Newsletter 4, 6/15/16

Hello.

I write to you this week with a heavy heart and enormous grief over the recent shooting in Orlando.  I grieve for the LGBT community, especially friends here in Missoula who lost loved ones, and I also grieve for those in our city who have been singled out and targeted due to their faith and heritage, not the actions of decades spent in our community as outstanding human beings.  Both of these things hurt my soul and I have not yet come to a place of understanding.  This attack was atrocious, but it is also a reminder to me the pain and terror that refugees are fleeing every day and only makes our efforts more important.

I give thanks to the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center who is offering at least a small outlet in which to direct our sorrows.

Many of us are carrying grief over the senseless deaths in Orlando and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that we are hearing. In the face of such enormous grief it is hard to know what to do but reach out and love each other. The JRPC is inviting us to join the ladies of the Cranium (who meet every Wednesday to explore and practice origami) this Wednesday at 1:15 pm in the JRPC community room to fold a peace crane for Orlando.  The cranes will be sent in a care package to victims and their loved ones in Orlando as a sign of solidarity, as well as gifted to Muslims in our own community who are being targeted and scrutinized due to this horrible tragedy.  Betsy has informed me that if you can't make this exact time, you are welcome throughout the day.

In addition to this gathering, please consider writing a letter to the editor in solidarity with the LGBT community and in support of the upstanding Muslims in our community. It is so easy to hear all of the negativity and ill-informed comments that are trying to pit the two groups against each other, and I am sure we will see the Missoulian opinion page inundated with this in the coming days.  Please be a voice of hope, peace and support for both of those communities that exist peacefully here in this city. Here is how...

Letters to the Editor

Letters should be 300 words or fewer, and MUST include your real name, real address, and phone number. While we welcome feedback from anyone, we only publish letters
from within our primary readership area.

Email: oped@missoulian.com

Phone: (406) 523-5215

Toll free: 1-800-366-7186

Fax: (406) 523-5294

p.s. - only your name is published, not your address and phone number.

In SLM news, we have had a super busy and productive last couple of weeks. So busy I am pretty sure I am a week (or three!) behind on getting this newsletter out! Our first Ally Training is in full swing and I am once again so impressed with NCBI and so blessed to be partnering with them for these classes!  We hope to have another training in the fall, and possibly continue our efforts annually, so look for that if you couldn't participate this go round.

We have traveled across the state, from Great Falls, to Kalispell, to Stevensville and Hamilton, and of course here at home in Missoula, to give talks and seminars on refugees, SLM, and community organizing and activism. This is all a part of our continued outreach effort to prepare our state and community to be a welcoming and inclusive place for refugees to land. We have met so many amazing people wanting to help and I continue to be humbled by other's stories and commitment.

A recent surge in interest and volunteers has also helped us begin to structure and run some small donation drives for household items, with plans for larger ones once we have a true space to store the items!  Any leads on donated/cheap space anyone?!?!? We hope to start by putting together the apartments for the first 3 families by the beginning of August, knowing that the less the IRC has to spend on "stuff", the more they can stretch for additional rent, language assistance, and employment help.  We have been so blessed by Rebekah Little stepping up to the plate to help organize this, and any inquiries about donations can go to her at donate@softlandingmissoula.org.  Please consider storing that box of clothes and items you have laying around that you were going to take to Goodwill for the next month or so until we have a space, and let us know if you have any furniture in good to great condition that you are looking for a new home for....

Speaking of storage space, we are also still in the search for the right spot for SLM and our hopes for a resource/community center/lounge..... Just putting it out there ;)

Lastly, we are also in full swing of incorporating into our own non-profit and continue to be ever grateful to the JRPC for their support and guidance, as well as so many in the community with whom we have had some serious "brain picking sessions"! This has been not just a chore, but actually a really great opportunity to enlist help, form an advisory board, and most importantly, really assess our goals and express our true north.  The work is ongoing, and way more fulfilling than I originally anticipated! Molly Cottrell- you are so amazing- thanks for being my right hand wo-man!

The IRC is also visiting again this week to continue to finalize office location and set up with the anticipation of a true opening end of July/early August. Exciting!

So, yes, quite busy but incredibly blessed with so many amazing and gifted people working hard to make all of these things a reality.  Thank you all for your kindness and support to those who need it most in this very difficult time.