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

Locked Up On The Outside: Prisons Without Walls

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Date: 
Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 140 S. Green Bay Rd, Neenah

The ESTHER Prison Reform Task Force along with EXPO will be holding this important listening session and crucial conversation with a representative of the Wisconsin Division of Community Corrections (DCC), elected officials and YOU.

Are you, or do you know someone who is or has been, on probation or parole? Do you live in fear, have anxiety that rules or attitudes could take you back to prison? Do you have thoughts on how re-entry could be improved to make people more successful on Parole or Extended Supervision?

Then please join EXPO and ESTHER at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Neenah for this important conversation regarding community corrections.

 

Student Bus Ridership in Oshkosh Exceeds All Expectations

After seven years of advocating, raising money and attending City Council meetings, our Oshkosh ESTHER Task Force successfully petitioned to allow all Oshkosh students to ride the bus for free, effective July 2020. During that first month of implementation, a total of six students rode the city bus. We were understandably concerned that, even if bus rides were free for students, they might not actually take advantage of the benefit.

We need not have worried! According to recent ridership data from Go Transit, there were 2,587 student riders in July of 2021. That is a whopping 47,516 percent incease from the previous year. For 2021 to date, there have been 38,037 student riders, as compared to 103 for the same period in 2020.

This program has proved to be a phenomenal success, exceeding all expectations. We are grateful to the Oshkosh Common Council and the Oshkosh Area School District for their efforts in making this happen.

ESTHER-Native Justice Coalition Partnership

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Native Justice Coalition LogoThe Native Justice Coalition (NJC) is an Anishanaabe-led organization that was founded in 2016. Based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this organization was created for Indigenous people, to provide healing and resources. One of the ways they bring healing to their communities is through story telling. Story-telling brings awareness to Native communities and puts focus on Native leaders. Too often are Native voices left out of conversations on racial justice: the NJC is working to change this.

ESTHER has recently entered into partnership with the NJC, which will further elevate Native voices. By partnering with this organization, ESTHER has the opportunity to learn from those on the frontlines of the racial, gender and environmental justice movements.

The NJC had an Anishanaabe Racial Justice Conference coming up from 9/30-10/3. Due to increasing COVID cases in their local community, this conference has been postponed to May 2022. 

For more information on the conference, visit: https://www.nativejustice.org/conference

An Interview with K of Taperz Barber Shop

By Jill Smith

Please meet Cainan Davenport, otherwise known as K the Barber. He and his friend Michael Linwood own Taperz, a family-oriented barber shop located almost on the corner of College Avenue and Richmond Street in Appleton. K had some free time, which is rare fpr such a busy man, and gave me a few minutes so I could ask him about his thriving business and about how he uses his business to serve our community.

How long have you and your friend, Wood, owned Taperz barbershop? What kind of services do you offer there?

We’ve been in business for a little over three years. Basically, we cut all races, ethnicity, and genders. We have created a comfortable “old school” environment where our customers can come to talk, laugh and get a great haircut.

We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-6. Our busiest time of day is every day, all day. Every time we are in the shop, we are pretty much busy.

You not only run a successful business but you use your space to invite neighbors to the shop on Sunday afternoons to discuss issues and just be together. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

By Penny Robinson

Her Voice Her Vote Our VictoryOn the evening of Thursday, August 25, The League of Women Voters of Appleton hosted keynote speaker Elaine Weiss, author of the highly acclaimed narrative history The Woman’s hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.

An accomplished storyteller, Ms. Weiss riveted the well-informed audience with details and photos, allowing them to feel that they almost were present. For three generations the suffragettes persisted, continuing to organize even after repeated failures and, for many years, lacking even the telephone (invented in 1876).

The campaign began with the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, at which Frederick Douglass was the only man to express support. Through a world pandemic, a civil and world war, numerous failed state campaigns, court battles and petitions to Congress, it culminated in marches and protests (which resulted in some arrests, imprisonment, and force-feeding), that led to the Nineteenth Amendment:

Healing the Land

On Friday, July 16, I along with other ESTHER members went to Marinette in support of the Coalition to Save the Menominee River. This event was inspiring and allowed me to hear the stories of those who are working diligently to protect the river.

The extractive industry is a threat to wildlife, the surrounding environment, and Native communities. The extractive industry brings violence to Native communities and exacerbates the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Being at this event, I heard from people who are working specifically on this issue and how I can get more involved. This is my biggest passion, and it felt reaffirming hearing from people who care just as much as I do.

If we are looking for ways to better protect the environment, we need to listen to Indigenous communities such as the Menominee. Indigenous communities have been protecting and healing the land for many years. Their relationship with the land provides the best template for how we can move forward and heal the land and ourselves.

It was such an honor to witness a water blessing done by five generations of Menominee women. They mentioned how in their community, women are the water protectors. Women have a sacred connection with the water as the womb holds life-giving water. That relationship with the water is so beautiful and is just one of the many reasons why the Menominee River needs to be protected.

Kayla Nessmann

ESTHER Communications Coordinator

June 12 MMIWG2S Billboards for Change Rally Video

MMIWG2S Billboard Rally Video Now Available

On morning of June 12, ESTHER, in collaboration with the Native Justice Coalition and Waking Women Healing Institute, sponsored a rally at the Urban Evolutions store on West College Avenue in Appleton. The purposes of the rally were 1) to draw attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirits in Wisconsin and the nation, and 2) to dedicate a new billboard placed nearby. About fifty people attended, and the event drew media attention from WBAY TV in Green Bay and Appleton radio.

The rally was streamed live on Facebook. If you did not attend, or would like to experience the program again, click on the image to watch the recorded video on Facebook. (This video is publicly visible; you do not need a Facebook account to watch it. The program starts about 10 minutes in, so you may want to fast-forward to that point.)

Real America’s Jorge Ramos Covers MMIWG2S

On May 20, Univision’s Real America with Jorge Ramos featured an 8-minute segment on the movement to fight for justice and raise awareness about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2-spirit people. This important national report features our sisters Alysse Arce and Kristin Welch.


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.

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.