January 2023
A Chance to Change the Statistic
For almost 85 years, Inclusive Communities has worked to confront prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination. A recent Stacker study showed that Nebraska has four and a half hate groups per million residents, ranking it number one in the nation, with nine active hate groups tracked across the state. Anti-Muslim extremists and White supremacy groups comprise much of that number. Many factors have contributed to the sustainability of extremist groups, including lack of knowledge and diverse access, and cultural competency. Our work and the partnerships that we have nurtured in western Nebraska’s rural communities are essential now more than ever.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum has identified community engagement and community-oriented policing as two effective tools for countering violent extremism, the former of which our organization has made great strides in. As we are invited into communities, we never assume what is best without engaging in a transparent dialogue with local officials and other community members. Without rapport and trust, effective change can’t occur. Community engagement is a long-term investment. Get comfortable.

Over the years, our Table Talk series has encouraged and strengthened dialogue between groups with different backgrounds and identities, because we understand the detrimental effects that singular ideology can have on vulnerable populations. As we combat violent extremism through active community engagement, every voice must be heard.

We believe in getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and never stop envisioning a society that is strengthened by diversity, inclusion, respect, equity, and justice for all people.

Cammy + Maggie
Executive Directors
The 2023 Nebraska Legislature is now in session! A total of 812 bills were introduced and hearings are underway.

Inclusive Communities has identified four key areas of focus during this legislative session:
  1. Race Equity
  2. Mental Health & Mental Wellness
  3. LGBTQIA2S+ Legislation
  4. Accessibility

We know that our mission is far more expansive, which is why we don't hold this advocacy work alone. This effort is rooted in partnership and collaboration.
Our friends at OutNebraska have put together a signup for organizing in-person testimony on three significant anti-transgender bills that will be heard this session: LB371, LB574, and LB575.
We encourage every active community member to let their voice be heard.
  • Contact your state senator.
  • Join a coalition.
  • Testify in-person or online.
Last month, we introduced the Jane H. & Rabbi Sidney H. Brooks Conversations for Change Series, with featured guest Kal Penn. Conversations for Change will take place on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center in downtown Omaha. Tickets will open to the general public on February 6! FREE EVENT.
Jane H. and Rabbi Sidney H. Brooks were pillars of faith and unity; their belief in doing what is morally right led them into a life of advocacy, serving the Jewish and Omaha communities for over 50 years.

Jane H. Brooks worked effortlessly towards mental health awareness, equal housing, education, employment, and civil rights. Her leadership is reflected in the decades of board services that she dedicated to several area organizations and through the founding of the Eastern Nebraska Mental Health Association.

Sidney H. Brooks served as the rabbi of Temple Israel for thirty-three years until his retirement in 1985. His interfaith dialogues encouraged Jewish and non-Jewish people to connect and better understand each other. In addition, he used the teachings of the Torah to address contemporary social issues. Rabbi Brooks’ steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion through interfaith dialogue earned him the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1981 from the National Coalition of Christians and Jews, Midlands Chapter, now known to many as Inclusive Communities.
REGISTER for our upcoming Omaha Table Talk!

Food Insecurity: Cultivating Sustainable Resources
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center
6400 University Drive South
Omaha, NE 68182
There is a virtual and in-person option to attend. If attending in-person, food will be provided.
Previously on AAPI Table Talk
Health Barriers for the AAPI Community
Hope is a Discipline
by Veronica Switzer
I recently heard this phrase on an incredible podcast “How to Survive the End of the World” by the amazing sister duo Adrienne Marie and Autumn Brown. I wrote it up on the white board that hangs on my fridge as a daily reminder. It struck me and filled me with questions. I understand that a discipline means something that is done as a practice, having intention and consistency. So, what is a discipline of hope?  And what even is hope? I was so compelled to write about it for this blog and yet, thinking about it and what to say with any meaning became a challenge because I didn’t want it to be shallow and Pollyanna and truthfully, I don’t always feel hopeful.

I have been engaged in social justice spaces and work for decades, and I so often hear from people, including myself at times, that in the face of giant social challenges and oppressions, it feels like it is simply too much to hold, too hard to transform. And yet I know, our beliefs shape our reality. Thus, as long as those beliefs are held, then they will be true. If we think transformation isn’t really possible, then it won’t be. Those beliefs describe hopelessness to me and that leads to complacency, avoidance, and defeatism. But I think it’s a trick. Systems of oppression feed off of our suffering and to feel we can’t upend them; we stay stuck there and the systems continue. But what if we made it a practice to resist defeatism and complacency wherever it shows up in our life? How can we radically transform our own experience and that of those around us? I think hope is a place to start. My brother shared with me recently in thinking about hope, that hope helps us realize that if we are completely present for struggle, meaning we aren’t avoiding or turning from it, then we are also completely present with the remedy. We allow ourselves to see the entire possibility of experience. Hope includes relying on something intrinsic - looking within ourselves for the answers to some of the most difficult questions. Our own existence is our source of hope.

In a poem written by Debra Hall, she writes that “It is a daily discipline to choose” how much of world’s pain we touch. “We could be incandescent with righteous rage every second of every minute of every hour. Our collective grief could raise the sea level overnight.” She writes that the sworn enemy of joy is oppression and that we cannot take it on every walk even though it “whines and scratches at the door”. That it is “joy too we are here to spend. It is celebration and active reverence that give us energy, the courage to make our most difference. So, we actively seek out the silver linings.” We must write ourselves into these poems of hope and transformation. 

What does a discipline of hope look like for me today? It means a big whiteboard on my fridge. It means a journal of gratitude. It is listening when things start to feel overwhelming. It is moving from love and not fear. Y’all, I am not an expert at this. But that is the point of a practice. It is not something that you graduate from and there is an end date. It is something that requires a daily intention to embody. I have to ask myself, am I filling my thoughtscape with as much information of growth and change as I am with Google rabbit holes on alarming topics? Am I spending time with young people who mentor me in the ways they are seeing the world and how it can change? Am I listening more than speaking because hope is something we co-create? Am I learning about the natural world around me and the resilience that is natural to the world around me and that I am fundamentally a part of? It is the discipline of the natural world to endure.  

I know this is hard. That is why it is a discipline. But, it also has a beautiful simplicity. Feeling joy in my own self-laughing, cooking, being in the sunshine, dancing, singing at the top of my lungs-these practices cultivate that intrinsic sense of joy, and with that I am hopeful. Because I know it can be possible to find hope when I need it, when I reach for it.

I also have learned that when I am hopeful it is not just me and mine who are benefited, but this practice ripples out to others. Being hopeful in my circle of beloveds is an expansive practice to include anyone that they connect with as well and so on. As a dear friend regularly reminds me, “the only way we are going to get there is together.” We need to cultivate our communities of the hopeful. I invite you into mine.  
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