Economic Justice Meeting Minutes

October 24, 2017

In lieu of a meeting, we had a presentation on recycling by Lauren Karch, Miami County’s solid waste coordinator. The next meeting of the Economic Justice Team will be 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 28.

September 26, 2017

Attending today’s meeting were Paul Schaffner, Joyce Swank, Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, and Ruth Jeffryes.

Paul led the meeting.

Items discussed:

Paul shared information on Issue 2 (the Drug Price Relief Act) prepared by the League of Women Voters. We discussed the pros and cons of the issue.

Deb distributed copies of the finalized RACI Matrix, approved by Council in September, for guiding environmental stewardship practices at St. John’s.

Joyce updated the bulletin board with information on recycling, emphasizing that different jurisdictions follow different procedures and accept different kinds of recyclables.

Joyce reviewed plans regarding disposable cups at the water dispenser in the hallway. After depleting the supply of plastic cups in the “dungeon,” we will switch to paper cups, which can be recycled and are generally less harmful to the environment. At that point, the drinking-cup recycling bin could be used for both paper cups and any unsoiled paper from the Lifetree Café.

Paul distributed sample recycling-bin labels to confirm the correctness of information on the labels.

Joyce said she had contacted Lauren Karch, Miami County Solid Waste Management, about speaking at our next meeting. Joyce reported that Lauren could make a presentation pretty much at any time. The team agreed to ask Lauren to come to our next meeting.

Action items:

  • Paul and Joyce will place information about Issue 2 on the bulletin board during the month of October.
  • Paul will print labels and attach them to the different recycling bins to educate church members about which items are appropriate for each recycling bin.
  • Joyce will contact Lauren Karch about speaking at our next meeting.

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., October 24, 2017.

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

August 23, 2017

Attending today’s meeting were Paul Schaffner, Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, and Joyce Swank.

Paul led the meeting.

Today we

  • finalized the RACI Matrix template (showing who should be responsible for different aspects of the Council-approved environmental practices at the church) for submission to Council,
  • continued our discussion of recycling issues and Ohio Issue 2 (Ohio Drug Price Relief Act),
  • explored possible topics for the bulletin board,
  • considered Paul’s suggestion of a new way of expanding the group’s reach and letting people know we don’t just talk about wages, and
  • learned from Joyce that 32 church members, their friends, and family are participating in the Wendy’s boycott.

Decided:

  • We need to educate church members about alternatives for dealing with shredded paper and other recyclables.
  • We will use the plastic cups in the basement at the water cooler until the supply runs out; then we will recommend switching to other cups we know for sure can be recycled (possibly paper cups if they can be categorized as “cartons”).
  • We will offer a program in October on recycling, inviting Lauren Karch (solid waste coordinator for Miami County Sanitary Engineering) to be our guest speaker.
  • We will not hold a program on Ohio Issue 2 because we’ve been unable to find speakers who could speak with authority on both sides of the issue; we don’t want to present just one side of the issue.
  • We will make information on Ohio Issue 2 available on our bulletin board and website.
  • We need to expand our reach by letting the congregation and others know what issues we will be discussing in upcoming meetings so they can plan to attend; we can do this through the bulletin board, Sunday bulletins, The Journal, and Facebook; the first part of each meeting will be used to discuss the issue at hand; any “business” will be discussed toward the end.
  • Our fall bulletin board will feature recycling issues (September-ish) and Ohio Issue 2 (October-ish).
  • We will switch our meeting to the fourth Tuesday night of each month if Partners in Hope does not use the Lifetree Café; Monday nights are another possibility.

Action items:

  • Deb will prepare simple “policy statements” regarding environmental stewardship at the church for posting in the kitchen and Lifetree Café.
  • Deb will talk with the church secretary about recycling paper in the office.
  • Paul and Joyce, as church trustees, will talk to the church custodian about placing the plastic cups from the supply in the basement beside the water cooler until the supply runs out.
  • Paul will create labels for the plastic and paper recycling bins so people can distinguish acceptable from unacceptable items.
  • Joyce will talk with folks at the Miami County Transfer Station about the various recycling categories.
  • Joyce will talk with Lauren Karch about the possibility of presenting a program in October.
  • Paul will put notices in the Sunday bulletin about topics to be covered in upcoming team meetings, inviting church members and friends to join us.
  • Caroline will check with Pastor Donna about whether the Lifetree Café is available on Tuesdays when Partners in Hope are using the church.
  • Deb will revise the RACI Matrix template and present it to Council.
  • Deb still needs to get out letters to local churches requesting counts of their members who are participating in the Wendy’s boycott.

Next meeting (tentative): 6:30-8 p.m., September 26, 2017.

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

July 26, 2017

Attending today’s meeting were Paul Schaffner, Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, and Joyce Swank who had to leave early.

Caroline opened with devotions. Her golfing analogy reminded us how fortunate we are to have “Mulligans” with God through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Paul led the meeting.

The team discussed the following topics:

Wendy’s boycott. Joyce has been collecting counts of St. John’s UCC families participating in the boycott. So far, 25 individuals associated with our church family are participating in the boycott. A final count is forthcoming.

Action item:

  • Deb will request counts from local churches contacted last summer about the boycott.

Recycling efforts by the water cooler. Joyce reported that unacceptable cups are being deposited in the water cooler recycling bin. There’s still some uncertainty and confusion over what type of cups can be recycled. The county transfer station says one thing, and Rumpke says another. Paul shared recycling facts he had found online.

Ohio Drug Price Relief Act. Deb reported that no one from either the supporter or the opponent camp has responded to her query about the availability of speakers to address the November ballot issue in a public presentation. She reported that a staff member in Sen. Brown’s office said the senator was unlikely to take a position on an issue so nuanced; as a consequence, she didn’t call Sen. Portman’s office. Caroline and Paul suggested we contact state representatives Beagle and Huffman. Deb said in place of a speaker, if one can’t be found, would be to show the documentary “Big Pharma: Market Failure,” but she wouldn’t want the act of showing the movie to seem like an endorsement of the ballot issue. Paul asked for clarification about what we would want a speaker to do. Deb said she would like a speaker, who does not stand to benefit from either the success or failure of the initiative to provide objective analysis. Caroline said she would like someone to explain clearly how the initiative is bad for veterans.

Action items:

  • Deb will print out information on the ballot initiative to give to Caroline.
  • Caroline will contact Rep. Steve Huffman’s office about a possible speaker to address the issue.
  • Deb will contact Sen. Beagle’s office about the same thing.
  • Paul will continue to do online research about the pros and cons of the initiative.

Team budget. Deb distributed information that explained in detail how Earl’s 2015 donation was spent. She said the same information was shared with Earl and his wife and accompanied by a thank-you note. Deb also reported that it cost about $65 to print the local emergency resources brochure. About a third of the cost was paid for from Earl’s donation. She is requesting reimbursement for the remainder: $41.03. Paul signed off on the request for payment. As treasurer of Church Council, Caroline explained how the reimbursement process works.

Church Council’s request for the team to develop a “responsibility template.” Deb reported that she had asked Church Council about who should be responsible for actually implementing fair-trade (e.g., purchase of fair-trade coffee) and sustainable practices (e.g., recycling, use of non-disposable dinnerware and napkins) recommended by the team and approved by Council. Council liked the idea of having some sort of plan in place not only for fair-trade and sustainable actions but for other council-approved actions and asked the team to develop a “template.” The team discussed this and decided to go ahead and take personal responsibility for the fair-trade and sustainable practices at the church and to come up with a template to share with Council that shows, by example, how it could be completed and used. Deb briefly shared the RACI matrix concept (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed). The team thought taking personal action on these practices now might inspire others, and at some point, the team could reach out to the congregation and request volunteers to help with these efforts.

Here’s what the team has decided so far:

  • Joyce will take care of the water cooler plastic.
  • Paul will take care of refilling the water cooler, which he already does.
  • Caroline will take care of all other recycled plastic.
  • Deb will take care of recycled paper.
  • Paul will take care of recycled glass.
  • Paul will take care of fair-trade coffee for the Fellowship Hall.

Action items:

  • Deb will draft and distribute a “process and responsibility template” for group discussion some Sunday after church before the August council meeting.
  • Paul will research what general type of coffee people like in the Fellowship Hall and which stores sell fair-trade versions, with the intentions of purchasing the coffee when it’s needed.
  • Deb will send Paul information about which local stores sell fair-trade coffee.
  • Paul will provide a glass-recycling bin for the church kitchen.
  • Deb will contact Sharon to see if she still recycles the aluminum cans.

Ideas for possible fall educational programs. Here are the ideas:

  • Presentation on what can and cannot be recycled locally and how the recycling process works
  • Pros and cons of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act ballot initiative
  • Public showing of “Big Pharma: Market Failure,” by the producers of “Fix It” (the documentary about the health care crisis and the need for a single-payer system)
  • Sustainable development and its relationship to economic justice, with UD professor Bob Brecha if he’s available
  • Public screening of “The True Cost,” a documentary about the clothing industry, which would cost $80 to $100 with $15 shipping.
  • Public screening of Plantpure Nation—a documentary that looks at the role of nutrition in health, broken health care system, food deserts, the value and role of small family farms, the environment, and the political process—which would cost about $90 to $150.

Action items:

  • Paul will contact Rumpke and the local solid waste department about possible speakers.
  • Deb will send Paul a contact for the local solid waste department.

Bulletin board. Joyce said a possible idea for the next bulletin board might be how average earnings have changed for families. Other ideas are welcome. There remains concern about whether anybody even looks at the board.

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., August 23, 2017.

Devotions: Deb, with Paul as backup

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

June 28, 2017

Attending today’s meeting were Joyce Swank, Paul Schaffner, Caroline Maslowski, and Deb Hogshead.

Paul led the meeting.

The team discussed the following topics:

1. Printing and distribution of the emergency resource flyer. Caroline reported that Church Council gave the team permission to present a mission moment, announcing the flyer, on July 9. Caroline also said one council member requested copies for the Lincoln Community Center.

Action items:

  • Paul will present the July 9 mission moment about the emergency resource flyer.
  • By July 9, Deb will have Staples print 75-100 copies of the brochure, using the $33 remaining from a $100 donation made to the team in 2015; if the cost of printing exceeds $33, she’ll request reimbursement from the church.
  • Joyce will provide two brochure racks for displaying the flyers in the narthex and the church office.

2. Update on the Wendy’s boycott. Deb reported that Edie Rasell, Ph.D., UCC’s minister for economic justice, was one of the speakers at the Wendy’s shareholder meeting in Columbus on May 23. Wendy’s continues to refuse participation in the Fair Food Program. The Ohio Fair Food Program, an ally of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, seeks counts of boycotters; these counts will help demonstrate the boycott’s impact in communications to Wendy’s CEO and shareholders. The team discussed ways to gather counts. The Ohio Fair Food Program also invites supporters to become Fair Food Sustainers with recurring monthly donations of $10.

Action items:

  • Joyce will create a method for collecting counts of Wendy’s boycotters and announce it in the July Journal.
  • Joyce will announce the Fair Food Sustainer program in the July Journal.

3. Recyclable cups and recycle bin for water cooler. Caroline reported that Church Council is okay with the team setting up a cup dispenser and recycling bin by the water cooler. Joyce and Paul shared their research on recyclable cups. There are many cups on the market made from recycled materials, but that doesn’t mean they’re recyclable. Paper cups with waxy coatings are not recyclable. Joyce said the Miami Transfer Station would take cups marked 1 and 2. The team decided it could go ahead and place cups and a recycling bin by the water cooler while continuing to explore the best type of cups to use and how to pay for their purchase. The team also talked about the need to let the new custodian know that drinking cups should not be placed in the restrooms because we want people to recycle cups rather than discarding them in restroom trashcans.

Action items:

  • Joyce will supply the first set of cups, marked 1 or 2, for the water cooler as well as provide a recycling bin and signage directing people to recycle water-cooler cups.
  • Joyce volunteered to be responsible for taking the recycled water-cooler cups to the transfer station.

4. Team budget. Deb reported that we still had about $33 remaining from a $100 donation made to the team in 2015. The team discussed how it could present receipts for reimbursement of purchases made against the $200 currently in the church budget for the economic justice ministry.

5. Fall public presentation. The team discussed the possibility of having speakers discuss the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, which is a ballot initiative Ohioans will vote on this coming November. Another possibility is to show a documentary on “big pharma,” produced by the same group that did the documentary on single payer health care shown in January.

Action items:

  • Deb will email links about the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to members of the team.
  • Deb will continue to reach out to possible speakers for a fall presentation on the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.

6. Responsibility for recycling and the purchase of water-cooler cups and fair-trade coffee. Questions remain about who exactly is responsible for recycling materials collected at the church and purchasing fair-trade coffee for the fellowship hall. One church member regularly handles aluminum recycling. Another purchases fair-trade coffee for the café. If the congregation thinks the team is responsible for water-cooler cups and fellowship-hall coffee, should the cost come out of our budget? Caroline noted that some coffees are now being certified as bird-friendly (grown in the shade of trees that provide bird habitat).

Action item:

  • Deb will talk with Church Council about the need for an on-going plan that provides a process and delineation of responsibility for recycling and the purchase of fair-trade coffee and items such as recyclable water-cooler cups.

7. Bulletin board. Joyce reported that she put up a new bulletin board display. (It looks great!)

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., July 26, 2017.

Devotions: Caroline

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

May 24, 2017

Attending today’s meeting were Joyce Swank, Paul Schaffner and Deb Hogshead.

Paul led the meeting.

A final draft of the resource flyer was distributed. It was suggested copies of the flyer be placed in the church office, narthex, and church pews. Paul volunteered to present a mission moment introducing the congregation to the flyer so church members would know about local resources to which they can refer visitors in need.

Action items:

  • Team members will review the resource flyer a final time and contact Deb if they find errors.
  • Deb will give copies of the final draft to Church Council members and request a Sunday for a mission moment. She will also prepare some talking points for use in the mission moment.

Team members evaluated the programs presented this past winter and spring (i.e., single-payer health care, the movement to amend the U.S. constitution to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech, and a proposed carbon tax and dividend program). It was generally agreed the programs were worthwhile even when attendance was not high. It was suggested that future programs expand on the issue of health care, for example, where to go in an emergency, where to go when you don’t have a personal physician, fee structures, transparency in billing, how to navigate the health care system, and understanding what insurance does and does not cover (e.g., observation and admission issues).

The team also discussed plans for the focus of the next bulletin board display.

Action item:

  • Joyce will take information provided by Paul and come up with ideas for the next display.

Team members discussed concerns expressed by a church member who noticed that no cups were available at the water cooler. This church member offered to pay to have cups available. The team has been encouraging church members to bring re-usable cups for their beverage purposes and had requested that disposable cups be removed from restrooms to discourage waste. Church visitors, however, might not bring their own beverage containers and would not know to look in the café for re-usable cups. It was acknowledged that habits are hard to break and that even taking steps in the right direction was good.

Action items:

  • Deb will ask Church Council’s permission to place a cup dispenser and recycling bins by the water cooler.
  • Joyce and Paul will research recyclable cups.

The team finalized plans for the video describing our economic justice program, which will need to be submitted to national by May 30 for use at General Synod this summer. The team spent the rest of the evening in the sanctuary working on the logistics of filming the video. The team—with the help of the children’s choir—will film the video during Sunday School on May 28.

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., June 28, 2017.

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

Note: The team did not meet in March and decided not to hold a meeting after the April 26 presentation about Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

February 22, 2017

Attending today’s brief meeting, following the presentation on Move to Amend, were Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, Joyce Swank, and Paul Schaffner.

Paul led the meeting.

Fifteen people—including the guest speaker, Mary Sue Gmeiner—attended the presentation. Impressions were generally positive although most believed the subject matter was difficult to understand. Two of those present had attended the Women’s March of Troy on January 21. Two were friends and/or acquaintances of Deb; and two men and one woman were unknown to all of us—and we did not get a chance to find out how they had heard about the event.

Paul talked briefly about the results of his contacts with area agencies when checking the accuracy of the resource flyer. FISH no longer provides shelter. St. Pat offers occasional delivery of dinners. Richard’s Chapel has a food pantry. Several agencies wanted us to be sure to indicate their services are for Troy residents only.

Action item: Paul and Deb will meet outside the meeting to edit the resource flyer.

Joyce and Paul talked briefly about the bulletin board. Under a common theme, the board will look at these topics over the next few months: Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Jobs; Automation vs. Outsourcing; Today’s Job Fields; Middle Class Wages Then and Now; and maybe Distribution of Wealth. It was noted that emerging job fields are lower paying and that outsourcing happens domestically and not just offshore. Caroline suggested we look at changes in the agriculture industry.

Caroline said Nancy Smith had expressed interest in having SPAN Ohio speak to the Women’s Fellowship and may be contacting us for information on how to reach SPAN Ohio representatives. Caroline also suggested we offer the SPAN Ohio presentation again given current interest and concerns over healthcare; she suggested we might ask people to complete sign-up sheets as a way to gauge interest before inviting SPAN Ohio back.

The team brainstormed topics for future presentations, open to the public, as a way to fulfill the education component of our covenant. Ideas included inviting speakers to talk about Miami County Soil and Water Conservation; Miami County Solid Waste; Troy Solid Waste; GMO labeling and seeds; and minimum wages (with speakers obtained through UD, WSU, Sinclair, and/or Cedarville). Also mentioned were documentaries—one called “Poverty Inc.” and the other about the garment industry.

Deb shared information on the team’s finances. Last year, a donation of about $70 or $90 was made to the team through Sunday offerings. The team never used this money. It was Deb’s understanding that this donation went into the general fund because there was no dedicated line item, and it was her belief that this money was no longer available. Deb needs to check this out with the Church Council president.

Action item: Deb will ask the Church Council president about the status of the donation from last year.

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., April 26, 2017. Jeffrey Paul of Citizens Climate Lobby will be our guest speaker. This meeting will be open to the public; Deb will publicize. A brief meeting will follow the presentation. Topics: Continue to plan for future presentations; and review a final draft of the resource flyer.

Note: There will be no team meeting in March.

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

January 25, 2017

Attending today’s brief meeting, following the presentation on healthcare, were Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, Joyce Swank, and Paul Schaffner.

Paul led the meeting.

The team had a positive opinion about the presentation. Featured speakers were Bill Davis and Drs. Katherine Lambes and Matthew Noordsij-Jones. Seventeen adults attended the program. We would’ve liked to have seen more people attend.

Deb presented a next-to-final draft of a flyer to share with visitors seeking emergency services. Deb said Church Council had approved this draft for printing and distribution with the understanding that a few details might be changed pending a review of its accuracy.

Action item:

  • Paul will contact the agencies listed on the flyer to confirm accuracy.

Joyce and Paul discussed ideas for the next bulletin board. The theme over the next few months will be “Where the Jobs Are Going,” with the first display focusing on the decline of manufacturing jobs.

Action item:

  • Joyce will put up the next bulletin board after returning from her trip to California.

In other business, Joyce discussed her plans for writing and submitting an article for the February edition of The Journal.

Next meeting: 6:30-8 p.m., February 22, 2017. Mary Sue Gmeiner of Greater Dayton Move to Amend will discuss how corporate personhood and big money in politics compromise economic justice. This meeting will be open to the public; Deb will publicize. A brief meeting will follow the presentation; Deb will provide devotions.

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead

2016 Annual Report

Team members are Amy Lucas, Caroline Maslowski, Deb Hogshead, Donna Morton, Earl Reives, Joyce Swank, Pat Robinson, and Paul Schaffner.

The team met monthly throughout the year. In 2016, they accomplished the following tasks:

  • Placed copies of the economic justice covenant in the narthex, hallway, and fellowship hall.
  • Chose a team logo and printed business cards.
  • Placed paper, aluminum, and plastic recycling bins throughout the church.
  • Obtained Church Council approval for the following church policies:
    • Switch to fair-trade coffee when current coffee supplies are depleted.
    • Switch to using re-usable dinnerware at church functions.
  • Switched to a re-usable coffee filter in the Lifetree Café.
  • Presented a Mission Moment and a sermon during the July 10 service.
  • Prepared and distributed a flyer describing ways to practice stewardship of God’s earth.
  • Signed and sent letters supporting the consumer boycott of Wendy’s to the general managers of the two local restaurants.
  • Presented a Mission Moment during the Aug. 21 service, inviting other members of the congregation to join the Wendy’s boycott if they wished.
  • Invited members of 16 other churches to join the Wendy’s boycott if they desired.
  • Presented “Inequality: A Christian Response” on Oct. 12. Based on Edie Rasell’s article, “A Fair Balance,” this event gave 12 people an opportunity to discuss and learn about economic justice.
  • Recognized members of our congregation who practice economic justice. (Recognized this year were our youth, Ruth Jeffryes, Barb Neer, Nancy Nadolny.)
  • Continued a monthly economic justice challenge to raise awareness of the many ways our choices and habits affect economic justice.
  • Maintained a monthly bulletin board dedicated to economic justice and peace.
  • Maintained a page on the church website: http://stjohnsucctroyohio.org/economic-justice/.
  • Created and maintained a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stjohnsucceconomicjustice/.
  • Obtained Church Council approval to create a flyer or brochure that can be used to educate congregation members about services for people in need and shared with people seeking services.

The team gratefully acknowledges the following contributions to our efforts:

  • Recycling bins for the church from David Robinson
  • Cloth napkins for the church from Ginny Beamish
  • Two donations totaling $90

—Respectfully submitted by Deb Hogshead