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MSJE Monthly Newsletter

Updated: Jul 23, 2021


Transportation Justice


One aspect of social justice that gets short shrift is the issue of transportation. Locally, transportation means almost exclusively the ability to afford a reliable car, gasoline, and insurance, and being able to drive. Automobile expenses take up a big chunk of a low-income household’s budget or, if they are unable to afford a car at all, limits their job prospects and access to necessities.


We do have a public bus system, Brazos Transit District, but busses only operate weekdays and stop running at 7:00 PM. Furthermore, there is no service on quite a few holidays. Busses are infrequent, coming once an hour in most cases. With many of the lowest paid jobs in industries such as hospitality which often require evening work, this is not a viable solution. While Uber and Lyft may have brought fares down, for someone earning minimum wage, these services are still a big stretch. And studies have shown that ride-share services are more expensive and slower to arrive in minority neighborhoods.


The District is thus a bare-bones, safety net service not used widely by the broader public. This creates a chicken-or-egg conundrum. With scant service and no park and ride system, it is only used as a means of last resort. That creates a downward spiral, with low demand leading to infrequent service and visa-versa.


The history of how automakers in the 1950’s crippled mass transit in the U.S.is a story for another day, but how we deal with the resulting system is something we should be discussing now, and that includes how we apply new technologies such as self-driving cars. There are many possible solutions at the intersection of environmental stewardship and social justice. Let us hope we have the wisdom and compassion to find them.


Voting Rights Update


A group of concerned citizens from the Brazos Valley met with hundreds of others, including many UU’s, in Austin for a rally and other events entitled “Let My People Vote” on July 18 and 19. Sponsored by Texas Impact, an interfaith advocacy group with which we are partnered through our membership in Texas UU Justice Ministry, and with co-sponsors LULAC, NAACP and the League of Women Voters, it came at a time the Texas Democrats in the House had fled the state to prevent passage of measures to further restrict voting rights and create an atmosphere of intimidation at the polls.


While participants did not expect to stop these bills from ultimately going through, the rally showed that there are Texans of faith who do not support these measures, even as the fight moves to Washington and the courts.


Especially if these bills become law, the importance of getting qualified voters registered and voting is even more important. Look for a continuation of the UU the Vote program and similar actions from Texas Impact as we move into the 2022 election cycle.


Family Promise News


If you are new to the UUCBV, a focus of our congregation is direct community involvement with an organization called Family Promise. It is an interfaith social service that helps families with children experiencing homelessness or housing instability.


Over the past year and a half, with the federal stimulus checks, extra unemployment compensation, and eviction moratorium, combined with concerns about health safety, there has not been a need for residential services at the Family Promise’s Hope Crossing facility. This is expected to change soon as these programs expire in Texas.


Our role at Hope Crossing is to serve as hosts for one week every few months. The families residing there are our guests. Some of us prepare meals of comfort foods on weeknights and bring them to the shelter, others (or the meal preparers) spend the evening hours with the families, and a third group who come later in the evening and spend the night with the families, available in case any emergencies arise.


The UUCBV rotations for the coming year are September 12-19, December 12-19, March 13-20, and June 12-19. Volunteering for the evening or overnight shifts does require several hours of training and a background check, all of which are provided by Family Promise. Providing meals only can be done by anyone. If you are interested in volunteering for any of these positions, please contact Pam Johnson or Jerry Wagnon.


Jerry Wagnon, UUCBV MSJE Chair

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