Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz Urges You to Engage with CNY Solidarity Coalition
If this is your fist time hearing of the “CNY Solidarity Coalition,” you likely missed their meeting on April 2nd at the Bishop Harrison Center. If that’s the case, you forfeited an opportunity to convene with more than a hundred grassroots activists who contemplated our region’s most stubborn issues. What’s more, the CNY Solidarity Coalition has been called a “potentially vital community ally,” by the ACTS Leadership Council. You shouldn’t lose too much sleep though, as the next CNY Solidarity General Assembly Meeting at St. Lucy's is on Sunday, April 9th, at 3:00 p.m. Additionally, other opportunities to participate are almost as ubiquitous as apple cider in October. Jikyo Bonni Shoultz, a veteran member of ACTS, has written a letter to ACTS Members about the Coalition meetings she has attended, and implores you to become engaged. In April, there are several events listed as important by the CNY Solidarity Coalition, a
non-profit alliance of individuals and organizations which strives to protect “People of color, immigrants, refugees, all faith communities, women, LGBTQI…and all other marginalized…groups…likely to be targeted in these uncertain times.” These important community events can be conveniently found on their April 2017 Calendar.
Over a decade ago, Bonnie Shoultz shaved her head and abandoned her material desires and our society’s lust for expectations. She hasn’t turned back since. She is a Zen Buddhist Dharma Chaplain, and head monastic at the Zen Center of Syracuse. Her vocation includes positions at the Hendrick’s Chapel of Syracuse University, where she helps students cope with mental stress and depression. Her calling also takes her to the Onondaga County Justice Center, where she prescribes the medication known as meditation for wounds of the heart and soul. Focused through all the spectrums of Bonnie’s work, is the belief that people discover wisdom through tribulation. In an interview with the Daily Orange she said, “people come to Buddhism through suffering with the inner-knowledge that there must be a better way.” As a former addict herself, she relates to the pain of others, especially those as overlooked by society as prisoners.
“I became active when ACTS began because of its interest in addressing violence…in the past two-three years, I’ve been active with the Criminal Justice Task Force,” she said.
She has worked with the task force on many of their topic issues, such as Youth Solitary Confinement. As a representative at the ACTS Leadership Counsel for the Zen Center of Syracuse and the Hendrick’s Chapel, she is always on watch for opportunities to hone our effectiveness in social justice. CNY Solidarity, according to her, is a decisive ally,
“[the] Coalition provides a way for individual ACTS members…to learn about and engage in forms of advocacy that are immediate as well as long-ranging.”
CNY Solidarity’s April Calendar is lined with various events for ACTS Members to participate in. On April 12th, the Coalition will observe the public debate on “Metropolitan forms of Government for Onondaga County” with two Consensus Commission members on one side and Mayor Stephanie Miner and the Onondaga County Comptroller on the other. Additionally, two marches are slotted to occur on April 22nd and April 29th. Finally, for those who wish to participate politically, there
are three events which discuss the new federal administration on the 15th, the 20th, and the 24th. Bonnie urges ACTS Members to watch for the next CNY Solidarity Coalition Meeting once it’s announced, as they may become acquainted with the organization and its key members. Together we can build bridges throughout our community, and rectify the pervasive suffering in Syracuse.
“To me, the most important [issue] is poverty and income disparity, because as ACTS says, structural injustice lies behind the problems we have,” concluded Bonnie.
Whether those problems are revealed through quiet Buddhist meditation or momentous rallies, they will never be solved unless we unite as a community. We invite you to read Bonnie Shoultz’s letter on the CNY Solidarity Coalition, a place for ACTS to find friendship:
Dear ACTS Members and Others Dedicated to Social Justice,
After the election, I wanted to find a way to get more involved in local, state, and national action that reflected my values, was powerful as well as peaceful, and had a good chance of succeeding against what I felt were scary, racist, sexist, and classist forces that became more visible than ever during and after the presidential campaign. I went to my first meeting of the CNY Solidarity Coalition in January, and was stunned to find a room full of 150 or more people, many of whom were relatively new to protest, rallies, and organizing of any kind. I’ve gone to almost all of the well-attended weekly meetings since, and have participated in rallies, called officials, received training, and much more.
For me, perhaps the most valuable aspect of the coalition’s work is the way it provides information that allows for rapid response when something happens—a deportation hearing, a town hall meeting, a call to action of any kind. It’s my choice as to whether to respond, but without the notification I might not know what is going on, and be unable to make that choice. I’ve learned that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in CNY want to know more and to do more to stand up for each other. We, along with like-minded people all over the country, have made a big difference already. As we go forward, we will feel our strength grow as we live out the values we profess.
Zen Center of Syracuse
More Information about the CNY Solidarity Coalition
“The CNY Solidarity Coalition is a grassroots coalition of organizations and individuals committed to protecting all Central New Yorkers from the dangers of the Trump-Pence-Ryan administration’s policies, appointees, and rhetoric.
We are dedicated to truth, justice, and democracy. We aim to protect and fight alongside People of Color, Immigrants, Refugees, LGBTQI people, the Muslim Community, the Jewish Community, Women, People with Disabilities, People with Mental Illness, the Deaf Community, Teachers, Scientists, Environmentalists, and all other marginalized and oppressed groups and entities that are likely to be targeted in these uncertain times.”
The CNY Solidarity Coalition functions through several anchor organizations and committees, not unlike the structure of ACTS. “The Syracuse Peace Council” and the “Workers Center of Central New York” represent the organization’s principal allies. If you’ve caught wind of CNY Solidarity, it was likely through one of their highly visible protests. Those protests, however, are the concentrated culmination of countless strategic dialogues and maneuvers within the community. Like the roots of a tree, the work of CNY Solidarity runs broad and deep.
They have frequent organizational meetings where ACTS members can plug into. Additionally, they boast seven committees engrossed in unique functions, such as the “Legislative Action Committee” and the “Educators/Parents/Students Committee.” Regardless of which committee you find yourself in, there is an extensive list of project types you can foster to better the community.
CNY Solidarity has a clear goal to engage with Congressman John Katko on a variety of issues. For each call-in purpose, there is a pre-written script for callers to follow.
CNY Solidarity’s website also supplies intuitive resources to track elected representatives and stay up to date on the conditions of many vital issues affecting the CNY Community. Fact sheets provided on each elected official ensure that readers are properly briefed before they delve into political activism.
Pledge of CNY Solidarity Coalition
We the people of Syracuse and Central New York are proud inheritors of the local struggle for abolition and suffrage and survivors of decades of economic deprivation.
We hereby pledge:
To tear down the walls that divide and impoverish us;
To oppose any effort to register, detain, deport, or attack our neighbors;
To provide refuge for those in danger or need;
To protect our water, air, and land as our kin.
Mission of ACTS
To dismantle structural racism and poverty as a Transformational Agenda for establishing the Beloved Community of Justice, Equity, and Solidarity.
To sum it up:
Let's Transform Syracuse Together with all our Potential Allies!