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By Sherri Smith,
Contributed by Christine Lucarelli
Event Venue Setups and Event Ideas for Social Distancing
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) reported in a June 2020 article that their members recommend the following steps be taken when setting up for events happening in June and July:
Place tables six feet apart with 12-foot aisles.
Put tape down on the carpet to indicate how far apart from each other those standing in a queue should be (registration, banquet, etc.).
Setting meeting rooms in rows of two chairs, with six-foot aisles in between (effectively theater style with an increased number of aisles). This would allow for those who are attending an event together to sit together if they so choose.
Providing masks to all attendees.
Having appointment-based expo sessions.
Guests can choose their color-coded sticker to affix to their name badge, which would be associated with varying degrees of exposure/ interaction to allow them to determine their level of interaction. “Red” guests are willing to interact with more people, “blue” guests are not.
If possible, by fall, set small groups of chairs near one another while still providing for social distancing.
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Dear Friends -
This week the country celebrated the 4th of July. There’s always been a false note to the celebrations in a country when white supremacy continues to stain our institutions, and our nation’s fundamental sin of slavery lives on in mass incarceration, policing, and economic inequality. If you haven’t had a chance to watch five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" here’s a link. Our national motto of independence and self-sufficiency denies what we as the church fundamentally know. We are connected to one another and the decisions we make from wearing a mask to voting have not just an impact in the here and now, but will echo through generations. And when we deliberately choose to ignore that interdependence, it is most often the most vulnerable who are disproportionately negatively impacted. So we gather ourselves as community to remember our interconnectedness, that one kindness begets another and that love of our neighbor looks like a lot of different things. Including the work of justice.
On many of these issues below you’ll see that the House has passed legislation that is now languishing in the Senate. Just a brief editorial note, the Senate has effectively been rendered useless by a majority who controls the Senate calendar, but is uninterested in the messy work of compromise and governing. The House of Representatives has always moved more swiftly and then been countered by a more deliberative Senate, but this Senate isn’t deliberative it is catatonic. This makes things really hard but that doesn’t mean we give up, it means we keep bringing up the issues and making it really uncomfortable for people who want to get reelected to move on and forget the issues we care about.
You might be wondering where Congress is? Trust me, as an advocate I’m wondering that too. So, what happened to legislation on police violence. In June the House approved the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by a vote of 236-181 one month to the day the bill's namesake was killed. Three Republicans supported the legislation. We as the UCC joined with other civil rights organizations calling for sweeping changes, some but not all of which were included in the House package. In the Senate a bill that paralleled the President’s executive order was released focusing on limited reforms, which in non-political terms Senate Democrats called a great big nothing-burger that ignores many of the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s a helpful comparison document showing the House vs. Senate vs. Executive order. Learn more about one of the major sticking points for legislative action which is qualified immunity here and here.
National Defense Authorization Act
The Senate is planning to vote on its version of the 2021 defense authorization bill (S. 4049) in the near future. This year’s package authorizes $741 billion for the military, which is outrageous at a time when our nation needs to spend more on health and other priorities. Senators Sanders, Markey, and Warren in the Senate and Representatives Lee and Pocan in the House have introduced an amendment that would cut the topline Pentagon budget by 10%, which we support, but more significant cuts are needed.
Curious about how and why police departments around the country have access to military grade equipment? Meet the Defense Department’s 1033 program. The Defense Department program provides excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies for only the cost of shipping and maintenance. This makes it possible for even smaller departments to possess sometimes exorbitantly expensive items like mine-resistant vehicles or aircraft. Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) introduced an amendment to the NDAA (amd. 2252) on June 29 that would stop civilian police departments from receiving unnecessary military equipment from the Pentagon. This equipment transfer, authorized under the 1033 program, has fueled the militarization of American policing. There’s also a provision in both the House and Senate versions to require DoD remove confederate names/displays from DoD property. The President has said he’ll veto the bill if it includes the provision on military bases and confederate names.
COVID Relief Legislation
Way back in May the House passed the HEROES Act - nearly two months later the Senate has yet to act, but it is going to after the July 4 recess (they took three weeks off, will be back on for two and then out again for August). That leaves very few days before the $600 per week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments and the eviction moratorium expire. Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project. African American and Hispanic renters are expected to be hardest hit. We’re just seeing the edge of a housing and hunger crisis as Congress moves to limit who gets financial assistance, eviction protections and access to social services. Advocates keep working to push Congress on these issues with meetings and grassroots organizing. The severity of current economic conditions and the surging number of COVID-19 cases around the country have pushed both Majority Leader McConnell and the administration to express more openness to another relief bill but we know the Senate won’t consider anything remotely as comprehensive as HEROES, but it is looking likely there will be another more limited round of direct payment assistance. The Senate’s bill will likely focus more on liability protection as businesses and other institutions open back up - which is remarkably cynical.
The Supreme Court decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)means that for now at least, will allow the 700,000 Dreamers who benefit from DACA to remain in the country. More than 200,000 Dreamers work in industries deemed essential during the current pandemic; that includes 27,000 Dreamers who work on the front lines as medical professionals. The administration is poised to file new paperwork to end the program again. We’re pushing for a permanent fix to pass in Congress. Read this piece by actor and activist Bambadjan Bamba who reflects the intersection of the fight for immigration reform and an end to anti-Black racism. Bamba is both Black and undocumented and says, “Immigrant communities, Latino communities, and African American communities suffer the same plight as far as police brutality is concerned, as far as the numbers of people who are locked up in prisons. To me, we’re kind of fighting the same fight,”
World Health Organization
Following months of threats to cut funding, the Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the U.S. will withdraw from the World Health Organization, effective July 6th 2021. This decision comes amidst a global pandemic in which the WHO’s leadership and coordination is desperately needed. The U.S. has historically been one of the largest sources of funding for the WHO (~$553 million) and it must still meet its financial obligation for the current year. President Trump has blamed WHO for the global failure to respond more effectively to COVID-19, and its response to China specifically. The UCC issued an action alert earlier this Spring calling on the President to reverse his position https://p2a.co/oYuWt9y
ICC Sanctions: President Trump signed an executive order on June 11th authorizing sanctions against officials from the International Criminal Court who may be involved in investigations of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and human rights violations by Israel. Legal experts oppose this move as it further undermines the court at a time when human rights violations continue and accountability is needed to end mass atrocities. The Washington Working Group on the ICC has issued a statement opposing the executive order, which the UCC has signed.
On June 19th, the U.N. Human Rights Council ordered a report on systemic racism against people of African descent in the U.S. following the many examples of violent policing that occurred after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson led the drafting and circulation of an ecumenical statement in support of UN action. “Anti-black racism and all forms of racism are global problems that call for the intervention of the global community to ensure human rights and dignity for all. Our hope is that the members of the Human Rights Council will address the need for strong inquiries into racism, racial violence and the killing of African descendant people in the U.S. and globally.”
On Wednesday 7/8, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, released a report that concludes that the U.S. drone attack of Iranian General Solemani in Iraq violated international law. The report alleges that the U.S. violated Iraq’s right of national sovereignty enshrined in Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter.
On Friday, July 3, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an "Anti-Terrorism" law that would allow the authorities to classify political opponents as terrorists, further constraining free speech and opening up the possibility of more human rights abuses and de-facto Martial Law. A UCCP pastor has already been arrested, as faith and human rights groups push for the introduction of a Philippine Human Rights Act in congress.
This week, Reps. McGovern and Pocan circulated a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo addressing human rights violations and the peace process in Colombia. 94 members of Congress signed the letter, which was supported by UCC and other Colombia advocates.
In light of the continued suffering of the Palestinian people, and in anticipation of annexation of land announced by Israel to possibly take place this month, the Kairos Palestine movement has issued a new “Cry for Hope” statement and website which has been endorsed by hundreds of faith leaders and institutions. According to the writers, the “Cry for Hope is rooted in the logic of love which has as its goal the liberation of both the oppressor and the oppressed. To bring an end to the suffering and bloodshed and to bring peace in the Holy Land…”
Great American Outdoors Act
In late June, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a wide bipartisan margin, 73-25. This amazing win for conservation will pave the way for billions of dollars to alleviate a national park project backlog and permanently fund the nearly sixty-year-old federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which pumps oil and gas revenues into efforts to expand and protect park areas. This is a big win to celebrate!
After four years of protests and legal battles, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been ordered to be shut down by August 5th. The pipeline has been carrying oil from North Dakota to Illinois for three years, despite concerns from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe regarding potential water pollution from pipeline spills. This would not have been possible without the hundreds of Indigenous Tribes and Nations, and thousands of activists who refused to give up. Despite this monumental win, the owners of the pipeline, Energy Transfer, have said they don’t intend to follow court orders and have continued moving forward with their projects. An outright violation of a federal court order could result in fines or jail time. On the same day, the Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced they were no longer moving forward with the Atlantic Coastline Pipeline, a 600-mile pipeline that would have carried fracked gas from West Virginia to North Carolina and threatened rural Indigenous, Black and Brown communities. Two big wins for environmental justice!
Our Faith Our Vote
Traci and Sandy had a conversation with Senator Warren about faith and politics which is part of an ongoing series about how we can connect the work of justice with engagement in the political sphere. Watch the conversation here. Check out other OFOV resources here.
The DC Team
- Age: 3.5 years (According to the vet records I got from her foster family, her birthday was Tuesday, November 8, 2016, which might have been the only good thing to happen that day.)
- Sex: Female
- Breed: Mix, primarily Pit Bull
- Colors: Tan and white
- Unique Markings: The cutest little almond on top of her head
- What she does while I work: Typically she lays on the couch or floor in my office. Occasion breaks from naps to bark at people in the hallway or outside.
- Favorite Snack: Pizzle or Zuke's soft training treats (chicken flavor)
- Favorite Toy: Either her Nyla Bone or SUPER SQUEAKY rubber ball (the squeaker is not very durable, so they're only squeaky for like 2 days...Praise God.)
- Loves: Cuddles, drinking water and then putting her very wet snout on mom's leg, balconies, meeting new friends, zoomies, getting dried off after walks in the rain.
- Dislikes: Rain, cats who don't wanna be friends, dogs who don't wanna be friends, baths, wearing shoes, sprinklers, squirrels
Your turn! Introduce your pets, pets in your quarantine bubble or animals you love through their parents' social media.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
Good news! Ucc.org now has a basic calendar of events that feeds individual event and registration information to the homepage, the most heavily used page on the website (some 30K visitors per month). I invite you to add your events and find event submission instructions below. This is an interim solution until a fuller events calendar can be developed and launched, but should give events some much needed attention on the website until then. This process replaces requests to OPTIC for creating an event on Facebook. OPTIC will use this process for setting those up.
This calendar of events is for free or fee-based National Setting events that are open to an external audience - to everyone.
**Creating a registration process for your event is a separate process. Having registration information set up is required for submitting your event to the calendar.** OPTIC has seen event registration set up through zoom, Facebook, Eventbrite, Cvent, and NationBuilder. Whatever platform you use, we need that information before posting your event on the calendar of events.
Here's how to submit your event:
- Go to OPTIC ticketing https://d284978.tryinvision.com/ticket-system/
- In the subject line, type Event for Calendar
in the body of the ticket message, please include:
- The exact title of the event
- Event description (1-3 sentence basic description)
- The start date of the event (If the event runs over multiple days, please indicate that)
- The start time of the event
- A link to the registration page (required)
Subject: Event for Calendar
Event Title: Tuesdays for Nurture: Faithfully Making You & Your Vote Count in the Time of Covid-19
Event Description: Faithfully making YOU and YOUR VOTE count in the time of COVID; this webinar brings together voices in D.C. engaging faith and action with Our Faith Our Vote. https://www.ucc.org/ourfaithourvote
Start date: Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Start time: 3:30 pm ET (time zone)
Please submit this information as soon as you have the registration set up and ready for use. We want to avoid multiple rounds of updating for any one event.
OPTIC is quickly rolling this out and will enhance event listings as we go! OPTIC recognizes that we are in challenging times and is taking every step to ensure the visibility of all of the great work we are doing together.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
March 6, 2020
COVID-19 Protocols for all National Setting Employees
*****************ALL POLICIES AND PROTOCOLS SUBJECT TO CHANGE*************
AS NEW INFORMATION SURFACES
THE FOLLOWING PROTOCOLS ARE IN PLACE FOR ALL NATIONAL SETTING EMPLOYEES
In an effort to comply with new standards around social distancing, and in response to the CDC’s strategy not just to contain the spread of infectious diseases but to mitigate against its impact, the following protocols are active until further notice:
All air travel for work is prohibited. Emergency air travel for work may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Consult with the elected Officer overseeing your ministry area.
Please report any personal air travel to the elected Officer overseeing your ministry area.
Auto travel may be permitted by the elected Officer overseeing your ministry area for participation in small group gatherings on a case-by-case basis; explicit permission is required.*
Anyone returning from international travel that includes China, Italy, Japan, Iran or South Korea is required to work from home for 14 days, and if symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus manifest, then the employee will need a note from their doctor before returning to work.
Anyone returning from international travel to other countries is requested to work from home for 14 days, and if symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus manifest, then the employee will need a note from their doctor before returning to work.
All staff should strive to hold meetings by Zoom when at all possible.
Staff who need to cancel either air bookings or hotel bookings should first ask to have expenses returned to the credit card used rather than being held for future travel. When possible, this is the preferred option.
When hotel reservations are cancelled, please cancel the entire block and inquire as to whether or not penalties will be waived because of CDC protocol. Please maintain the written response for your records.
These protocols hold until further notice. We are tracking up to date information multiple times each day, and if circumstance warrant it we will make changes to these protocols.
If you are planning meetings beyond 60 days, please inform those with whom you are working of these current protocols and also let them know that any plans you make are tentative. Because we are hopeful that with warmer weather the threat level of this virus will diminish, we are not asking you NOT to plan meetings or gatherings during the warmer months, we are just asking that you inform all participants that anything you agree to now is tentative. We would also ask you to hold off purchasing plane tickets for June meetings or later until a later time when more information about the circumstances will have surfaced.
*If you have any questions about what qualifies as a permissible number of people gathering, consult with your elected Officer. We would like to put a hard number on this, but we can’t. In Washington already last week, meetings of over 10 were discouraged. Various places have different tolerances. It is best to check with County Health Departments about any statements they have issued.
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