Bending the Arc
"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK
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Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.
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Participate in National Gun Violence Awareness Day
June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The recently formed collaborative group Nuns Against Gun Violence is preparing materials for religious Congregations to use on that day. This new group consists of justice promoters from congregations across the country and is supported by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
More details will be shared from the CSA JPIC Office, but for now, please mark your calendars and plan to participate in some way. Here are some suggestions:
- Place a light or candle in your window as a sign of your commitment to bringing this issue to light.
- Wear Orange to honor survivors of gun violence. Learn more about the Wear Orange movement here: https://everytownsupportfund.org/how-to-participate-in-wear-orange/
- Take a picture of your candle or yourself in orange and post to social media. Flood social media with your light amidst the darkness of violence and a call for action to end gun violence. Email your photos to email@example.com, if you are willing to be featured on CSA social media sites.
- Read the recently released FACT SHEET where President Biden announces 13 New Action to Reduce Gun Violence.
Raising Trans Awareness and LGBTQIA+ Inclusion with Authentic Conversations
CSA has partnered with the Arc of Fond du Lac and United for Diversity to bring the community a special program called, "Authentic Conversations: Conscious-Driven Decision Making to Enlighten and Evolve" with Dr. Elijah Nichols.
Dr. Nichols has helped others increase their Trans Awareness and elevate company morale without forcing change on company or culture or individual religious beliefs. All are invited to attend this in-person training session:
Thursday, June 1, 2023
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Breakfast
9:00 - 10:30 Presentation
10:30 - 11:00 Questions & Conversations
Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, WI
Building O, Conference Center, Room O109C
As CSA is a major sponsor for this event, there is no cost to attend if you are a CSA affiliate. Contact Tracy Abler at firstname.lastname@example.org for the coupon code.
Authentic Conversations: Conscious-Driven Decision Making to Enlighten and Evolve – The Arc Fond du Lac (arcfdl.org)
Come energize your morning with others!
Bringing Laudato Si’ into your wardrobe
In a recent NCR online article, Christopher Cox, associate director of Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment, “understanding the connections between the poor, climate change and the apparel industry is crucial.” Cox, a friend and former colleague to the CSA Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office, has spent years working on the Human Thread Campaign, a Catholic movement in solidarity with garment workers, and is now involved in encouraging corporate responsibility through shareholder engagement. Read more and learn how to bring Laudato Si’ into your wardrobe here.
International Day for Biodiversity, May 22
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) was adopted in December 2022 at COP 15 following a 4-year consultation and negotiation process. This historic framework, which supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. How do we go from agreement to action? Learn more!
We know that everything in nature is interconnected - plants, animals, micro-organisms, and us. Without one, the other is vulnerable. But biodiversity is facing a major threat from human activities. Protecting biodiversity is vital to safeguard our future and that of generations to come. People Need Biodiversity!
If you agree, watch and share this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiwkDKBJB4s
UNANIMA International News from the UN and Around the World
The May 2023 Newsletter UNANIMA International (UI) is now available and can be accessed through the website: https://unanima-international.org/newsletters/ You can also sign up to receive these newsletters in your inbox every two months in one of four different languages.
The staff LOVE to hear from its members. Please feel free to drop Jean, Eliza or Lara a message to complement the amazing work they are doing. Emails can be sent to email@example.com
REMINDER! Please consider nominating a woman for the annual Woman of Courage Award. Each year UNANIMA International presents this award, which honors women from around the world who have exhibited exceptional courage and leadership to make a difference in their communities, especially for the betterment of the lives of women and children. Nomination guidelines are here.
U.S. Forest Service studies the trees on the CSA campus
Are you fascinated by trees? Do you notice when they change according to the season and when they are healthy or diseased? Do you have a favorite tree or trees? Is there a tree in your view from your prayer chair where you meditate?
Our CSA property includes woodlands, prairie, streams, and ponds. S. Hertha wrote, “We have been part of a research project sponsored by the US Forest Service for many years. Every seven years the Forest Service measures trees in three or four areas in our woodlands to study the health and growth of the trees. The project extrapolates information about the health of the environment from the health of the trees. “
There are four sites that are being studied, three in the woodlands and one in the prairie. The information gathered from these four sites represents the average findings in a 640-acre area.
The agent, who studied the same trees seven years ago, buried a nail in the ground along with a GPS to mark the coordinates of the trees in the study. He measured the growth in circumference and height of selected trees to determine the health of those trees and the surrounding vegetation.
The selected trees are marked with a white paste horizontally and vertically.
The agent marked a 12-foot circle around the GPS point and counted the tree saplings and vegetation, such as weeds, flowers, and mushrooms. He studied the trees for four hours while writing his report, which is pending.
Healthy forests and grasslands help mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in plants and soils. The Forest Service works with private landowners, non-governmental organizations, and tribal governments to foster climate-informed, sustainable land management. To learn about the U.S. Forest Service, click https://www.fs.usda.gov/.
How do trees reduce the effects of climate change? As trees grow, they take up carbon from the atmosphere. Strategically placed trees help cut energy costs in your home. They provide cooling shade in summer and block cold winter winds. Click to learn more: https://www.fs.usda.gov/search?Content=climate+change
Plant a tree! Hug a tree! Donate a tree in memory of your loved one!
The JPIC Office has added the DVD, “The Hidden Life of Trees” to its Resource Library. The film is based on the worldwide bestselling book, by Peter Wohlleben, which has profoundly changed how we think of forests. Watch the trailer now and consider borrowing the DVD to show in your homes and circles. A list of ecology education resources available for loan, from the JPIC Library, can be found here: JPIC Resources.
Remembering George Floyd – May 25
I vividly remember where I was the morning following the murder of George Floyd. I was working from home, physically and emotionally unable to focus on anything but the video (over and over again), the outcries of injustice, and the relentless feeling of pain, disbelief, and frustration that followed me for days. I also remember the first phone call I had with anyone that day. It was a coworker who merely agreed, “ya, how terrible” while hardly skipping a bit in her normal conversation that I was no longer able to listen to. I needed to find “my people” - others with the same emotion and need to take action. For weeks and months following, I continued to turn to those supporters, who are now my confidants, teachers, and treasured friends. These friends and I have been doing the work of telling the untold history of racism that was largely re-ignited May 25, 2020.
I think it is important to not only say his name, but to remember who George Floyd was. He was a man raised in a racially segregated and economically impoverished Houston neighborhood. He was a descendent of a formerly enslaved Black farmer, whose wealth was stripped away by the politics of white backlash. His mother grew up as one of 13 children, searching in vain for an escape from intergenerational poverty. His father was an inspiring musician with a weakness for alcohol and extramarital carousing. George himself struggled with drug addiction, frequent arrests, and a man whose muscular physical interior hid a gentle soul that battled with pain, anxiety, claustrophobia, and depression. Why did society and our criminal justice system fail to see the humanity of Mr. Floyd so badly? What have we been taught? Or maybe worse, what have we not been taught?
I co-lead a program called, The Humanity Project: Telling the Untold Story. We use videos, activities, and courageous conversations to help our participants see racism as a social construct; understand how forms of slavery and attacks on Black Americans have continued since the 13th Amendment, just in new forms and disguises; and have taken a hard look at discriminatory laws and practices that continue to create generations of wealth and education gaps and disproportionately criminalize Black men and women.
Nearly 40 CSA Sisters and Associates have participated in The Humanity Project since its inception in 2015. The 2022-2023 program year is coming to an end. Our final session is being hosted by Motherhouse Sisters in Founders Hall on June 6th. I look forward to this in-person interaction and am grateful to CSA for their steadfast work around racial justice and its intersecting forms of bias, prejudice, and injustice.
I have invited other Sisters and Associates to also share their experiences of George Floyd’s murder and their awareness of racism today. Here are some of their responses:
“George Floyd’s murder got national recognition because a bystander took action and filmed it on her phone. Ordinary people got a national movement started because they noticed and did something. It helped me realize that some of the seemingly insignificant things I notice and do can have repercussions. The few interactions I have had in the past couple of years are anything but spectacular, yet, I hope they have sent a small ripple into the Fond du Lac community.
"One example stands out. I was leaving St. Mary’s Church at noon one day and a Black bicycler caught my eye. I smiled and we greeted each other. As I reached the center of the street he turned around and asked me about the Church building. Then asked me to pray for him. ‘Yes’ I said, ‘but let’s get out of the middle of the street.’ He proceeded to sing a song before we prayed. Really, the song was a part of the prayer.” - Sister Josephine Goebel, CSA
“I live in Minneapolis and the area where George Floyd was murdered was very close to where my brother and his family live. I was going through a period of no immunity and was literally stuck in my home with a foreign exchange student from Kyrgyzstan during this time. My children were delivering groceries to me. The rest of my family however was very active. My son and his wife and young sons went down to the area to clean up the next day. That was what many of the residents were doing along with passing out water, food and other necessities. That area of uptown where George was murdered is now a food desert after this incident. There was a march down my street in protest and the picture of the murder of a friend of my daughter’s when he was sitting in a car with his girlfriend and young child in the back also flashed into my mind. We set up neighborhood watches on my street and exchanged phone numbers. I saw trucks and cars with out of state plates coming into our neighborhoods to create problems. Most of the people of Minneapolis were not violent. The city has calmed down, but there needs to be more education and mental health professionals going out on calls with the police or instead of them in many cases. I still pray that this horror makes a difference!” - CSA Associate, Lynn Barber
Read about the George Floyd Community of Care in Minneapolis.
“I particularly remembered how racism affects us at Mass on Mother's Day. I recognized many people who were there but when I asked myself who was missing, I remembered the mothers and their families at the border who were trying their best to preserve lives without shelter from the sun, food, water or bathrooms for their children. We continue as a society to kneel on the necks of those who cannot defend themselves. Like George Floyd, their name is Jesus.” - CSA Associate, Mary Gorske
“When I think back on this event, I recall discussions with two black women at my workplace who were not faring great in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. It's the 21st century, yet there we were, the same horrific record continued to play... They were both challenged by a sense of isolation: in many workplaces, politics and religion are taboo topics. Since no one at work was talking about George Floyd, they felt their white co-workers either were not affected by this murder, or perhaps didn't care. And before I reached out to the only black person on my team, I hesitated momentarily, unsure if I should. Does a black person really want to hear from a pasty, middle-aged white woman right now?
"I recall my anger from the news footage, which morphed into incredulity and sorrow like the inside of a lava lamp. If a police officer really believes their life is in danger, they don't keep their hands in their pockets. A jury agreed." - CSA Associate Kelly Robe
Kelly also shares the instructions on one of the signs at the George Floyd Memorial Square that continue to be a good reminder for her, and should be for us all:
- Decenter yourself and come to listen, learn, mourn, and witness. Remember you are here to support, not to be supported.
- Seek to contribute to the energy of the space, rather than drain it. Bring your own processing to other white folks so that you will not harm BIPOC [black and indigenous people of color.]
- Visitors are encouraged to be ‘mindful’ of whether their “volume, pace, and movements are supporting or undermining” efforts to ‘decenter’ themselves and urges them to not take pictures of people without their consent.
- If you witness white folks doing problematic things, speak up with compassion to take the burden off of Black folks and our siblings of color whenever appropriate. Seek to engage rather than escalate, so that it can be a learning movement rather than a disruption.
Honoring the 75th Anniversary of International Day of UN Peacekeepers
Peacekeepers help to prevent conflict, protect civilians, advance political solutions, and support democratic processes. They promote human rights, build capacity of state institutions, and ensure that women and youth lead and participate in peace processes and nation-building. Today, UN peacekeepers work in increasingly dangerous contexts and are targeted with violence.
The theme for this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers is "Peace Begins with Me". Since 1948, more than 2 million men and women have served in 72 peacekeeping operations. Read more about the 75th Anniversary.
Read about the important role that women play in peacekeeping.
Link between forced migration and human trafficking
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and the National Advocacy of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, faith-based networks that work to end human trafficking, deplore the increase in human trafficking in the United States and around the world, some of which results from unprecedented forced migration, and is exacerbated by United States’ law and policy.
At a time when a record number of people are on the move, the United States is woefully underprepared to address the threat human traffickers pose to those forced to leave their homes.
While there is widespread consensus on the urgent need to combat human trafficking, there is little understanding of systemic, root causes, like forced migration, and the need to address the U.S. policies that may inadvertently facilitate the exploitation of migrants and immigrants by traffickers.
Join a 60-minute virtual briefing on June 14 at 2 p.m. that will explore the dangerous link between forced migration and human trafficking. Hear first-hand accounts from a migrant survivor of human trafficking and women religious who accompany migrants facing dangers posed by human traffickers. Listen as they share their experiences and use their expertise to illustrate the dangerous connection between forced migration and human trafficking.
Protecting Border Communities, Border Lands, and Border Wildlife
On May 9, 2023, CSA, and other women religious communities, joined NGOs like Defenders for Life and Southern Border Communities Coalition in signing a letter urging Congress to protect border communities, border lands and border wildlife in FY24 appropriations. This letter asks congressional appropriators to rescind all previously appropriated border wall funding, reject proposals for new funding and provide funding to land management agencies to mitigate damage from wall construction.
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