Skip to main content

Building community, sharing hope, and standing for justice since 2004

Upcoming Events

Please join us for any of these upcoming ESTHER events!

  • To learn more about a particular event, click on its title
  • To see the complete ESTHER calendar, click on More at the bottom left of the listing
Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Summer of Solidarity Training Session from WISDOM & EXPO Zoom Webinar
Sunday, August 9, 2020 - 2:00pm
New Mosque Groundbreaking Ceremony 2680 Marathon Ave, Neenah, WI 54956
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 11:00am - 12:30pm
Religious Leaders Caucus Meeting Zoom Teleconference
Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Summer of Solidarity Training Session from WISDOM & EXPO Zoom Webinar
Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 10:00am - 11:30am
ESTHER Finance Committee Meeting Zoom Meeting

Statement on Systemic Racial Injustice and Call for Change

This statement from ESTHER President Gary Crevier in regard to the killing of George Floyd, the protests against systemic racial injustice and the movement for black lives was issued on Saturday, June 6.

We at ESTHER here in the Fox Valley are outraged at the merciless murder of George Floyd and at the inhumanity so often experienced by people of color. We understand the protests that have been provoked in our cities to be the language of the unheard, and we advocate for the prosecution of those police officers involved in this killing. Black lives do matter.

ESTHER decries the presence of racism in our culture and commits itself to being an anti-racist organization, working for equity and justice. May we be humble enough to recognize that racism is so pervasive that it is like the air we breathe. May we be open enough to recognize it in ourselves, kind enough to help others to see their own and courageous enough to join community organizations in our efforts to confront our systemic racism.

Gary Crevier
ESTHER President

 

New Mosque Groundbreaking Ceremony

Date: 
Sunday, August 9, 2020 - 2:00pm
Location: 
2680 Marathon Ave, Neenah, WI 54956
Architect’s rendering of new FVIS mosque

Architect’s rendering of new mosque for Fox Valley Islamic Society

Fox Valley Islamic Society announces the groundbreaking ceremony for its new mosque. The event will occur on Sunday, August 9, 2020, at the site of the new facility, 2680 Marathon Avenue, Neenah, WI  54956. Planning for the mosque has been in process for an extended period, and with widespread community support, the City of Neenah issued a special-use permit about a year ago to allow construction on this site.

All are invited to attend the ceremony. Please plan to wear a mask and observe social distancing at the event.

RSVPs to the Islamic Society are requested by August 3 to aid in planning, using one of the following:

The Society’s longstanding “Under the Tent” interfaith event, typically held at the Mosque on the first Sunday in August, will not be held in 2020 because of the risks associated with the pandemic. The Society’s members hope you will be able to attend this groundbreaking instead.

Are You Part of the Masquerade?

homemade face maskThe first time I went out into public places wearing a mask in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was different. I realized that I could not recognize people, nor could they recognize me. What is more important than our individual identities is the identity of the common good. The good of my community and society requires me to filter out as much virus as I can by wearing a mask. It was Thomas Aquinas who wrote, “The common good of many is more godlike than the good of an individual.”

And what about racism? If it is like the air we breathe, then yes, we need filters, masks of humility, masks of justice, masks of respect that will protect us from repeating our long systemic history of oppression towards people of color. Just as there are those who don't wear masks to protect themselves and others from the virus because, in their minds, they feel they are somehow above it all, so too there are those who feel that they are not part of our systemic racism and are somehow above it all. What masquerade are you part of?

What is an Anti-Racist Organization?

ESTHER has adopted the goal of becoming an anti-racist organization, but we have never defined very clearly what that means. This post is intended to start a discussion on that topic, and for that purpose, I suggest that we should explore the implications of the definitions proposed by Ibram X. Kendi in his book How to be an Antiracist.[i]

Racism Grows from Racist Policies

Kendi begins with the idea that racist policies are adopted out of financial self-interest and not because of racist ideas and prejudices. The racist ideas and prejudices are created later to justify the policies (p. 42). For example, the Atlantic Slave Trade did not develop because Europeans hated Africans or believed them to be inferior. The trade developed because plantation owners in the American colonies were willing to pay for slaves to work in their sugar cane, rice and tobacco plantations. The racist claims that Africans were inferior to Europeans grew up later as justifications for the slave trade and for the practice of slavery in the colonies. The sequence also works in reverse. Reductions in racist ideas and prejudices follow policy changes rather than preceding them. For example, the integration of the schools in the South was followed by a reduction in racist prejudices in that region.

Thus, for Kendi, the focus in fighting racism must be on changing racist policies, not racist attitudes. Changes in attitudes will follow when the policies are changed. This is the basis of his definitions of “racist” and “antiracist,” which are (p. 13):

Antiracism, Belonging and Community: A Virtual Convening

Posted in
Date: 
Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 12:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: 
Virtual Event

Imagine Fox Cities

REGISTER TODAY

Are you looking for ways to promote social justice and healing in these divisive times?

Register today for the virtual convening about

Antiracism, Belonging and Community

coordinated by the Imagine Fox Cities Initiative

Thursday, August 20, 2020
12:30-5 p.m.

 Register 

WISDOM Offers Leadership Training Class Beginning August 6

WISDOM has announced its second 2020 “Leadership for Community Transformation” training class will begin on August 6. 

These trainings, held on five consecutive Thursday evenings via Zoom, cover the essentials of community organizing. A similar training program offered earlier in the summer included more than 50 people from around the state, and even from organizing projects outside of Wisconsin.

The Thursday evening trainings are useful for people who are just getting involved with a WISDOM affiliate (like ESTHER), or who want to know more about what community organizing is and how we do it. We have also had some good reviews from organizing “veterans,” who appreciated the refresher and the chance to interact with a wide variety of people who share a passion for social justice. 

The trainings are interactive and participatory. People should register to participate only if they expect they can attend at least four of the five Thursday evening classes.

5-week Leadership Training Class 
Thursday, August 5, continuing on August 6, 13, 20, 27, and September 3
6:30 - 8:00 pm
 
To register, click here:  Aug 6 to Sept 3 Training

Recovery Coach Training Program

Addiction Recovery Coach Training

Help Others in Recovery

ESTHER’s Mental Health Task Force has received a COVID-19 emergency capacity-building grant from Forward Community Investments and other funders to support the training of people as recovery coaches at a greatly reduced cost. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the need for coaches to help those who are recovering from substance abuse and other addictions. This project is designed to assist in meeting this need in our area.

ESTHER is working cooperatively with Menīkānaehkem as well as counties and tribes in our area to identify people who would like to be trained. If you live in Northeast Wisconsin and have an interest in becoming a recovery coach, please contact ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik. (The training is scheduled for September 14-18, 2020, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm using the Adobe Connect online platform.) More information on training content, cost, format, computer requirements and how to register here.

Forward Community Investments LogoMenikanaehkem LogoHelios Recovery

ESTHER 2020 Annual Celebration

Posted in
Date: 
Sunday, November 1, 2020 (All day)
Location: 
Virtual

Mark your Calendar

ESTHER’s 2020 Virtual Celebration

17th Annual Gathering

Sunday, November 1

 This year’s celebration will feature Rev. Traci Blackmon as keynote speaker. 

“Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.” West African Proverb 

Rev Traci BlackmonRev. Blackmon is the Associate General Minister of Justice and Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ, three miles from Ferguson, Missouri. She was a registered nurse for 25 years prior to becoming an ordained minister. As a featured voice on many regional, national, and international platforms, Rev. Blackmon’s life work focuses on communal resistance to systemic injustice. Her response in Ferguson to the killing of Michael Brown resulted in national and international recognition, gaining her audiences at the White House, the Carter Center, and the Vatican. She co-authored the White Privilege curriculum for the UCC and toured the nation with Rev. Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breech and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, proclaiming the need for a Moral Revival in the nations.

“I speak for the lions. And we are many!” Rev. Traci Blackmon

Summer of Solidarity Training Session from WISDOM & EXPO

Posted in
Date: 
Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Date: 
Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Date: 
Saturday, August 22, 2020 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Webinar

These are weekly Zoom meetings sponsored by WISDOM and EXPO covering community organizing approaches and social justice topics of concern in the state and region during the summer of 2020.

Tentative schedule of future topics:

  • August 8 – Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women
  • August 15 – Policing
  • August 22 – Environmental Justice

If you would like to participate, contact WISDOM (wisdomforjustice@gmail.com) for information about registering for the Zoom presentation.

Presentations are being recorded, and will be available at: https://www.rocwisconsin.org/summer-of-solidarity-training-series/