Archive for social justice

Register Now for Poverty Simulation, Aug. 28

Poverty Simulation Step Up Silicon Valley

Thousands of men, women, and children live in poverty in Silicon Valley, and with skyrocketing housing costs, trying to make ends meet is more stressful and elusive than ever. To gain greater insight into and compassion for the challenges they endure, sign up for the Poverty Simulation, a unique role-playing event that allows you to take a deep dive into life with a shortage of money. In this fast-paced activity, you will experience four weeks of poverty in one afternoon, role-playing as a member of a low-income family struggling to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities while navigating through community resources. You will also meet people who have lived in poverty and discuss opportunities to create a truly thriving community. The experience will touch you on intellectual, emotional, and spiritual levels.

The Poverty Simulation will be held on Sunday, August 28, 12:00–3:00pm in Creekside and is open to adults and high school students. Space is limited! Visit the registration page for more information and to register. Contact Nancy Peterson with questions or to volunteer at the event if you participated in the simulation last year.

The event is sponsored by the LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice Committee in a multi-faith partnership with Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Palo Alto First United Methodist Church, Bay Area Cultural Connections, Congregation Beth Am, and Saint Simon Parish. Step Up Silicon Valley, a movement to reduce poverty initiated by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, will conduct the simulation.

 

Issues Facing The United Methodist Church, April 27

Update: If you missed the presentation or want to review what was covered, you can view Emily’s slides online.

Every four years, The United Methodist Church holds a worldwide General Conference to update the denomination’s policies and its positions on current social issues. The next General Conference is this May in Portland, Oregon, and LAUMC’s director of communications, Emily Allen, is one of the voting delegates from our California-Nevada Annual Conference.

On Wednesday, April 27, at 7:00pm in Creekside, come hear Emily speak about the hot-button issues coming before General Conference, from LGBT equality to divestment from fossil fuels to ending guaranteed appointments for clergy, and many more. She will discuss the potential impacts on the denomination as a whole and on our local church.

Whether you’ve been following these issues in the UMC or have never heard of General Conference, come learn more and give your feedback on how you think the Church should move forward in May. Light refreshments will be served.

If you’re interested but can’t attend on April 27, Emily will also give a presentation at Palo Alto First United Methodist Church (625 Hamilton Ave.) on Sunday, April 24, at 12:30pm.

Church Council Supports Raising the Minimum Wage

raise-the-wage-logo-3-450x21-300x166As we enjoy the Labor Day holiday and pause to consider its meaning, this is a good time to consider whether a change to the minimum wage is appropriate. Local efforts to raise the minimum wage in nearby cities and on a more regional basis have been in the news recently, including efforts in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto.

The California minimum wage is currently $9.00 per hour and will increase to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View have adopted a $10.30 minimum wage with annual adjustments for inflation. Palo Alto recently adopted an $11.00 minimum wage, effective in January 2016. There is a regional effort to raise the local minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

The Church Council of LAUMC adopted a resolution supporting an increase in the minimum wage at its July 19 meeting. This was following a Raise the Wage community forum held on May 4 at LAUMC, sponsored by the Bold Service and Social Justice Committee and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. The resolution notes that workers should be treated with respect, dignity and fairness and that exploitation or underpayment of workers is incompatible with Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor. The Church Council considered the issue at two meetings and reviewed summaries of various studies showing that:

  • The current minimum wage does not provide the income necessary to be self-sufficient in Santa Clara County.
  • The percentage of households in Santa Clara County living in poverty and below self-sufficiency standards was 29.5% in 2012.
  • A higher minimum wage encourages self-sufficiency and reduces the need for reliance on government and nonprofit subsidies and services.
  • A higher minimum wage supports the local economy and keeps our City competitive with surrounding cities in attracting and retaining workers.

The resolution also notes that The United Methodist Church “supports efforts in the US Congress to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and index it to inflation.” Click here for a full copy of the resolution adopted by the LAUMC Church Council. You can visit the Silicon Valley Rising webpage to learn more about efforts to ensure that all workers share in Silicon Valley’s prosperity.

Community Forum: Raise the Wage Los Altos, May 4

raise-the-wage-logo-3-450x21-300x166Several local cities have established a local minimum wage higher than the current California minimum wage of $9. Just six months ago, the city councils in Mountain View and Sunnyvale voted to lift their minimums. San Jose voters raised their city’s minimum wage in 2012. In February, Palo Alto’s city council voted unanimously to pursue an increase there. And as recently as March 31, the Mountain View City Council directed its staff to work with neighboring cities to develop a more regional approach to raising the minimum wage, with a goal of a $15 minimum wage in 2018.

Should Los Altos raise its local minimum wage? “Yes!” say the local organizations, churches, and economic equality activists who make up the Raise the Wage Coalition of the Peninsula and South Bay. The Coalition’s grassroots efforts led directly to the Mountain View raise and Palo Alto’s current process to do the same. Now, the Coalition is working to ask the Los Altos City Council to join its neighbors.

In each of the towns mentioned above, proponents of raising the minimum wage were understandably faced with a lot of questions about the effects of raising the local minimum wage. They also found that a lot of people — residents and business owners alike — have mistaken assumptions about raising the wage.

Doesn’t raising the minimum wage hurt employment? Won’t an increase drive prices sky-high? And aren’t most minimum wage workers just part-time teenagers anyway? Los Altos United Methodist Church is hosting a community forum designed to explore and answer those questions and more. What are your questions? The answers might surprise you

Come hear a panel of speakers on the topic, including:

  • Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon, Minister of Discipleship, Los Altos United Methodist Church
  • Scott Myers-Lipton, Professor of Sociology, San Jose State University
  • Margaret Abe-Koga, former Mountain View City Council Member
  • Tom Myers, Executive Director, Community Services Agency
  • Minimum wage earners

The community forum will be held on Monday, May 4, 7:30–9:00pm, in the Creekside Center at Los Altos United Methodist Church (655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos). All are welcome.

Click here to learn more about raising the minimum wage, including common myths, facts, and supporting studies.

The community forum is cosponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and the LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice Committee. If you already support the idea of increasing the minimum wage in Los Altos, please take a moment to sign the petition to Los Altos City Council.