Group photo of new GWC Board and supporters, Pawtucket Public Library stairs, June 8, 2019p. Photo credit: Susan O'Connell
We need your support to help protect the public health of our families, friends and neighbors during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
The RI Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued Order No. 23786 suspending service terminations and collection activities of all regulated electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities during the COVID-19 Emergency. But the full length of the suspension is still up in the air.
The George Wiley Center encourages the PUC to put in place a permanent moratorium against utility terminations and to improve accessibility to utilities. We asked for emergency restoration for all.
During these critical times, the public must ask for more. To support this work and use your voice to advocate for economic justice for all, please consider taking any of the following actions:
Put these requests into your own words about why these demands are important.
- Permanent moratorium on shut offs for low-income households
- Emergency Utility Restoration for all low-income households without any down payment
- Immediate implementation of the Percentage Income Payment Plan (PIPP)
2) Share your comments on social media networks
- Twitter RIDPUC tag @georgewileycri
-Instagram tag @georgewileycenter
Use hashtags below along with your comments &/or create others:
#RestorationNOW #PIPPNOW #EnergyJusticeRI #ENDUtilityShutoffs2020
3) Click here to donate today to support the GWC, on the frontline of community advocacy for utility and food security for everyone in the community.
For more information, see our recent email update by clicking here.
Learn how you can make a difference and make utilities affordable for everyone in RI!
Are you facing termination of your gas or electric service? Join us at this informational clinic to learn your rights and ways to stop utility shut-offs in Rhode Island.
Every Wednesday, 6:30 PM
32 East Ave
Pawtucket RI 02860
GWC Statewide Meetings
Regular Workshops held. Contact us for upcoming scheduled dates, or to host a workshop at your organization, school, or community group.
Statement from the Executive Director
I came to the George Wiley Center in 2012 as a longtime organizer. One of my driving principles has been encouraging groups toward democratic structures run by those most directly impacted. Almost 30 years ago I started organizing to challenge the root causes of injustice and because people like me, a first-generation graduate of public high school and public college, a child of working class immigrants, a queer organizer, are too often ignored and underrepresented, even in so-called social justice circles. For years I agitated internally for changes at the George Wiley Center to align the board of directors with our grassroots organizing mission. Ultimately it took working with members who confronted the crisis head on, using direct action to transform the board.
Power is rarely given without a struggle. Too many nonprofit boards are dominated by those who are seated based on money or insider connections, or who presume they know better than those most impacted by issues. Boards that are elected by a broader base of members are more in line with organizing groups. Boards are entrusted with critical oversight, while there is often little oversight of boards within a self-electing authoritarian model. It's a problem when board members are disconnected from on-the-ground campaigns and at the same time are making irresponsible decisions that impact the success of the organization.
While many wonderful board members have served the George Wiley Center over the years, in a system with little accountability board mis-leadership can steer an organization away from the vision. For almost two years I alerted the board to its own mismanagement, including issues of xenophobia, racism and classism, compounded by board leadership that repeatedly broke bylaws and common sense ethics. Unfortunately my concerns were usually ignored or dismissed, and I was often reprimanded. On May 3, 2019 I sent a formal letter to the board regarding recent serious actions by board leadership that were against the bylaws and threatened the future of our organization. My corrective suggestions were ignored.
I’m proud to say that during this difficult time the George Wiley Center has continued to be rooted in organizing efforts. Our organizing work that challenges the status quo is difficult enough. But we can’t change society if we don’t also transform our social justice organizations internally, demanding transparency and ethics in decision-making, dismantling the rampant racism and classism that short circuit our ability to fulfill our stated goals. One step toward undoing systems of oppression is shifting toward more representative and democratic decision-making structures. Power structures reinforce oppression when they silence and marginalize those who speak out. Organizing teaches us how effective it can be to come forward, seeking justice with the backing of our communities.
I'm so inspired by the courage and commitment of the new George Wiley Center Board of Directors that represents a wide array of Rhode Islanders impacted by social and economic injustices, including five board members who have been involved in our organizing work and who had been waiting for years to join the board. When a seat at the table is denied for so long, a seat at the table is no longer enough. It was time to take back the table and that’s what people did.
For those who may have doubts why the transformative board action was necessary, it was done to save and strengthen the George Wiley Center. If anyone has questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m willing to offer further insights as needed, while also not wanting to distract attention too far away from our other ongoing efforts. I hope that past and new supporters welcome the recent positive changes, so we can work together on this path to increasing grassroots power. Thank you for signing on and sharing our call for solidarity during this pivotal time at tinyurl.com/solidaritygwc. Please stay in touch.
Beyond the George Wiley Center, I hope others can use our organization’s story as an example of collective visioning and transformative justice. I'm excited about our next steps, the possibilities of liberation, the power of organizing!
Yours in the Struggle,
Coordinator/Executive Director, George Wiley Center