How to Advocate and Connect with Your Community

Hi Friends!
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday. I’d love to hear about any conversations that took place around race or racial justice issues with family and friends — even if it wasn’t productive, feel free to share your experience trying to discuss these topics.
I had time to do a little digging about the County Board meetings. They are held monthly on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings with different agenda items at each meeting. Members of the public who wish to speak must follow very detailed rules and fill out a slip to speak on an agenda item. I think the most important part right now is that in February the Board will be reviewing the proposed budget for the 2018–19 fiscal year and will have a Public Hearing that month. Unless someone knows otherwise, it sounds like we should make a point of being very vocal during this time, both in person and by email. I’ll keep this on our radar.
I had missed this before from our county, but they put out a strong statement after Charlottesville regarding actions the Board will be taking to combat racism and bigotry, especially related to their desire/ability to rename roads/schools that commemorate Confederate leaders.
Some good news on the role of SROs in our schools and the connection to the school-to-prison pipeline. The county-wide PTA has put together a recommendation to the School Board regarding the pending MOU renewal and new Student Rights document, which will be voted on soon. The summary of the position is: “The Virginia Department of Justice created a Model MOU balancing school and police needs, considering the statewide problem of a school to prison pipeline. Specific delineations in this Model MOU reflect that generally SROs not be involved in administrative searches or school discipline, and that interviewing and questioning students by SROs at school should be limited to potential criminal activity at school or specific exigent circumstances. Parental notification should be provided when such questioning must occur.”
I heard back from the local chapter of the NAACP, which meets monthly on the third Monday of every month at 7:00 pm. I will be finding an opportunity to attend. Please let me know if you’re interested in attending — meetings are open to all, so no need to make a special arrangement.
I also heard back from SURJ DC, which Black Lives Matter DC connected me with rather than responding directly, which I completely understand and support. They work closely in collaboration and I’m hoping to have a phone call with them this week to see how we might coordinate our efforts.
I also heard back from the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) and the Legal Aid Justice Center. Many of their efforts are statewide advocacy, like their annual Immigrant Advocacy Day in January in Richmond. The person who responded to me also works to distribute food in our community early on Thursday mornings and the next one is this week. If you’re interested, please let me know right away and I’ll connect you. Otherwise, we can plan on the December one, perhaps.
I hope to put together a quick survey of everyone’s interests going into the new year so we can plan some further meetings/actions and so I can try to find resources related to those topics to share with everyone. I know that this time of year is very busy with the holidays, so I’ll try to get the survey out in the next couple of weeks before Hanukkah begins.
Thanks for reading!

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