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

Call to Action: Gov. Evers and Wisconsin Prison Population

WISDOM

Recently, Gov. Tony Evers offered a powerful statement about how we should respond to the Black Lives Matter movement.  He said, “We must offer our compassion, we must offer our support, most of all we must offer our action.”  Now, we are asking you to contact Governor Evers to urge him to take his own advice. It is time for him to take action to reduce the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communicate with Governor Evers to express your concern and to urge him to act!

Call his office, 608-266-1212
Email him at govinfo@wisconsin.gov

Public Transit and the Future of Our Community

A Vision for the Future

The members of ESTHER’s Transit Task Force have a vision for a better world and a stronger community tied together by a multimodal transportation system that provides options for everyone. Options include biking, walking, public transit, and personal car use. 

What makes a vibrant transportation system?  It has an assortment of transportation options that are attractive, efficient, and affordable.  Such a system attracts new riders and the existing riders have more and hopefully all of their needs met. Good public transportation helps build a better quality of life.

New trends require additional investments

Wisconsin is facing changes that will create new needs for our transportation system to address. 

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?

RVP Needs You!

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Empower (MyRVP) logoWisconsin’s April 2020 primary shows what a difference the turnout of informed, motivated electors can make in an election. Some reports indicate that “Relational Voting” may have played a significant role in the outcome of that eletion. That’s why ESTHER is looking for leaders to participate in our Relational Voting Program.

What’s Relational Voting? Research has shown that people are more likely to vote if they have a relationship with someone who is encouraging them to do so.

It is easy to participate in the program, which requires only three simple steps:

  1. Download the “Empower (MyRVP)” app to your smart phone (Apple or Android). Then, register yourself to the Empower network (using your phone number or email address) and enter the code word “WISDOM.”
  2. Choose 20 names from the contact list on your phone and add them to the list in your Empower app
  3. Commit to contacting these people from time to time to remind them to vote in upcoming elections.

You are the only person who will ever contact these people about voting-related matters. Talking prompts will be sent to you to remind you to contact those on your list and suggest topics.

If you have questions, please reach out to Bill Van Lopik (billv@esther-foxvalley.org).

By participating in this program, you could possibly earn money for ESTHER as well as yourself. We have funding to pay up to 40 people $50 each if they follow through on this simple program.

Help Casa Esther Support Immigrants and Their Families

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The Federal government’s distribution of funds under the C.A.R.E.S. Act—in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and other assistance—provides a financial lifeline for many, but not all, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One group of people who need this assistance desperately are not eligible for Federal COVID-19 help. These immigrants live in our communities, contribute to the economy, and pay taxes. These men and women work on dairy farms, in meat-packing plants and cheese factories, in restaurants and cleaning services, in non-profits and small businesses through the Fox Valley.

Casa Esther, a Catholic Worker House in Omro, and an ESTHER member, was established in 2010. It works with a large network of Spanish-speaking people, providing support, education, and financial assistance in the Oshkosh-Omro area. In the last few weeks, using funds contributed to it by concerned Fox Valley residents, it has been able to distribute over $4,500 to people in need and to provide needed information and referrals to other agencies in the Fox Valley.

Contributions in support of this project may be sent directly to Casa Esther at 320 N Webster Ave, Omro 54963. Or make your donation by visiting Casa Esther’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CasaEstherOmro.

How Highway Expansions Undermine Public Transit, Walking and Biking

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Date: 
Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Webinar

Bus seats seen from floor levelSponsored by Coalition for More Responsible Transportation in Wisconsin.

Speakers include Beth Osborne from Transportation for America and Dennis Grzezinski on highway expansion and transit issues in LaCrosse.

Policymakers often present costly highway expansions as a critical solution to gridlocked traffic and unsafe roadways. But decades of evidence show that building bigger roads makes congestion worse. We also know that highway expansions negatively impact public health and safety, disproportionately harm low-income and minority communities, and undermine alternative forms of transportation in a variety of ways. Learn from expert presenters why bigger, wider roads won’t solve Wisconsin’s transportation problems.

RSVP here for Zoom link: https://forms.gle/MXo9uLByjrr3fUQX8

Read more about the event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/173240474022207/

Sacred/Scared

The ESTHER board gathered on March 12 for what will probably be its last in-person meeting for several months. These meetings always start with an opening reflection intended to help members keep their focus on ESTHER’s larger purpose and not get lost in “administrivia.” We are pleased to share with you now what ESTHER President Gary Crevier shared with the board at that time. We hope it may be of help to you in these times as chaos spreads and the temptation to worry climbs.

When our approach to life comes from an attitude of being scared, without hope, we fail to see the sacredness of creation and everything in the cosmos. That includes you and me.

Notice that the only difference between the words sacred and scared is the interchanged positions of the letters c and a, sacred/scared.

I would suggest that a in the word sacred stands for awesomeness, awareness, acceptance and art-filled presence in all of us, creation, the cosmos; and the c in the word scared stands for cowardliness, contempt and a cynical outlook on life.

So what if now, given the presence of the COVID-19 illness, we “flip the script,” so to speak, and live our lives more as sacred and filled with hope, instead of being scared? Let’s do what we can to confront this crisis, like self-distancing, touching of elbows rather than shaking of hands, sneezing into our elbows or simply avoiding crowds. Regardless of the outcome, it's the right thing to do.

May you be richly blessed in patience and hope during these uncertain times.