Assembly: Powerful Stories, New Organizers, Energy to Move Forward
Members of Sound Alliance institutions gathered together on April 26 for the Delegates & Action Assembly - an energetic night moving both internal and external agendas forward.
Highlights included touching stories from the immigrant rights and All in for Washington campaigns, and the introduction of new organizers.
The night opened with the announcement of two new staff organizers and a new board member.
- Dorothy Gibson, a leader with the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and former union organizer (read more on Dorothy’s background here), will be a full-time general organizer for the Alliance. Welcome Dorothy!
- Ada Lin, a leader with Health Equity Circle, has been working hard on the All in For Washington campaign part-time.
- Dr. Erin Cooley, Swedish Family Medicine Residency Cherry Hill, is rejoining the Administrative Board. Thank you for your service!
Jo Tono, Health Equity Circle member, introduced the Alliance’s external action work. A newer member, this was Jo’s first time co-chairing an assembly, and he hit it out of the park! He had passion for the work and a command of the audience, getting them excited for the actions to come. A powerful and effective public leader was born.
The night moved on to an announcement of a victory for healthy children. Some public schools have been failing even the low state-mandated minimum standard of 80 minutes of Physical Education per week. Sound Alliance member institution the Swedish Family Medicine Residency Cherry Hill, in alliance with the Child Obesity Prevention Coalition, helped pass legislation that requires schools to track and report to the state time spent in PE, a crucial first step towards enforcement.
Thriving Communities – All in for Washington
Next up was the All in for Washington campaign for thriving communities. Geof Miller, a member of St. Andrew’s church with the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, shared his experience with Parkinson’s disease, showing what could be possible if we cared about our communities. While he has been able to maintain his daily routines, going to work and church, not all of his friends with Parkinson’s have been as fortunate. Without access to medication, they can’t do everyday activities like tying their shoes and so they withdraw, losing contact with their friends and their community.
Gina and Daniel Harada of the Federal Way Education Association, a mother and son both teaching second grade in public school, told a heart-wrenching story illustrating what happens when there is a lack of a safety net for families. A family with one of its children in Daniel’s class became homeless. The children were separated from their parents and ended up being split from each other and moved out of the district, losing the only connections and stability they had.
It is hard for the Haradas, as teachers, to bear witness to the pain of the many struggling families like this one that pass through their classrooms, with no services to refer them to. Washington is a state not without wealth, yet our tax system is upside down, taxing the poor seven times more than the wealthy (see the graphic on the right). As a result of its inability to raise adequate revenue, the state budget struggles to pay for services that we say we care about – education, health care, mental health, housing assistance – services that could have helped keep that family together perhaps.
Kira McCoy, Health Equity Circle, negotiated agreements from two state Representatives - Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (30th legislative district) and Rep. Gerry Pollet (46th legislative district). They promised to help organize a bi-partisan working group, including legislators and Sound and Spokane Alliance leaders, that can develop a practical and bi-partisan solution to the state’s funding issues to present to the legislature in the next session.
More stories came as the assembly moved on to Immigrant Rights in the current national climate of increased Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities.
Kailey Harem, a teacher and member of the Federal Way Education Association, talked about a student who had worked so hard to get to and thrive in college, panicking over needing to renew her DACA card (more in this video).
Dr. Peter Berberian (Health Equity Circle), told a story about a previously healthy young girl who came into his care due to stress that her mom would be taken by immigration authorities. She had become so fearful that she refused to go to school, and stopped functioning.
Ben Wiselogle, former Executive Director of Americans for Refugees and Immigrants and a veteran, spoke about his war-time experience in the Middle East, praised the work of the Sound Alliance, and talked about the need to do things differently as a nation by embracing immigrants and refugees.
After these heartfelt stories, Roberta Ray, University Unitarian Church, renewed our relationships with the King County Executive Office and King County Council, developed through past Sound Alliance immigration campaigns, which saw the passing of an ordinance to limit the County’s honoring of ICE requests on the detention of immigrants in the King County Jail.
Lynn McDonald, Fuse, secured commitments from five Tacoma Mayoral and Council Candidates to support Sound Alliance’s work to honor safe spaces such as schools and churches, to make Tacoma a sanctuary city, and to prevent detention center expansion.
The night ended with audience members committing to take action by filling out action cards.
For this work to move forward, from protecting our families, neighbors, and communities to investing in our services, we need YOU.
If you are interested in any of the work mentioned above, please contact Dorothy@soundorganizing.org.
All in for Washington Team Meeting - South King County Power and Relational Mapping
Wednesday, June 7th, 6 - 7:30 PM
Saltwater UU Church, 25701 14th Pl S, Des Moines
Strategy Team Meeting
Thursday, June 15th, 7 - 8:30 PM