the ground smell of spring after a long and usually snowy winter.  The grass would be wet, and little buds would be sprouting everywhere. New life, spring, bunnies, eggs, hope, return, freedom and new beginnings are my touchstones at this time.

No matter your practice, I am finding plenty to be hopeful for this Spring as I strengthen the clarity around my values and my resolve to help create a better world that is free and fair for all.

Onward into the month of April!

Blessed be.

–Molly Hermes

The Budget and ICE

This week, Congress is set to pass a continuing resolution (CR) which is the budget that they haven’t been able to agree on. But, instead of funding the government for the next month, they are planning on funding the government through September 2018. Here are some actions to take around this issue from Indivisible.

Link:  March 23 Spending Bill

What caught my attention the most in the above update is the increased funding in ICE officers to carry out the deportation quotas of this President.

One really important thing I learned last year from Asian Americans Advancing Justice is that the only way ICE can be successful in deporting 12 million people is if our local law enforcement cooperates. In California, my town is a sanctuary city and California is a sanctuary state by virtue of the California Values Act (both passed in 2017). What this means is that our local law enforcement cannot do the bidding of this President.

What protections does your community offer? And can you work with others on putting needed protections in place?

Have a good week!

–Molly