Episode 27, 37 min listen
In this episode we speak with Reverend Kendra Plating and Rabbi Sam Rose from the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network, which is in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. In today's conversation, we will explore what the beginning of this type of journey looks like for a community and keys to their early successes.
If you're interested in more interviews from the Greenville area, check out these recent episodes:
Getting to Better in My Hometown - In this episode we talk with Rev. Stacey Mills, executive director of Greenville's Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission.
Eco-Justice - Justice for Whom? In this episode we talk with conservationist, Rebecca Bolich-Wade, about how we can use eco-justice, environmental justice, and the community commons to build more inclusive and equitable communities.
If you enjoyed this episode, you might also enjoy these previous episodes:
Reverend Kendra Plating
Rev. Kendra G. Plating serves as minister of pastoral care and counseling at First Baptist Church of Greenville, S.C. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Harvard Divinity School and is currently working toward her D.Min at Candler School of Theology. She previously worked as a hospice and hospital chaplain in Boston.
Rabbi Samuel Rose
Rabbi Samuel Rose serves as the rabbi of Temple of Israel in Greenville. Prior to joining the Temple of Israel family, he served as associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, TX. While attending seminary at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, in Cincinnati, OH, he served as student rabbi for Congregation Gates of Prayer in New Iberia, LA, and B’nai Sholom in Quincy, IL, and The Valley Temple in Cincinnati, OH. He spent a summer as a rabbinic intern in the San Francisco Bay Area working with the Bay Area Organizing Committee and the Marin Organizing Committee. He was ordained in 2012.
Ame Sanders 00:35
In our last episode, I talked with More Justice from Columbia, South Carolina. In that discussion, we explored the role of the faith community in helping their town become more just and more equitable. We also learned how the More Justice organization was working to make their community a better place for everyone who lives there and how they were holding their elected officials accountable to support the change that’s needed. While More Justice has been around for some time, it seemed like it could be helpful today to talk with an organization that is just beginning this work.
So selfishly, I picked the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network, which is in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. In today’s conversation, we will explore what the beginning of this type of journey looks like and some keys to their early successes.
So today, we’re happy to welcome Reverend Kendra Plating and Rabbi Sam Rose. Reverend Plating is the Minister of Pastoral Care and Counseling at the First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina. Rabbi Sam Rose is the Rabbi of the Temple of Israel’s Congregational Family, also in Greenville. They are both part of a new initiative, the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network. Thanks so much for joining us today.
So, last episode, I had the opportunity to interview Reverend Jackie Utley, Reverend Diana Deaderick, and Lizzie Van Horn from More Justice in Columbia, South Carolina. I was really excited to find out that we were starting a similar initiative in my own backyard. So, I really wanted to talk to you guys about that. It was clear when I talked to More Justice that they’ve been at this for a while. I think they’re about five years old.
I’m particularly interested in sharing your story, because I think it is interesting for people who are listening who are just thinking about beginning a journey like this. So, I wanted to ask you some questions about how you got started. I also selfishly want to learn more about what’s going on in Greenville. So first, can one of you guys tell us a little bit about the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network and what you hope to accomplish with your work?
Rabbi Sam Rose 02:50
Well, as you mentioned, we’re still a very new organization. I have worked with a number of other community organizing groups in my career and so I’ve seen this kind of work play out. One of the things that I think is interesting about organizing work is the people who are leading often don’t push the agenda. I think our agenda will ultimately be formed by the people in Greenville County and what issues we’re looking to solve.
As far as like personal goals, I would really like to see this organization succeed. There’s nothing like this that exists currently in Greenville County–or anywhere in the upstate for that matter–and the building of relationships between congregations I think will be very important. Kendra and I wrote this op-ed for United Ministries to see Bryan Stevenson together. For me, one of the most important pieces of organizing work is the concept of getting proximate. Bryan Stevenson loved saying that getting proximate, which for me, I interpret as people who are otherwise comfortable get to see their neighbors and to see the struggles and also to use any power that we have to work together to help alleviate issues and work towards justice in the community.
Reverend Kendra Plating 04:12
I think for me, a really important part of this work is pointing toward systemic injustice. I don’t think that that’s something that a lot of religious people have necessarily thought of as something that really exists. I think that we tend to think of our personal actions and how they affect others, which is great. That’s a really important piece of most of our religious traditions. But, I also think there are systems of injustice that are in place that we are a part of, and if we don’t address the systems of injustice, then they’re just allowed to keep existing.
That’s where I think an organization like this is really important to pointing toward what systems are in place that keep oppressing people that if we’re just individual congregations working, we’re not powerful enough on our own to see any kind of change come from what we do. But if we’re a religious community of Greenville working together, that’s a totally different thing.
-How We Got Started
Ame Sanders 05:10
I love a good origin story. So, maybe you guys can tell me how you got started in this. How did you decide to do this?
Rabbi Sam Rose 05:12
I can share where I entered the story. So, in February of 2021, right as we were starting to feel better about the state of the world before all of the variants started emerging of COVID, there was a there’s an organization in town called Village Engage. Susan Stall was running a program called Faith in Action, which was an educational series geared towards learning about justice issues in Greenville. I believe the session that I attended was about racial justice. I felt very moved during the session. It was a Zoom session. It was the first time being in Greenville where I felt like there was an organization working towards pursuing justice. I wanted to know what next steps they had thought about to actually move past the education and working towards policy or with people who could be held accountable towards making change.
So, we met in March. Susan, I guess at that point, had already met with Jim Hennigan, who is an attorney and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church and had heard of CAJM (Charleston Area Justice Ministry). He had gone to their Nehemiah Action and seen what they were able to accomplish. That for me started this chain reaction. I mean, it took us about six months after that before we really started hitting the ground. We brought in CAJM’s organizer, Treva Williams, who has been leading us to this point. To give you an idea, Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network is a placeholder name. Most of these justice organizations, especially in the DART network, have fun, catchy, or at least catchier names, because Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network does not roll off the tongue. So, we’ve used it as a placeholder name. We got our 501(c)(3) official filing only a couple of months ago. In fact, we learned that we were accepted while a group of us were at the DART clergy conference in February.
So, we’re still very new at this, at least from an organizational perspective. That’s how I jumped how I jumped in. It was at that first meeting with Susan Stall. I had worked with the Industrial Areas Foundation in Texas and I was a part of Austin Interfaith, and I worked with a few other organizations in the Industrial Area Foundation organization, but I didn’t know DART existed until until that meeting. I felt really good about trying to join and figure out the process.
Reverend Kendra Plating 08:15
First Baptist Greenville was pulled into this network by Jim Hennigan, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. A really important piece of this origin story is talking about the generosity of the Charleston chapter, which Sam has already talked about. The people in Charleston already doing this work really felt like they were doing such good work that they wanted to share their good work with the upstate of South Carolina. They are truly the reason that we have a Greenville chapter going now. They’ve shared their resources, they’ve shared their knowledge, they’ve shared what they’ve learned. So it’s a real story of generosity from Charleston to Greenville.
Ame Sanders 08:55
That’s excellent, because it’s great to see how it’s growing across the state.
Rabbi Sam Rose 08:59
Yeah. In my work in Texas, once we were able to actually have a number of networks scattered around the state, we were actually able to start, as I was leaving Texas, we were able to start doing statewide organizing. I unfortunately didn’t really get to see any of the fruit of that labor, but I saw the potential for building power beyond local communities when you’re able to unite organizing groups from around the state. So, that’s kind of cool. I also want to say that First Baptist hosted our first public meeting. We did a text study and with the executive director of DART coming to First Baptist and it was a good evening. So, First Baptist hosted one of our first big events. We had I think, Zoom and in person about 400 people.
Ame Sanders 09:50
That’s a big group. That’s already a good showing.
Reverend Kendra Plating 09:54
Yes. Good energy in that room for sure.
Ame Sanders 09:55
Excellent. So you talked about the generosity of Charleston and their partnership with you guys. What have been some of the most challenging things that you faced and maybe some of the most fulfilling parts?
Reverend Kendra Plating 10:08
I haven’t seen any challenges yet. Sam has more insight that I do because Sam serves on the Executive Committee.
Rabbi Sam Rose
I’m the secretary. That’s what experience gets you. I get to take all the notes.
Reverend Kendra Plating
Sam has a little more in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the organization. I’ve seen all the positive and none of the negative.
-Building and Maintaining Momentum
Rabbi Sam Rose
I don’t know that any of the challenges that we’ve had have been negative in particular. I think the biggest challenge that we have is maintaining momentum in an organization where people have no idea what we’re doing. When I say that, I mean the broader community.
I think the people who are on the Executive Committee and the leaders of the churches and other organizations who are a part of the organization are really committed to this process. Convincing people to buy into a process that really won’t see fruit for at least another year is probably the biggest hurdle that we have to hop over.
We have been fortunate in that we were able to do the right kind of fundraising through grants and to have a functioning budget and to actually be able to lay the groundwork for hiring an organizer. Actually, we’re in the we are in the process of hiring a lead organizer and an associate organizer. In terms of organizational challenges, we haven’t had so many, but keeping momentum and being able to convince people to join a process that will take a long time is a challenge for most people today because we want instant gratification and that sort of thing.
Reverend Kendra Plating 11:51
But, I would say there’s such an energy around this organization. At every meeting there are new people still showing up at every meeting we have. There are new congregations showing up to every meeting. And I think people are really hungry for this kind of justice work to happen in Greenville. And I think the people in the room have been really surprised by the other people who have showed up in the room and want to join in justice work. That’s the kind of positive energy that I’ve been seeing–that people are just amazed by who’s showing up and wanting to be involved in this work and people have been really energized by that.
Rabbi Sam Rose 12:24
There has been a small amount of skepticism, but I think with any organization like this, you have some people who have come in skeptical (especially people who are the people who ultimately this organization’s goal is to work to solve some of the problems that are affecting them).
I’ve had a couple of conversations with people who have said, “You know, I’ve seen another number of organizations who say they’re going to address such and such issue, but what makes you think you’re going to be any different?” We’re not going be able to answer that question, obviously, until we actually succeed at something, but convincing them that this process is tried and true and has worked in other places and we are officially the 29th DART organization. It’s working in places around the country and in two other cities in South Carolina. That’s a good track record.
-Organizing Across Different Faith Traditions
Ame Sanders 13:16
So, you talk about your positive energy and about your relationship with Charleston. So clearly, you’re not in this by yourself. Talk about the partners that you’ve been able to bring around the table. So, who is joining you in this work? How is that going and what kind of partners you’re finding to join you in this work?
Reverend Kendra Plating 13:33
There have been about 30 congregations represented in the meetings. This is across different faith traditions, different religious traditions. So we’ve had representation from the Jewish community–Sam’s here representing that–from Christians of all stripes, all different colors, all different theological leanings. The Christian spectrum is wide. We’ve had the HIGH community has been represented. The Muslim community in Greenville has been represented.
Rabbi Sam Rose 14:05
We even have a credit union who has attended some of our meetings. It’s not just religious organizations who have come to our meetings and showed enthusiasm. There have been some other organizations, and that’s been the case in a couple of other organizations I’ve worked with.
In Austin, at various points in time in my work, we had non-religious nonprofits working with our group. When I worked in San Francisco, we had a couple of retirement communities who were actually a part of the work that we were doing there.
The platform of the organization is for it to be congregational and there are some ideological reasons behind that because you have built in person power with the communities that are already in place. So, in the in the meeting minutes that I took in January, I just looked back again, before our meeting, we had 15 congregations who were already financially committing and as Kendra just said, we have had at least 30. At least for the event that we had at First Baptist, we had I think 30 congregations, but 43 overall organizations was the number.
Reverend Kendra Plating 15:17
Yeah, that’s a lot of people.
-Tapping Into a Hunger for This Work
So in a short period of time, you guys have engaged a broad base of the faith-based community in Greenville and brought them to the table.
Reverend Kendra Plating
That’s right. I think it shows there was a hunger in Greenville for this work to happen. So, I’m glad that we have an organization actually making it happen.
I would say not just a hunger, but an acceptance that the faith-based organization plays a role in this. That’s a question I wanted to ask you guys about. So, why does this come out of a faith-based community? Why is this the way to tackle this?
Reverend Kendra Plating 15:41
I think in Greenville, South Carolina, specifically, a lot of what happens in the community comes from what happens in the faith community, for good and for bad. A lot of the decisions that are made on the local level come from what the religious community is saying. So, I think that we’re working from that knowledge. We’re working out of the knowledge that the faith community in Greenville has a really strong voice in what actually happens. We could both go deep into our faith traditions and give you why from a Christian perspective and a Jewish perspective, why we’re called to do this work. Because, that’s the foundation of it for me. I feel like justice work is something I’m called to do as a Christian.
-Beyond Charity, Addressing Systemic Issues
Rabbi Sam Rose 16:40
For me, there’s two things. I kind of alluded to before. There’s a little bit of a practical element to it, right? We have congregations. I have 175 families who are already in place who are already doing what I know in the organizing World is often called mercy work. But for us, it’s tzedakah. It’s like charity. It’s giving to people who are in need and it solves a temporary problem temporarily. So, we have people investing energy because of the immediate needs that they see.
Organizing teaches through religious teachings, that there is a way of addressing the systemic issues that Kendra talked about before, from a systemic perspective. There’s not a way that we’re going to solve homelessness, for example, but we can address issues that would lead to an individual becoming unhoused and work within our community and inspired by texts and traditions, to affect policy changes locally, that would help to alleviate the issue or to alleviate the greater problem of homelessness, whether that’s through addressing affordable housing issues or mental health things in Greenville County. There are lots of avenues that we can use to address those issues that working together as a community we can do. Keeping ourselves grounded in the work that we do with tradition is helpful.
-Building from the DART Model
Ame Sanders 18:05
Rabbi Rose, you said that you had not decided the areas of focus yet and that you imagined that the community would make those decisions. Tell us a little bit about the process you intend to go through to identify and coalesce around those issues.
Rabbi Sam Rose 18:21
Sure, so the cycle of organizing is a little bit different in every organization. Generally speaking, DART has a process that begins with one-on-one meetings, where either the lead organizer (who is still yet to be determined) will begin meeting with leaders in the community. Then, the leaders of the various congregations will meet will try and find the leaders within their own congregations. Then, those leaders will identify people to have one-to-one meetings with to build relationships. In those relational meetings, things will come up.
One of the one of the key questions that organizers, at least in my training, like to ask is, “What’s keeping you up at night?” From that question you can get a variety of answers. Especially from people who are suffering from any form of injustice, those things come out in those meetings. It’s part of the responsibility of the people who are working in those organizing leadership positions to keep a record of that and to bring those to what are ultimately called House Meetings, where you have groups of people (usually 10-20 people) coming together to share their stories on a broader platform. You can, from those House Meetings, really start to solidify some core issues that can be addressed.
Within DART, after you have a few issues that that come to the surface from these House Meetings, you have a process of researching and figuring out who are the people who can be held accountable for making these kinds of changes to better the situation of whatever the issue is.
Then and then you create the Nehemiah Action Plan based on the research which usually takes a few months at least and to hold either public officials or leaders within organizations–it doesn’t have to be specifically political win–it could be addressing something that an organization can make a big change with. Or, if it’s a housing issue, you could be working with developers or contractors directly. Our goal is to win and make things better, it’s not it’s not necessarily to engage in politics.
Reverend Kendra Plating 20:43
Yeah, there were really three things that stood out as I was learning about DART’s process for organization and why I really thought that the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network really had good footing coming out of DART. That was the House Meetings, which Sam has already talked about. The fact that you are having meetings in your home, where you’re inviting neighbors, you’re inviting people that you may not hear their voice necessarily in everyday life. So hopefully, you’re having conversations about what is really affecting your neighbors, the people around you. I’m using neighbor as a very broad term.
Then the research portion, so looking at best practices across the country or across the world. So, what have other places done to address the issues that we have here in Greenville, because none of our problems are original. None of our problems are unique. These problems are being addressed, and good work is happening across the world and across the country. So, look at best practices.
And then the Nehemiah Action, which is really where you put pressure in the form of numbers, to show whoever’s making the decisions, whoever holds the power, that there are a lot of people who care about this issue. Those were the three things that really stood out: the House Meetings, the research, and the Nehemiah Action, that really just told me that the process that DART has in place is a really attractive process to me.
-Keeping It Inclusive
Ame Sanders 22:07
So how do you guys make sure that your process is inclusive? Obviously you have already expressed that you have a broad range of faith-based traditions involved. So, let’s leave that aside for the moment and say you’re already working on that really hard. What about some of the other dimensions of diversity and inclusion that you want to address? How do you make sure that your work is itself inclusive?
Rabbi Sam Rose 22:33
That’s a great question. There’s a little bit about organizing that’s self-selective. Within congregations, leadership has to know their people. I think that’s why the having the one-on-one meetings is really important. In an ideal situation, you would reach out to as many people in your congregation as you can and try to initiate these one-to-one meetings, before even having a house meeting to kind of reach the broadest scope that we have available to us.
At least my experience of organizing issues, when I was organizing in Marin County, which is a very wealthy county and the congregations who by and large, were a part of the Marin organizing committee were fairly well off. But, there were a couple that were not. One of our main projects was trying to solve a shelter issue for people who are homeless. The county commission in Marin didn’t believe that there were enough homeless people to warrant having a permanent shelter, which is kind of crazy and almost willfully blind that they didn’t know that that existed within their community. But, it was also a challenge to convince people in congregations in certain instances that it was an issue. One of the really important principles of organizing is to let people tell their stories.
So, in all of the actions that I have participated in, no one has ever shared a story on behalf of somebody else. The person who has the story to tell is given power in that moment by being allowed to share their story in an organized way to hold someone accountable for helping resolve the issue. You have to hear their story first. Even if you were going to share someone’s story, you can’t do it unless you hear it. So, I think that starts at the top. In this case, you have to know your people.
Ame Sanders 24:29
Kendra, did you have anything that you wanted to add to that?
Reverend Kendra Plating
No. I love what Sam has said about the power of stories and the power of listening. Also, self-awareness to know the people that we’re not in touch with and to make an effort to be in touch with people that we’re not in touch with. That’s kind of the root of our all good work comes from–being in touch with people who don’t share your same story.
Do you have any specific plans to engage the youth in the community here within Greenville and bring them into this work?
Rabbi Sam Rose 25:02
A group of six people from Greenville went to the DART clergy conference in Orlando and we had a moment to kind of caucus with our group. That was one of the questions that came up. Almost exactly what you just said, we were finding that it’s an older group of people who are the initial people who are expressing interest and how do we engage youth in the process?
One of the things when I was working in San Francisco, was to write a curriculum for teaching teenagers community organizing. Once they figured out what we were doing and realized that they actually had a voice in the process–young people, I think are put off by things like this, because they don’t see where their voice is going to be heard. That’s one of the beautiful pieces of community organizing–if it works the way it’s supposed to, everyone has a say and the goal is to get to know each other and to really listen to each other stories in order to build community, which then has power to make a difference. I use the word spray self-selection before.
If young people see that that’s a possibility, I feel like they’re more likely to know what’s going on. But, they have to take the first step themselves too. If we invite somebody to come for a meeting, there has to be a willingness to say, “I’m going to show up.” That’s important to express our upfront. If you have this meeting we’re not just paying lip service to the idea that you’re going to be able to say your piece and feel included. You have to take ownership. That’s the only way this works.
Reverend Kendra Plating 25:22
We have a few youth in our youth group here at First Baptist who are really interested in justice work. One of the things that we’ve been doing internally to educate our people is having Just Faith groups, which is a curriculum. It’s actually a national organization that puts out curriculum that takes on different social justice issues. We’ve had a few youth who have stepped forward and said, “Hey, we’d like to participate in Just Faith. We’d like to educate ourselves on what’s happening.” Some of those same youth have showed up to the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network meetings.
So, I think there is interest in the youth in justice work. They see how these issues will be affecting their lives going forward and they want to be involved in doing what’s best for their community. But, exactly what Sam is saying, they also want to be involved in a way where their voice is going to be respected and listened to.
As far as the work of the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network, we need to be saying that. Youth are welcome in these meetings. We want to hear what you have to say. What are you seeing happening in your school? What do you think happened in your community? Asking the youth these questions.
Rabbi Sam Rose 28:04
At the clergy conference, one of the areas that was focused on by a number of organizations across the country was discipline in schools, specifically how that relates to the school-to-prison pipeline. The only way that we’re going to be able to tell those stories is if we’re engaging young people are experiencing them. That’s going to make us way more effective than if we just go in with our own assumptions, which doesn’t work. So, that has been a major issue for a number of organizations and has been the focus of their Nehemiah Actions. I think we heard from at least three organizations who that was their major thing for this past year.
Ame Sanders 28:54
Representation and giving youth a voice is an important part of it. I would say it doesn’t stop there, though. So, I would encourage you guys to think about ways to share power with youth, and even youth staff potentially, as a possible path to engage a broader base of the community. It’s something that is not automatic, always. So, I think it requires some consciously making room and being willing to share power.
Rabbi Sam Rose 29:23
Without saying who the person is, because I have no idea whether they’ve accepted the contract we’ve offered them, but the person who we have offered the lead organizing position to is young. He is two or three years removed from undergrad. That was also one of the questions I asked him when I met with him in our one-to-one meeting is how comfortable he feels bringing in younger people. He’s not the peer of high school students anymore, but he’s not far removed either.
Ame Sanders 29:59
So, for the folks that are listening here and are thinking about their community and how they could see something like this take root and blossom in their community, what would you tell them? What advice would you give them?
-The Importance of Persistence
Reverend Kendra Plating 30:14
What comes to mind for me is the importance of being persistent in justice work. That’s what a network like DART like the Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network does–bring a network of persistence. The issues aren’t going to go away unless we keep bringing them up. Unless we keep speaking to the people who are making the decisions. Unless we keep listening and keep hearing people’s stories, nothing’s gonna get better.
There’s a story, I think it’s in Luke, but Jesus tells a parable about a widow who keeps coming before a judge and is asking for justice in her case. And it says, the judge was not a righteous man, but because of her persistence he gave in. Because she kept coming back before him and asking for justice in her case, he gave in. He didn’t want to be bothered anymore, basically.
So, I think persistence is the key. Finding a way that the load is not carried by one person, or one group, or small group of nonprofits, whatever it is. It’s sharing the load so that persistence can remain, even when people change, because people are going to have things come up in their life. Leaders in this community are going to have things that come up in their life, with their health, with their family, a job change, a city change, but to have a network of people in which persistence is built in is key to making change.
Rabbi Sam Rose 31:52
I actually know the story you said. I know it actually because I taught a Jewish perspective of the story. One of the most awesome things about this conference in Orlando was we got to hear people preach, and one of the sermons was on that story. So, there you go.
So, for me, what I would tell people who are interested in engaging in this work is to set aside some of your preconceptions about what success looks like. In the world that we live in, which is very politically polarized, we have talking point conceptions of what success looks like in trying to achieve an ultimate goal. One of my favorite principles, in at least my organizing training, is that there are no permanent political friends or enemies. When you engage in this kind of work, where accountability is the primary concern for people who have the ability to make functional and systemic change, to make things in a community better, then your options for what success can look like can be drastically different from any of the political talking points that you hear.
Some of the biggest challenges that I have seen in working with four different justice organizations in my career, have almost entirely been around resistance to breaking from preconceived political notions of what success in this work looks like. So, don’t just think that because there’s an affordable housing issue in an area that you need to automatically run the developers out of town. See the developers as potential allies, and you can potentially solve a big chunk of your problem. Instead of seeing a political figure as being an obstacle to success, figure out what their personal motive might be for helping to solve the problem would look like and be willing to listen to their potential solution and even if it’s not exactly what you were looking for upfront, you’re still in the process of making things better.
In the Mishnah, which is an ancient collection of rabbinic laws, there is a saying from Rabbi Tarfon, who said, “It is not our obligation to complete the work, but we are not free to stop doing the work.” So, it’s always our responsibility to strive to make the work better, or to make the world better through the work that we do. The likelihood that we ever see something to its most just conclusion is almost none. But, we can always work to make things better. From a Jewish perspective, it’s one of our primary obligations to continue to do doing the work even if we don’t see the solution that we want to see.
Ame Sanders 35:01
That is probably a great note to close on, because I think that is a good summary of the work that is in front of you guys, and that we are all doing here. So, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me today and for sharing about this new organization that’s getting started. I’m very excited about it. And I wish you both and your team the best of luck.
In these last two episodes, there have been so many takeaways for me. We’ve heard how powerful the faith community can be in pushing for change and building a more equitable and just community. Both of the teams we spoke with use the DART methods, and the DART organization and their methods are designed specifically to mobilize the faith community. Using a tried and true approach with demonstrated success in other communities has been a big advantage starting out and when you’re selling the concept. Also approaching this work with a defined process that rests on the strength of a network of churches and faith congregations allows you to tap into the existing structure, numbers, the power, and the already natural influence of the faith community. It also allows you to build in a way that is sustainable over time, and allows you to maintain and grow momentum and involvement.
While each community use the methods of DART in a very similar way, it allowed them to focus on their own community’s specific and unique needs.
As I listened to Rabbi Rose speak, I was also struck by how helpful it can be to have someone on your team who has previous local organizing experience. Also in the discussion today, we heard just how important the generosity of the Charleston chapter was to the success of the work in Greenville. We heard them tell us that finding a sister community and an organization to work alongside and mentor them was really key to some of their early successes.
In both episodes, we talk about creating tension and pressure for change, but without resorting to bullying. This can be a fine line, but a critical part of making change a reality. This aspect of the work reminds me of the quote from John Lewis: “Never be afraid to make some noise. Get into trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Guests: Rev. Kendra Plating and Rabbi Samuel Rose
Host: Ame Sanders
Social Media and Marketing Coordinator: Kayla Nelson
Podcast Coordinator: Emma Winiski
Sound: FAROUT Media