SURJ-TC Newsletter 6/24/24

Summer Activities Heating Up

Summer is here and the drought is definitely over. As the temperature heats up, so does this year’s election season. Volunteer opportunities abound for folks whose interests lie in that direction. Local, state and federal races will have a big impact on many racial justice issues, from the unequal impact of climate change and pollution on communities of color to the resurgence of open racism and anti-semitism.

We can also make an impact on racial justce issues through non-electoral activities. There are opportnuities to support recovery of Indian lands and plan for reparations for slavery and segregation.

Take a look at these chances to be involved and choose one that suits you.

In this issue:   

  • Makoce Ikikcupi landback fundraiser update
  • Campaign & Community Meeting for Ilhan Omar
  • Support building a mosque in Lino Lakes
  • St. Paul Reparations Committee Meetings
  • Opposing Genocide in Gaza

Thank You SURJ-TC for Helping Makoce Ikikcupi Acquire Wild Ricing Land

SURJ-TC members along with many others contributed financial reparations to help the Repair Communities for Makoce Ikikcupi blow past our goal of raising $60,000 to help Makoce Ikikcupi buy waterfront land/wild ricing land. The total raised was $66,490.

Makoce Ikikcupi, which means “Land Recovery” in Dakota, has a vision of building ten interconnected eco-villages by 2050. Two villages are already underway: Zani Otunwe (Village of Wellness) near Granite Falls, and Hohwoju Otunwe (Village of Vibrant Growth) in Mountain Lake. The organization has three primary aspects: return of Dakota land, revitalization of Dakota culture, and renewal of the environment,

On May 31, Makoce Ikikcupi closed on the property, which is located on Turtle Lake in Itasca County. It is 40 acres with 170 feet of waterfront. The property already has been given a Dakota name – Pratkasada Otunwe – which means Painted Turtle Village.

Let’s Re-Elect Ilhan Omar!

It is election season, and SURJ National is showing up for Ilhan Omar’s re-election! There are a lot of ways to plug in as volunteers. See options below, but first, here are some reasons to support her:

  • She has brought millions of dollars into MN District 5 community projects
  • Her team has helped thousands of constituents to, for example:
    • Restore Social Security benefits
    • Reunite families
    • Restore health insurance 
  • She was first in the US Congress to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis
    • By January 2024, she organized 384 world leaders to call for a ceasefire
    • She is a founding member of The Squad, which represents the advocacy of progressive policies by the younger political generation. We want to keep this group of nine legislators in office because no matter who is in the White House, they will continue to pull policy to the left. This is one reason why we want her back in office, and why folks outside her district have a stake in helping turn out to vote!

Ilhan Omar is a champion for justice. This next 35 days are a great opportunity to work for her re-election, which is not assured, despite all her accomplishments and leadership. 

 Lots of opportunities to volunteer!

  1. Mass Meeting: July 27. A coalition of groups and individuals are planning a large community/mass meeting to get out the August 13 primary vote (location TBD). This will be a warm and welcoming community space, where we’ll continue to build relationships, map out strategy and vision for the election and beyond, and together lay out clear plans for action.
    1. SURJ National staff organizer Celina Culver will be here in person, to offer skills training co-led with SURJ-TC people.
    2. Inspiring speakers and music performances!
    3. If you’d like to speak or play, please contact co-anchors Erika & Jem at
    4. We welcome volunteers from now through July 27! Please contact Erika & Jem at 

2. Relational Canvases to re-elect Rep. Omar, sponsored by the Ceasefire Choir

  1. The terrific team of leaders of the Ceasefire Choir, which sang repurposed Christmas carols for ceasefire actions in November and December, and has been singing movement and liberation songs at progressive actions about Gaza and the state of Israel ever since, are spearheading canvasses one night per week through August 13.
  2. All are welcome! Sign up here.

Saint Paul Reparations Commission begins its work!

The Saint Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission is now appointed, staffed, and is meeting.  Come!  These are open meetings!  The next one is on Wednesday June 26th from 6 to 8 at the Wellstone Center, 179 Robie Street East, in St. Paul.  The fourth Wednesday of the month will be the regular meeting time going forward, so mark your calendar for July 24th, as well.

So far, the commission has been establishing its ground rules, electing officers, and generally getting organized.  In parallel to the city’s work, community conversation about reparations is also promoted by the East Side Freedom Library’s on-going “book club” (which often involves more than book reading and discussion).  Keep an eye on the Freedom Library’s website and Facebook page for that!

Help the Muslim-American Society build a mosque in Lino Lakes!

The Muslim-American Society of Minnesota proposes to build a mosque in a larger community of homes and commercial operations on a former sod farm in Lino Lakes.  The Madinah Lakes development would include many units of housing, a day care center, retail, and a grocery store all grouped around the mosque.  Although the proposed development conforms with the town’s own master plan,  it has drawn opposition seemingly based on Islamophobia and racism towards African immigrants.  (Some Lino Lake residents oppose it because they don’t want any high-density development on that land, too.)  Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN, points out that “previous developers did not face this level of opposition, or the threat of a moratorium.”  

A large, boisterous group pressured for a one-year moratorium on the project in a hearing before the Planning Board on June 17th, and the Planning Board adopted their recommendation.  In three hours of testimony, many speakers acted disrespectfully towards the Imam and others who spoke in defense of the project.  Ironically, the moratorium would apply only to the housing component; the mosque and the commercial segment of the construction could proceed.

The Lino Lake City Council will consider the moratorium resolution at its meeting on July 8th, in all likelihood.  That meeting will begin at 6:30, at the City Hall, 600 Town Center Parkway, Lino Lakes, MN 55014.  Previous experience with the Al Maghfirah Cemetery outside of Farmington shows that the presence of supportive white people can change the dynamics of a discussion like this one.  Please come, especially if you live in the northern suburbs!

Opposing Genocide in Gaza

JVP Power Half-Hour

We all face the profound complexities of the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, followed on October 8 by near-daily, catastrophic bombardment of Gaza and the West Bank by the Israeli government. Many Twin Cities and U.S. Jewish progressives are showing courage and strength by showing up for a just, legal path forward.  

  1. Since mid-October, National Jewish Voice for Peace has conducted a 2:00 Central time Zoom gathering for any and all who are grieving, organizing, or simply wanting to not feel alone. Every weekday and some weekends, all can gather. 
  2. Twin Cities JVP is on Facebook, and has also been active since October 8th. 

Volunteer with SURJ-TC

SURJ-TC works as a local chapter for SURJ National.  Our work is local and so are our volunteers. Within this volunteer-driven culture, we strive always to make our work as transparent and non-hierarchical as we know how while holding ourselves accountable to organize white people to build the political will to end white supremacy and implement our theory of change (i.e., self-education, action, and calling in more white people). 

We welcome volunteers in our working groups and teams and can offer a variety of tasks and areas of interest. Currently, we have the following specific opportunities available: 

  • SURJ-TC Communications Working Group is looking for volunteers to help with monthly email set-up and social media posting support.

If you’d like to find out more or are interested in other ways to get involved, please email

Donate Today: Support SURJ-TC and Community

SURJ-TC is now able to accept online donations via PayPal! Visit our donate page and click the “donate” button to set up your one-time or recurring donation!

How will your donation be used? We are an all-volunteer group, and your donations will be put to good use, to help our chapter cover things like:

  • Compensating BIPOC partners for their time reviewing SURJ-TC curricula
  • Supplies and shipping costs for movement projects
  • Occasional chapter program costs
  • Basic monthly operating costs such as Zoom, our database, e-newsletters and action reminders, and our website