UUCS and Spokane Alliance

The UUCS – Spokane Alliance Team is related to our local Spokane Alliance organization.

The Spokane Alliance is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a social justice organization founded by the brilliant tactician Saul Alinsky, who began organizing the blue-collar factory communities of Chicago during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Since the 1940s, the IAF has expanded nationally and abroad, with chapters in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  It seeks to recognize the “world as it is” and moves people to create “the world as it should be,” training citizens to build stronger communities.  It is nonpartisan and strategic in its organizing methods.

The Spokane Alliance is part of the IAF Northwest region, which has chapters in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and Australia. The Spokane Alliance was launched in 2002. It is comprised of 28 member organizations:  progressive churches, including our own, labor unions and other nonprofit groups who represent about 20,000 people and work for the common good.

 

Mission of the UUCS –  Spokane Alliance Team

IAF affiliates like the Spokane Alliance have dual purposes:  to create stronger communities and also to create stronger member organizations.  Our Unitarian Universalist Church – Spokane Alliance Team works on those intertwined goals.  The UUCS Spokane Alliance Team’s mission, to help obtain concrete, measurable social justice wins in our community is accomplished by engaging the congregation in the work of the Spokane Alliance and internally developing leaders. Leadership development  creates an action oriented and reflective culture based on strong relationships.

 

Team Strategies

Our UUCS – Spokane Alliance Team meets monthly to fulfill its responsibilities found in the UUCS Strategic Plan:

  • Conduct one-on-one “relational meetings” with UUCS leaders in an ongoing effort to build relationships, gauge interest in community organizing and provide training resources;
  • Offer free, two-day training sessions in Spokane Alliance organizing techniques to UUCS members;
  • Plan for regular brown bag listening sessions on social justice issues being addressed by the Spokane Alliance and also topics within the church where individual voices can be heard; and
  • Develop and provide timely information about Spokane Alliance actions to the church, the Board of Trustees and Social Justice Coordinating Council.  See our quarterly reports HERE.

 

Community Organizing Is What UUs Do

Two hundred other UU congregations around the country belong to local organizations like the Spokane Alliance doing the work of social justice and obtaining concrete wins.  All believe in the ability of everyday people to take leadership and transform their communities. By acting together with collective power, we create the changes that communities need to thrive, and transform our society while including more people in the dynamics of public life.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has long ties to IAF. IAF’s founder and community based organizing leader, Saul Alinsky was the Ware speaker at the UUA General Assembly held in Detroit, 1967

 

Statement from the Minister

“The Spokane Alliance has allowed us the singular opportunity to regularly collaborate with those beyond our church community on the important issues impacting us all. Building working relationships among disparate organizations isn’t always easy, but the Spokane Alliance knows how to make it happen. It takes time, but the results of our efforts are far reaching, lasting change.” Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof

 

Spokane Alliance Accomplishments

The Spokane Alliance has used the IAF’s distinctive organizing techniques in many local campaigns:  

  • to retrofit Spokane neighborhoods with energy-saving insulation and furnaces;
  • to create job opportunities for young people and returning veterans through apprenticeships in public sector jobs;
  • to urge the Washington Legislature to provide funding for WSU’s new Elson Floyd College of Medicine;
  • to convince the Spokane City Council to pass a ground-breaking ordinance for sick and safe leave benefits for 40,000 low-income workers;
  • to work with city and county leaders on a new diversion facility to keep mentally ill people out of jail; and
  • to reform our state’s upside-down tax code, which ranks as the most regressive in the country.

 

Joining the Spokane Alliance

“It was quite gratifying to help work for UUCS membership in the Spokane Alliance in 2004/05.  Spokane faced many critical situations: limited jobs, environmental pressures, urban sprawl and growing unraveling of the social fabric.  It was a perfect fit between the UU principles and Alliance work to join with other groups, work for political strength and at the same time deepen interpersonal relations and community in the congregation.  The congregation itself saw it as a definite win-win situation and responded with reinforcement!” Bill Prouty, UU member who spearheaded UUCS membership in the Spokane Alliance

 

Sustainable Works

Jerry White, UUCS Board President, 2018-19:   “I was the chairperson of the Spokane Alliance Jobs Research Action Team in 2005, and we were working on ways to increase good paying jobs in Spokane.  We came up with Sustainable Works (SW), a program to retrofit homes to save energy which was launched with a $60,000 grant. SW would evaluate a homeowner’s house and might recommend removing an old 60% stove oil furnace and replacing it with a new 92% gas furnace. There might also be additional insulation installed, new double-pane windows installed, or cracks sealed to prevent cold air from entering. This was all happening just prior to the economic meltdown in 2008. The Spokane Alliance had a good working relation with then Senate majority leader Lisa Brown, who approached the Spokane Alliance and suggested that some of the federal “TARP” money soon would come to Washington to stimulate the economy and might be used to scale up SW statewide.  In the program’s heyday we retrofitted between 600-700 houses and created work for many people. About 34 of our fellow UUs had various degrees of energy saving work done to their homes. For example, Linda and Jim Lynn live in an almost 100 year old house and had new windows, insulation, an energy efficient hot water heater, and sealing between the stone foundation and framing. Before the retrofit they were averaging $449/month in energy costs which decreased to $224/month. Others had similar energy savings and still consider Sustainable Works one of their best investments.”

 

Training Opportunities  

See the Spokane Alliance website for dates of the local two day Leadership Institutes; the one week spring Regional IAF Training, and the week long summer National IAF Trainings.

 

How to take action: