Relational canvassing is a tool that can help neighborhood leaders organize their power and address concerns that include substandard conditions, safety, the lack of infrastructure, and the threat of displacement by rising rents or property taxes. On March 2 over 100 Justice United members ratified a proposal to use relational canvassing to support these neighborhood leaders.
Relational canvassing is a deeper form of canvassing than just simply handing out a flyer, or asking someone to complete a survey. It involves a 10-15 minute conversation with someone at their doorstep, to introduce ourselves, hear their story, identify concerns, and see if they have the appetite to take action.
These relational canvasses are part of Justice United's ongoing listening session campaign. Our goal is to engage more than 600 members of our congregations and communities by May 31 to identify the top pressures and concerns facing our families. Ultimately this campaign will lead to the creation of a new grassroots issue agenda.
Neighborhoods, Dates, Times
Justice United has been to support leaders in the neighborhoods that surround our institutions or where members of our congregations live: 1) Piney Grove; 2) Fairview; and at least two mobile home parks in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. These neighborhoods represent over 550 predominantly working class, African American and Latino households.
Canvassing Dates and Times (Sign Up Below)
Training will be provided to all participants from 10:00 am—11:00 am during each canvass. Repeat participants do not need to attend training and can come one hour late. Canvassers will be trained at the UU Congregation of Hillsborough (1710 Old NC Hwy 10) and will then depart to knock on doors in one or more of the above neighborhoods.
Everyone who participates in relational canvassing will receive training beforehand, will be given materials, and will go in pairs. Each canvass will involve both neighborhood leaders and outside supporters.
Report from House Meetings, To Date
At our Countywide Leaders Meeting on August 22, JU leaders pledged to engage members of their institutions in house meetings to: 1) begin to identify the top pressures and concerns facing our families today; 2) to identify leaders with the appetite to act and make change.
We’ve made progress on this goal. This fall over 40 leaders attended training to learn how to lead house meetings, and engaged roughly 150 members of their communities in these conversations. Top concerns surfaced during these house meetings so far include:
Justice United Members and Supporters:
Thank you! Your investment of time, talent, and money this spring has allowed Justice United to address the top concerns in our communities.
Together over the last six months we organized five public actions and won tens of thousands of dollars in public investment to launch a new affordable housing pilot program (master leasing). Thanks to this program five extremely low income families and individuals now are living in housing that they could not otherwise afford.
At this point we also appear to be on track to win funding for key diversity hiring and equity initiatives at Orange County Schools. The final budget for the district will be approved soon.
Over 30 JU leaders met last night to evaluate our public actions this spring and pledged participation in upcoming actions and events. The pledge sheet from the leaders meeting is available here.
Please read below to learn more about what's next.
Please save the date for these important upcoming events!
Monday, July 1, 7:00 PM
Hillsborough (location TBD)
Confirm your attendance here
Join us to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year for Orange County Schools with a capstone, press conference action. Justice United leaders will react to the final budget approved by the Board of Education, and will lay out our community-led vision for 2019/2020.
JU leaders are monitoring the current budget process. We have called on the Board of Education to prioritize funding for key diversity and hiring initiatives including: the strengthening of the teacher hiring pipeline through a "Grow Your Own" teacher assistant to teacher program.
Relational Meeting Event
Tuesday, July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Hillsborough (location TBD)
Confirm your attendance here
This event will allow for fellowship over dinner and two, 30 minute long conversations between participants (training will be provided to help participants navigate these conversations). It is based on Justice United's successful April 2 event that brought together over 50 members of our diverse institutions. The goal is to increase our countywide power base by strengthening relationships across Justice United's broad membership.
Issue Briefing at Your Institution
After service, or at other appropriate times
Turnout goal: At least 10 members
Learn how your congregation has taken action through Justice United to make change in the community, and to advance your institution's mission and values. This briefing will be co-led by leaders from your institution and Justice United organizer Devin Ross. More information about each briefing will be publicized internally within participating members institutions.
Contact Devin at email@example.com to plan an issue briefing in your community.
Last night Superintendent Wirt announced his resignation at the Orange County Board of Education meeting, effective June 30 (press link). This is an unexpected development, and it gives our May 9 Assembly even greater urgency.
Now, more than ever, we need your support. Please read below for important background to this announcement, and to learn how you can help us take effective action on May 9.
Less than two weeks ago Dr. Wirt joined Orange County Board of Education Chair Brenda Stephens and Vice Chair Sarah Smylie at Justice United's Countywide Leaders Meeting to hear our reactions to strategies that they have developed to address concerns on the lack of teacher diversity and the need for more front office, bi-lingual staff within Orange County Schools. Read the report from our meeting here.
These strategies have the potential to strengthen the school system's hiring pipeline sufficient to increase teacher diversity and bi-lingual staff. However, in order for this to become a reality the Orange County Board of County Commissioners must first approve a per pupil funding increase requested by Orange County Schools which will pay for these initiatives.
Orange County will hold two public budget hearings the week following our Assembly on May 14 and May 16. This is our opportunity to show up and support the OCS funding request for these hiring strategies.
Justice United has invited Board Chair Stephens and Vice Chair Smylie to attend our May 9 Assembly to brief our membership on these strategies. Following their presentation we will caucus to pledge support for their budget request.
Dr. Wirt's unexpected resignation has given our Assembly greater urgency. Now is the time to act to get this deal funded, before we encounter the inevitable delays associated with the Superintendent's transition.
How You Can Help
Please follow these three steps to help us take action to address this key community issue:
1) Confirm your attendance today for our May 9 Assembly;
2) Recruit others from your institution to attend. Our goal is to deliver 300 members to this action. Turnout pledges from your institution are available here for reference;
3) RSVP to attend one or both of the public budget hearings to support the Orange County Schools budget request. We will discuss this request at our May 9 Assembly.
Orange County Schools Goals for Hiring and Diversity (presented to JU on 4/11/19)
Questions? Email Justice United Organizer Devin Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org, or text/call at 919 358 5828.