Local Boards and Commissions
Our local governments are constantly making decisions that impact our everyday lives. As a citizen, you have the unique opportunity to help make a difference by participating in local advisory board and commission meetings. Ways to participate include attending committee meetings to hold members accountable, making public comments at meetings to influence decisions, or serving on these local boards and commissions made up of regular citizens just like you. Each board or commission functions differently, but they are all open to the public and, in general, they are designed to receive input from the larger community and advise governmental bodies like city and town councils and county commissions. They help shape our local governments’ policies, priorities and the future of our communities!
A coalition of advocacy nonprofit organizations calling themselves Plugged in Buncombe is encouraging attendance at these meetings in Buncombe County by providing representatives to serve as public guides. If you would like to attend one of these meetings with someone who attends regularly and who can sit with you and answer questions about anything from items on the meeting agenda to explaining terms they use, you can get their contact information here to meet these representatives before the meeting and debrief the meeting with them afterwards.
Resources for many issues
North Carolina Justice Center: This statewide nonprofit is a valuable resource on almost any social justice issue. Going to their website, you will be able to connect to some of the most valuable and up-to-date information relevant to your area of interest. Here is a link to their Budget and Tax Center’s 2020 Economic Snapshots by county. Just hit the link for the county of interest.
The Interfaith Initiative for Social Justice was started in 2017 to promote social justice among faith communities in WNC. A twice a month e-newsletter provides ways for people to learn and take action on a variety of social justice issues. For those interested in subscribing to the e-newsletter, contact Ron Katz.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a “nonpartisan research and policy institute. [They] pursue federal and state policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways. [They] apply [their] deep expertise in budget and tax issues and in programs and policies that help low-income people, in order to help inform debates and achieve better policy outcomes.”
NC211 is a health and human service referral line available 24/7. It is free, confidential and can be accessed by dialing 211 or visiting this link. There are two call centers serving all of North Carolina – one in Asheville, the other in Durham.
5Calls. This website is handy for anyone interested in social justice issues that are coming up in the US House and Senate. The left hand column of the homepage lists various issues, and by clicking on any of the issues listed, it will give you information about the legislation, a sample script and the phone number of your House or Senate member. You can adjust the address and/or zipcode listed to ensure you are connecting to the appropriate legislator.
The North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform is “a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting good-government policies that level the playing field for the citizens of North Carolina”. At this time, their three lead issues are redistricting reform, lobbying and ethics, and an open and fair legislative process.
WNC Nonprofit Pathways supports nonprofit organizations that form the backbone of communities across the mountains of Western North Carolina. Pathways helps organizations become stronger and more sustainable so they can fulfill their missions.
Community Conflict Solutions (CCS) supports several organizations and causes in the community. The Youth Advocacy Mission of CCS is “Advocating for Equity and Accountability in Communities by Supporting Youth and Families.” This time is 100% funded by the business-side of CCS. This is in line with the values of Deep Accountability and is a part of the CCS mission for “Discovering Satisfying Lives through Mutual Understanding.” They partner with agencies that are in line with this mission and, therefore, are honored to support partner agencies at no cost. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in partnering, contact Diana Manee-Buskirk at Diana@communityconflictsolutions.com.
Facing South is an online magazine for the Institute for Southern Studies. They offer research and articles on issues that align with this Guide that particularly affect the South. You can sign up for their weekly e-newsletter on their homepage.
100 Days of Advocacy. This Facebook page states “[t]his group [i]s a place to inspire, share ideas, keep us motivated, and share ..what we are doing in order to advocate for those issues we hold near and dear to our hearts. This is a place to take a stand, help each other keep an eye on the issues and what is going on in our local, state and national government…Just support and a sharing of ideas and information.”
Asheville Community Rights Movement. This Facebook page states, “[t]he Community Rights Movement is dismantling corporate rule, putting people and planets over profits. The current law sees nature as property from which resources should be extracted in pursuit of endless growth and gives corporations the privilege of “personhood” and rights. The Community Bill of Rights is paradigm shifting local level legislation that asserts our rights for local self-governance over those of for-profit corporations.”
Indivisible Asheville WNC has a website that connects people to information, events and groups that are working on social justice issues. You can sign up to get informational emails.
Allies covering several issues
Pisgah Legal Services addresses social justice on many levels. Some of those are listed below by issue, but the website notes individual and some system advocacy efforts around homelessness, health care, disability and senior rights to age in place, child care resources, and protecting those who have been or could be abused.
Get involved: Contact Jodi Ford at email@example.com or call (828) 210-3774.
Carolina Jews for Justice is a statewide organization that has several regional chapters. They are committed “to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina”. The Carolina Jews for Justice/West chapter has focuses in the following area: Voting Rights, Economic justice, Racial Justice and Inclusivity, with the latter religious rights (including anti-semitism and Islamophobia), immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights.
Down Home North Carolina is a statewide organization that has several county-based chapters. They are committed to “building power for poor and working people in rural and small towns”. The chapters of Down Home focus in the following areas: Living Wages, Affordable Housing, the Overdose Crisis, and Healthcare.
Get involved: Contacts are:
- Haywood County & Jackson Counties – Jesse Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Madison County – Darlene at email@example.com; and
- Voter Turnout Work – Chelsea at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jubilee Social Justice Team. This faith community is engaged in many of the issues listed in this online guide, especially the Environment and Racial Justice. The link is their Facebook page which gives all team “members” and others interested the opportunity to review and post items of interest. Any relevant social justice event, action to take or informational item are encouraged.
Get involved: If interested, contact Vinit Allen at email@example.com or call (415) 717-0422.
The North Carolina Council of Churches, founded in 1935, is a statewide, ecumenical organization promoting Christian unity and working towards a more just society. The Council is made up of 18 denominations, inclusive of more than 6,200 congregations. Their current program areas are: Immigrant Rights, NC Interfaith Power and Light, and Partners in Health and Wellness. Their current priority areas are: Christian unity through a racial equity lens, gun violence prevention, opioid crisis, and public education. Based in Raleigh, they have regional offices throughout the state. For several of their initiatives, you will see them represented in their respective issue areas in this Guide.
Get Involved: Contact Lindsay Barth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina (Forward Together) is a statewide, faith-based nonprofit. They organize UU congregations and individuals to do effective, spiritually grounded justice work in relationship and alignment with our community partners. They work on a range of issues including racial, economic, environmental, immigrant, LGBTQ and electoral justice.
Get involved: Contact Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson by phone (401-680-2507) or at email@example.com .