My name is Joy Allen, and I was recently invited to be a leadership member for the Riverton Peace Mission. I am an enrolled Northern Arapaho and have been interested in working with the Riverton Peace Mission. I was offered a wonderful opportunity to represent the Riverton Peace Mission at the Cross Movement Convening Conference in Washington, D.C. from December 3 – 6, 2023. The conference was sponsored by the Community Change organization. The focus for 2023 was Governing Agendas and Community Organizing. During the conference we participated in conversations, political analysis, skill-sharing, and strategic brainstorming to advance the cause of democracy and justice in our communities across the United States.
On December 3rd, I attended the Rural Caucus where participants came together to brainstorm on the opportunities and challenges of organizing within our own communities. We shared similar opportunities and challenges, such as getting people to vote or register to vote, organizing for power with our local and state officials, and breaking people from the mold. A challenge that was discussed is how to make our organizations long term and sustainable. Brainstorming reflections to address this challenge included:
Organizing people who stay whether win or lose.
Give people agency (a person of action) where they can feel a part of the cause.
Maximize funding sources.
More training and support for organization participants and leaders.
During the Rural Caucus session, I had the privilege of meeting Karlee Provenza who is a Wyoming State Representative from the 45th District and also works for the Wyoming Civic Engagement Network and Bella Pope who is a community organizer for Better Wyoming. Karlee and Bella invited me to attend a meeting with Senator John Barrasso on December 6th. The meeting with Senator Barrasso provided a wonderful opportunity for us to introduce ourselves and our organizations. We met with Senator Barrasso and Amber Bland, Sen. Barrasso’s Legislative Director. We discussed our concerns, including landlord laws, housing and shelter issues, and healthcare.
((Dec 6, 2023, Washington, D.C.) from left: Joy Allen, Bella Pope, Amber Bland, Karlee Provenza (WY Representative of 45th District)
On December 4th, I attended the Local & Statewide Campaign Strategies for Housing Justice Caucus addressing tenant protection issues, homeless shelter, and affordable housing. The caucus participants discussed how Community Change, the organization that sponsored the conference, can assist with technical assistance and leadership training.
On December 5th, we supported SPACEs In Action, a grassroots organization, by demonstrating for continuing the Washington D.C. Child Tax Credit at the Washington D.C. City Building. It was fun working with others to demonstrate for a good cause to continue Child Tax Credit benefits for residents of Washington D.C.
(Dec 5, 2023. Joy Allen. Washington, D.C. with a sign that says "INVEST IN FAMILIES CHILD TAX CREDIT FOR ALL")
There were many other sessions that I attended at the Cross Movement Convening Conference. I met wonderful people and made networking connections with organization leaders from United Today Stronger Tomorrow (UTST), ISAIAH, Better Wyoming, United for a New Economy (UNE), Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Great Plains Action Society, Nebraska Appleseed, Trophy Enterprises, SPACEs In Action, Wyoming Civic Engagement Network (WyCEN) and North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, to name a few.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend this wonderful conference and anxious to share the many resources and networking opportunities to help our local community in Fremont County. I thank the Riverton Peace Mission for this opportunity.
Joy Allen, a resident of Riverton, serves on RPM’s leadership team as a volunteer. She works at Wind River Community and Health Care as a Family Advocate. Thanks to Joy for her hard work to represent RPM in DC at this event for empowerment to advance democracy and justice for our community.