Texas Toast: Speaker Series Debuts in Junction, Texas

I had a great time earlier this week visiting with more than 30 folks who turned out for "Texas Toast Events"--a new speaker series for Hill Country communities.

Tuesday's event took place on the campus of Texas Tech University in Junction. We talked about the proposed coal plants and how people can be involved in the legislative process even if they can't come to Austin. Attendees were especially interested in renewable alternatives to coal-fired generation and the economic development potential of renewables for the western half of the state.

According to Kim Paxson, the series is a nonpartisan forum for discussing a wide variety of topics of interest to Hill Country residents. Some topics will be legislative/policy oriented, while others will be more "hands-on."

Insiders and Outsiders

At Texas Impact’s January 13 workshop on building social justice ministries, we talked a lot about “insiders” and “outsiders.” Many people are concerned about being “outsiders” at the Capitol—they’ve never been before, or they aren’t sure what to do in a specific situation like a committee hearing. It can be alienating to stand outside the legislative process and feel unequipped to participate.

We also talked about the alienation that comes from being too much of an “insider.” Lawmakers and other state leaders can become so invested in the inner workings of state government that they lose a sense of connection with the larger community.

Holiday Environment

Two weeks from tomorrow, Texans and other Americans will engage in the national ritual of “the busiest shopping day of the year.” Have you decided what gift you will give the planet this year?

The candles we light, the songs we sing, the foods we eat, and the stories we tell  during the holiday season all serve to remind us of how intimately connected we are with the whole of creation. It’s a great opportunity to deepen our faith and take intentional steps to care for the environment.

Texas Interfaith Power and Light is offering a fun, easy way for families and congregations to bring environmental stewardship into celebrations of Advent and Hannukah. Our new “Lightbulb Kits” complement the candle-lighting traditions that go with the season—and unlike the candles in your wreath or menorah, our high-quality compact fluorescent bulbs will burn steadily for years!

Call Someone Who Cares

Urge Your Legislator to Help Stop the Coal Rush 

Urge Your Mayor to Sign the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement

Most Texans who have seen “An Inconvenient Truth” or other global warming movies this month have left the screening worried about the impact of Texas’ proposed new coal-fired power plants on the climate. According to estimates based on EPA data, the increased global warming emissions from the new coal plants in Texas would completely negate the emissions reduction plans California has recently adopted.

Building Democracy Through Relationships

Bee's headshotThe lesson for the week here at Texas Impact has been relationships, relationships, relationships. Whether it’s lobbying a legislator on an issue or getting other organizations to work with you on a campaign, the public policy process seems to boil down to connection.

Behind Door Number One

The process of demystifying state government took a big step forward this morning with the opening session of Advocacy Summer Camp. More than fifty people attended today's session on "Having a Successful Meeting with Legislators and Their Staffs"--pretty good for 8am on a hot July Friday.

We got to hear some great questions and frank, unvarnished answers about what really makes a good legislative meeting and the kinds of information legislators and their staffs most need from constituents (as well as a couple of pleas for compassion and gifts of food for overworked legislative staffs).

TI Leads Dynamic GET FIT Dialogue At Southwest Texas UMC Annual Conference in Corpus

    The Southwest Texas UMC held its Annual Conference in Corpus Christi this past week. The Texas Impact display and materials were a vital part of the Conference Board of Church & Society - Peace with Justice display.  Our focus this year was on Citizenship & Advocacy Projects for Congregations which was also the focus of our resolution. We also offered large baskets of peanuts in the shell to promote "healthy" church snacks.  It keeps folks coming back and standing by the display eating, talking and shelling their peanuts...into a large recycle bag.

Director's Corner

The Governor’s order to cut state services funding 10 percent comes at the beginning of the most important cycle in Texas state government: adopting a state budget. The good news is that the budget development process includes multiple opportunities for public comment.

The process of “building” the state budget always starts in the summer before the next regular legislative session. The Governor gets to lay the first brick, so to speak, by setting the ground rules—in this case, a 10 percent cut to most services. From now through the rest of the summer and fall, a host of budget “construction workers” will be reviewing Texas’ current spending and taking comments from individuals and groups with various interests in the budget.

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