Turning Readers Into Leaders

We have a new cause that we are supporting at Union and it is... READERS 2 LEADERS! Their mission is to develop and grow the reading skills of underserved Dallas children ages 3-12 so that they succeed in school and graduate prepared to live productive lives.

Readers 2 Leaders is a literacy program that serves West Dallas kindergarten and elementary students. We recognize that students who don't read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school, and we work to help all our students beat the odds. Readers 2 Leaders operates Booktown, home of our After-School Program, our lending library, special events, and parent education programs. We also provide reading tutoring in two DISD schools and a second After-School Program at a West Dallas charter school. 

Readers 2 Leaders provides high-quality, high-dosage reading instruction to more than 400 West Dallas children per year. What does that mean, exactly?

  • Their staff includes 5 trained education professionals who provide the bulk of reading instruction to students, with the support of more than 200 volunteer reading buddies.
  • Their after-school students receive 8 hours of additional reading tutoring per week, and in-school students receive at least 2 hours of tutoring per week. This seriously improves both their reading and their overall success in school.
  • Their summer camp students benefit from six weeks of reading and enrichment. In 2016, 90 percent of R2L campers did not experience the summer slide, more than any other program studied by Dallas education partnership organization Commit!

From May - August of 2017, 10% of all coffee sales at Union will benefit this great organization and the work that they are doing in our community. Make sure you come by and have a cup of the most generous coffee in Dallas. 

Highlight Reels and Bloopers

Written By: Angela Uno, M.Ed

As I sat in my bed wide-awake at 3AM, pulse racing, palms sweaty, ready to beat the high score on a Facebook game, my identity as a person with a Bipolar II disorder became abundantly clear. My identities play a large role in my life, directing the type of movie that will play out that day –or night. Some days it is a love story about being an ‘exotic Asian woman’ in the bustling nightlife of Dallas, and other days it is a thriller about the cycles of hypomania and depression that creep up on me. Each story weaves together to tell a tale about the struggle for identity in the fast-paced life of a 23 year old. Every person has these movies play out in their life; each one unique to the categories society puts them in. The combination of these categories is called intersectionality.

I started discovering intersectionality in my junior year of high school after reading the controversial essay by Peggy McIntosh called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” . I clearly remember being the only woman of color in my class fighting against my white female teacher about making us read this preposterous essay. I look back at the passion I had to deny the concept of privilege, and I can’t help but to laugh. There is so much irony in the fact that I had the privilege to deny privilege exists.

Today, I work as an educator in Dallas ISD in which the students are vastly different from the high income, white students I grew up with in California. When describing how DISD students are treated and how they are seen, the word ‘prison’ immediately comes to mind. First, they are bussed to school from all over the city, then they walk through metal detectors. The students have to be in certain areas of the school and the first words they hear at school tend to be “Where’s your badge”. I do what I do because of this disparity. I went to high school believing that if I did not apply to an Ivy League, I was doomed. These students can barely name one.

While many are quick to point to SES as the root of the problem, they are failing to see race, gender, sexuality, disability, English language status, citizenship, and all of the other identities that one person may have on. These identities are not easily shed nor do the people who wear them want to get rid of them. Unlike the cheesy Facebook tearjerker videos in which a low-income, Latina woman graduates as a valedictorian and becomes the first blah blah blah, people are more than just their highlight reels. There are powerful institutions that want you to believe that this story is the only story, but the cycle of failure is real.

If there’s one message I need people to understand, it is that recognizing intersectionality may be the best tool to break us out of this cycle. Denying intersectionality is an oversimplification of the problem. Talking about SES because talking about race is frightening is a problem. Talking about anything but privilege because ‘checking your privilege is so 2016’ IS A PROBLEM. Acknowledging that we all come from places of power and places of oppression is important. It means that we have common ground which allows to initiate change. It may be the spark that initiates conversation between a black woman from Oak Cliff and a white man from Highland Park because they both know what it’s like to be in a wheelchair. It may ignite people to desire progress and deny apathy. So, the first step is figuring out your own movie and then having the courage to go watch someone else’s.

Becoming My Best Self And Advocating For Her

Written By: Brittany Miller, LPC, LCDC

As a counselor, one of my favorite psycheducation groups to do with my patients is incorporating Brené Brown’s TED Talk videos on shame and vulnerability.  It tends to be an impactful and eye-opening group, as many individuals do not fully recognize the influence that their shame (and discomfort with vulnerability) has on their quality of life.  It’s also a topic that I am passionate about, primarily because I can speak from my own personal struggle.

As a teenager, I was deeply affected by my insecurities and relentless inner critic.  Most people weren’t aware of the extent of my internal battle, not even some of my closest friends and family.  It didn’t help that I was a walking contradiction with my public persona masking my inner demons.  I was the type of girl that sought the spotlight and attention: I was a varsity cheerleader, I loved performing on stage with my dance class, and I actively tried to be “the life of the party”.  However, the fragility of my mask of confidence showed when I perceived an eye of judgment.  For example, during a five minute speech for a class in high school, my teacher (who also happened to be my dance instructor and cheerleading coach – yay, small town living) tallied over 30 “umm”s.  I desperately sought external validation and words of affirmation from others to combat my insecurities.  However, it was useless, because my inner critic refused to accept their feedback.  “They’re lying.”  “They say that to everyone.”  “If they only knew…”  Plus, “words of affirmation” doesn’t even register on my Love Languages.

In the constant process and attempts of bettering myself to appease my inner critic, I consistently hit an invisible barrier.  I had to overcome “the paradox of change”.   I had to be truly honest with myself and fully accept who and where I was in order to identify a starting point for change to occur.  That’s right.  I had to embrace and sit with the person I was so desperately trying to avoid.

Out of that excruciating process, and also with my education and training as a counselor, here are some of the steps that I used to combat my inner critic and become my best self through advocating for her:

Avoid the perfectionism trap – I used to brag about being a perfectionist.  It was a natural development due to my fear of judgment, and my logic was that nobody could criticize someone who was perfect.  Well, perfection is subjective and a myth.  There will always be differing opinions or perspectives or measures of the ideal.  Seeking perfection is automatically setting me up for failure, which then only provides fuel for the inner critic and contributes to a vicious cycle.

Identify the narrative of the shame script – There are several different maladaptive thought processes, and it is important to identify the types and patterns of these thoughts in order for them to be disputed.  Here were two of my bigggies:

  • I stopped “should”-ing on myself – I started to sort through and challenge the “should” statements that I accepted without discernment from social norms and the unreasonable or unrealistic expectations that were placed upon me by myself or others.  I started to challenge these statements by asking “why”, then added more “whys”, and if they weren’t there for a good enough reason, I scratched them from my life.
  • I also accepted the fact that I am not a fortune teller – I recognized a pattern of “if..then” statements, which pigeon-holed me into living with expectations.  This, of course, led to a lot of disappointment and then a self-destructive cycle with pairing the “if…then” statements with a hindsight bias.  There are no guarantees or a magic equation for things to work out exactly as you had planned or hoped.  Accepting this also allowed for me to embrace and live life in the moment instead of being anchored in regret.

Self-empowerment – I believe the biggest part in challenging the inner critic was to overpower it by becoming a friend and cheerleader to myself.  I softened my internal dialogue by showing myself the same compassion and warmth as I would show a close friend.  I also made a conscious effort to build myself up with affirmations and accolades.  But most of all, I also learned how to forgive myself for being fallible.

This list is far from exhaustive.  I could go on and on at length regarding other important components, such as establishing healthy boundaries, effective communication, identifying fears, and mindfulness.  But alas, this is a blog and not supposed to be a novel.  I must also say that my betterment and self-advocating continues to be a work in process as I encounter various life challenges.  However, by truly being in touch with myself, I can be diligent in staying on the positive track.  I can also now look into my eyes in the mirror with kindness and not shame, which is a feat unto itself.  

If you are struggling with shame or a deafening inner critic, I hope that you can see that there are ways for it to get better.  It’s primarily an internal process, meaning that the key for change is within you.  Most importantly, advocate for yourself for the change to occur.  Reach out to get help as needed.  And always remember, via Brené Brown, “you are enough”.  

The Call To Curious

By: Lizbet Palmer

My slow and wandering journey through feminism began at a Methodist women’s college in Columbia, SC, aptly named Columbia College. It hosted about 1,000 students each year, and the campus itself barely goes over a square block. 

So now picture me, small-college graduate, hurrying around SMU’s campus trying to find a single flagpole in what seemed like never ending brick buildings, with my oversized messenger bag thumping awkwardly against my legs because, for some reason, I insist on being equipped with everything necessary to set up a small office at any given notice. 

It was extra heavy this particular Monday because in it were two books, my Grandma’s Bible and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I had been given the opportunity to represent the Christian Feminist (or Feminist Christian, I’m honestly not sure which is more “correct”) perspective in an event called “Have Coffee with A…”  for the Mustang Heroes Heroes Week, and I knew with books I could at least pretend to know what I was talking about. 

The day took a quick turn for the surprising. I had conversations about your everyday types of questions, “How do you justify believing in a patriarchal religion while also claiming feminism?” and “What does the Bible say about women?” That was cool. I absolutely love to talk about both of those (Seriously, if you ever want to talk about these, let me know). But what ended up making the day glorious was the variety of people who were curious to ask these questions. I got to talk to people who believed in God, atheists, conservatives, liberals, and people who weren’t really sure where they stood. Surrounded by experts in other areas such as STDs, Disability Awareness, and Sexism in the Workplace, I was lucky enough to have a part in this by simply having conversations. 

Here’s my takeaway. The last couple of weeks have been discouraging to say the least. I’ve seen friends and families gather themselves into groups of people that make them feel comfortable where they can talk and have their own ideas reflected back to them and simultaneously pop little bullets out at the other side. Yet here I was in a sweet little bubble where people felt safe asking and being vulnerable and listening to something that might push them outside of their comfort zone. It helped that we had example questions written out that people could choose, but I found that once the conversation started, these were no longer necessary. It turns out that, when given the chance, most people actually want to know more.

I’m in a band called The Last City, and our motto is “fight fear with curiosity,” and I want to put forth the challenge to you (and myself) to continue these conversations. Groups like Mustang Heroes and FLOW are doing an amazing job of creating spaces where people can be curious and learn from their fellow humans, but it is up to us to make sure that they aren’t doing this alone. This is not about converting people to one side or another, this is not about being the loudest opinion in the room, this is about building relationships and, as a result, beginning to heal wounds.

So with that, my sistren, I say to you, go forth and be curious

Why West Dallas?

Once upon a time Hattie Rankin heard of the need for education and caring relationships in West Dallas, a neighborhood once called the Devil's Doorstep. She reached out in genuine care and compassion. She started classes, small group gatherings, and worship during a time when the Bonnie & Clyde Gang ruled the area. She knew children and families deserved more than crime and academic failure.

At Wesley-Rankin, they like to say, "It's all about the WE!" The WE in WEsley-Rankin, that is! Together they invite people like you to be apart of the WE... Transforming lives through education and caring relationships. Wesley Rankin believes in community; they believe in education; they believe true and lasting transformation happens through measurable impact. Their commitment is to walk with a community in this transformation, listening, learning and growing together.  

This is why Wesley Rankin is the current organization that Union is supporting. Through March 1, 2017 Union will be donating 10% of all coffee sales to Wesley Rankin.

Restrooms Are Not Created Equal

By: Lauren Manza, Founder and Program Director of FLOW

Not all restrooms are created equal.

Can you think of a time when you used the bathroom and then, “Oh no!” They’re out of toilet paper. How did you feel? Awkward? Icky? Worried? We can relate.

This story is about FLOW keeping the bathroom of our host, Union Coffee, stocked with what we need to tend to our very normal bodily functions. Relax- Union does a great job restocking their toilet paper.

The normal bodily function FLOW wants to talk about is our period. 86% of women, ages 18-54, say they’ve started their periods in public without the supplies they needed: That’s nearly 100 million women. And the consequences are rough. They often feel embarrassed, anxious, or even panicked. Of the women who have tried to use a public tampon dispenser in their time of need, 92% said it didn’t work. (Of the women in my feminist book club, 100% of them have a period horror story to tell.)

The thing is, tampons are a necessity, not a luxury - despite the fact that it is taxed in Texas. When tampons and other menstrual products are taxed as a luxury, it is uniquely targeting half of the population for being born with a uterus. The infamous ‘tampon tax’ is also far more likely to disproportionately hurt those with a low income.

 Nancy Kramer, recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising History” by Advertising Age, recently founded Free the Tampons with powerhouse lawyer and advocate, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. Free The Tampons is a foundation that “believes every bathroom outside the home should provide freely accessible items women need for their periods.” In her TED talk, Nancy asked, “Who decided toilet paper was free and tampons weren’t? Who decided that paper towels, soap, seat covers should be free and not tampons?”

FLOW decided tampons should be free. So if you’re a part of the 79% of women who have had to MacGyver a tampon or pad out of toilet paper, rest easy at Union Coffee. FLOW’s got your flow covered.

GET THE FACTS HERE!

 

Exclusive NTX Giving Day Kickoff

North Texas Giving Day is the biggest day of giving of the year in... North Texas! We invite you to kickoff the day with the MOST GENEROUS CUP OF COFFEE IN NORTH TEXAS. 

10% of all coffee sales at Union benefits a local non-profit. On NTX Giving Day you can use your pick-me-up to help pick someone else up. 

There will be giveaways all throughout the day and all you have to do is buy a drink on September 22, 2016 to get entered.

Let's not only make this the biggest giving day of the year, but the biggest giving day in North Texas EVER!

RSVP

Coffee + Comedy = The Perfect Combination

This is the first ever comedy show at Union Coffee and we are doing it big. Paul Varghese from Last Comic Standing Season 2 will be hosting the event. 

Tickets are only $10 and that includes your entry into the show and a medium coffee.

Paul will be joined on stage by some of his friends which are some of the best comedians in North Texas. Come out for a great night at Union and get in a ton of laughs.

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

Is this the BEST coffee shop in Dallas?

Well, we (Union) came onto the coffee scene in 2012 and since then we have lived by the 3 C's; Coffee, Community and Cause. From the beginning we have given 10% of all coffee sales to a local non-profit. Every four months we change what the cause is and in the past this has ranged from Cafe Momentum to the North Texas Food Bank to currently Junior Players. 

If you have ever stepped foot in Union you know that there is a lot of space, like a lot! We use the space as a platform to bring people together. From The Naked Stage where hundreds of stories have been told to LIVE music to worship services to the launching pad of non-profits; our doors our always open to the community. 

In 2015 Jomichael (aka our GM) came in and revived our coffee game and we are willing to put our coffee up against any in the area. Come in and try it for yourself. We truly believe that Union is the best coffee shop in Dallas. 

Well, recently we became a finalist for the Dallas Observer's Readers Choice for Best Coffee Shop in Dallas. Since it is the "Readers Choice," we need your help. Go to ReadersChoice.DallasObserver.com and scroll down to 'Best Coffee Shop', while there give Union Coffee a click. At the end of the day people like you make Union what it is and we would love to have your vote.

If You Haven't Seen One Of Their Shows, You Need To!

Junior Players was founded in 1955, and is the oldest non-profit children's theater organization in Dallas. Over its sixty-year existence, Junior Players has striven to meet the changing needs of the community. From 1955 to 1989, Junior Players presented traditional children's theater productions performed entirely by children and teenagers. Junior Players' Discover Theater summer camps and Discover Ourselves after-school workshops focus on children ages 6 to 14 in underserved areas of the community. Junior Players' ‘Discover Shakespeare!’ program combines the best of Dallas high-school acting talent with the professional skills of the Shakespeare Festival staff in a teen production of Shakespeare presented in free performances at Samuell-Grand Park.

Junior Players’ Executive Director, Rosaura Cruz-Webb said, “Junior Players is thrilled to be selected as the Union’s cause for June-September. For us it is about transforming kids lives through free arts enrichment programs but our work would not be possible without the support of community businesses like the Union. They exemplify the collective synergy that makes a difference in our youth. Thank you for helping us to continue to transform the lives of over 7,000 youth in the North Texas area.”

In collaboration with a variety of youth organizations, Junior Players teen and Peace Power programs work with high-risk teens who are challenged to write about their life experiences, create and perform their own productions, and resolve their conflicts through communication in a non-violent manner. Junior Players' Advanced Acting workshops and PUP Fest program offer professional training in acting and playwriting for high school students.

This cause is also near and dear to Union’s heart. “Not only do we share a love for the arts and shared connections with the performing arts community in Dallas through events like Naked Stage story-telling and our Studio worshipping community, but we also share similar values,” said Mike Baughman, Community Curator at Union. Baughman continued by saying, “One of the things we value the most at Union is breaking down boundaries in Dallas. There are few better ways to build community than working together on a performance. Junior Players cuts across neighborhoods, school districts, ethnicity and socio-economic status to bring students together—not only for the love of performing arts, but also to build relationships with each other. This is exactly the kind of work that Union customers are thrilled to support.” 

Someone You Need To Meet: Patrick Littlefield

I am very excited to have joined the Union team! For the past couple of years, I have admired the meaningful work being done at Union from a distance, while serving as a youth minister in Prosper and occasionally leading a small invasion force of 6th graders into one of the Union worship services. But as of July 1, I have fully joined in with the vital ministry going on here and I already feel warmly welcomed into the community.

I am also excited to have moved back to the Dallas area. I spent several years at SMU, earning a degree in religion and psychology and being involved in several campus ministries, the marching band, and a couple of percussion ensembles. When that season of my life drew to a close, I migrated to Atlanta, Georgia for a couple of years to go to seminary at Candler School of Theology. There I earned a Masters of Divinity degree and learned much about ministry in the local church through an internship. Though I really enjoyed living in Georgia, the wild, wild west and the opportunity to begin the ordination process, pulled me back home.

I am now a recently commissioned United Methodist minister, which means I have been appointed, or sent, to be one of the pastors at Union. I am thrilled to be in this role to learn more about Union, support the ministries going on here, and look forward to how this model of church can grow throughout North Texas.

I have long been involved in the United Methodist Church, and am especially interested in new expressions of ministry. Several years ago I had the opportunity to do some research on fresh expressions of church in the United Kingdom, which inspired my love of tea, but also my interest in exploring how congregations can do new, creative things to connect with people normally not reached by the church. I see Union accomplishing this goal in a very effective way that brings vitality not only to a particular community, but also throughout United Methodism.

My interests in religion also extend deeply into spiritual practices, such as forms of prayer and meditation as well as methods of reflecting on scripture. I enjoy incorporating such practices in my own life, as well as leading others in discovering them. I look forward to finding opportunities to explore these practices at Union and to join in planning and leading some of Union’s incredibly creative worship services.

I am also excited to take these next steps in my journey with wife, Erin, and my dog, Max. I enjoy spending time with both of them exploring nature, playing board games, and becoming immersed in books and TV shows (Erin may be a little better at those last two things than Max). Additionally, I enjoy creating music, playing tennis and Frisbee, and playing Sonic the Hedgehog.

I am always willing to share a cup of coffee or tea with you and exchange stories, especially if they are about dogs, funny YouTube videos, or monks and theologians from centuries ago. But ultimately, I’d love to hear what brings excitement and meaning to your life!