Fall 2018 e-newsletter

Fall 2018 e-newsletter

As we look ahead to 2019, we at Unite Oregon want to take some time to reflect on our year, our successes and our challenges. Take a moment to get updated about what we’ve been up to, and remember that your individual donations will support our work, and allow us to explore new and effective ways to fight for racial justice in Oregon. Help us support our work by clicking here to make a year-end donation or become a member. Even $5 will help -- your contribution is tax deductible.

Our Victories and Successes

End Profiling Implementation

In August 2017, a policy was implemented that reduced some felony drug charges to misdemeanors. A year later, the September 2018 Criminal Justice Commission Report

reported a dramatic reduction in overall felony convictions. We saw a 44% drop in felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance since the implementation of our bill, in just one year. In addition, racial disparities fell significantly--for Black Oregonians, the racial group who has historically experienced the greatest racial disparity compared to whites for felony PCS convictions, disparities fell by 80%.

This policy change came out of a long-term, organizing effort by Unite Oregon, rooted in the End Profiling campaign. The campaign mobilized hundreds to speak out about their experience with profiling and direct play a role in making changing that system.

Defeating Measure 105

In November, Oregonians came together and decisively defeated Measure 105, an anti-immigrant ballot measure rooted in hate. The victory sent a strong message to white supremacist groups who put the measure on the ballot that Oregonians clearly reject their message of hate and division. We are especially proud that in Jackson County, home of our Rogue Valley office, voters came together and defeated the measure by 10 percent. The Rogue Valley team’s coordinated activities led to volunteers knocking on over 1,300 doors and completing 117 volunteer shifts. Now, we can continue the work of ensuring that our community and state remain a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.

Harvesting Positive Change in Rogue Valley

Our Vision 2020 Fundraiser ‘Harvesting Positive Change’ brought the Rogue Valley community together to raise funds and acknowledge the Leadership Council and Community Advocates for their dedication in empowering our community. Thanks to our

Leadership Council member and talented local artist, Erica Alexia Ledesma, for gifting her artwork to promote this event. In 2018, we celebrated five students from our citizenship classes becoming new citizens. We are looking forward to expanding our Know Your Rights trainings in partnership with local churches in the new year.

Working for Housing Justice in Washington County

Unite Oregon started working in the City of Tigard in early 2017 to inform residents about a potential Max line that is proposed for Southwest Portland, Tigard, and Tualatin. The City of Tigard, Portland, Metro and Trimet are working together to build a Max Line to help eliminate traffic and connect Washington County cities to Downtown Portland. In 2017-2018 Unite Oregon organized several meetings to get community input about this important project. We worked with our partners to assure residents were getting the information they needed to be active participants and have a say the project. To build on that work, we co-created an adult cohort with Momentum Alliance, CAT, OPAL and Metro. We will explore housing and transportation justice as well as gentrification and displacement. In 2019 Unite Oregon will also be having focus groups to get community input about City of Tigard Triangle development project. What to get involved? We invite you to join us for a Priced Out movie screening and community conversation on January 17, 2019 at 6:30pm at the City of Tigard Library. We encourage to be at the Library at 6 p.m so you can start connecting with your neighbors.

What to be part of the Tigard Triangle focus group? Contact Cristina Palacios at cristina@uniteoregon.org or 503-828-9736.

PILOT’s October retreat

In October, our PILOT leadership program members gathered for the first of four retreats for the 2018-19 program year. We had 36 applicants from 20 countries.

Our theme for our first session was “Power Within: Enhancing self-awareness, political analysis, and relationship.” This year, we are taking a holistic approach to leadership and incorporating modules that touch on our Intellect/Mental (political education),  Emotional/Spiritual (self care and joy), and Practical (skills and action) development. Our PILOT participants are working on three group projects over the course of the program: Legislative & Lobby Team, Arts & Political Education, and PILOT Video and we are looking forward to our next session in January.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2019 BOLD program for emerging immigrant, refugee, and POC leaders in Beaverton. Click HERE to apply.

BUILD Leadership Development Program

Unite Oregon in partnership with Portland Public Schools (PPS) delivers BUILD, a leadership development program offered in Jefferson, Madison, and Roosevelt clusters and David Douglas middle schools to families with students in 10th/11th grades. BUILD continues to identify new opportunities for parent involvement in our schools from Back-to-School nights, mentorships, school-based workshops, and offering ESOL classes to Latino and Somali families.

BUILD’s Seeds of Change Conference

On December 3, BUILD hosted our 4th annual Seeds of Change Leadership Conference at Madison High School attended by 75 students, parents, and teachers from across Jefferson, Madison, and Roosevelt clusters. Our theme this year focused on how we build resiliency in our communities given the trauma many of our families are facing in our schools and larger communities.

BUILDing Towards 2019

In October, after a 5-month campaign to district personnel and administrators parents at Roosevelt High School successfully advocated to reinstate an eliminated position for a bilingual Parent Engagement Coordinator. Our program will continue to support and assist parents in advocating and advancing educational equity in our schools in 2019.

Unity Over Hate

This year, we concentrated our efforts toward developing a systemic, statewide solution to hate crimes in Oregon. Unite Oregon was appointed to the Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Task Force, which was created to review existing legal protections for victims of hate crimes and to make proposals into the 2019 legislature for strengthening Oregon’s laws. Currently we find a patchwork of often competing penalties and definitions for hate crimes, all of them limited by the free speech protections provided under the Oregon Constitution--considered by many to be the strongest protections in the country.

We know that hate crimes have increased dramatically across the nation and in Oregon since 2016. Do you have a story to share? On January 7 in Portland and January 9 in Medford, Unite Oregon is hosting Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for a listening session. Your story will support a Hate Crimes bill that better reflects the current needs for protections of our communities.

As a member of Portland United Against Hate, we are piloting a system to document hate/bias incidents in the city. If you believe you have experienced or witnessed a hate/bias incident you can report it to Portland United Against Hate by contacting Seemab Hussaini, Seemab@UniteOregon.org.

Looking ahead to 2019

Last weekend, about 60 BUILD program participants and their families gathered at Unite Oregon for La Posada--a Christmas tradition in Latin America where friends, families, and neighbors come together to reenact the story of Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem in search of refuge. Some of us acted as innkeepers, and the others acted as the pilgrims with lighted candles. Each group took turns singing to each other, until the pilgrims were let in, and we celebrated together.

At a time when the world is facing the largest refugee crisis in history and the current administration is violently attacking people seeking asylum, I was reminded of our community’s vibrance and resilience and commitment to support immigrant and refugee communities. Let’s take that spirit into the new year with us.

Thank you so much for your support and donations. Happy New Year to you and your families,

Kayse Jama

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