With COVID cases on the rise again, our members re-affirmed their commitment to meaningful, equitable relief for all and a more just world in the long-term. Read on to learn more about everything we did in November and December to close out 2020 as a stronger community!
Rochester for Energy Democracy (R.E.D.)
R.E.D. is a campaign started by Metro Justice to halt the pending climate catastrophe and ensure environmental justice in the long-term. We are striving to build an energy system in which communities -- not corporate investors -- decide what energy we use, where we get it, what we pay, and how that money can be used to benefit our community. The first steps towards this vision is organizing our neighborhoods for community-owned solar and replacing RG&E with a public, not-for-profit, cooperatively owned utility with an elected board, a green energy mandate, and concrete commitments to a just transition for energy workers.
After a month of preparation and rehearsals, we did our first teach-in for our campaign with the Rochester Democratic Socialists of America, and our second teach-in with the Rochester Housing Justice Alliance! We appreciated groups' enthusiasm for energy democracy and public power, as well as their constructive feedback on how to make our teach-in even more engaging for future audiences. Looking ahead, we are excited to approach labor unions like 1199 SEIU and Federation of Social Workers to co-host a teach-in with us for a publicty utility in Rochester instead of RG&E. We also planned a teach-in open to the general public that happened on Thursday, January 14th. Furthermore, our volunteers began assembling a comprehensive information packet for City Council so that we can begin formal meetings to gauge their support for a public utility in Rochester.
We have big news for our statewide public power efforts as a founding member of the Public Power NY Coalition. We have been developing 2 public power bills that will bring all generation, transmission, and distribution in New York State under public control, so that it is not-for-profit and we can meet our necessarily ambitious goals for a green and just transition as soon as possible. The first bill is the New York Public Power Authority (NYPA) Bill and the second is the Public Power NY Bill. Last month we shared that the coalition strongly supports one primary sponsor for each bill being a legislator from Upstate NY so that we can build upstate and downstate unity for public power. We are proud to announce that Senator Samra Brouk will be the primary Senate sponsor for the NYPA Bill! We look forward to working with Senator Brouk to achieve racial and economic justice in the energy sector of New York.
In partnership with the PL-EX Neighborhood Association, Groundswell, and Larson Engineering, we are still moving forward with the construction of a community-owned solar farm in the PL-EX Neighborhood. Efforts to secure union labor and grants for funding are still underway! We have also developed a draft for a Community-Owned Solar 101 training for PL-EX residents so that they can engage in the process of getting the the solar farm built, and administering it afterwards. Furthermore, we joined the PL-EX Neighborhood Association in conversations with the University of Rochester to secure a safer, more comprehensive remediation for the brownfield in the neighborhood.
Campaign for NY Health
Metro Justice houses the Rochester Chapter of the Campaign for NY Health (CNYH): a statewide movement for universal healthcare in NYS! Every New Yorker deserves comprehensive health care without expensive premiums, deductibles, and copays. Click here to learn more about the New York Health Act (NYHA).
New Co-Directors of the Campaign for NY Health: YuLing Koh Hsu and Ursula Rozum!
Wtih the end of the year, we congratulated Ursula Rozum and YuLing Koh Hsu for becoming the new Co-Directors of the Campaign for Ny Health! We also welcomed several more new members to our movement for universal healthcare locally. During our monthly organizing meeting, we debriefed current progress and planned next steps for several aspects of our strategy to win the New York Health Act next Legislative Session. We discussed our efforts at reaching out to new people to grow our movement, and reviewed the legislative landscape for next session. We decided our priority Assemblymembers and Senators to meet with to solidify their sponsorship and advocacy for the New York Health, and set goals and asks for our first meetings with them during this term. We also brainstormed organizations to build deeper solidarity with through joint events and other activity for the New York Health Act. We are excited to explore possibilities to work with the Rochester Street Medic Collective, Rochester Interfaith Alliance, Trillium Health, and VOCAL-NY. We are also looking forward to deepening our relationships with unions statewide and broadening union support for the New York Health Act in 2021.
Furthermore, we worked with students from Rochester School Without Walls to begin a fundraiser for the Campaign for NY Health! Students in Ashley Ladiges' "Extended Class" wrote personal testimonials about why they want healthcare for all, contracted with a union company that makes knitted winter beanie hats, and put them on GoFundMe. To everyone that donated and supported the cause: thank you!
To learn more or join the movement, please sign-up by clicking here and someone from our team will be in touch! You're also invited to join our next monthly organizing meetings, now held over Zoom, on Wednesday January 27th from 6-7:30 PM. Please RSVP here on our website to receive the Zoom link to join.
Popular Education & White Supremacy
Elder Justice Committee (EJC) is one of our longest existing committees with some of our most dedicated members. Over the years, Elder Justice has gained statewide recognition for their work to ensure that elders live purposeful, self-directed, meaningful, and dignified lives in their homes and communities. A critical focus of this work has been transforming our nursing homes from hospital-like holding institutions into meaningful and nurturing homes where elders can continue to live truly fulfilling lives. A linchpin of this effort is winning the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.
Elder Justice Committee continued its advocacy on several topics significant to the lives of seniors in our area and New York State, including:
- The relationship of direct care staffing levels to the safety and quality of care of nursing home residents before, during, and post COVID-19
- Assuring that NYS Department of Health more strongly enforces nursing home regulations, including ending the continued operation of poorly performing home
- The consequences of for-profit takeover of not-for-profit nursing homes on safe and quality care
- The lock out of visitors to Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
We are working on a full review of our accomplishments in 2020 that we look forward to sharing with everyone as a part of the Metro Justice Annual Members Meeting at the end of the January 2021!
For many years, the Elder Justice Committee has been advocating for elders to live purposeful, self-directed, meaningful, and dignified lives in their homes and communities, including adult residential facilities. We welcome new members to join us in our advocacy efforts. Contact us at [email protected]
- MaryDel Wypych and Ken Traub, Co-chairs of the Elder Justice Committee
Coming up: Metro Justice 2021 Annual Members Meeting
Our Annual Members’ Meeting is coming up on Saturday, January 30th from 2 - 4 PM on Zoom! Our organization’s strength is directly derived from you, our members, so we strongly encourage you to attend the meeting to help mold our 2021 goals and plans.
We are excited that Assemblymember Demond Meeks of the 137th District will deliver our Keynote Address! You find more information on the meeting here.
This is an open meeting but only members in good standing can vote. You are a member if you have made a contribution of record in the last 12 months to Metro Justice, Inc. or Metro Justice Education Fund. If needed, you can renew your membership before the annual meeting by clicking here or by mail. Membership questions can be addressed to [email protected] .
Please register and RSVP in advance by filling out this form! You will recevie the Zoom link to join after your registration is approved.
Rochester Mutual Aid Network (RMAN)
Metro Justice is honored to be the 501 c(3) sponsor of the grassroots Rochester Mutual Aid Network. RMAN is a partnership between the Rochester Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and a number of local charity and social justice organizations. RMAN is a cooperative network that was started to help our community sustain itself.
The Rochester Mutual Aid Network still partners with Flower City Pickers every Saturday to deliver food to help feed our community members in need. Throughout November and December, their volunteers delivered bags of squash, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, bread, sweets, and masks from the Public Market! You can request aid, donate, or sign up to volunteer at their website www.rocmutualaid.com. RMAN has regular orientations and training for new volunteers; to receive updates, you can sign up on their website or follow them on their Facebook page. In these times of crisis, people shouldn't have to worry about where help is going to come from. It's going to come from our community, so let's get to work!
Hi! My name is Lauren Wiener. I am an Emergency Housing Specialist at Providence Housing Development Corporation and I am a volunteer with Rochester Mutual Aid Network and the Rochester for Energy Democracy (RED) campaign at Metro Justice. I first found Metro Justice when I moved to Rochester 3 years ago and wanted to get involved in my new community. I participated in events here and there trying to find where I could be useful, but it wasn’t until the RED campaign launched that I found my niche at Metro Justice.
Since I first thoroughly grasped the climate crisis and how catastrophic its effects will be, I’ve worked to reduce my carbon footprint as much as feasibly possible. I walk and bike when I can, I use beeswax wraps to reduce plastic waste, I became vegetarian due to my disgust for factory farming, I worked at a nursery and learned to care for trees and honeybees, I became an even bigger thrifter in support of recycling clothes and furniture, and overall I keep myself up to date on climate science. Initially it overwhelmed me - but the more I practiced sustainable living the easier it became - especially when I know it’s saving our planet. After attending the introductory event for the RED campaign, I realized there was an entire side of climate justice that I hadn’t ever considered: green energy. So, of course, I was overwhelmed all over again. Fortunately RED helped me understand what public power and community solar would look like, and why a green transition is critical in Rochester and beyond.
I love Rochester and I love working with a great group on a badass campaign, but we still have a long way to go. We need everyone’s support to get this off the ground to create a Rochester that thrives and can be loved for generations.
Build With Us!
Metro Justice is a grassroots community organization, driven by our members. Much of this work would not be possible without the contributions of both time and money by the hundreds of members who work hard everyday fighting for racial, social, and economic justice. The contributions of our members are what allow us to forgo big grant funding so that we can be solely accountable to our community instead of large foundations.
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Wishing you, your friends, and loved ones health, safety, and support.