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May 2021 NEWSLETTER

The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County is a merger of Progressive Women of Hendersonville, Progressive Organized Women, Hendersonville Huddle, and the Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform, blending our energy and passion, working as one to strengthen our impact .


Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, May 12 at 2:00, Dawn Kucera will present on Effective Public Advocacy Communications. 

Please click on the following link on May 12 at 2:00 to join us!!!

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86717832943?pwd=TnI1RkJTbXJSRUpzNE56UllRRFJ5QT09

Meeting ID: 867 1783 2943
Passcode: 821575
 

Postcard Parties

Postcard Parties will be VIRTUAL until further notice, however plans are underway to return to-in person gatherings.

When we do meet in-person, Postcard Parties will be held at Oklawaha Brewery (renamed from Sanctuary Brewing), still at 147 1st Ave. E, Hendersonville.  In the meantime we will post semi-monthly suggestion sheets on our FB page, website and in emails.

Suggestion Sheets can be viewed below or downloaded at our website.
 
Silent Vigil For Immigration Reform


The May Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform is Friday, May 21st, from 4 pm to 4:30 pm in front of the Historic Courthouse.

We have signs or bring your own.

 Please come out for this very important and current issue.  Our country needs a comprehensive and compassionate Immigration policy and our DACA young people need a path to citizenship.
 
Meg & Todd Hoke
by Deb Rich


Right after the 2016 election, Meg Hoke was invited to attend the very first Progressive Women of Hendersonville (now The Progressive Alliance) meeting.  She signed up to take the bus to The Woman’s March in Washington, DC and, upon returning, unwittingly launched the postcard writing effort.  As she says, “I thought I was just sharing some postcards we were supposed to print up and send after the January 21, 2017 march. My printer was terrible, so I thought I’d get a handful printed up and share with others who had a sucky printer. By that first Friday after the March, I had something like 100 postcards printed and over 100 people showed up at Sanctuary Brewing for the first postcard party.  It just went forward from there!” Her husband, Todd, provided the entertainment.  Though Meg is very humble, the count is over 34,000 postcards mailed to date.  With the pandemic, live weekly Postcard Parties were halted a year ago March but will return.

Meg’s activism does not end there, nor is it what she thought she would be doing now. When she was in 4th grade, she wanted to be a biochemist. Meg grew up in Florida, moving around to various cities like Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and several towns in between.  Her father was a Methodist minister and preached about social justice issues.  Though the family was not actively involved in politics, they were Democrats and were very open about it.  Her father was once removed from a church for speaking about gay rights during the Anita Bryant years.

She attended Wake Forest University for her undergrad, finishing her graduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Her husband Todd attended college in Texas at Lon Morris, and completed his nursing degree at AB Tech. After college, both Todd and Meg participated in a program through the United Methodist church, both working at a residential hospice in Baltimore for people with AIDS.  Meg says that health care was a formative experience where they learned a great deal about issues of race, poverty, prejudice, and LGBTQ+ issues. They participated in a huge gay rights protest in DC around the time of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell issue. After they married, they spent 11 years in Austin, Texas, and were able to travel to Edenborough, Scotland and Paris, France.

Meg came to Hendersonville by way of her grandparents, who had summer homes in the area when she was growing up. Her grandmother moved here full-time, and needed support as she got older, so it seemed to Meg and Todd like a good time to make a move.  Initially they planned to be here only as long as they were needed, but her grandmother passed nine years ago, and they’re still here, with no intention of moving.  Meg and Todd still enjoy careers in healthcare. Meg is a medical social worker working with patients with serious illness.  She has worked in hospice care for the last 16 years and has also done research and part-time work relating to breast cancer.  Todd is an RN with Four Seasons Hospice and is also an accomplished musician, singer and songwriter with 4 albums to his name. He’s a local gem and has often entertained us at postcard parties.

Meg also worked as Norm Bossert’s NC Senate campaign manager in 2018. They met at a postcard party, and it was obvious to Norm that she knew how to motivate people and organize a positive and proactive response to the political situation at that time. She had connections in the arts and progressive movement and helped build a volunteer base, fundraised, and was on top of his calendar, making sure he was where he needed to be and when. Todd helped find musical talent (including himself) for ongoing fundraisers. Norm is forever grateful: “I don’t mind saying that Meg became a part of my life, and at the conclusion of the campaign I felt like I had lost a limb.  Friend, leader, advisor, rock.  Meg and Todd are gifts to this community.  They are gifts to anyone who comes in contact with them”.
 
The progressive issues Meg is passionate about include healthcare, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, the environment, racial issues and animal rights. She states “Basically, all these issues are intersecting and influence each other, so you can’t really be concerned about one and ignore all the others”.  She wants to see the Progressive Alliance continue to be a force for good and remain a progressive voice in the community.  Issues such as immigration and immigrant rights are important, as well as issues around homelessness, healthcare and housing.  She adds: ”A high priority needs to be in supporting candidates to run against conservatives in every race. We may not be able to win yet, but supporting a candidate means that a progressive voice is out there, that the Republican doesn’t get a blank check, and important issues get discussed.  And, one day, we WILL be represented by a progressive.” 

When asked if there was anything else people should know, Meg stated “I guess the one thing that I feel might not get talked about enough is the intersection between food, nutrition, climate change, poverty and health care. Todd and I became vegan in 2017, and the more I’ve learned about animal products, how animals are raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), their waste poorly managed, and the conditions for workers in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, the more I feel it’s a social justice issue.  It’s more complex than I can quickly explain here, but it’s a topic that isn’t always addressed as a high priority in Progressive circles, but it’s incredibly impactful to the health of individuals and our environment.”

With activists like Meg and Todd Hoke working for these causes, there is no doubt that these issues will become a priority sooner rather than later.   
Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, April 14, our virtual Informed Progressive meeting featured Jenna Wadsworth, who presented on the Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana in NC.  

Jenna grew up on her grandparents' farm in Johnston County and now runs the operation with her father. In 2010, Wadsworth became the youngest woman ever elected to political office in NC. For over a decade, she has served the more than 1.1 million people of Wake County as a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor and has been Vice-Chair of the Board since 2015. Wadsworth was the 2020 Democratic Nominee for NC Commissioner of Agriculture. She ran on a progressive platform of supporting small, family farmers; legalizing cannabis; combating climate change and advocating for farmworkers.

She is a graduate of both the NC School of Science and Mathematics in Durham (where she currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Alumni Association) and NC State University (where she was recently appointed to the Steering Committee for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Oaks Leadership Scholars program). She is the Co-Founder of the progressive nonprofit New Leaders Council - NC, as well as the managing partner of her small business (family farmer), and the Program Director for Elected Officials to Protect America. 

Wadsworth is an active member of both Local Progress and the Young Elected Officials Network. For her work with the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program and USAID, she was appointed to the NC Advisory Committee of the US Global Leadership Coalition. She is currently working on a project to build equity in the Southeast for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) farmers engaged in hemp and cannabis production. Wadsworth has been interviewed by The Nation, PBS News Hour, NBC News, The Advocate, and other publications.

At our meeting, Wadsworth emphasized that we must do the best we can for future generations. She briefly explained progressive agriculture practices and stated that it is imperative that we develop a system that is just, sustainable and equitable for the future of all North Carolinians. Such a system would promote food resilience and social justice.  She stated that in this country, we prioritize quick and cheap food with minimal support of small farmers (especially famers of color). She further stated that with corporate agriculture practices, little regard is given to the nutritive quality of foods, effects of chemicals and destruction of the soil.

Relative to marijuana, she listed states that have decriminalized marijuana (25), legalized marijuana for medical use (39) and those who have legalized marijuana for recreational use (15). North Carolina has decriminalized marijuana but Wadsworth indicated that the laws are weak. 

She referenced the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) which is a proposed piece of U.S. federal legislation that would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and enact various criminal and social justice reforms related to cannabis, including the expungement of prior convictions

Wadsworth explained the current pieces of legislation before the NC Assembly concerning marijuana: HB290 (decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana), SB711 (provides regulations for medical use) and SB646 (legalizes possession and sale of marijuana).

In NC in 2019, there were 31,000 misdemeanor charges for marijuana with 8,500 convictions - 61% of those convicted were people of color.  She pointed out how statistics like this point to the disparities in the legal system. 

Wadsworth outlined the health and financial benefits in legalizing marijuana including conditions for which marijuana has been used medically with effective results and tax dollars that would fund education, public health and the addiction/opioid crisis. 

Please click to view the presentation:

Sissy Owen Appears in a Local Magazine

Our very own Sissy Owen was featured in this month's Carolina Home + Garden. Much of the article, "Framework For Fast Times", features the early Sissy and her racetrack days. 



Read the complete article at Carolina Home + Garden.
 
POSTCARD SUGGESTION SHEET   #216            May 1, 2021

POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
Which Approach Would You Take?

NEW YORK STATE:
On June 15, 2020, New York’s Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed policing reform legislation requiring state and local law enforcement officers to report within six hours when they discharge their weapon (S.2575-B/A.10608); requiring courts to compile and publish racial and other demographic data of all low-level offenses (S.1830-C/A.10609); and requiring police officers to provide medical and mental health attention to individuals in custody (S.6601-A/A.8226).

"Police reform is long overdue in this state and this nation, and New York is once again leading the way and enacting real change to end the systemic discrimination that exists in our criminal justice and policing systems," Governor Cuomo said. "These critical reforms will help improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve and take us one step closer to righting the many injustices minority communities have faced because of a broken and unfair system."

Police Statistics and Transparency Act (S.1830-C/A.10609)
The Police Statistics and Transparency Act - or STAT Act - requires courts to compile and publish racial and other demographic data of all low-level offenses, including misdemeanors and violations. The data collected must be made available online and updated monthly. The new law also requires police departments to report any arrest-related death to the Department of Criminal Justice Services and to submit annual reports on arrest-related deaths to the Governor and the Legislature.

NORTH CAROLINA:
On Feb. 15, 2021, North Carolina State Senator Chuck Edwards introduced Senate Bill 100 that would reduce state funding to any local government that cuts spending for its police or sheriff’s office. The goal is to make it more difficult for local officials to heed calls to “defund the police” and shift money to social services and other programs.

“Regretfully, this sentiment which is now turned into violent behavior, is no longer found just on the streets of Minneapolis, New York and Philadelphia,” Edwards said. “We’re seeing radical extremists launch vicious attacks on enforcing our laws right here in North Carolina.”

Edwards’ bill would apply to cities, towns or counties that cut salaries or other expenses for law enforcement by more than 1% of the government’s budget that year.

The N.C. Police Benevolent Association issued a press release Monday afternoon expressing support for the bill that would protect law enforcement funding, saying Asheville was a “catalyst” for the legislation, when it voted to reduce the police department’s budget by $770,000 in September 2020. “This legislation is a necessary step to prevent elected officials from making harmful decisions that fail to support officers and their agencies,” NC Division President Randy Byrd said in a statement. “When you don’t support these officers and their agencies, it can lead to officers leaving in unprecedented numbers and violent crime increasing.”

Please write to Sen. Edwards to ask whether he would reject the New York State law that works to greatly increase police accountability, seeking to greatly reduce the incidence of police misconduct and avoidable harm to the public, especially people of color.  One may suggest that if Sen. Edwards’ only approach to police accountability is to dictate to local North Carolina governments that they may not restructure law enforcement in any way that it may be time for Sen. Edwards to take his knee off of our necks.

PUBLIX ACCOUNTABILITY
It is well understood that Publix is not accountable for the actions of an heir to the founders of Publix for her disgraceful financial and ideological support of the Jan. 6, 2021 reactionary and racist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.  It is, however, Publix’s responsibility to join fellow major corporations---particularly in the Southeast---to vocally express their opposition to the epidemic of voter suppression laws working their way through state legislatures throughout the United States (including the new Jim-Crow-like law that is in effect in Georgia).  

Please call the Publix Customer Care department at 800-242-1227 to seek a direct response to your request.  One may also write to Publix Super Markets, Inc., P.O. Box 407, Lakeland, FL 33802, ATTN: Customer Care, or send an email at www.publix.com/contact.

DISMANTLE THE MEGA-CORPORATE FOOD CARTELS
From the Hightower Lowdown March-April 2021:
“…help break the grip of the corporate cartels squeezing the vitality out of the land, family farmers, farm and processing workers, and eaters, too.
“The Family Farm Action Alliance (farmactionalliance.org) connects and supports ‘unlikely allies’ in the food system, spreading awareness that abusive corporate power undermines a resilient and just food system…
“And check out the campaigns organized by Real Food Generation (realfoodgen.org).  Its ‘Real Meals Campaign’ aims to transform the $18 billion college cafeteria industry by pressuring the Big Three contractors---Aramark, Sodexo, and Compass---to shift sourcing from industrial ag to smaller-scale and local suppliers and, in the process, fight climate change, racism, and inequality in the food chain.”

JUST A THOUGHT: IN THE NEWS
The Hendersonville Times News reported this past Sunday April 26, 2021 that “Mills River Town Council joined other government bodies in the state Thursday in opposing bills before the N.C. General Assembly that could diminish the number of single-family zoned properties without local government control.
“If passed into law, property owners would be able to develop ‘middle housing’ – duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and townhomes – by right on properties zoned for single-family homes without local planning and…approvals.”

QUESTION FOR A PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE:
Is there a feasible balance among development, local control, low income housing, and diversity in housing?  This question may not be directly relevant to the legislation under consideration in the NC General Assembly and the reasons Mills River, Hendersonville, and other communities object to this legislation.  But what ways do we have in Henderson County to increase access to housing (and the growth of intergenerational family resources) for people who have a great need but relatively low income?  Now may be the time to start a conversation about these issues, recognizing that there is undoubtedly a diversity of opinions, experiences, and concerns within the PAHC.

Some people don’t look.
Some look, but don’t see.
Some see, but don’t act.
Some people act.
. . . Anon
 
OUR MISSION: 
The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County (PAHC) compassionately advocates for justice, dignity, inclusion and sustainable, healthy communities for all.
 
OUR VISION:
To connect residents of Henderson County and vicinity through grassroots civic engagement, education, outreach and volunteerism.   

Visit our website for more photos, events, and links to like-minded groups.
The PAHC core leadership group (currently Chris Berg, Nancy & Neil Brown, Lucy Butler, Sheila Clendenning, Laura Miklowitz, Sissy Owen, Vikki Schantz, Virginia Tegel, and Paul Weichselbaum) working together diligently to strengthen our impact, has created mission and vision statements for the group.

Please speak to any of us if you can offer your ideas and time about the future of Henderson County. 
 
Copyright © *2020-2021* *Progressive Alliance of Henderson County*

 






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Progressive Alliance of Henderson County · P.O. Box 192 · Mountain Home, NC 28758 · USA

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