CF100: 2017 02 12 – Indivisible & Nevertheless, She Persisted

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

Every Tuesday rallies take place in Orlando to express concern over events in our nation’s capital. Two weeks ago, a rally outside Senator Rubio’s office asked him to take stands against the Muslim ban, unqualified presidential nominees, and the dismantling of our healthcare system. This last Tuesday, a rally outside Senator Nelson’s office offered encouragement for him to continue to stand strong in the face of the destruction of American values. Similar rallies are taking place across the nation thanks to the collaborative efforts of groups including the newly emerged “Indivisible,” which now boasts several chapters in Central Florida.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” This line, uttered in the US Senate this week, makes me think of the first minister of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando. The congregation, founded 105 years ago this week, was first served by Rev. Elinor Gordon. Women ministers were rare in 1912, but Rev. Gordon was also a suffragette. I, for one, am glad that she persisted in her work. This week, as First Unitarian breaks ground on a renovation of our campus, I dream that future generations will say of Orlando women today, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, democracy, Diversity, Interfaith | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CF100: 2017 02 05 – Exec Orders & Grassroots Organizing

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition. This week my second offering, truncated as shown, was printed.

What was the biggest story of the week?

The Executive Order states in part: “The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.” My question: If Mr. Trump travels outside the US, will he get back in?

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

Grassroots collaborations will continue to spring up all around Central Florida in response to the draconian actions of the new administration. As we see more and more of our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers threatened and impacted by recent executive orders, people who have never been activists are stepping up and reaching out. Organizations doing related work in our community for years or even decades are seeing increased donations and more volunteers. (Especially heartening is the way diverse groups are uniting around the intersection of injustice. As they do, these new coalitions are invigorating a vibrant Human Rights Movement.)*

*  ( ) indicates not printed in the paper


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, democracy, Diversity, Interfaith | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The New Normal or Welcome to the Resistance

There is nothing normal about this. We live in a time school children of the future will learn about as a horrifying cautionary tale. They will wonder how this happened and they will ask: what did you do? And so, we ask ourselves, what will we do?

We must realize that trying to live normal lives while dealing with an immensely abnormal government will not serve us. We must accept a new normal for our lives that allows us to mount sustained action. In other words, welcome to the resistance. Your training begins now.

The initial phase of this struggle will last at least two years, until the next election (and given the line of succession defined in our constitution, there is no short cut). It may last longer, but for now, let’s think in terms of two years. Here are six things that will be required of us if we are to sustain ourselves.

First, sustained resistance will require you to be in the very best physical, mental, and spiritual condition available to you. Given the tremendous diversity of the human condition, it will be important for each of us to recognize our own limits and respect the limits of others. No one can do all the things. Everyone can do something. So prioritize your self-care: Sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Go to therapy. Take your meds. Pray, meditate, or walk in the woods. Make time for rest and relaxation. Nurture your relationships. Give yourself time (and permission) to experience delight and joy. The beauty and wonder of the world is threatened, not destroyed. Honor it.

If the challenges ahead are not to exhaust you, self-care must be a priority in your new normal.

Second, sustained resistance will require us to build partnerships and support one another. The threats and impending threats to immigrants, women, People of Color, the LGBTQ community, non-Christians, people living with disabilities, those needing health care, folks on the economic margins, and all of us who value science, the environment, our democracy, and basic civility have been well articulated elsewhere. They need not be repeated here. Rather than being overwhelmed by the list (which goes on and has many nuances), we can choose to see our work as a broad human rights struggle. Though our hearts may break for all these concerns, each of us will be called to certain areas of action. Our challenge is to do the work we are called to while also finding ways to support those working in others areas. Rather than working against each other, can we see the intersection of all oppressions and find ways to collaborate so that we are all stronger?

If the challenges ahead are not to destroy us, we must evolve new and effective ways to support one another across our causes.

Third, sustained resistance will require us to build the movement. We need all of us. If you are new to activism, great! Glad to have you! We need your energy and enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Remember that there are lots of folks who have been at this a long time. Be sure to honor their service and their hard won wisdom. Learn the history of what has happened in the past – both the good and the bad. If you are an ally be sure to listen to the needs of the community you wish to support, lest your well intentioned actions have harmful unintended consequences. Historically marginalized communities have important perspectives and insights that must be heard and respected.

If the challenges ahead are to make us stronger, we must build on lessons learned and take our lead from those most impacted.

Fourth, sustained resistance will require us to be fearless in the face of an authoritarian regime. There will be risks, real risks, and there will be losses, real losses. Bad things, terrible things, will happen. When they do, we will mourn. And then we will fight on. We will do things we have never done before. We will do them more often. We will each decide what risk we can take in each situation understanding that those with more societal privilege can often engage with less risk. Don’t take privilege for granted. Use it for good.

If the challenges ahead are to be met, we must keep moving forward, not just in spite of the fear, but because of it.

Fifth, sustained resistance will require us to build the movement. (Has that been mentioned?) We need to make room for new activists. We need not waste time condemning them for not coming to the party sooner. We have the opportunity to nurture them into stronger allies. More and more people of conscience and compassion are feeling compelled to get active in ways they have not before. Over time, more will join in. If we hold a vision of unity, then we must hold out possibility that anyone could choose to join the struggle for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. Without being foolish, we are served by keeping our hearts and minds open to the possibility of transformation in others.

If the challenges ahead are to be met by ever larger numbers, we must keep making room for all those who would join the struggle.

Finally, sustained resistance will require community building and relationships. We must connect and build a dense web of interconnections. Meet people. New people. Different people. Listen to them. Keep learning. Respect differences of passion, skill, experience, perspective, and engagement. Support one another. Be humble. Know that until the tide turns, the building of communities of resistance is the win.

If the challenges ahead are to give way to the future we dream of, we need one another.

We must never normalize what we are currently seeing in our nation’s capital. We must normalize a way of life that will sustain a bold and vibrant resistance.

Posted in Current Events, democracy, Diversity, Economic Justice, Election, Environmental Issues, LGBTQ, Life's Challenges | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

CF100: 2017 01 22 – Rallies & Marches & What Lies Ahead

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

Women and their allies across Central Florida spent the week preparing for events the day after the inauguration: The Women’s Rally – Central Florida and the Women’s March on Washington. At least four buses from Orlando are headed to DC along with many independent travelers. Whatever the events bring, the community building of the last two weeks is remarkable. In addition to a great deal of connecting on-line, there were poster making parties and trainings on how to de-escalate difficult situations. And of course, there was the knitting and crocheting of the now famous pink and yellow pussy hats

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

After the election, many said “Give him a chance.” Some felt what we already knew was sufficient cause for concern. Some tried to stay open to a positive turn from Mr. Trump. However, after watching his continued divisive tweets, along with his cabinet nominees, many had seen enough. The result was historically low approval ratings before the inauguration. Now, there is no more “Wait and see.” From here on out, Mr. Trump must be held accountable for his actions and their real world impact. Many in Central Florida are ready to be part of the resistance that lies ahead.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, Diversity, Interfaith | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CF100: 2017 01 08 – Bomb Threats & Celebrating MLK

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

Bomb threats called into two area Jewish centers last Wednesday are a disturbing sign of our times. While the calls turned out to be empty threats, the impact on the centers’ children, parents, and staff cannot be dismissed. These acts are intended to cause disruption both physical and emotional. They have no place in our community or in any community. While this kind of emotional harassment is not new, there was a dramatic uptick in biased based incidents following the November election, primarily anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT (per The Southern Poverty Law Center). Violence breeds violence. We must de-escalate.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

Orlando kicks off its series of celebrations of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this evening (Sunday, January 8) with its annual MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Service. Open to all, the event begins at Orlando City Hall at 6:00 pm. After opening remarks, those gathered will join civic and religious leaders in processing to First Presbyterian Church for the city’s annual MLK Interfaith and Multicultural Service. The theme of the evening draws on King’s reminder that “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” A beautiful event for all ages!


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, Diversity, Interfaith | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CF100: 2016 12 04 – LGBTQ Clergy Support & Boycotts

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

This week, Central Florida clergy long involved with the struggle for LGBTQ equality had a chance to be with those new to the journey for greater understanding, acceptance, and affirmation. The opportunity to share stories and build relationships came as the National LGBTQ Task Force hosted a gathering of their National Religious Leaders Roundtable in Orlando at the invitation of Equality Florida and Florida Clergy United. As we approach the six month anniversary of the Pulse tragedy, we continue to deepen our understanding that only through a strengthened community that includes all will we move forward with health and wholeness..

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

How will Central Florida fare, and respond, amid calls for prolonged nationwide boycotts of states, municipalities, corporations, and institutions that promote police brutality, racial violence, and systemic injustice? Protests and advocacy have helped to raise awareness of the daunting problems of our American society. Boycotts will make pleas for progress harder to ignore and true justice harder to avoid. “They” can throw letters in the barrel and shake their heads at the people in streets but concentrated economic impact is harder to ignore. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Do the right thing… here in Central Florida… and everywhere.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, democracy, Diversity, LGBTQ | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

CF100: 2016 11 27 – Death Penalty & Recounts

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

Florida’s death penalty continues to face challenges after the state Supreme Court tossed out the sentence of a man condemned to death without a unanimous recommendation of the jury. This follows the ruling last January by the U.S Supreme Court that Florida’s death penalty process was unconstitutional, because it left sentencing in the hands of judges rather than juries. It remains unclear how many of Florida’s 385 inmates on death row will be impacted by these unfolding happenings in the courts. Given the systemic prejudices in the justice system, any light shown on the process is likely a good thing.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

Pressure builds for a presidential election recount in Florida following news that Green Party candidate Jill Stein in requesting recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. While Stein cannot demand the recount in Florida, a petition on change.org currently calls on Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to make it happen. Whether or not a recount changes the election results, the exercise may be critical to continuing confidence in the electoral process, which has faced a credible threat of hacking. Given the contentious climate in which we find ourselves, every effort should be made to ensure no mischief as taken place.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

Posted in Central Florida, Current Events, democracy, Diversity, Election | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment