TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE Pay-Per-View Encore!

Watch our encore Pay-Per-View weekend of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE this Thanksgiving weekend (11/26-11/29). Tickets are on sale now! get tickets

GRT FUNdraiser!

Don’t miss this Virtual FUNdraiser for The Group Rep! A benefit concert with Maura Hanlon Smith that will stream one night only on November 21st! read more

New GRT Virtual Stage

Check out the new GRT Virtual Stage! Unless notes otherwise, the ‘on-demand’ GRT productions listed here are FREE to stream from your computer device. visit the virtual stage

Coming Soon!

The Group Rep Elves are busy writing, casting, rehearsing and recording a special collection of original one-acts for the holiday season.

Stay tuned for more details on the GRT Facebook page!

Last week, Hurricane Eta made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, leaving incredible destruction in its wake in communities already burdened by the overwhelming impact of COVID-19. While the hurricane’s devastation is still being evaluated, it is estimated that 2.5+ million people across Central America will be affected by this crisis.

In emergency situations, Rise Against Hunger works quickly alongside in-country partners to provide families with critical assistance. Hurricane Eta is no different: We are responding with partners in Nicaragua and in Honduras to meet the immediate needs of those in Eta’s wake, and we need your help to continue our emergency response efforts.

In Nicaragua, our partner Global Links distributes Rise Against Hunger meals to mothers and their young children in maternal homes. We are preparing a shipment of 285,000+ emergency meals to support relief efforts in the maternal homes impacted by the hurricane.

donate now

In Honduras, partner Central American Relief Efforts distributed emergency food baskets funded by Rise Against Hunger to 400 households one day prior to Hurricane Eta’s landfall. The area faced heavy floods, and the monthly food distribution came just in time to provide families with healthy food as they weather the storm.

The days, weeks and months ahead will be extremely difficult, as the region faces 11.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases along with the daunting challenge of rebuilding. Rise Against Hunger continues to communicate with our partners in Central America to provide support wherever possible. Donate to our Global Emergency Relief Fund now to ensure that we can stand with those we serve during the most difficult of times

Thank you for your unwavering support.

Gratefully, 
Edna Ogwangi
Chief Impact Officer

Dear CEC Community,

I want to talk about our future. But first, a story.

Last Monday – Labor Day – I had just sat down to make a few notes before transitioning out of vacation mode. I was still damp from the Calapooia river and was sitting on the deck of our family home in Oregon, the last person remaining after our annual gathering, held mostly outdoors for obvious reasons. As I sat there, the trees began to sway chaotically from a strong, directionless wind. There was a faint whiff of smoke in the air. And then suddenly, more smoke. And then much much more. My journal notes end abruptly, with a trail of ink from an unfinished sentence.

The next set of scenes involve the rapid packing of tents, coolers, book bags. A bruised wall of purple orange smoke enveloping me like a tangible force. Me on the highway, in a ponytail and respirator, as towns in all directions scramble for an exit. A 3-day drive through Oregon and California that snaked through or past more than a dozen fires that had exploded when hit by hurricane-force winds. One that looked like an atom bomb, with a thundercloud structure that shot straight up. One that blew up on I-5 moments before I arrived, forcing me to make a long, wide day-long detour along the coast. Several that lurked unseen, darkening the mid-day sky to a reddish black, leading to road closures soon after I’d slipped past.

Anyone who lives in the West has known their share of hot days and wildfires. But what we have been through in the last month is worth noting, in part because the indices surpass our current measurement tools. Meteorologists are having to find new ways to color-map extreme heat – often using purple, brown and white when temperatures exceed the far edges of dark red. The Air Quality Index (AQI) struggles to convey threat levels, as parts of California and Oregon go so far beyond ‘hazardous’ that no one knows what it means for health. “If a particulate level of 301 is hazardous,” asked one media outlet, “what is 807?”

And yet as I navigate my way home to Santa Barbara, I’m aware that this is about more than data and satellite images. The smoke imbuing my hair and clothes contains the particulates of redwood trees and oak savannas and native grasslands, as well as the creatures that lived in them. Perhaps I’m inhaling now the coyote that woke me in my tent in the small hours of the night. Or the doe and her two fawns that tiptoed into the blackberry-ringed field each morning. Or the bald eagle that flew over the river at treetop height as I swam backstroke – us mirroring each other, belly to belly.

Talking with many of you, I have a sense now of a collective emotional rupture, as we careen from crisis to crisis. Our frameworks are shifting; familiar points of reference sink into a haze and we literally cannot see what’s ahead. The starkness of our landscape is both reflecting our condition and shaping our reality.

In the age of the anthropocene, writes David Farrier, we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future. We grapple with the knowledge that we have the power to blot out the sun.

Flocks of birds careen wildly through the air as I make my way south. I drive in silence – no music, no audiobook, only the sound of an occasional confused cricket chirping in the darkened noon. I want to give this my full attention, as part of what’s being called from us is to bear witness to the world around us.

But there is something more. What is also being called from us, in the words of poet David Whyte, is to become an ancestor of our future happiness.

Ah, deep breath there. The ancestor of our future happiness. That feels so much better than trending fears of the #Apocalypse, screenshots of eerie orange urban landscapes alongside scenes from Blade Runner.

So how do we channel our future ancestors, when our eyes are stinging from very real and present dangers? For me this means staying present, practicing extreme care, for myself and others. It means storytelling, peering through the haze for a new horizon, even if sometimes feeling our way along blindly. On one positive note, the public narrative has shifted this week, with more and more news outlets overtly naming these extreme heat events and increased wildfires as patterns attributed to the climate crisis.

Living life in a way that honors future ancestors also means grounding in the language and images of a healthy, natural world – of which we are a part. I imagine us, collectively absorbing the feeling of loss and the power of forces brought on by a changing climate, and then working to pull up systemic problems by their roots. Advocating for change at all levels of government, and sinking our time and energy into our local communities.

I imagine us combining forces, like a great wind, like a rising tide, like a school of fish, like a flock of birds.

Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director
Community Environmental Council

I continue to hold all of you in prayer as we continue to work for justice in the midst of COVID-19. Tomorrow is election day and to be completely honest I am so anxious. I’ve already cast my vote weeks ago but the closer we have moved towards election day the more anxious I get. I hope that you have your plans in place to vote (if you haven’t done so yet). I know many of you have volunteered to encourage voters in your community and across the country. You are writing letters, sending texts, making phone calls, and volunteering as poll workers or poll monitors. The staff at MFSA are making our election day self-care plans and we anticipate that we might not know the results of the election until later than usual. Here are some resources I will be using.

  • Leadership Resources As leaders we all need resources and support to help us lead through anxiety.
  • Podcast on anxiety What is actually going on in your brain when we are anxious and what we can do to help manage our anxiety.
  • Meditation I have not done intentional meditation work on a regular basis but I do hear that it is a very helpful tool. This app has created a series called Politics without Panic just for this election.
  • Cooking through the election. When I’m anxious I usually tend to reach for the ready-made or easy meal options. Knowing this, I will be prepping food for election week this weekend to make things easier on myself. I often get meal ideas from websites and I love this one because of their flexibility.

This issue of MFSAVoices is jam-packed with resources and information. So much so that it won’t all fit in your email message so be sure to click view entire message at the bottom of this email to view the entire issue. Our newsletters are designed to be used all month long. So take a quick glance and take note of important dates to add to your calendar but also come back in the following weeks to work your way through the action items.

Gmail users—move us to your primary inbox

  • On your phone? Click the 3 dots at the top right corner, click “Move to” then “Primary”
  • On your desktop? Back out of this email then drag and drop this email into the “Primary” tab near the top left of your screen

We continue to see the urgency of our work to make broad systemic change. Change that honors the dignity and worth of all people, puts people over money, and honors the earth and all her inhabitants. COVID-19 continues to highlight the inequities in our society that has literal life or death consequences. Since 1907, MFSA has been shining a light on injustice and organizing to change it.

You make our collective work possible by your witness for justice every day in your church, community, and Annual Conference. MFSA does not receive any financial support from the United Methodist Church’s giving channels. 100% of our budget is funded through your membership dues and your generosity in giving.

Peace and Justice,

Make a donation to our Racial Audit Today


House Farm Workers!

Working to promote safe, decent, secure and affordable housing for all
Ventura County farm workers since 2004.

Ventura County Farm Workers Need Our Help

Dear friend,
Many farmworkers in our community are experiencing devastating economic impacts due to Covid-19. Although farmworkers are designated “essential workers”, many have lost their jobs, experienced reduced work hours, or have needed to stay home to care for children or sick family members. These men and women who tend the crops and make possible the green vistas and fresh food that we all enjoy are now struggling to meet basic needs.
We are a group of agricultural employers and farmworker advocates addressing the urgent need to keep farmworkers from becoming homeless by creating this Farmworker Household Assistance Program (FHAP), to be supported by private donations.
This is a partnership between House Farm Workers!, the County of Ventura, Ventura County Community Foundation, and the Farmworker Resource Program. Tax deductible donations will be securely deposited in a new FHAP fund at the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF). The Foundation will in turn grant the money to the Farmworker Resource Program (FRP) in the County of Ventura’s Human Services Agency. No fees will be charged by VCCF or the County.
The program will provide grants of $1,200 or more per eligible household until available funds are depleted. The initial application window for the grants has closed. However, any qualified household applying after September 30 will be added to the waitlist to be eligible for a possible grant award at a later date should additional funding become available.. For eligibility criteria, how to apply, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit: http://www.vchsa.org/FHAP.
In the month of September, 101 donors large and small gave $145,000 which, when matched, will help 242 farm worker families. The Farm Worker Resource Program has received 4000 applications for assistance. Our new fundraising goal, in response to this overwhelming need, is $400.000 – ambitious but doable with your support.
We are asking for your help to raise the $400,000. The FHAP will be funded by your contributions – every dollar of which will go directly to farmworker families in need. House Farm Workers! has already donated $5,000 towards the fund and will be donating an additional $5,000 to the Farmworker Household Assistance Program. $330,000 has been raised so far.
Below is the link to donating online, the donation form if you would like to mail a check, and the FHAP fact sheet. We can’t do it without you!
With gratitude,
Supporters of Farmworkers and the FHAP

With so much swirling in the world around us, I want to share a story of hope with you that comes from our immigration program and our Shelter in Place: Immigration Freedom Project.

On October 15th, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ordered that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must release 50 people per day from the Adelanto detention facility until the number of those detained is reduced from 772 to 475.

Our Immigration Program Director, Guillermo Torres, speaks at an action outside Adelanto.

As you know, the situation at Adelanto has been dire since March, and CLUE has been tirelessly advocating for their release since the beginning. But to gain release, each person must have secure housing.

Many of those detained are asylum seekers, and they don’t have friends or family who can provide them with a safe home.

That’s why CLUE launched its Shelter in Place program, working closely with churches and other community partners to convert previously uninhabited spaces into safe refuge.

One detainee shared:

“I am so thankful for a home. In Adelanto, we were treated as animals. We are human beings.”

To date, CLUE has helped gain release for 10 people who were previously incarcerated in Adelanto. This was a herculean effort on the part of Guillermo Torres, our Immigration Program Director, coalition partners, our friends at St. John’s Episcopal Church in San Bernardino, who are providing housing for some of the detainees, and Pastor Carrie from the United Methodist Church of Victorville who opened her doors to those who were just released.

Two people reunite after being released from Adelanto.

A recently released detainee in his safe shelter.

Further Reading

In April, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed a class action lawsuit against the detention center and the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of those detained in Adelanto.

Immigration centers across the country are a breeding ground for coronavirus infections.

According to the lawsuit, bunk beds in Adelanto are only two to three feet apart, cells are shared between four to eight people, and detainees share toilets, sinks, and showers without being given sanitizer or disinfectant before or after use.

Earlier this month, Adelanto had the most diagnosed COVID19 cases among immigration detention facilities across the country – as of October 9th, 147 people inside Adelanto had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Community Input Needed

All cities and counties are required by the State of California to have, and update, a Housing Element (HE) as part of the General Plan for their communities. The Housing Element now being revised must show that, in the next 8 years, it is possible to build a prescribed number of units for residents with different income levels.

As a resident of Ventura County, you can have your voice heard and make a significant difference in two ways: 

    • Give input to City/County planners regarding policies that will forward the provision of farm worker housing and verify the viability of the sites that are identified for low income housing.
  • Testify at public hearings and Planning Commission/City Council meetings where the Housing Element update is being reviewed and eventually approved

County of Ventura Housing Element Survey

The Ventura County Planning Division recently launched a Housing Element Survey this month to help gather input from the community as part of their Housing Element process. This survey provides an opportunity for the public to let the the County know how the community would like to prioritize housing policies and programs for the next eight years (2021-2029).
The survey is available in both English and Spanish and is available now until the end of November.
We encourage you to take the time to complete this survey.
This is your chance to weigh in and have your voice heard!
Visit https://vcrma.org/housing-element-update or click one of the buttons below to complete the survey.