UUCW has been a member of the Common Ground community organization since it started over 10 years ago. However, at their June 2019 meeting, the Board accepted a recommendation from the Social Action Council to end our official membership. This decision was not made lightly and was carefully considered by the Social Action Council over the last several years. We will, however, remain a member of MICAH, a Milwaukee County faith-based organization similar to Common Ground – and join their partner organization SOPHIA in Waukesha County as well. We feel that at this time, membership in those organizations is a better fit for UUCW and focusing our attention on those community-based organizations which work in cooperation with each other and the WISDOM statewide network will help us better engage our members in community issues.
This decision does not at all reflect on the good work of Common Ground. They have been and continue to be an important voice for justice and needed a change in Milwaukee. UUCW will continue to support their efforts as we can, just not as a formal member. I have spoken with Common Ground leadership about our decision and while disappointed, they are understanding. The Social Action Council had talked with Keisha Krumm, the former lead organizer, about our concerns 18 months ago but nothing significantly changed since then.
Our concerns with Common Ground in the last few years included difficulty with timely communications, lack of gatherings to engage UUCW members in one time informational events, most issue meetings and actions occurring during daytime hours which excluded working people, their focus on Milwaukee County only after they stopped having a suburban organizer, and our lack of ability to find sustained leadership to represent us at Common Ground strategy sessions. And their dues structure made it difficult for UUCW to meet its financial obligation to them.
Right now MICAH seems to be a better fit because:
- It is working on issues similar to Common Ground but it is also working on issues like reducing mass incarceration which is in keeping with our support for Black Lives Matter
- As part of the statewide WISDOM organization, MICAH can work on issues like transportation and prison reform that require changes on the state level rather than the local level. By working on state-wide issues, this also provides more opportunities for engaging UUCW members in letter-writing or calling campaigns which can be more easily done by working people and those with families who can’t come out to weekday actions.
- MICAH/WISDOM has taken an explicit stand on anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy within its organization, which is in alignment with UUCW priorities. They are offering training on this topic and are modeling what this looks like in their structures and presentations.
- Many UU churches around the state belong to their local affiliates of the WISDOM organization and membership in MICAH aligns us with them as well.
- MICAH has regular evening task force meetings for each of its issues which it publicizes in advance making it easier for an interested UUCW member to become involved.
- MICAH also has at least two or three events in the spring and fall which are of a general nature to introduce and keep congregation members apprised of their issues and ways to get involved. These include prayer breakfasts, issues nights, and annual celebrations. We have had great success in getting 15 – 20 UUCW members to attend each of these events.
- MICAH has a regular newsletter with updates on issues and actions which is easy to forward to UUCW members and to use for announcement purposes.
- Dues for MICAH are only $600/year for UUCW with more contributions being made by individuals who attend their fundraising events.
- With the lower dues, UUCW can afford to consider membership in SOPHIA, the Waukesha County affiliate of WISDOM which will better enable us to engage our Waukesha County members in community action.
If anyone wants to talk more about this decision, please contact Ann Heidkamp.