Notes: Faith Leaders Meeting, June 9, 2016
Present: Ed Klinge, Umar Hassan El, Jo Klinge, Chuck Singleton, John Graham, Juan George, John Sykes, Lamar Burton, Lisa Locke
After Introductions and welcoming Lamar to our meeting, Ed reviewed the Purpose:
To create higher potential ways and processes to advance the work that we need to be abut to generate increasingly better
lives and futures in Wilmington.
Ed elaborated that “processes” referred to how we worked within and between ourselves, here and what we engage in outside. The focus is on higher potential, which we can access through collective interaction. We meet people where they are and seek to move to a higher level.
Moving on to update each other on the initiatives we have undertaken, Chuck spoke of Youth Involvement and Development: There had been a ACLU Board Meeting at Trinity, which included a panel of young people (students, young professionals…) on the subject: “What Do Young People Thinking about Discussing Race?” It was a lively discussion which ended with Chuck’s stating the philosophy of the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow (CDNJC): Do something; don’t just talk about it. Participants in the discussion left with a document on which to state options and dedication to action.
John Graham stated that the Youth Council is requesting the money offered by the State and rejected by Mayor Williams. There was agreement among all of us that we don’t believe in ‘one shot efforts’ which then stop without follow up. Lamar said that we need to keep things going. He knew of one program (Camp Fresh?) that worked with 14-year-olds and then had them return the next year to work with the next group of 14-year-olds. It kept the young people involved on an on-going basis.
Juan spoke of recidivism, claiming that once the incarcerated get out, they go back. There are not enough programs for them; there are no jobs. There is too much bias against the previously incarcerated.
Chuck: Which results in a feeling of hopelessness; there is no future.
Mark: The system is designed to eliminate futures. They don’t make education the determiner. Many of us are working on this: Tom Davis with the vets, Pacem in Terris….but we need some way to pay the bills. Churches may be the organizing entities to provide access to jobs.
Chuck: We are determined not to say, “Let’s do this.” It must come from others. We can provide resources.
Lamar: We must get kids who are motivated and help them. If we engage them to work on windows, ask what else do you see that you would like to do?
John S: We must have more than one “window”.
Lamar: I see young kids watching older men work and wanting jobs. Show them how to save, how to start a business, how to work a computer. They need to have the chance to meet face to face with employers for jobs.
Lisa: It must be more difficult for young men than young women.
Lamar: It is an equal challenge for girls and boys. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.
Juan was asked: How would people be better prepared coming out of prison? His answer: Close the Prisons! Change the laws! Police sometimes arrest people unjustly. They go to prison and learn things they shouldn’t know. Pay more attention to children and the school system. Stop the School to Prison pipeline.
Lamar: (with current laws) Teachers, parents can’t touch the kids. Take the gloves off, to show them that we care.
Jo: I feel conflict over that issue; I don’t condone child abuse, but I don’t think a swat on the bottom of a toddler or young child who is doing something dangerous or is being disrespectful is in the realm of abuse. I don’t know where one draws the line.
Lamar: It has got to be done with love; got to show you love them.
Mark: What happens now?
Lamar: There is no respect, and the music, TV, video games all support this.
Chuck: What is normal? Behaving the way I need to behave to live on the street is not ‘normal’.
Juan: Eliminate prisons; concentrate on education. Our children don’t see doctors, so they have no role model to be doctors. Kids haven’t been out of Wilmington. Take them to NYC, to Philadelphia.
Lisa: How would they relate to going into Nature, to growing something.
Lamar: Try to take the kids to see role models; kids may bond with adults (who engage with them in a new surrounding.)
Mark: Take them out of chaos.
Lamar: Don’t just take them to church for an hour. Take them overnight. Do it more than once. Be consistent.
John G: They are looking for someone to be genuine with them. It may be a losing cause, but I will be at this ‘til I die.
Lamar: We cannot take prison away because there are some bad guys, but look at the jails for young kids. It is like “Kiddie Camp”; kids make jokes about going to prison.
Initiatives for Employment and Enterprise Creation.
Chuck: There is a project called East Side Rising, with the goals of housing stability, workforce development, economic development. How can this be expanded or duplicated? Westminster Presbyterian is evaluating HomeBoy Industries from LA: Training in crafts, also starting businesses (bakeries, etc.) They put people into jobs with a future. We need to deal with what is today.
Mark spoke of the dystopian future toward which we are headed. Those at the table agreed that may be coming but wanted to focus on what we do now.
Ed: Each person needs to understand what work means to me. How do I evolve myself.
Chuck: What can we do today that would be interesting and of value?
Jo: Can we partner with East Side Rising or with Westminster?
Chuck: Can this group grab something and do it?
Ed: How can we take what we are learning from each other today and take it into to neighborhood? Can we get ‘good enough” as a faith group to talk to some of the corporation leaders about job and involvement.
Lisa: Green futures is a topic. We can ask corporations: How can your company contribute.?
Mark: Corporate leaders know this is needed; how can we help them see ways to be involved?
Chuck: Convert the cost of today to what it should be. “Doing well by doing good.”
Mark: Kids are saying: We have thoughts; are you paying attention? Can/should we do the same with executives? They need our help (to do good.)
Chuck: If someone is not doing what you want them to do, you need to find (a motivation for them.)
Jo: What is East Side Rising doing?
Chuck: It is community-built; they got input from the community. How are we as community people going to change X? How/what will we do? Where do we get the money to do it. Rev. Keeling has gotten funds from people rehabbing in the community, and they must hire from the community and must train people to take those jobs.
Imam: The root cause is poverty. How do we resolve poverty. Community must deal with that; get people ways to deal with basic needs.
Mark: We need a corner store; need start up capital. How is it sustained? Initially subsidized and then it must sustain itself.
Lamar: At what age can you grab someone and help them change?
Chuck: Studies say that at age 10 you are who you are.
Lamar: All these programs to help people can be crutches. The focus should be on economic development.
Imam: In the past we had groups of veterans working in the community. We are going to do that this summer. (People from our masjid) will be going door-to-door to help single mothers; we will be holding events where there is music for thirty minutes and then talking to for 30 minutes.
This Faith Leaders group has been a think tank. We have not been an action groups. We can evolve to that. Have the Faith Community create an economic development fund…from churches, civic organizations, fraternities/sororities….put women upfront; ‘they’ don’t knock women down. Don’t give us grants that others are in control of. Don’t listen to people who don’t live in the community. Listen to us IN the community. Bring youth, young entrepreneurs to this table
Ed: What I see us doing is to put together a vision of developmental opportunities we can invest in and strategy to take it to the street and to leaders/stakeholders.
Mark: DeIPL is a faith group action arm. This group could be the Executive Committee for efforts in the community.
Imam: We need to get our faith leaders to give the message to their congregations. Their congregations are the victims of the children who are being violent. Women should organize…. Not to do this work is un-American and unpatriotic.
Imam is on Channel 28 each Sunday from 1:00 – 2:00 pm.
Question: Do these notes suggest something to send to candidates and faith leaders?
Imam: After the primaries we talk to the candidates and put on the pressure.
Temple United Resource Center is providing climate change information, gardens, jobs (window replacements), education which improves ecological wellbeing. It is involving politicians and community leaders.
John S: We have a shot at being able to guide some funds for low income economic efficiency. We need to flesh out how the plan should operate, how funds should be used. The workgroup was started by the SEC. We are working on a draft for how it can best be used and administered. There are two pieces, l) a fund of $2M for energy efficiency, 2) $2M for developing workforce training. Involves DelTech, DelState and others.
Hanifa Shabazz is petitioning the legislature for the funds which Mayor Williams refused.
Friday, June 14, Helen Chambers Park: Safe City Summerfest Unity Day, 8 am – 4 pm
Thursday, July 7 or 14, Faith Leaders, Trinity, 11:30 am (which works?)
Saturday, August 6, Youth/Teen Conference Time/Place TBA
Saturday, August 13, Praise in the Park, Helen Chambers Park, 12 – 5 pm
Following a suggestion that we not meet until August, those at the table in June felt there were too many issues to be addressed and that we should meet in July. Jo and Ed would prefer meeting on Thursday, July 7 rather than the 14th. Please let us know when you respond to these notes, if that date will work for you.