This summer, we are framing a number of our services with the 40 days of Action of the Poor People’s Campaign, which began on May 13 and end on June 23. This focus is consistent with the 2014-2018 UUA Congregational Study Action issue, “Escalating Inequality.” The themes for our first three services represent the focuses of the national Poor People’s Campaign for those weeks.

The interior of the present Community Choice Pantry

Sunday, June 10, Noon- This Sunday, we will gather at noon at Merry Day Park in Oxford for a potluck picnic and a facilitated conversation, “The TOPSS One Stop Shop: A Vision of Unity for Social Services”  Facilitators:  Lara Osborne and Chris Shoker. “For several years, a committed group of Oxford citizens worked hard to get a One Stop Shop for social services established in Oxford. The primary barriers were land and money. Those efforts were largely abandoned in 2013. In the meantime, the City of Oxford acquired a parcel of land within the mobile home park, Merry Day Park. The current home of the pantry is owned by St. Mary’s church, and is need of demolition. We agreed to leave by June 30, 2020.  As we did extensive research both on our customers’ needs and on possible locations, it became clear we would need to build a new building. Our then president, Edna Southard, a city council member, approached the city about building in the underutilized park. Oxford City Council passed an ordinance allowing the pantry to build on the Merry Day Park site. This presented a marvelous opportunity to begin exploring the One Stop Shop idea again. Our dream is a building that can help create social integration and reduce stigma along the 27 North corridor. We hope to unify fragmented services and reduce or eliminate the transportation barriers that hold low income people back. So the Oxford Community Choice Pantry will soon formally become TOPSS: The Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services. The TOPSS One Stop Shop is in the process of exploring collaborations and funding, and working with builders to create a proposed vision of unity to take back to city council.”

Lara Osborne is a social worker who has worked in and taught social services for over 20 years, and has been locally active on food justice issues through OEFFA, the Oxford Uptown Farmers Market, and Moon.
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Chris Shoker builds large commercial greenhouses that have 10x the yield over field grown produce without the use of pesticides, while capturing and using C02 emissions and reclaiming 99% of the water used. These innovations reduce the footprint of agriculture and protect the environment. If you’ve bought a tomato from Kroger lately, it was likely grown in an Ohio greenhouse.
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The Park has a picnic shelter and tables. Please bring your own paper goods and a potluck dish to share; drinks will be provided.  Merry Day Park is located by turning left onto Reagh Way as you are traveling north on College Corner Pike, Route 27, out of Oxford.  The Park is at the end of Reagh Way.

Next Sunday, July 17, 12pm: We’ll be back at the Hopedale UU Community for Community Potluck. Then at 12:30pm, we will examine the distorted moral narrative afterwards, hearing from Bonita Porter about gun control.