MUUSJA connects UU's and allied communities to shape a just and loving world.
WHAT WE DO
Line 3 & Climate Justice
Social Action Training
MUUSJA coordinates UU faith-based nonpartisan work to protect democracy, voting rights, and voter engagement in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and contributes to national #UUtheVOTE. Read all our related blog posts and updates.
In 2022, MUUSJA is mobilizing congregations to reach apartment renters in Minnesota, and also (with the national UU the Vote campaign) reaching out to voters in Wisconsin & other key states. Here’s the LINK to our menu for 2022!
In 2020-2021, MUUSJA presented Zoom services/forums on UUtheVOTE to 14 congregations, created a “Menu of Engagement” for volunteers, shared via email & Facebook, and hosted weekly online regional info & coaching forums with guest partners from August through October 2020
·Recruited and coordinated 470 UU’s from 23 congregations, and ~30 unaffiliated volunteers, for direct action (postcards, letters, phoning, texting, poll workers, or poll monitoring).
·Added textbanks with When We All Vote to the UUtheVote national website & coordinated national UU texting volunteers.
·Created training slides for ThruText & co-hosted some UU GA phonebanks.
·Organized & led 2 rallies to protect the United States Postal Service, with mail carriers unions & Poor People’s Campaign, with vols from 4 UU congregations.
·With #LoveVoteRise artists’ project, we postered multiethnic districts & small towns across MN with artist signs with QR code link to multilingual info about how to vote.
·Participation: ~500 volunteers connected with 23 UU congregations across MN and North Dakota. We contacted but did not connect with 2 in South Dakota, or some smaller MN fellowships that disband during summer.
·Planned & co-led events with 17 Partners: Bad Ass Grandmas (Bismarck forum); Common Cause (census, coalition); Indivisible Leaders (postcards); MN League of Women Voters (lawn signs, voter registration drives); MN Voice/WeVote (phonebanks); ISAIAH (phonebanks); Census Hub (census phonebanks); Reclaim Our Vote (postcards, phonebanks); Vote Forward (letters); When We All Vote (texting); Justice Squad, Delta Sigma Theta, United Theological Seminary, & Poor People’s Campaign (voter registration); #LoveHopeRise (postering); national UUtheVote (phonebanks); COPAL (Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina) poll monitoring.
·~100 people were involved in the USPS protection protests w/ 3 news articles.
MUUSJA supports resistance to the Line 3 pipeline construction in northern Minnesota and follows the lead of frontline, Indigenous-led organizations such as Honor the Earth, Giniw Collective, Rise Coalition, and Gitchigumi Scouts. We rely upon dedicated UU volunteer liaisons for all of our work.
We amplify opportunities for advocacy and engagement in our email list with links to events & other to show support for the resistance movement.
We have channeled $18,000 in grants from our national UUSC partners directly to frontline Indigenous water protectors and we continue to work towards raising funds to support them.
In November 2020, MUUSJA co-hosted a “Being a Good Relative” training with UUSC/UUCSJ featuring a curriculum by Jacob Johns of the Hopi and Akimel O’odham nations.
Following that training, MUUSJA’s online Prepare to CareForum featuring Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, Lyz Jaakola, Dawn Goodwin, Taysha Martineau, and Sharon Day was broadcast nationally.
We offered additional trainings for water protectors and allies focusing on non-violent direct action, legal support, decolonization, winter weather preparedness, and leveraging your voice and privilege. These workshops were livestreamed from the frontlines and also featured cultural components such as storytelling, songs, and art-making.
To raise awareness & inform engagement among UU’s across the region, there have also been forums on pipeline resistance at First Universalist in Minneapolis (by Roberta Haskin & team), Unity Unitarian in Saint Paul (by Jean Hammink & team), UU Church of Willmar (by Kay Slama & Rita Chamblin), UU Church of Underwood (Rita) and UU Congregation of Duluth (Rita & Katie Kline), with more to come.
MUUSJA committed 10 hrs/week from our Northern Regional Organizer, Katie Kline, and 1-2 hrs/week from our Executive Director, Karen Wills, to outreach and relationship building in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, with UU congregations and Native and Indigenous organizers active in the movement to protect the water, honor the treaties, and resist construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
We scheduled one-on-one and small group meetings, Sunday morning services and small social justice group meetings, mostly via Zoom. Simultaneously, we held one on one conversations and small group interviews with regional multifaith and secular environmental organizations (MNIPL, Sierra Club Northstar, MN350, and GreenFaith), and with national UUA climate justice organizers (UUMFE, UUYACJ, and Side With Love/Organizing Strategy Team).
Organizers connected with Honor the Earth were forming the Welcome Water Protectors Center in Palisade, MN, about an hour west of Duluth, and invited MUUSJA to join in creating art builds and field trips to their area. The COVID pandemic required us to pivot from original plans for in-person events. Instead, we collaborated to create and broadcast a series of video-recorded “virtual tours” of the Line 3 resistance camps, filmed and edited by MUUSJA staff, featuring Indigenous camp leaders describing the spiritual foundations and practical logistics of camp life. Each presentation also included links to readings, music, other films, and ‘Wish Lists” about what camps needed, and how to help by volunteering, donating, or contacting elected officials.
In June 2021, MUUSJA collaborated with MNIPL and GreenFaith to assist 300 UU’s who came from across the country to an intensive 3-day training (some stayed longer) in northern MN — we personally telephoned them all to ensure they had adequate information, help with travel arrangements and camping necessities, understanding of what to expect, and even gathered donations of the sheets and towels that people staying at the interfaith lodge would need.
In July, we returned to participate in resistance actions to protect the water at Shell City, in collaboration with a UU-affiliated group from Wisconsin.
In August, we were asked to help with the Treaty People Walk for the Water, a 250 mile walk “praying with our feet” led by Indigenous peoples walking from the Mississippi headwaters at Itasca to the Minnesota state capitol. Unitarian Universalist fellowships and churches all along the route provided 3 meals per day, and lodging on some days, to the walkers; in all about 12 congregations and some 500 volunteers were involved in cooking, serving, lodging, or accompanying the Walkers. Many joined the last mile of the march and rallied at the MN State Capitol on August 25, 2021.
MUUSJA was asked to help create a closing “look ahead” video in October 2021 with MNIPL, as part of their series on faith communities involvement with these climate actions, honoring the treaties we hold with Tribal nations in what is now Minnesota.
For individual MUUSJA staff and non-Indigenous volunteers, listening, learning, and walking with Indigenous leaders in northern Minnesota was transformative. The book “The Understory” describes well what it was like to be engaged in nonviolent direct action, and then sit outside a jail waiting for the release of arrestees — the alternation of noisy, busy, angry or joyful crowds with long, slow, hot, stillness, waiting, abiding. All contained by the forests, rivers, lakes, deep green even in drought, and the conviction of water protector leaders that all of us are equally one in Creation, with the water, trees, turtles, snails, walleye, and tiny river mussels.
For our communities, MUUSJA cohered as a statewide organization tying the northern MN fellowships to the metro and suburban congregations; linking Minnesota and Wisconsin state action networks; connecting UU’s with multi-faith environmental groups in a more organized way, as organizing partners, not just scattered UU individuals belonging to various climate justice groups; and as hoped, renewed and strengthened the connection of MUUSJA with Indigenous leaders, particularly from Honor the Earth, and the RISE Sisterhood(at the Welcome Water Protectors camp, Camp Firelight, Camp Manoomin, and others. Those relationships that were built by showing up, listening and talking, evolved over the year into direct invitations to help plan and join actions such as the Walk for the Water.
These actions certainly contributed to adoption by the 2020 General Assembly of a resolution related to UU relations with the Indigenous people among us and around us. Sadly, however, the impact on Minnesota state policy decisions was not as hoped. The pipeline was built despite hundreds of arrests and thousands of protestors, locally and down in the metro. In my opinion, powerful elected officials and Party leaders decided early on that the short term political costs of opposing Line 3, which brought enormous sums of money into Minnesota’s impoverished 8th Congressional District, outweighed the long term benefits to environmental sustainability and honoring treaties.
Our partnerships with INITC, MNIPL, and collaboration with Honor the Earth and the RISE Sisterhood, Building Unity and WUUSAN in Wisconsin, and with neighboring UU state action networks, guide ongoing work to honor treaties, and resist environmental destruction from unregulated mining and fossil fuel extraction. We continue to support UU and other individuals facing arrest, imprisonment, and community re-entry struggles following incarceration for nonviolent direct action to protect the earth and water from pollution.
For more information on current climate justice opportunities with MUUSJA, reach out to Katie Kline at email@example.com.
MUUSJA Online Book Group, May-June 2022 reading Zach Norris’ “Defund Fear” (aka “We Make Us Safe”) using the activists’ guide developed by Side With Love
Solos, Silos, Sanctuary, & Solidarity: 2021 MUUSJA Racial Justice Series for Unitarian Universalists & friends in Minnesota, North & South Dakota
December 17, 2020: Interfaith vigil of solidarity & prayer: A water protector gathering, with MUUSJA, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, UU Ministry for Earth, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, UU Service Committee, and Side with Love
mid to late January, 2020 – (DATES & REGISTRATION coming very soon, please give grace to our frontline partners for late-breaking scheduling, stay tuned!):
Line 3 Resistance & Allyship – Stay tuned for upcoming training for water protectors and allies focusing on non-violent direct action, legal support, decolonization, winter weather preparedness, and leveraging your voice and privilege. These workshops will be livestreamed from the frontlines, and feature a cultural component such as storytelling, songs, or art-making.
January 19, 2020, 2:30-4:00pm – TRUE forum – Transforming Rural Understanding of Equity – “When Hate Comes to Town” – Part 1 of a 3 Part Series—Conversations with Rural MN Social Justice Workers – Registration Link: https://tinyurl.com/TRUESession6
January 23, 2020, Saturday, 10-12AM Central Time: Immigration Sanctuary, Accompaniment, & Resistance in the MUUSJA region. How have UU’s & interfaith partners across our region been showing up in solidarity with newer immigrant and refugee communities? Talk with folks involved in direct resistance (vigils, protests, legislation), support (court observers, letter-writing, physical sanctuary & accompaniment), education & outreach (forums, dinners), and relationship-building (frontline & interfaith partners). REGISTER
January 24, 2020 – Sunday, 2-5pm Central – ISAIAH’s “We Make Minnesota” Virtual Launch – As many know, ISAIAH is a Minnesota-based coalition mainly of Christian and Muslim congregations, and other “people of faith.” MUUSJA is joining and encouraging those UU’s in Minnesota who want to work in coalition with other religious communities to join us in siding with ISAIAH’s vision and work towards a multicultural democracy and caring economy. We’re aware that particular religious expressions may not serve everyone, and even risk triggering trauma for some of our beloveds; yet we also know that many find the Faith Agenda and interfaith association with ISAIAH a powerful, effective, and spiritually rich connection. MUUSJA invites UU’s to consider this an opportunity to reflect on how we show up and connect with interfaith and multifaith organizing, building upon a history of generally successful relationships with ISAIAH, Gamaliel, Minnesota Council of Churches, Jewish Community Action, Muslim American Society (MAS) and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) and MNMN (Minnesota Multifaith Network), and other faith-based organizing groups in our region.
February 16, 18, 20, 23, & 25 – Reflection & Readiness. Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:30-8:00pm; Saturday, 10-11:30am, Central Time. Reflection & Readiness: MUUSJA UU Racial Justice Summit is an opportunity to reflect, convene, and connect across UU congregations in Minnesota and North & South Dakota, to share how we’ve been learning and taking action towards thriving multicultural democracy, and discern next steps for collective liberation. Join UUs from other congregations for a Racial Justice Summit grounded in worship and covenant. Each day, we will split into breakout rooms offering racial identity caucus spaces in which white people will practice calling each other in, process their privilege, and practice ways of being that will help mitigate harm as they interact with BIPOC UUs and community members. BIPOC will similarly explore our racial and UU identities, and find strength, inspiration, and healing with one another. The conversations and connections begun at the Summit will continue long afterwards, encouraging collaborative UU racial justice work across congregations. Unitarian Universalist values and Principles call us to racial justice work, and this Summit is open to all UUs in Minnesota and North & South Dakota who are committed to answering that call. Attendance at all sessions is encouraged, as this Summit aims to widen the circle of UU racial justice work through new and deeper connections. For details and to register, see https://www.muusja.org/events/reflection-readiness-muusja-uus-racial-justice-summit/
February 27, 11am-8pm (Central Time): UUA New Day Rising Conference: Register at https://www.uua.org/leadership/events/new-day-rising-2021 Is your congregation ready to take a new step in changing white supremacy culture? Want to learn what your fellow congregations are working on, and how you might apply it at home? Join a continent of UUs as we explore next steps in creating Beloved UU Communities.
Wrapping our regional work in a national Side With Love thermal blanket is: Thirty Days of Love 2021 – January 17 through February 13 Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/thirty-days-of-love … This collation of readings, music, films, reflection questions, is largely “asynchronous” meaning you can adopt it for your small groups or use it solo… But within it are several “synchronous” scheduled large-group events, specifically:
January 21st – 11 AM Central – Side of Love discussion
January 21st – 6 pm Central – Rabbi Rachel Mikva, Ph.D.
MUUSJA is a co-signer of the Sanctuary State Bill for Minnesota and member of the Sanctuary State Coalition.
With the Sanctuary and Resistance Team of First Universalist Church, and other UU’s across the state working in alliance with local partner organizations led by newer immigrants to Minnesota, MUUSJA resists state-sanctioned separation of families via ICE detention and deportation, and exploitation of refugee and immigrant workers.
We support and team with the work of
Resisting worker exploitation and inadequate protections, especially obvious during the 2020-2021 pandemic — with Saint Cloud’s “Fe y Justicia” and “Greater MN Worker Center,” we have met online to share the stories of workers resisting unfair conditions and UU’s statewide mobilizing for justice for newer immigrants & refugees
Conversations with Friends — writing and meeting with people in detention, providing backpacks and related supplies
Court Observers — witnessing and taking notes on the proceedings of Minnesota immigration courts, with The Advocates
Vigils and Rallies protesting ICE detention, especially during the COVID pandemic, at the Sherburne Detention Center and at the Whipple Federal Building (immigration courts), with ICOM
Provisioning and supporting congregations able to directly provide sanctuary for immigrant families
MUUSJA organizes UU’s to participate in the Twin Cities PRIDE Fest Booth and Parade, as well as other regional PRIDE festivals over the summer, as an affirming celebration of LGBTQA+ lives and progress. Congregational liaisons for PRIDE assist to recruit and register volunteers to march in the parade and represent Unitarianism and regional UU congregations by sharing info and answering questions at the PRIDE fest booths. Youth and adults are encouraged to participate in some of the happiest festivities of the year!
Volunteer Congregational Liaisons are MUUSJA’s most important asset. MUUSJA serves to bring them together to share, grow, and amplify their talents, and ground their work in UU principles.
We build relationships with clergy and lay leaders at each congregation in order to build bridges among congregations. MUUSJA’s Congregational Liaisons often are volunteer leaders of congregational social justice teams or Boards. They link the strengths and needs of their congregations together with MUUSJA’s resources for communicating, organizing, planning, training, and developing programs. MUUSJA connects each liaison with their counterparts from other UU congregations, other faith communities, key secular partners, and regional and national UUA programs.
At larger congregations, several liaisons may represent groups that focus on particular interests and initiatives, such as climate justice, immigration reform, racial equity, LGBTQA+ rights, etc. Their work with MUUSJA helps to remind their congregations that of the interconnectedness of all these issues.
Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering.
Often, MUUSJA staff act as connectors — ladders who provide the structure and direction for congregational volunteers to grow and learn in their justice work; and bridges who identify, introduce, and facilitate new relationships with community partners and leaders on justice issues.
Our goal is to facilitate the creation of networks that are accountable and sustainable for the long haul, among UU’s within their congregations; across congregations; among multi-faith and secular partners; with regional and national UU resources.
Our partnerships with groups such as INITC, MNIPL, Minnesota Voice, Communities Combating Hate, Minnesota MultiFaith Network, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, and others, amplify our collective power, let us learn from one another, and allow MUUSJA to share with people from different cultures and backgrounds the transformative experience of being human together.
Social Action Training
With a focus on our goal of building clergy and volunteers’ capacity to organize effectively for change, and collaborate constructively with social justice partners, MUUSJA staff and consultants offer a variety of thematic, one-time workshops for congregations, social justice teams, or regional clusters of congregations. Fee arrangements for workshops and Sunday services are flexible, with contracts based on time, participants, event planning demands, and number of presenters or facilitators, and adjusted for the size and resources of the hosting congregation.
Current topics include, but are not limited to:
Issue Organizing 101 — Models, strategies, and tactics
Beloved Conversations (Racial Justice 101)
Organizing Across Generations
“Day on the Hill” – Faith-based legislative advocacy
#UUtheVote for 2020 Elections and Beyond
Relationship building; “One to Ones” and Deep Listening
Recruiting, engaging, and developing social justice volunteers
Sanctuary, Accompaniment and Resistance
Event planning for social justice organizers
How to use social media for social justice organizing
Full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities
Online meetings — convening calls — are open to everyone who wants to build relationships across congregations and interest areas, connect into pressing social justice issues, and help each other with leadership questions.
In 2020-2022, the pandemic years, because the times demanded such courage, strength, persistence, and optimism simply for everyone to endure… And because so many rose to that challenge with grace and generosity… we chose to suspend the Justice Awards temporarily. In this pandemic of viral illness and white supremacist violence, simply to survive and persist is praiseworthy.