By Krista Cleary
Over here in River Falls, WI, I feel like a lone outpost of the Jonah affiliate, one the western edge of the state. Jonah folks have always included and welcomed me, and for that I am grateful.
I’ve missed the in-person gatherings and events with JONAH and WISDOM and EXPO over the past year since the pandemic started, but am happy to have been able to stay connected through the magic of online communication. Additionally, these online meetings have introduced me to the greater Gamaliel network, and to folks all over the country who are deeply committed to doing the work of faith and justice.
The first time I attended Wisdom’s Madison Action Day was two years ago, and I love the solidarity of people from all walks of life, faiths, races, ethnicities and ages coming together to advocate for their shared values in the state budget.
It’s good to have been able to participate again this year, though due to the current pandemic, the Madison Action Day was conducted online.
Our virtual presence did not prevent us from feeling collective solidarity and connection with one another.
The morning started with a plenary session with visionary faith leaders from around the state. Graciously hosted by Joy Cardin, retired WPR radio host, we smoothly navigated all the little hiccups that come with a virtual online space.
We opened with interfaith prayers and a beautiful land acknowledgement, and recognition of the Menominee people who stewarded this land we now call the state of Wisconsin. Recognition of the people who came before us in this work, and toward the people who will come after us was heartfully shared by a number of presenters.
A series of recorded videos provided a look back at all the work that was done during this pandemic, because actions for justice cannot rest. Wisdom affiliates, EXPO, interfaith leaders, and Wisdom members all found a way to rise to the challenges presented over this past year, despite pandemic restrictions. The work continues.
The afternoon consisted of meetings (via Zoom) with our legislators’ offices, and we advocated for specific items in the Wisconsin Biennial Budget that reflect our values as people of faith and a community of people focused on radical inclusion and living for the 7th generation.
Our sharing was different this year, but still edifying and renewing. It is an honor to connect with others, be it in person or online, who have a focus on advocacy and justice, and with the goal of creating a world that is radically inclusive and just for our future generations.