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June 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, June 9 at 2:00, Vicki Meath with Just Economics will be our featured speaker.  Just Economics works to educate, advocate, and organize for a just and sustainable local economy that works for all in Western North Carolina.

Please click on the following link on June 9 at 2:00 to join us!!!

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88286168154?pwd=Yk5Ma24waG1JZlVLSVlaSE5ybmhoUT09

Meeting ID: 882 8616 8154
Passcode: 862937
 

Postcard Parties

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

 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 June Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform is Friday, June 18, 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.
 
Thursday     June 3rd      3:30 – 5:30

The North Carolina Association of Educators We Heart Public Schools tour will visit all 100 counties in North Carolina this year and it's coming to Henderson County on Thursday, June 3rd!

Join them at Berkeley Mills Park from 3:30-5:30 p.m. for a celebration of our educators and public schools entitled “We Kept Teaching”.

From Henderson County Association of Educators: "We know that in every one of our schools, there are teachers, counselors, administrators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and more that lead in extraordinary ways. We also know that those stories of leadership often go untold. With your help, we want to uplift those stories and recognize the courageous work of educators in buildings across our school districts. Please join us as we publicly recognize their wonderful contributions to our school community!,

"We've been working so hard to keep each other safe. Let's show up (in a socially distant, COVID-safe way) to show appreciation for our educators and each other. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sides, and drinks from Hot Dog World will be provided in addition to Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We'll also be giving away some awesome NCAE swag! We look forward to seeing our community come together in support of each other and public schools on June 3rd!,

"In this together,
Henderson County Association of Educators"

For questions or comments, please contact Jerry Smith at jerrysmith.hcae@gmail.com.
 
 
John Owens
by Deb Rich


John Owens grew up in Columbus, Ohio. Both his father and grandfather (who was his namesake) were officers in the United Mine Workers, so one might say that political activism is in his blood; however, that’s not completely true.  Though he always voted Democratic, his initial career aspiration was to be involved in film as a photographer or director. 

He attended Ohio University and studied Radio/TV. Though he was involved in a few campus anti-war protests, he was not politically active, though he did hitch a ride to the one-year anniversary of the Kent State protests at which Jane Fonda was a featured speaker.  

His professional life started in Scranton, Pennsylvania as a photographer.  His roommate there for a short time was none other than a young and belligerent Bill O’Reilly.  His work has taken him on job assignments at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the White House, Japan, Russia, the Vatican. He was on the press plane for Pope John Paul’s tour of the US in 1987 and Nelson Mandela’s US tour after his release from prison in South Africa.  He started out as a news photographer, and then transitioned to a Special Projects/Documentary Producer at the NBC affiliate in Detroit where he met his wife, Sara Hassinger, who was a director. After working at the TV station for 20 years, he joined a corporate communications firm where he wrote and produced videos for a wide variety of clients: GM, Ford, Ascension Health, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society among others. During his video career, he won more than 20 Emmys and several national awards.

It was during this time that John was nearly killed. He was severely wounded by a deranged gunman 16 years ago outside the TV station where he worked in Detroit. Since that time, John has been passionately involved in the gun violence prevention movement. Before moving to NC, he spoke about his experiences at many churches in the Detroit area. When John & Sara moved to Hendersonville, he joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, first as a volunteer, and currently as a group lead. He is also an Everytown Survivor Fellow, a national group that provides a support system for gun violence survivors and advocates for common sense gun laws. John has lobbied on behalf of gun safety legislation in Raleigh and Washington, DC, as well as written Op-Eds for the Asheville Citizen-Times. As Bob Miles and Diane Swift of the “Mom’s” group state: “(John) brings compassion to those who survive the loss of loved ones or are wounded themselves by gunfire. He is determined to enact sensible legislative changes that will begin to reduce the level of gun violence.”

The pair also share: “John’s courage is clear when he walks with a cane or moves about in a wheelchair without saying a word about the pain that is part of his everyday life.”  They have never seen him lose patience or become angry with others who disagree with him or stand in the way of change despite seeing how his and others’ lives have been changed by gun violence.  He encourages and motivates his colleagues who become discouraged at the slow pace of progress in western North Carolina and always is open to suggestions from others who are less involved and knowledgeable than he is.

Bob and Diane credit John with the success of the Hendersonville Moms Demand Action group. They believe that their organization continued to be a presence in the community through the pandemic while other local groups faded, due to John’s commitment.  He has traveled to Raleigh many times to participate in statewide advocacy events and keeps abreast of state and national legislation. The group benefits from his national activism and from relationships John has developed with other survivors of gun violence.

John and Sara are also members of PFLAG-Hendersonville/Flat Rock, the largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people and their allies.  Since they have a transgender child, they count on the support and education of this local group, and advocate on behalf LGBTQ issues. They just participated in a call with Senator Burr’s office, arranged by PFLAG North Carolina, in support of the Equality Act.

One might surmise that with all the activism, John and Sara have little time for other interests, however they enjoy going for walks or bike rides on accessible, wheelchair friendly paths in the area. Despite his limited mobility, John enjoys playing golf.  He offers his video expertise to causes he believes in, like helping out with Sam Edney’s campaign in 2020 and 2018, and Norm Bossert’s in 2018. Sara volunteers with community theatre groups throughout the area. John enjoys the Progressive Alliance Postcard parties and posts frequently on Facebook for the Mom’s Demand Action Group. 

John’s interest in progressive causes continues.  He believes the priorities going forward should include immigration, gun violence, climate change, voter suppression, racial justice initiatives, and election finance reform, just to name a few. With his leadership and enthusiasm, these topics are sure to be effectively tackled. 
Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, May 12, our virtual Informed Progressive meeting featured Dawn Kucera, who presented on Effective Public Advocacy Communications. 

Dawn stated that, “We all have opinions about a lot of issues and topics, but sometimes we aren’t confident about how to express them”.  In her talk, she provided techniques for productive public communication. She highlighted letters to the editor, post cards and rally signs.  Dawn stated that the purpose of writing and speaking in public is to educate, to advocate, to persuade and to make people think.  She indicated that the bottom line is to get results and provide a call to action.  She explained that to be effective, one must have a point of view, know the subject very well (by reading and studying) and practice. Dawn cautioned that one should know and follow submission rules and guidelines (letters to the editor and other media), stick to issues and refrain from attacking individuals or groups. Dawn described at length how to write a letter to the editor. She provided tips on making post cards and rally signs more readable such as use of white space, use of different color lettering and utilizing large and limited lettering on signs.

Dawn generously volunteered to give this presentation to other groups. If interested, please contact Lucy at lucybutlerslp@gmail.com to obtain contact information for Dawn.

Please click on this link to view the presentation:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/LJbgV70Q_v2BpoIXWmDueknYOfCOBtzuJbXWVFrqXGc7OVOaFeaZNjnbK2mbpPGX.KabYwxpKjjKcWXH0?startTime=1620843044000

POSTCARD SUGGESTION SHEET   #218            June 1, 2021
(IT’S ALL ABOUT NC)

To Hide or Not to Hide—Information, that is the Question
SB 355 is a bill filed in the North Carolina Senate that, if passed, would result in the strongest improvement in decades in the people’s ‘right to know’ in our state. 35 states have enacted policy to allow the public access to personnel records of public officials and employees. There is pushback from educators and state employees on the passage of this bill. Why, what do they have to hide? Let’s face it, why shouldn’t the public know if state employees have been felons, or have been fired in another state or been cited for criminal behavior? This is a “Right to Know” transparency bill. We elect a portion of these officials but others across the state are just hired. As we have read and seen in the last four years, officials have become criminals in the public eye and are escaping prosecution. Is that what we want for our state?  If you agree, then support this bill by contacting your Senate State Reps (see PAHC Home page for a link to addresses.)

Another Transparency Issue—SB 636 Non-Profits and Dark Money
It’s already done. The Republican-led NC Senate voted to prevent disclosure of contributors to nonprofits, prohibiting legislators and government workers from disclosing confidential information. It would instead give nonprofits the final say in whether a donor's public information can be released. But there is still an issue and it is not too late to voice your opinion as the bill now goes to the NC House Committee on Rules and Operations.

This is about Dark Money in North Carolina.  Opponents of the bill say the law could shield political organizations from campaign finance regulations. Non-Profit, Dark Money, Really? Yes.

Some nonprofits exist primarily as "dark money" groups, spending part of what they collect on issue advertising that figures heavily into political races. Often, these groups give to each other, moving money around until it's difficult to determine what came from where. They launder the money and then spend it on behalf of the donor. 

This issue is now before the Supreme Court. It was initially brought to light in CA. It is not too late to contact your NC State Congressional Reps to ask them to vote against allowing non-profits to function as a political arm and cash cow for their donors’ voter privileges. Again, we need transparency into the money that is funding our legislators. (see PAHC Home page for a link to addresses.)

OTHER NC General Assembly Bills to Address with our Legislators:

Attacking Reproductive Healthcare
Republicans in the NC House and Senate have fast-tracked two outrageous anti-abortion bills: Senate Bill 405, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which is a slightly amended version of a bill vetoed in 2019 by Gov. Cooper, and House Bill 453, the “Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No  Eugenics” bill, which would prevent someone from getting an abortion based on the race of the fetus or a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The "nondiscrimination" and "eugenics" language is particularly insulting, given the state's not-too-distant history of sterilizing women of color against their will. SB 405 is expected to pass both chambers and again face a veto from the Governor, which Republicans don't have the votes to overturn.

Attacking Voting Rights
Also included in the current frenzy is anti-voter House Bill 782, the so-called “Elections Certainty Act.” This bill eliminates a long-standing provision that protects absentee voters from mail delays. If this bill were to pass, absentee ballots that are voted by Election Day but received after 5 pm on Election Day would be null and void. If this bill had been in effect in 2020, over 11,000 mail-in ballots in North Carolina would have been tossed out, which is a decisive number in tight races.

Attacking Our Right to Protest
Last Tuesday the NC House passed House Bill 805, the "Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder" act, whose lead sponsor was House Speaker Tim Moore. The effect of this bill would be to stifle free speech and the right of protesters peaceably to assemble, by imposing harsh criminal penalties on any protesters charged with "rioting." HB 805 is one of more than 90 anti-protest bills being pushed by Republicans in state legislatures across the country.

Attacking Discussion of Race in the Classroom
On top of everything else, the NC House passed controversial House Bill 324, "Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination," which restricts what NC school children can be taught about our country's racial history. HB 324 is one of many bills being pushed by Republican legislators across the county trying to whitewash history in the classroom.
(Courtesy: Indivisible Asheville)
(see PAHC Home page for a link to addresses.)

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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