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

Community and ESTHER Connections

Contributed by Kathy Weinhold

When I initially joined Esther it was at the recommendation of someone who attended my church. My initial interest was in the prison justice reform group, and I eventually became aware of the Oshkosh ESTHER group. As I live in Oshkosh, I decided to check it out, and I’m so glad I did!

At the first Oshkosh ESTHER group meeting I attended I was warmly welcomed. Compared to the large prison reform group, this smaller-sized group appealed to me. Each person in the group was able to share their ideas, comments and concerns all along the way in the process of working through issues.  At subsequent meetings I found it’s always that way.  The folks recognize that everyone brings something different to the table.  We all know it’s often who you know, and among them they have great connections.  Everyone’s input is greatly encouraged.

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?

ESTHER Applauds Governor’s Budget for Prison Reform

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Contributed by Bill Van Lopik.

On February 14, Governor Evers released his proposed state budget for the next two years. This biennium budget actually contains significant funding increases for prison reform programs that ESTHER and WISDOM have been fighting for over the years. We know that the Joint Finance Committee can amend the budget and make changes, but we are pleased with what we see so far. We also know that on average across the nation that 85% of what a governor proposes actually stays in the budget.

What we are pleased about:

  • An expansion of the Earned Release Program, which allows inmates early release from prison when they complete assigned programming. This could potentially allow 900-1000 individuals to be released early.
  • An increase in funding of almost $8 million in the Transitional Jobs Program over the next 2 years. This program provides employment opportunities for recently released individuals so they can begin developing their employment portfolio and integrate back into the community.
  • An increase from $7 million to $15 million to fund Treatment and Diversion programs to help keep people out of jails and prisons and have them enrolled in community-based treatment programs.
  • An expansion of ATR (Alternatives to Revocations) programs that are designed to not send people back to prison (a revocation) without committing a new crime. Another way of “decarcerating” our prison system.

Madison Action Day

Madison Action Day is coming up on April 15 and will be the perfect time to let your legislators know that we want the funding for these programs to remain in the state budget.

 

21-Week Equity Challenge - United Way Fox Cities

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212 Week Equity ChallengeUnited Way Fox Cities is offering a 21-week “Equity Challenge,” a powerful opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community. The challenge begins on February 1 (but participants can join any time) and continues through June 21. Each Monday during the challenge, participants will receive an email with topics to explore to develop deeper interpersonal understandings, build a stronger awareness of current systems, and engage in opportunities to take action.United Way Fox Cities

More information (and sign-up link) available on the United Way Fox Cities website.

The Challenge is based on the work of Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., of the Green Bay Privilege Institute.

Vigil: Taking a Stand for Our Land and Bodies

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Date: 
Sunday, February 14, 2021 - 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Event with Livestream

MMIWG2S: TAKING A STAND FOR OUR LAND AND BODIES

Missing Murdered Indigenous WomenFacebook Video ThumbnailA Virtual Rally and Webinar

With Live Rally Participation from Appleton and Madison

If you were unable to participate in the rally, you can now watch the recording on Facebook here

 

Partners: ESTHER, Waking Women Healing Institute, Native Justice Coalition, WCASA, Menominee County HSD Family Advocacy Center, Lorraine Shooter-M.A.D., Native Lives Matter Coalition

Logos of event partners

Help Casa Esther Continue Supporting Immigrants and Their Families

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Federal and Wisconsin government distribution of funds during the pandemic—in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and other assistance—has provided a financial lifeline for many, but not all, who are being hit hard by COVID-19.

One group of people need such assistance desperately but are not eligible for Federal or state COVID-19 help. These immigrants live in our communities, contribute to the economy, and pay taxes. Many are front-line, essential workers on dairy farms, in meat-packing plants and cheese factories, in restaurants and cleaning services, in non-profits and small businesses throughout the Fox Valley.

There’s a way you can help.

Organizing Oshkosh: ESTHER Oshkosh Wants Your Ideas

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Date: 
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Meeting

We are reaching out to all Oshkosh residents who have supported the work of ESTHER in hopes that you will join us to share your concerns and the issues that you would like to see us focus on in Oshkosh. We will also share a bit about the history and successes of our Oshkosh ESTHER task force. 

We know there is much social justice work to be done in our community and we believe that together we can bring about important change. We would love to have you join us in our work. 

Please join us via Zoom for an engaging presentation and discussion. Join Zoom Meeting via the web: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88414405481

Voices of Hope - a Reader’s Theater

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Voices of HopeVoices of Hope is a reader’s theatre presentation that brings to life the stories of immigrants living in the Fox Valley through prose, poetry and music. Due to the limitations of in-person gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the presentation is now available as a pre-recorded video for Zoom and similar online meetings of your organization. The trailer, available here, will give you a glimpse of the content and format for the presentation.

Contact the ESTHER office (920-843-8083 or office@esther-foxvalley.org) to learn more about how you can host Voices of Hope.

Directed by Kris Clouthier, the presentation is based on interviews from Peter Geniesse’s book Illegal: NAFTA Refugees Forced to Flee. It was developed by the ESTHER Immigration Task Force to help viewers identify with immigrants and understand the reasons why many endure traumatic journeys to come to America. This presentation shares the moral and legal issues associated with immigration and calls us to take a stand.

The individuals reading these stories are not the individuals from the stories; their names and locations have been changed to protect their families. The presentation offers the voices of those who live in the shadows, who cannot speak for themselves, yet live with hope to get out of the shadows and pursue their American dreams.

What’s In the Governor’s Budget? - WISDOM Network School of Democracy

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WISDOM School of Democracy: Because Information is PowerThe next session in the WISDOM School of Democracy is entitled “What's In the Governors’ Budget? A Review of WISDOM’s Priorities.”  The presentation will cover all the areas in the Governor’s budget that correspond with issues of concern to the WISDOM network. (Review WISDOM’s budget positions here.)

Saturday, February 20
9:00 am 

Click here to register:  Feb 20 State Budget Webinar 9 am
You will get an email with a link to join the Webinar on Saturday.

The webinar will identify and discuss …

  • things proposed by the Governor that match WISDOM’s priorities and need to be supported.
  • things that are missing and need to be added by the legislature.
  • things that shouldn’t be included and need to be taken out by the legislature.

This webinar is a part of the WISDOM network’s multi-part School of Democracy, to prepare network leaders to work for the inclusion of progressive values in Wisconsin’s 2021-2023 Biennial Budget. (ESTHER is a member of the WISDOM network.)

Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea: Unpacking the Chaos at the Capitol

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Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: 
Zoom

WAVE - Wisconsin Anti Violence EffortThe WAVE (Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort) Action Team is hosting Joshua Horwitz, J.D., Executive Director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, in a Zoom presentation connecting gun violence to the January attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea book coverIn the wake of that attack and the ongoing threat from insurrectionists, Josh will explain the connections between the gun lobby and the insurrectionist idea—a topic he has been exploring since co-authoring the 2009 book Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea.

Over the past few days, the impeachment trial has brought those harrowing scenes from the Capitol before us again, leaving us wondering, “How did this happen? How can we make sure it never happens again?” Join us for this important discussion.

What: Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea: Unpacking the Chaos at the Capitol
When: Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm CST
Where: Zoom (Sign up, and we'll send you the login information the day of the presentation.)