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What happened at the Issues Convention?

Over two hundred gathered on Tuesday night, October 29, and chose Anti-Racism and Gun Violence as ISAAC’s focus for the next two years, along with Affordable Housing and Group Violence Intervention. Everyone present was invited to “vote with their feet,” whether or not they were from one of the 31 ISAAC member congregations and organizations.  They heard facts on local Poverty, Education, Racism, and Gun Violence presented, then voted by going to the corner of the church sanctuary where the issue they considered most urgent was posted.

“Anti-Racism and Gun Violence were the two issues chosen last night,” said Dr. Charlae Davis, Executive Director of ISAAC. “A task force was formed on each of those issues, which anyone who wants to help build the ‘Beloved Community’ can join.  The task forces will discern how local and state policies and practices can be ‘infused with love’ as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described.  Next October, at the ISAAC Public Meeting, the task forces will ask community members, community leaders and our public officials to pledge to work for the changes of policy and practice that they discern.”

The ISAAC Housing Task Force and Group Violence Intervention leaders also presented the work they have done for the last two years and are continuing.  ISAAC President Elder Doug King explained, “City Commissioner Patrese Griffin, the ISAAC Housing Task Force, TRHT (Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation) and a number of other organizations are working together on a new Housing Equity ordinance to end housing discrimination.  Currently, people can be denied housing because they get housing assistance, such as support from the millage passed four years ago for homeless families with children in the schools countywide.”

“Group Violence Intervention work will continue as well,” said Dr. Davis. “It was ISAAC which brought GVI to Kalamazoo, and has championed it since 2012.  Michael Wilder is an awesome addition to our team! GVI is a strategy that acknowledges the harm and historic lack of trust between marginalized communities, communities of color and law enforcement, and a strategy that acknowledges there are societal obstacles surrounding community members of color, community members living in poverty and community members reentering society after being incarcerated. It is a true collaboration between community members, street outreach workers, law enforcement, and social services to holistically decrease violence and offer community members impacted the most equitable opportunities to be able to live their best life. There are no winners in gang or group violence.”

Westminster Presbyterian Church hosted the ISAAC Issues Convention this year.  “The same process in past years has resulted in many changes of policy,” said Tobi Hanna-Davies, ISAAC VP for Communications.  “Sunday buses and late night buses, homes for over 300 families with children in the schools countywide, ‘KC Ready 4s’ quality preschool for all four-year-olds, Group Violence Intervention, and many more changes all resulted from ISAAC’s process of listening to our marginalized communities and working with partner agencies and community members to make local policies and practices more equitable and loving,”

For more information, call 269-341-4213.

– Our Media Release about the Issues Convention