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One Special ESTHER Leader

This year the ESTHER board nominated Steve Hirby for the Celebrating Volunteers Janet Berry Award.  While another worthy volunteer was selected, ESTHER would like to recognize Steve for everything he has done and continues to do for our organization. Steve’s dedication and his expertise in not only fundraising but also data management have been instrumental in our ability to thrive as an organization. Steve is a visionary and an organizing member of the board.  He has a standing position on the board and the executive team not just as a representative of his faith community or a task force but because he is … Steve.

As part of the nomination process, we asked people from three other organizations to write letters of support and their response was immediate and positive. Pastor Steve Savides (First Congregational United Church of Christ) wrote about there being no one more “beloved or respected” than Steve in the church, Pastor Jane Anderson wrote about ways Steve has been instrumental in helping the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ re-envision itself and position itself for the future, and Maren Peterson, Executive Director of NAMI, wrote about ways Steve has been a “lifeline of hope” for hundreds of individuals and families in the Fox Valley.  All spoke to his kindness, open mindedness, patience and keen intelligence.

Steve exemplifies the spirit of the Janet Berry Award. He truly is “A volunteer who has made great strides in his efforts to impact positive change in the Fox Valley, by creating, working for, and donating to a local community organization, and [his] efforts through time, resources, and influence – have been paramount to the success not only of [ESTHER] but also in building a just community.” We were very proud to nominate Steve Hirby for the Janet Berry Award.

Look Into Her Eyes

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This post was contributed by Connie Raether.

Look into the eyes of a mother…who faces the agonizing decision of choosing between her children.  One, who made the difficult decision to leave his homeland, Mexico, in search of an escape from poverty.  The others, who chose to stay and try to eke out a living in a country whose poverty rate escalates, as does the cost of living, due to their policies, and ours.  Either decision she makes, she loses a child. 

In this case, she chose to come to America, facing the untold terrors of crossing a border and coming to a strange and often unfriendly land.  She joins her son and struggles everyday to make a living and send money back to her family.  She has not seen her beloved son and daughter for years; she does not dare return to Mexico and they, like most Mexicans, cannot get a visa even to visit her here.  She does not see her children, her mother or her brothers, and knows that she may not see them, ever again.

I’ve looked into her eyes and, as a mother, felt her grief as she celebrated Mother’s Day.  When you look into her eyes, thank whatever higher power you believe in that you were fortunate enough to be born here, where you don’t have to make decisions that break your heart, and realize that it is indeed only fortune that separates you from her.  Look into her eyes when you think about how we will solve the issue of immigration.  I hope you can feel compassion for her and urge our politicians to make just and fair decisions as they ponder this issue; decisions that will no longer tear families apart but allow paths to citizenship for those already here and opportunities for their loved ones to join them.

 

Sponsor Spotlight: Waqsecewan Indigenous Catering

Lizette Bailey, of Waqsecewan Indigenous Catering, will cook you anything you want, and you will absolutely love it. Her specialty is Pre-contact Indigenous food, the foods that Native Americans prepared before everyone came over to North America. She states, “I serve vegans, vegetarians and anyone with any type of allergy.  I make any kind of food.  Italian, Asian, Pub Grub…you name it.”

Wāqsecewan (pronounced: Watah-Chee-Win) means: “Flows Bright” or “Bright Flowing Water.” A more specific description is, “How the light is so sparkly on top of flowing water.” She is Turtle Clan of the Menominee.

Wāqsecewan (Lizette) wants to reopen her catering business.  She wants to do it safely, by serving smaller parties in a socially distanced manner. She says, “I love it when I cater an event and when I share a story about the food that was prepared. When people are eating, there is a smile. It is so important.”

Wāqsecewan can be reached either by phone or email:  715-851-9501 • waqsecewancooks@gmail.com. Give her a call. Miigwech!

—Jill Smith

Read her story (and a recipe) in her own words below.

May 5 Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

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https://esther-foxvalley.org/

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2021

Oshkosh Bridge Lights Turn Red on May 5th to Honor
Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Bridge lights across the city will turn red at dusk on Wednesday, May 5 to commemorate the Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This local and national day of action serves to draw attention to the underreported and disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. All community members are invited to a vigil and lighting ceremony at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, May 5, at Riverside Park in Oshkosh. The event will also be live-streamed via the ESTHER Facebook page

Too long our communities have been silent about the high incidence of violence against indigenous peoples, especially women, girls, and two-spirit people. In 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported nearly 6,000 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, yet the U.S. Department of Justice was tracking only about 100 cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between 10 and 24 years of age and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women between 25 and 34 years of age.

Is A world of Plenty: Sci-Fi, God's Kingdom or Reality?

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 This was contributed by Joyce Frohn.

     Sometimes my two worlds, as a science fiction writer and political activist, run into each other. Or deal with the same problem. Right now, one of those is these is the idea of hope for the future. It's easy to think of things going wrong. In writing that's called, Dystopia. It's fairly easy to think of those ideas. But both the Christian idea of "The Beloved Community" and writing Utopian fiction requires thinking of things getting better in the world where we really live. Can we imagine that? We need to.

      What if the food pantry closed, not because there were no volunteers but because there were no people that needed it? What if all the charities that send clothes and food and medical supplies overseas weren't needed? What if we didn't need to advocate for fair trade because the people making the clothes could easily find out how much they were sold for? What if instead of just trying to ensure equal access to limited resources we could have all the resources we needed? What would it look like if everyone had access to medical care and education? What would that world look like?

       Our world is set up on the idea of scarcity. Whether it's people trying to make sure they have a monopoly on technology or their children to get to go to a better school or even that antique store that tells us that these items might be the only Pairpoint lamp or piece of artwork we'll ever see. This idea of scarcity is at the root of much of the world's evils. If we see that resources are few, we want those for our family, tribe or race. Soon we hate those we pushed aside. We fear that they will do to us what we have done to them.

      There is one secret that breaks our world of scarcity apart. There is enough. Enough food, enough clothes, enough medicine. Maybe there always has been enough. We just have to live as though there is enough. What does that look like? Maybe it's the beloved community. Maybe it's Utopia. But the best way to get there is to live as though we are already there.

        If there is plenty, we can ask ourselves, do I need that tool, dress, clock? After all, if I need it, I can always get it later. Do I need a lawnmower or could I burrow it from a friend? One less thing to clutter up a garage. We need to figure out what we really need to own if we don't have to worry about, "What if I need it later?"

        Ask yourself are you living the way you want to live? Or the way you think you have to live? The World is waiting for your answer.

 

Open Letter to Appleton Common Council

It was a shocking vote at last week’s Common Council meeting (4/21/21), when the Council sent back to committee the resolution addressing the increase in xenophobic, anti-Asian attacks in our country and the City of Appleton. After the courageous speaking out, especially by elders and then others, of the Hmong community – sharing their gut-wrenching experiences of fear after threats and harassment, the vote was in the hands of those who listened but did not hear.

A need that we all have when dealing with racism is to get out of our heads and into our hearts and the hearts of others. It is a letting-go experience. We need to respect the authors of the resolution that reflected the study, research, and words exposing the unsettling truths that give rise to fear in the Asian community. And yet some members of the Council offered intellectualizations to justify their opposition rather than to hear the trauma of the Asian community and to undestand the reasons why. Based on comments, tears and overall impressions given by members of the Hmong community after the meeting, they received the message that the Council would not support them in their fears.

Who are we to say that they need to ask for our support in a better way? Compassion, compassion, compassion.

—Gary Crevier, ESTHER President

Until How Long?

Almost lost in the news of the gut-wrenching testimonies in the death of George Floyd is the equally horrific increase by 150% in the attacks and killings within our beloved Asian community in the past year. The killings of Asian women in Atlanta and the brutal attack on an elderly Asian woman on the streets of New York are only recent examples of this ongoing tragedy in our midst. Members of the Asian community in the Fox Cities are being harrassed as well.

And then there is the plight of the high percentage of missing and/or murdered indigenous women. Mark Charles, indigenous author of Unsettling Truths, adapted a diagnosis from psychologist Rachel McNair, who says that some perpetrators of crime suffer from Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stess (PITS). Charles suggests that we as a country suffer from the same trauma, a subconscious guilt after four-hundred years of genocide and slavery, and don’t even realize it.

How long will it take for us to face our denial as a nation? Growth in this consciousness within our community will occur when we are willing to face reality and see ourselves as part of our national systemic racism. We as members of ESTHER encourage all of us to realize that we can no longer consider ourselves to be “innocent bystanders” to what is happening in America today. Last week, Ron, a young South Korean, asked that we “be self-aware, speak up, ask questions, be genuine and have respect for everyone.”

Gary Crevier
ESTHER President

Sponsor Spotlight: Eye Photograph, LLC

Mark Ferrell Eye Photograph LLC 800 S Lawe St Appleton 54915 9208513374Mark Ferrell is a man of many hats. After college, he served in the Navy. He traveled with rock-and-roll bands and set up stage lighting. He worked for the Democratic party during the Obama administration. He was a photographic technician in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now he has made Appleton, Wisconsin, his home.

Mark’s photography studio is in The Draw along the Fox River on Lawe Street, where a variery of artists, artisans and creative professionals work and collaborate. He mentions, “It’s a pretty cool place. We used to have events, concerts and recitals. Lawrence University Jazz students were given carte blanche to show up on a Friday evening and perform in the gallery during our Friday Happy Hour. Covid knocked all that out. We have to build that back better.”

He says that he was always drawn to photography. “It was my yoga when I was in high school and when I started selling my prints, it has been my journey since that time.”

Why Social Justice Work?

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ESTHER BlogThe question was asked of me, “Why do I involve myself doing justice work?” I think the beginning of my addressing systemic causes of injustices began when I found ESTHER – or was it ESTHER finding me? Even before ESTHER, values that formed me within led to my belief that my dignity can never be fully realized until the dignity of all including creation is respected and honored as well. Where did that come from? I wonder if it was not so much anything that I was taught but rather something that I caught.

What is Our Duty in the Face of the Pandemic?

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Contributed by Joyce Frohn

The Pandemic has Brought Face to Face with Things We Were Not Used To

It has been a year since the Pandemic hit the US. We have all missed birthdays and holidays. Many have lost loved ones and friends. We have stared at fear, loneliness, and pain. We have learned Zoom, begged for shots and tried to wrap our brains around a terror that we thought was dead. Children have started school on computers, teens have graduated from high school on video, a thousand milestones small and large have come and gone. Some of us have battled loneliness and others have had suddenly crowded houses. We have tried to work from home while trying to remember high school geometry or desperately tried to support a family with less pay. Maybe we missed a long-awaited family trip or a just a quiet walk through a museum. Or a funeral of those we loved.

We have had many emotions that we are not used to. We have anger that those we trusted have betrayed us; that strangers would rather brag about their rights than save other people. That we have been lied to. We have sorrow at levels our modern world is not used to. We had thought that there were not going to be any consequences, no penalties. We declared we had conquered nature. Hopefully we have learned a lesson.

What Lesson Must We Learn?

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