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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, October 24, 2020 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Pack the Polls Car Parade Appleton East High School Parking Lotl, 2121 E Emmers Dr, Appleton
Monday, October 26, 2020 - 8:00am
2020 Auction Preview Begins Online
Monday, October 26, 2020 - 6:30pm
Advocating for the Rights of Nature Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 7:00pm
Cancelled-ESTHER Environmental Justice Task Force Zoom Meeting
Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 8:00am
2020 Auction Bidding Begins Online

ESTHER 2020 Annual Celebration

Posted in
Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Rev Traci Blackmon

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Our 17th Annual Celebration
“Voices for Justice”

A Virtual Event


  • An Inspiring Speaker
  • Annual Justice Awards
  • Great Local Music
  • Outstanding (Online) Silent Auction

Register now:

Preview the auction:

ESTHER 2020 Auction ESTHER 2020 Banquet Registration

Pack the Polls Car Parade

Posted in
Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Appleton East High School Parking Lotl, 2121 E Emmers Dr, Appleton

Let’s Join Together to PACK THE POLLS!

Appleton will join with a growing list of other Wisconsin cities on Saturday, October 24, National Vote Early Day, to demonstrate our support for the most basic exercise of democracy: voting. The League of Women Voters of Appleton is coordinating our local event, a car parade, which will be strictly non-partisan in keeping with the League’s core mission: Empowering votersDefending democracy.

Participants will be asked to decorate their cars with signs that encourage voting and promote issues but NOT candidates or political parties. (We encourage covering partisan bumper stickers.) We want to promote unity in our community by bringing together a broad spectrum of local civic organizations. We also want to ensure the safety of all participants by designing this a contactless event. Everyone will be encouraged to stay safely inside a vehicle, but should also have a mask and observe social distancing guidelines.

Read more about the event, including parade route and suggested messages for signs, in the Appleton LWV’s press release (attached). Help spread the word by downloading and sharing.

Advocating for the Rights of Nature

Monday, October 26, 2020 - 6:30pm
Zoom Meeting

Mari MargilA presentation and discussion with Mari Margil, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. No charge. All are welcome

Registration required. Zoom link will be sent before the event to all who register.

Register Now

Co-sponsored by WISDOM, Menīkānaehkem, and ESTHER


Upcoming Events Hosted by WISDOM & Affiliates

The next few weeks are packed with events and activities sponsored and hosted by ESTHER and its fellow affiliates in the state-wide WISDOM network.  For all the challenges of the pandemic, these virtual events offer an opportunity to “visit” other justice-seeking organizations around our state without spending a lot of time and gasoline doing it. We hope you find something here to check out.

Ongoing -- Vigil at the Governor’s mansion re: COVID 19 and prisons. Read more here.

Thursday, October 22, 11 am to 1 pm -- Lunch and Learn.  MOSES presents Justice Janine Geske, former WI Supreme Court Justice, current Marquette Law School professor, and leader in the Restorative Justice movement. 11:00 am welcome; 11:30 presentation by Justice Geske; 12:15 Q&A.  Register here:

Thursday, October 22 -- MICAH Annual Public Meeting. There will be a 6:00 pm reception, and the program will be from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.  The event theme is “We Rise!”  To pre-register for the MICAH event, go here: MICAH Meeting Registration  For more information, call the MICAH office at 414-264-0805

Saturday, October 24 -- EXPO Workshop on Juvenile Justice (“Don't Feed the Beast!”) From 10 am to 12 noon.  Zoom registration info coming soon.

Monday, October 26, 6:30 pm -- WISDOM Environmental Justice Team -- Advocating for the Rights of Nature. A presentation and discussion with Mari Margil, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. No charge. All are welcome  Learn more and register here:  Rights of Nature.

Co-sponsored by WISDOM, Menīkānaehkem, and ESTHER

Sunday, November 1 -- ESTHER Annual Celebration, 5:00 pm, with featured speaker Rev. Traci Blackmon.  Register here: ESTHER Annual Celebration

Vigil regarding COVID-19 in Wisconsin Prisons


Demonstrators at the Governors Mansion in MadisonOn October 19, WISDOM members (including several from ESTHER), led by EXPO (EX-incarcerated People Organizing) and SIP (Supporters of Incarcerated People) started a vigil outside the Governor's mansion.  The purpose of the vigil is to challenge the Governor to seriously address the issue of COVID-19 in Wisconsin’s prisons. The group is calling on the Governor to hold a press conference to specifically address this issue, which directly impacts more than 30,000 Wisconsinites who live and work in the state’s prisons, asking him to:

  1. Express his concern for the health and safety of the people who live and work in the prisons;
  2. Be completely transparent about how many people in our prisons have already died and how many have become sick enough to need oxygen or hospitalization;
  3. Say definitively whether he has any intention of using his powers to commute sentences in order to safely reduce the prison population during this emergency.

In Search of Writers and Editors ...

We are looking for writers for ESTHER’s new blog.

If you would like to participate in building our on-line presence, please let Bill Van Lopik know.

  • If you like to write, you can be a blogger. We will help you to learn about how to write a good blog post.
  • If you are not sure about your writing skill, we can provide editing help.

We also want to put together a team to manage our blog. Our goals include:

  • Publicizing ESTHER’s work
  • Explaining the importance of the work of our task forces.
  • Showing ESTHER’s expertise and credibility in the areas where we work.

If you want to participate, let Bill know right away. We will schedule a meeting to plan how we will work together.

Your Contribution Helps Us Share Hope

Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough together, we can make things better!”

—Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Knowing the difference between optimism and hope is critical now, as we struggle to contain the surging pandemic and take down the racist systems our nation has built. The number of those infected and killed by COVID-19 continues to grow. The adverse economic impacts mount. All the while, the inequality and division in our nation – signs of what Frederick Douglass called “a virus that infects the soul” – must be challenged!

Optimism fades in the face of these challenges, but hope rises, lifted by faith in what we can do together. Sharing hope, along with building community and standing for justice, are central to ESTHER’s mission. Read more to learn about our work, and how your support can help us share hope….

Help Us Share Hope

40 Days of Prayer and Reflection from Gamaliel Religious Leaders


Few national elections have had as much at stake as the upcoming November 2020 election. As people of many faiths, we know that our nation stands in crisis, divided in seemingly endless ways, and at a significant crossroad. WISDOM invites you to join our statewide network, and others across the nation, in the Gamaliel Religious Leaders Caucus’ 40 Days of Prayer and Reflection leading up to the election.

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):