Spring 2020 Newsletter
This spring has been a tumultuous time for all of us. From COVID-19, to the uprising across the country in response to police brutality, to economic turmoil, we are all reeling from the events of the last few months. While we don’t know what is to come next, we are clear that we must stick together and grow the power of working Hoosiers across race and geography in our state. In the past few months Hoosier Action has rapidly shifted to move our organizing online, and our base and power has grown dramatically: we are now officially a statewide organization of rural and small town Hoosiers! We are committed to growing the power of white, black, and brown Hoosiers to ensure that decision-makers are accountable to us first, not out-of-state corporate interests.
Here’s some highlights from the past few months:
We have begun building out a clergy table and a member-led team dedicated to law enforcement accountability and justice in Indiana in response to the killings of George Floyd, Dreasjon Reed, Malcolm “Milky” Williams, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black people by police. We are holding deep phone conversations about race across the state with rural and small town Hoosiers.
We held a statewide day of local housing action in 12 different counties, and are now pushing for federal as well as local relief for renters!
We’ve launched two new initiatives to help advance our narrative about Indiana on social media and traditional media: our Amplifier Program & our News Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Prior to COVID-19, we successfully organized and mobilized to protect syringe services programs in Indiana and save lives.
Amidst the very real pain and suffering of this experienced by Hoosiers across the state right now, there are also real signs of hope and progress. The solidarity, organizing, and collective actions occurring across Indiana right now are unprecedented. In the past few weeks, there have been over 60 protests for Black lives across our state, most of which in rural and small town places. This moment has shown us how powerful it is when we pull together, across our differences, to fight for what’s right. To ensure the health, safety, and future for all Hoosiers, we must keep organizing across rural and small town Indiana.
What We’ve Been Up To
We have spent the last few months building out the largest people-powered response to the COVID-19 crisis in our state: the #EverybodyIN Campaign! We are fighting to ensure that our state enacts policies which benefit everyday people, not lining the pockets of the wealthy or big corporations. We are fighting to ensure that all Hoosiers, whether Black, white or, brown, have food in their bellies, roofs over their heads, and care when they need it during this crisis and beyond.
Here’s some highlights of our COVID-19 organizing–so far we’ve:
Reached out to over 35,000 Hoosiers via phone calls and text messages.
Coordinated the action of nearly 6,000 Hoosiers who’ve sent emails to our Governor, signed petitions, or taken some other form of coordinated action.
Trained over 500 Hoosiers in text banking, deep phone canvassing, political education, race class narrative, teambuilding, writing letters to the editor, online outreach, and one to one conversations.
Protecting Hoosier Homes
On May 23rd, our members across 12 different counties delivered over 1,750 petition signatures calling on their local municipal and county leaders to do everything in their power to stop evictions due to COVID-19 and protect residents experiencing homelessness.
In Martinsville, leaders organized a prayer vigil and called on their city to ensure clean water as well as housing for everyone during this crisis.
In Lafayette, leaders brought furniture and other household items to the courthouse square to demonstrate what a significant rise of homelessness would look like in their community.
Leading up to our day of action, six letters to the editor from our members were published across the state as well as one op-ed. Our day of action also received some news coverage across the state:
After delivering our housing petitions, our leaders then held a series of meetings across the state with local elected officials to discuss the need for rent relief. We also organized a well-attended Know Your Rights Training for renters on May 27th. On June 10th, five of our member leaders from five different counties (Monroe, Morgan, Johnson, Floyd, and Hamilton) shared their story on a call with Senator Todd Young’s lead staffer on housing and delivered a letter signed by over forty small business owners, elected officials, community leaders, and faith leaders. While we were assured that rent relief was a top priority for the next stimulus package, it’s not clear that relief will arrive by June 30th, when Indiana’s eviction moratorium is lifted. That’s why we’re urging all of our members to email, call, and tweet our Senators about the urgent need for rent relief.
On May 12th, Hoosier Action organizer Eva Bell shared her COVID-19 story at the #CaringEconomy Virtual Town Hall with Stacy Abrams. At the event, people on the frontlines of the pandemic from grocery store workers to childcare providers discussed what they need during this pandemic and beyond to build an economy that works for them.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
On April 28th, Ohio River Valley leaders organized a virtual discussion between community members, local leaders, and their state Representative Ed Clere. On the Zoom call, twenty-five Floyd and Clark county residents discussed homelessness, the need for rent relief, and the need for harm reduction efforts, including naloxone distribution and syringe services programs.
Telling a New Story About Indiana
In the last two months we’ve launched two new initiatives to help advance our narrative about Indiana on social media and traditional media: our Amplifier Program & News Team! Amplifiers will receive weekly take action emails and agree to take action at least once a week. If you have any questions about the Amplifier Program, email email@example.com. Our News Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) compiles a weekly Indiana news digest available both on our Facebook page and via an email newsletter. To sign-up to get this newsletter in your inbox and to send any comments or suggestions for topics, please email email@example.com. By acting together we can help create a new story for Hoosiers!
Powerful Morgan County Meetings
In April, core leaders from Morgan County met with both representatives from the EPA as well as Mayor Kenneth Costin about the toxic plume in Martinsville and how it increases the risk of COVID-19 for Martinsville residents. Since then, Morgan County leaders are continuing to work with their mayor to try to get monthly water quality reports included with every Martinsville resident’s water bill.
Campus Organizing Win!
Early in the pandemic, our Indiana University chapter, Campus Action for Democracy, helped security a major victory: on March 24th, IU President McRobbie announced that he plans to meet many of the demands we organized in partnership with Indiana Grad Workers, Respect Workers, and others, including:
Pay for all laid-off university workers until the end of the pandemic or at least through June.
Not requiring employees to use sick time, personal time off, or other vacation time because they are unable to work.
The IDS covered our meeting. Click the button below to read the article.
The Fight to Protect Syringe Services Programs
Prior to COVID-19, during the legislative session, Hoosier Action mobilized quickly to protect syringe services programs. In February, our Floyd County chapter held a powerful in-district meeting with their State Senator Ron Grooms.
At the meeting community members, faith leaders, doctors, current and former drug users, business leaders, and public health experts all spoke to the importance of access to syringe service programs in our state. Syringe service programs are a vital tool to prevent HIV and Hepatitis C and are frontline healthcare for many of our neighbors.
As Dr. William Cooke said, “The bonds of compassion are stronger than the bonds of fear.”
After the meeting, an extension of syringe services programs was added to a House and Senate bill. We organized phone calls into State Senate and Representative offices, and the bill was ultimately passed! All Hoosiers deserve the opportunity to thrive, and we are committed to growing a movement which overcomes stigma and shame to fight for harm reduction in the face of an overdose crisis devastating Hoosiers.
Find and register for our upcoming events by going to www.hoosieraction.org/events–here’s what we’ve got coming up in the next few weeks:
Statewide Briefing Call: Join Hoosier Action leaders from across the state Tuesday evening June 23rd from 7:00 pm-8:30 pm for a Statewide Briefing Call! This call is a great way to get updated on our work and get on-boarded if you’ve never been to a Hoosier Action event before.
June 24th Digital Press Conference: Join us on Wednesday, June 24th from 12:00 pm-12:30 pm for a press conference via Facebook Live.
Weekly Action Party: Join us for a brief training and to take action together to reach out to Hoosiers across the state every Thursday evening from 6:30 pm-8:30 pm.
Weekend Action Party: Join us for a brief training and to take action together to reach out to Hoosiers across the state every Sunday afternoon from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm.
Parents Coffee Hour: Join the Hoosier Action Moms Chapter every Saturday from 10:00 am-11:00 am for time to connect and discuss parenting during COVID-19.
Support Our Work
We can’t build power in Indiana without your support. Sign up today to become a monthly dues-paying member by going to www.hoosieraction.org/join-us. Together, we can make Indiana a place where all Hoosiers, no matter their zip code or the color of thier skin, can thrive.