Restructuring MORE Membership

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Roslyn Brown, Pine Lawn, talks to guests at about how MORE has supported her leadership growth.

 

Last Thursday's New Year, New Power Membership Party was a hit. Food, friends, and campaign 1-pagers filled the room at Visitation Church on North Taylor Ave between MLK Drive and Page Blvd. For St. Louis residents interested in becoming members, it was an opportunity to get a sense for what MORE campaigns are in the works. Four tables, one for each campaign (Solidarity Economy, Fed Up, Climate Justice, and DecarcerateSTL) under our overarching Power Behind The Police framework, were set up with flyers, zines and other informational materials so that members could browse around. One guest who had been active in the Solidarity Economy noted his appreciation for the campaign tables, mentioning he hadn’t yet branched out of Solidarity Economy work and appreciated the opportunity to do so. Another guest picked up flyers to pass onto their roommate. It was a warm welcome to see familiar faces and catch up with members.

 

Starting off the program, Nabeehah introduced staff and board members to the crowd. Both Stanley McCoy and Roslyn Brown talked about what MORE membership has meant to them. Roslyn whose active in Pine Lawn organizing noted, ”MORE is not looking to gather followers. We are building up leaders, so that together we can continue to organize our communities.”

 

Next, Nabeehah presented each of them with their MORE membership cards. She explained that MEMBERSHIP CARDS, which we are rolling out in 2016 as an offering of appreciation towards our member base, are one of the new aspects of our membership program. (If you are already a member and would like your membership card mailed to you, please contact us. We are happy send it your way.)

 

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Internships with MORE

Interested in interning with MORE?

 

Our internships allow for the development of organizing skills through our three-pronged Power Behind the Police model of research, organizing, and action. Check out overviews of MORE’s work at the intersection of economic, climate, and racial justice HERE.

PROGRAM DETAILS:

  • Spend 2-4 months organizing to fight for local economic, climate and racial justice in St. Louis

  • Partner with a member of our staff to build fundamental organizing skills

  • Connect with other organizers and residents from across the city and within national networks

  • Develop and lead personal projects

  • Participate in MORE’s Training Academy should timing overlap

  • Flexible scheduling to accommodate classes and/or outside work
  • Enjoy MORE member perks including access to the Cowry Collective Timebank

 

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Art Build for #UnveilTheProfit Power Behind the Police Messaging Meeting  Decarcerate Action at Enterprise Holdings

 

 

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Arch Coal Files for Bankruptcy, Foreshaddows Shirk of Mine Worker Pensions and Healthcare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           

January 11, 2016

Contact: Caitlin Lee, (713) 504-6866, caitlin@organizemo.org

Arch Coal Files for Bankruptcy, Foreshadows Shirk of Mine Worker Pensions and Healthcare

St. Louis Residents call for Just Transition to Solidarity Economy

 

ST. LOUIS -- Following the bankruptcies of 6 other coal companies in 2015, Arch Coal, headquartered in St. Louis County, filed for bankruptcy today.

 

Arch Coal’s bankruptcy is further evidence that St. Louis needs a Just Transition away from unsustainable energy corporations and towards a local solidarity economy. Will Mayor Slay continue to lend his office to this sinking industry? Commitment to a Just Transition strategy for the city is necessary and long overdue.

 

Patriot Coal is example of what is to come for Arch workers. In the mid 2000s Arch and Peabody Energy created Patriot when they pulled out of Appalachia. In 2012 Patriot went bankrupt (arguably by design) and the company shed its responsibility to worker pension and healthcare. United Mine Workers of America represented workers in court, led an aggressive public relations campaign against Arch and Peabody, and practiced direct actions, eventually settling for a fraction of Arch’s original obligation.

 

Because Arch does not operate any union mines, Arch miners will not have representation in bankruptcy court. While hedge funds and CEOs will be paid, Arch mine worker pensions and healthcare will most likely be one of the first obligations to be dropped. With miners suffering from mining related illness and no health care, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) members ask, “How can Arch Coal CEO John Eaves sleep well at night?”

 

MORE demands a Just Transition towards a solidarity economy for the region that both creates green jobs, particularly in low income neighborhoods, and ensures important benefits and green job training for coal industry workers. The strategy would encourage investment in the opening of city-held land for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives.

 

One of St. Louis’s other three coal companies Peabody Energy, the largest private coal extraction company in the world, is also expected to file for bankruptcy later this year. St. Louis City has financially supported coal companies--especially Peabody. In 2010 the city granted Peabody Energy a $61 million dollar tax break, diverting funds away from the public school system. This summer Peabody laid off around 250 employees from their St. Louis corporate office. Will St. Louis residents be refunded for this investment in Peabody’s corporate office? Could Peabody Plaza be turned over to the city for a Just Transition implementation office?

 

The boom and bust cycle of coal is on its last bust, and we need to account for the wreckage that will be left behind -- the mine workers left in the dust without pensions and healthcare, the extraction zones in need of true reclamation, and the local economies, including St. Louis’s. We need a Just Transition that accounts for the responsibilities that corporations like Arch Coal and Peabody Energy run away from during bankruptcies.

 

"These coal corporations regularly disregard the health, homes and livelihoods of average people and continue to build their empires by profiting from this oppression. The violent apathy of Mayor Slay and other elected officials to the very real struggles for survival in the face of coal is embarrassing and shameful. St. Louis has the opportunity to be a leader in Just Transition strategies; it is deeply troubling that they do not see this as imperative," said St. Louis resident Basmin Nadra.

 

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is a St. Louis based economic, climate, and racial justice organizing group made up of low and moderate income residents. As bankruptcy proceedings begin MORE will continue to fight the corporate coal economy in St. Louis to create a just and sustainable city.

 

(MORE members available for comment.)

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Demand Just Transition action from Mayor Slay. Sign the petition here.

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Thank You, for all of your work in 2015!

 

Thank you for an awesome year and all of your dedication to us folks at Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE). MORE seeks to be a powerful organization of low and moderate-income people building power in our communities. In the year 2015 we have continued to build power in our communities and it is all thanks to YOU!! MORE is a grassroots organization and our work is supported by our members. Our members decide the direction of our work and next steps for our campaigns. Through a minimum contribution of $10 a month members make it possible to for us to to transcend divisions of class, age and race as we envision and build the more just sustainable world in which we would like to live.

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MORE believes Missouri is positioned at a unique intersection of economic, climate, and racial injustice. We hope that you will continue to fight back against those injustices with us in 2016 just as much, if not more, than you have in 2015. This past year of successes would not have been possible without you. Successes like Unveiling the Profit, the 1% of St. Louis, through a full week of direct action; and completing our first organizer training program that successfully graduated seven organizers who will further our goal of building power in our community.

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We believe that as corporate power continues its unabated expansion and the gaps between the rich and the poor widens, there has never been a better time for our low income communities to come together and fight back. There is no better time to help us build power than now! This is the season of giving and sharing. It is also the season of reflection and growth.  As you spend time with your families this holiday season and reflect as you bring in the new year, we hope that you will keep MORE in your thoughts or your prayers. Please help us grow as we head towards a new year by making a one-time contribution below.

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Want to make us even more powerful?? You can commit or recommit by enrolling to be a sustaining member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. This could mean signing up to make a minimum contribution of $10 a month. Already a member? Maybe it’s time to increase your monthly gift by asking us to raise your monthly donation amount. Please contact Nabeehah Azeez at 314-596-2724 for information about membership!

From all of us at MORE, THANK YOU! Happy Holidays and have a Happy New Year!

We are unstoppable … Another world is POSSIBLE!

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Peabody under Investigation for misleading investors, funding denial science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Caitlin Lee, MORE, caitlin@organizemo.org

 

MORE's statement on Peabody under Investigation for Misleading Investors, Funding Denial Science

 

The recent disclosure that for the past two years Peabody Energy, the largest private sector coal company, has been under ongoing investigation by the New York Attorney General for misleading investors about climate change and funding denial science further confirms the need for a just transition away from Peabody and energy companies who profit off at the expense of our health and climate.

 

MORE has long called attention to the Peabody’s constructed narrative about climate science and coal. in 2013 and 2014, MORE members and allies who are also Peabody shareholders were kicked out of the annual shareholder meetings when they questioned the information Peabody presented. In 2014, 11 people were arrested outside the meeting for calling on an end to the Peabody’s unjust practices.

 

Peabody’s profit-driven agenda creates a conflict of interest that harms St. Louisans among many. MORE supports the continued investigation into Peabody's malpractice.

 

(Peabody shareholders affiliated with MORE available for comment.)

 

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Photo Series: Reflections by StL Delegation on Katrina X Commemoration

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While Katrina hit New Orleans 10 years ago the intersections of systemic racism, climate justice and state failure are just as clear today -- here in St. Louis we will commemorate Katrina and the lives lost and continue the conversation about a just transition away from an extractive and exploitative coal economy that leaves residents in the dust. St. Louis is home to five coal companies, which set monetary policy and steal money from the St. Louis public schools in the form of tax breaks. As residents of the city, we feel the impacts of these intersections; for example, in 2012 during extreme heat waves folks without air conditioning, low-income black folks, died.

St. Louis residents accompanied the Climate Justice Alliance's Our Power quilt on its way to the Katrina X commemoration events at the end of August, and will share a report-back about the ideas shared at the convergence. Join us as we connect and hear stories of resistance and visions for change at this intersection of systemic racism, climate justice and just transition at a report back event at YEYO Arts on Friday, September 11th. Check out the Facebook event here.


 

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Ferguson Jail Support Guidelines and Legal Collective Info (Updated July 12, 2015)

Ferguson Jail Support Guidelines and Legal Collective Info

(Updated July 12, 2015)

WHO WE ARE:

We are an organization of activists, organizers and volunteers, many without formal legal backgrounds, combating the prison industrial complex and the criminalization of asserting first amendment rights. We advocate for change on both the municipal and state-wide levels through education, accessibility, solidarity, and empowerment. In the short term, we help people navigate the legal system as it exists today, but over the long term we are working to dismantle a system that was created to exploit and oppress marginalized communities.

 

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Announcing Job Opening: Just Transition/Climate Justice Organizer

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is hiring!

Position Announcement: Just Transition/Climate Justice Organizer

MORE is a five-year old organization that has traditionally worked at the intersection of economic, climate and racial justice. MORE is a multi-racial organization of low- and moderate-income people building power to fight back against capitalism and create the just, sustainable world in which we want to live. MORE comes out of a long tradition of community organizing that works to develop leadership and spokespeople out of low-income communities and communities of color. MORE has traditionally worked on campaigns fighting home foreclosures and challenging corporate tax breaks.  Recently more has taken up significant work around decarceration and abolishing the St. Louis municipal court system, and creating a local solidarity economy table. Since the murder of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, MORE has also been active in supporting the movement led by young Black people on the streets of Ferguson by setting up the St. Louis Legal Collective, hosting direct action trainings and other various pieces of movement support.

Climate justice work has been a very important part of MORE since its founding. St. Louis is the corporate headquarters of 4 coal companies -- including Peabody Coal, the world’s largest. These companies help set monetary policy for the region and extract large amounts of tax dollars from public services in the city, including the St. Louis Public Schools. Meanwhile, the City of St. Louis has about 10,000 city-owned vacant lots that could be transformed into large-scale urban gardens, renewable energy production sites or other sustainable economy projects.

The movement that erupted after the murder of Michael Brown has put the economic inequality and structural racism of St. Louis in the limelight. We are looking for an organizer committed to just transition and climate justice work to develop campaigns that build a base of climate justice activists, confront the corporate control of the city and, ultimately change the development paradigm of the city to be around just transition work.

Duties of this position:

  • Developing a just transition campaign to move resources into green jobs and other sustainable economy projects

  • Working with Solidarity Economy St. Louis and other like-minded groups to build capacity for alternative sustainable economics

  • Basebuilding including doorknocking to identify activists interested in just transition work

  • General support for MORE’s campaign work, the fight against Peabody and coal and environmental/climate justice movement support

Ideal attributes of a candidate include:

  • 2+ years of organizing experience, with some experience in climate justice or just transition work, basebuilding and direct action

  • Experience organizing in low-income and communities of color

  • Excellent writing and communication skills

  • Access to a car

  • Willingness to work in high-intensity situations

Position is based in St. Louis, MO and salary is DOE and competitive with other community organizations in the St. Louis Region. The position includes, healthcare, dental and vision benefits. People of Color, women and queer folks highly encouraged to apply.

Send resume and cover letter to Arielle Klagsbrun, arielle@organizemo.org.

 

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MORE's Statement in Response to Peabody's Corporate Layoffs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2015
Contact: Arielle Klagsbrun, arielle@organizemo.org
MORE's Statement in Response to Peabody Energy's Announcement of Corporate Layoffs
 
Today, Peabody Energy announced that it is laying off around 250 employees from its St. Louis corporate office. In response, Madeline Buthod, a member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and a St. Louis Public School parent, released the following statement: 
 
In 2010, Peabody received tax breaks on $61 million of purchases to keep their 500 corporate jobs downtown. The City of St. Louis said that this tax package was a worthy investment, worth the $2 million taken away from the St. Louis Public Schools to pay for Peabody's new CEO office and corporate gym. Now that these jobs have disappeared, what will happen to Peabody's giant tax breaks? Will the City of St. Louis finally hold a corporation accountable and demand that Peabody begin to pay the taxes it should for the next 5 years? Will the St. Louis Development Corporation use its authority to clawback money owed by Peabody so that students in the St. Louis Public Schools can get money back for more textbooks and smaller class sizes? We need a local economy that is based on green jobs for our city -- let's invest in that. 
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MORE'S Statement on the Passage of SB 5: A Huge Step Forward for Justice!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MORE's Statement on Passage of SB 5: A Huge Step Forward for Justice!

We would like to commend the legislators who took a step in the right direction today, and stood with fellow Missourians in the search for justice in the region and the abolition of predatory municipal courts and their practices. We urge the Governor to sign this bill as soon as possible.  For low income people in the region, these are vital changes.  The most important issues are the ending of jail time for unpaid traffic tickets, the cap in court costs at $300, and the rules on conflict of interest for judges.

Tymon Reed, someone who was recently incarcerated for traffic tickets in Velda City said, “This is a wonderful step forward for justice in this region.”

Sean Bailey, who has been in and out of jail for years because of traffic tickets he has been unable to pay commented, “It's about time that jail time is eliminated for municipal changes. This will have a huge impact on my day to day life. I just got a new job, and now I won't have to worry about losing it over sitting in jail for some traffic tickets.”

MORE has been organizing around predatory municipal court practices for over a year, engaging in activities from doorknocking at Judge Maura McShane’s house, disrupting courts, and releasing a report, “Transforming St. Louis County’s Racist Municipal Courts.” 

Jeff Ordower, MORE’s Executive Director state, “We want to acknowledge how important this is for hundreds of thousands of people in St. Louis County facing jail time, who, like Sean, can now not worry about losing their jobs.  In addition, MORE will continue to advocate for the abolition of these racist municipal courts.”

Derek Laney, co-coordinator of the Cowry Collective, a local timebank that allows people to exchange goods and services using “time dollars” instead of money, added, “ SB5 is a major step forward for justice. But, for many low-income people, even $300 is a lot to pay. As SB5 is implemented, we urge municipalities to think creatively about integrating alternative economic structures like timebanking into community service options. We have the exciting opportunity to use the municipal courts as a blueprint for a new kind of economics in our region. ”

(People who have been in jail for traffic warrants available for comment)

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