by Katherine Wolf and Holly Fetter, Members of the New York City RG Chapter’s Giving and Campaign Committees

IMG_8056 (1)Thank you to Maurice Mitchell for attending our chapter event on Tuesday, December 9th and for sharing all your insight and passion. This blog post has been heavily influenced by your analysis and your call to action.

There’s a lot to mourn these days. From the non-indictments of Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo for the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, to the murder of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who carried a toy gun, there’s a lot of justified grief and outrage. But the regularity of these incidents is not new — a Black person is murdered by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante every 28 hours, often without recourse or retribution. There hasn’t been a sudden surge in this number. The difference now is that people are paying attention.

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takling-cartoonPreparation
My interest in building the Philly chapter lead me to participate in a webinar on ‘How to give an excellent one on one.’ I thought I had never “been one-on-oned” going into the webinar and even mentioned that in my intro. Kaitlin, RG’s Campaign and Chapter Organizer, gave a great webinar while Kate, another Philly Chapter leader, and I watched from her living room. I noticed mid-way through the webinar, that in fact, Kaitlin had just “one-on-oned” me earlier that week! Somewhat embarrassing but we had a good laugh about it chatting after the webinar.

I remember about a year ago, when I was on the other side of the table and I was coming into RG. I was super nervous about having a one-on-one for my entry point for Resource Generation, Philly Chapter. I had gone to the RG website and had a general idea of what RG was about. I thought it seemed like a good fit for me and was anxious to get started.

I had been offered a one-on-one OR the opportunity to participate in an awesome tax campaign call-in day the then nascent Philly Chapter was about to do. Of course, I chose taxes! I’d much rather call strangers on the phone and tell them to tax me more, than talk to a wonderful individual in a one-on-one! For some reason, I thought a one-on-one would be a really intimidating experience, so I avoided it.

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10671423_10152699672523704_4524976519551915064_nEconomic justice is climate justice. These are some reflections as I read Naomi Klein’s newest book “This Changes Everything” about extreme capitalism and the climate crisis.

If we meet RG’s mission of redistribution of land, wealth and power, we will also necessarily have contributed to stopping the climate crisis.

If we stop the climate crisis, really and truly, we will also necessarily have to meet RG’s mission. If land is distributed equitably and cared for by those inhabiting it, if power is held by those who are directly impacted by the decisions made about the resources in their area, if everyone has enough wealth to survive and thrive in dignity…the climate crisis will have been stopped, a new paradigm will have taken shape.

A new dominant economic paradigm* is our only option besides, well, literally ending life as we know it.  An economy that actually centers all life (people and planet) instead of just profits. Here’s why.

The planet is in crisis because of the global systems of trade, development, and resource-accumulation in the hands of a few individuals, corporations, and countries.

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I love my family.  My brothers are incredible people, full of love and music and insight.  My aunt gives the most enveloping, I-love-you-to-your-bones type of hugs. And Thanksgiving is one of the only times we all get together at once.  Across the generations of separation & the many forces that have spread us across the country, I am so grateful that we have held onto this ritual of coming back home to one another.

Yet every Thanksgiving I feel a deep dissonance as I see “happy Native” figurines pop up.  I remember that this is also the National Day of Mourning as articulated by Wamsutta James in 1970.   I remind myself that after 500+ years, the settler occupation of this land persists, and the settler tools of genocide continue. pilgrims

So, as a settler on this land, I’ve decided to start a new ritual with my family. I am going to make a donation to support the return of U.S. land to indigenous ownershipand invite everyone at my Thanksgiving table to join me.

Here’s why.

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I am a new member of Resource Generation, and a constituent: a young person with wealth. I got involved in conference calls for “RG supports #blacklivesmatter” in response to feelings of isolation and powerlessness, and a strong desire to support the resistance to anti-black racism and police violence in cities like Ferguson. Leaders at RG – specifically two current and former board members, working-class black women, Nakisha Lewis and Monica Simpson – pushed our organization to action, guiding us to become accountable specifically as young people with wealth. I joined in at the second call, and from there ideas (and my involvement) snowballed.

In order for RG to become sustainable funders and supporters to the movement of black resistance to state violence and #ALLblacklivesmatter, member-leadership was called on to move this developing initiative forward into the upcoming annual RG retreat, Making Money Make Change. At the retreat, staff constructed a wall, where volunteers posted their personal commitment to #BlackLivesMatter and ending the Racial Wealth Gap, which, for me and I think many others, was a challenging process of getting over fears of “not knowing the right thing to say,” but eventually realizing that all of this was bigger than our own egos – and together – the statements presented a fuller picture of why black lives matter to us. There was also a laptop open to the Color of Change petition throughout the retreat; and many elected to take photographs with their statements.

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Piggy BankHere at RG are currently in the midst of our Fall Campaign.  You might have seen a spiffy looking mailer from us in your mailbox and you’ll likely getting a phone call soon. We are looking forward to chatting with all of you, getting some feedback on our work this year, collecting suggestions for RG’s future, and of course renewing your investment.

We are also heading to the busiest grant making time of year! Many of you have likely starting thinking about your giving already but I still felt that it’s an opportune time to share some collective knowledge from our allies and leaders around best and worst donor practices. Enjoy!

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We are all at Resource Generation’s Making Money Make Change conference! Wish you were here. For those of you who had to miss it,  here’s a throw back Thursday post for you by our summer intern Maddie Reichman.

Grr

Beginning in February of this year, RG NY began dedicating its tax team to the fight for universal pre-kindergarten education for New York City. Our angle: taxing the 1% to provide a consistent, dependable revenue stream for the program.

“UPK,” as the city-wide campaign was called, meant different things to different organizations. To education organizations, the campaign was a call for expanded and universal access to a crucial educational stepping stone that currently is convoluted and unfair in its procedures and access.

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A Low Interest Loan for the Puente Human Rights Campus 

Margi lives in Colorado, she discovered RG a year ago and attended the 2013 MMMC. Margi works as an environmental educator, and her focus on education access stems from an overarching desire to align her money with her values. 

childrensmarchAs a young person with access to wealth and class privilege I consider migrant justice one of the most direct areas where I can leverage my privileges to directly increase equity. Now is a particularly exciting time to be involved with migrant justice because it is at the forefront of advancing civil rights in the US. My interest was sparked last fall when my students in Colorado were applying to college and encountered barriers because they didn’t have papers, even though their families came to the US from Mexico before they can remember.  Like the 1.4 million other DREAMers who have attended school in the US their whole lives, my students are being systematically denied access to higher education because they aren’t citizens of the US. For example, my students were given misinformation about federal financial aid from college counselors and they weren’t able to fill out some college’s online applications without social security numbers. My students were aware of DACA[1] but didn’t know that last summer our state also passed instate tuition for undocumented childhood arrivals. I committed to financially supporting my students’ access to higher education by seeking out ways to understand and address our broken immigration system in a larger context. This year I have donated a total of $20,000 to support migrant justice at local, state, and national scales.

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Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.11.01 AMAt last year’s MMMC, Jay Saper, Adam Roberts and I hung out for hours in a hallway talking about the impact of (science) fiction in imagining our future and our shared enthusiasm for storytelling through zines. Adam asked me if I’d like to work with him on a zine connecting the framework of the Zen parable “Taming the Ox” with understanding class privilege and inheriting wealth and I agreed immediately! As white folks straying from the secular capitalist orthodoxy we grew up in, we both found an early alternative in Buddhism.

My own story is that I spent 6 months living at a Burmese Monastery in India, and then two winters in Thailand living on anti-capitalist communes with the fundamentalist Buddhist group Santi Asoke (comics about that here). I learned how capitalism centers profit and extracting profit produces negative karma.  Buddhist economics provided a big enough crack, an approachable opening, for taking on the whole of capitalist culture, and I began to question everything from consumerism to vocation.

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 A great piece by our summer intern Maddie Reichman for throw back Thursday on an Op Ed by leaders in the DC Chapter. 

17e77f5This spring the DC chapter of Resource Generation worked with other community groups for fair tax policy. There was a proposal for a tax package that included large tax cuts for wealthy people, including the elimination of the tax bracket for the highest earners and an increase in the threshold for the Estate Tax. In the end we won some, the higher tax rate on high wage earners remained in the budget, and we lost some, the increase in the estate tax threshold was also included. This editorial by DC chapter leader Sam Waxman was written in response to the Estate Tax changes.

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