To the community of Putney, our Town, State and Federal elected officials and other Towns taking up the  work of understanding systemic racism. 

Black Lives Matter Putney

In Jan 2016, the Putney Friends Meeting (Quakers) agreed to hang a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the  Meetinghouse. We also agreed that we wanted to  become a body that is actively involved to make our  Quaker Meeting and our community as a whole, active  participants in the change that needs to happen to  become more anti-racist.  

Part of that understanding is that white people in our  congregation and community need to learn the history  and impact of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, continuing  disparites in opportunities for housing and education  and mass incarceration of african americans, as a result  of white american denial and indifference. We need to understand  how the resultant white privilege is not simply a matter  of individual acts of blatant violence, but in fact the truth  that unwittingly all white people have inherited systemic  racism. It shows up for all white people, and it is our  responsibility to work on intimate understanding of how  that system of racism plays out all the time in our  interactions with people of color. 

On September 2, Steffen Gillom, President of the  Windham County NAACP, attended a Select Board  meeting in Putney. That meeting, like all public meetings, was recorded and broadcast by Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV). Watching this meeting is a  great example of a person of color speaking up about  systemic racist activity that he had experienced. It took great  courage for him to address a room of white people  about behavior that white people find difficult to acknowledge,  because of the enormous discomfort it provokes in themselves.  

The outcomes of that meeting for Putney were  profound. White participants were able to:

  • Admit their own  moments of unintended racism.
  • Invite one  another into conversation and study about systemic  racism, at a time when talking openly about race is still  almost impossible for white people to do.
  • Challenge one another to step up our game, to examine  closely how people of color are treated in our Town, and  how to begin to recognize how micro-agressions are  currently and actively experienced here.

We see it as  helpful and educational as white people, to invite feedback  from people of color to point out racist comments, acts  etc, such as Steffen gave us all at our Select Board  meeting.  

Members of Putney Friends Meeting continue to be  troubled by, and wrestle with, white supremacy. Our  congregation has undertaken reading racial healing 

material (anti-racism) material, sharing with other  Friends Meetings taking up this work, and participating  in local groups working for justice and addressing  systemic racism. 

Putney Friends Meeting will do the following:

  • We will join in the community with continual work on  systemic racism by supporting conversations and action  that do just that.
  •  We will participate in Town wide book groups.
  •  We will support the Equity and Inclusion Committee.
  • We encourage the Select Board to take up active anti racism training as a model of getting educated about  how systemic racism works in Vermont.
  • We will encourage our membership to join the  September 27 Black Lives Matter street painting in Putney. 

We appreciate that mistakes are essential to learning,  and the real question is how we are creating a trusting  enough Town, where honest feedback from people of  color can be heard, believed and responded to by our  largely white community. This is for all of us.

Thursday, Aug 6 and Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 mark the 75 year anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan . Hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives as a result of these bombings, which were not necessary to end World War ll because the Japanese government was attempting to surrender. However, the U.S. went ahead anyway with the bombings to gain an advantage over the Soviet Union in the newly emerging Cold War.

There will be a vigil on both days at the Wells Fountain (adjacent to the library) in Brattleboro, Vermont – to call attention to these atrocities. All are welcome to attend. Please bring your own sign if possible. We will be wearing masks and social distancing. Vigil times are:

Thursday, Aug 6 and Sunday, Aug 9 from 4:30-6:30pm

We as members of Putney Friends Meeting (Quakers) share the

goals of many others for social justice. We affirm any work that

addresses equity and inclusion for refugees, asylum seekers,

immigrants, people of color, and other marginalized groups.

 

Our faith community extends a welcome to all those who embark on a

dangerous journey to come to this country to escape violence and

dire poverty, to make a better life for themselves and their families.

 

Likewise, we offer that same welcome to those who come to our

town’s border with the desire to lead dignified, productive lives.

We also call on other individuals, groups, and faith communities to

stand with us in making similar public statements of support.

Dear Putney Friends Meeting,

Earlier today, Governor Phil Scott signed into law a trio of bills that will help keep Vermont safer. We are very grateful to the Governor and to the legislative leaders who recognized the risk that gun violence poses to Vermont and championed these bills.

 

(photo courtesy of Greg Moschetti)

 

We are also grateful to you and all of our supporters who have shown up time and again over the past five years, marching, petitioning, donating, testifying, and emailing and calling lawmakers again and again. Some of you have done this work and told your stories while reliving your own traumatic histories, and yet you persisted because you understood the cost of staying silent.

Every phone call, every trip to Montpelier, every difficult conversation, and every testimony paid off today.

Thanks to you, Vermont is now a state where…

  • background checks are required for most private gun sales
  • gun buyers must be 21 years old (with some exceptions)
  • bump stocks are banned
  • large-capacity magazines are prohibited
  • law enforcement can temporarily remove guns from the scene of a domestic assault to keep victims safer
  • courts can issue an order to help protect people deemed to be at extreme risk of harming themselves or others by temporarily restricting access to guns

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the conversation began to change when young people organized and demanded to be heard. Today, their voices and the voices of survivors are taking center stage, as they should, and they are changing this movement. We are privileged to work alongside them and we are grateful for the energy and hopefulness that they bring.

While it is true that the passing of these laws came as a result of passion and dedication, it also has come at the unthinkable cost of far too many lives. I have often said that I wish I could stop doing this work, but I simply can’t as long as so many people are still dying from gun violence and so many more are living as survivors.

I hope, after taking a moment to breathe and appreciate the enormity of what has happened, that you will commit to moving forward with us.

Your donation today will affirm that you will not stop fighting the epidemic of gun violence. We all still have a part to play, here in Vermont and nationally.

Please make a gift to GunSense Vermont so that we can continue to advocate for gun violence prevention stand by those politicians who fought to pass the bills that were signed today.

Thank you for all that you have done to get us here, and thank you for committing to a more compassionate and peaceful future.

Gratefully,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

p.s. — As Governor Scott noted in his remarks today, “Knowing that there will always be more work to do, today we chose to try.” We hope that you’ll stand with us as we keep trying–and succeeding–in this difficult and necessary work.
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

Dear Friends —

Rep. Peter Welch will be holding a Town Hall meeting specifically on gun violence prevention TOMORROW in Brattleboro. We are glad that he is helping to further the conversation around gun violence prevention, and we hope that you can attend.

Details:

Town Hall For Our Lives
Sat, Apr 7 2018 at 10:00 AM
River Garden, 157 Main St., Brattleboro

For more information on the Town Hall Project, visit their website.

Hoping to see you there,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director, GunSense VT

 

GunSenseVT
Putney Friends Meeting —

We know we’ve been asking a lot from our supporters these past few weeks. Getting these gun violence prevention bills passed is no mean feat, and we’ve all been doing some heavy lifting.

  • We believe that the final vote on S.55 (background checks) will start TOMORROW, 3/30, at 11:30.

  • We must be there, letting our Senators know that we support their YES vote!

Can you come to the Senate chamber starting at 9:30? Bring a book. Bring a friend. Once you have a seat, take turns spelling each other and enjoy some coffee in the cafeteria.

PLEASE RSVP HERE.

We are so close to passing this bill. We must draw on one another’s energy for this final push.

Thank you for being there,
Clai

http://www.gunsensevt.org/

Dear Putney Friends Meeting — GunsenseVT

Thank you for all that you’ve done in support of gun violence prevention, and particularly in support of S.55 (background checks).

The bill is on its way, but we are not there yet.

Sen. Jeanette White is showing some resistance to the changes approved by the House yesterday. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she has a lot of influence over what happens with this bill.

Please contact Sen. White today and ask her to approve the changes to S.55 and vote YES.

jwhite@leg.state.vt.us

(802) 387-4379

Or call the State House and leave a message for her at 802-828-2228.

 

With great thanks for your support,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director