Cache Valley United for Change, a new club geared toward community members of all ages and backgrounds, held its first meeting at the Logan Library on Wednesday.
The club was created by Karina Brown, Kolby Sorenson and Susan Jelus to promote healthy dialogues surrounding political divides.
“People ask me, ‘What can I do? I’m just one person,’” Jelus said. “They don’t feel empowered to effect change or participate in government, but in a democracy, every voice does count. We are trying to make each voice a little stronger.”
The first 14 members of the club met to discuss goals and a mission statement Wednesday.
“It takes more of us as engaged citizens to make a difference,” Brown told the audience. “A citizen that lets their voice be heard can be a powerful influence for good.”
Brown is a county and state delegate and president of the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center Board. She is also a member of the Cache Chamber Legislative Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Better Days 2020 Top of Utah Organizing Committee.
“I decided to form this group with Susan so we could connect with other Cache Valley residents who are concerned about making a difference in our community,” Brown said.
Sorenson is an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and has been affiliated with Brown and Jelus through multiple events.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the trio led the group in deciding key goals that the club could focus on.
Three of the goals discussed were first, bridging the gap between students and the community; second, creating healthy discussion between progressives and conservatives in the community; and third, training and moderating discussions, debates and civic workshops.
The group’s first workshop will be with Action Utah at the Logan library teaching civic engagement. The event will happen April 24 at 6 p.m. and everyone is invited.
“Personally, my goal is simple,” Jelus said. “I want to help people find and use their voices.
“In a democracy, we can all actively participate in government decisionmaking. This is a privilege we should use. My hope for this new alliance is that we will all benefit from collaborating with others who are working on civic engagement here in Cache Valley.”
Jelus said that there are lots of people working independently to advocate for the people with disabilities, who are LGBTQ, immigrants, racial minorities, women, children, in the LatinX community and in alternative political parties.
“We hope to provide learning opportunities for everyone,” Jelus said. “The more people we can get involved, the better.”
Brown said it is important that Cache Valley has a group for people of different political, religious and occupational backgrounds.
“I want us to come together to discuss important issues at the local, state and federal level and learn how to create a habit of civic engagement to create change,” Brown said. “I hope this group will learn how to advocate effectively and influence legislation and policy that will improve the lives of Cache Valley residents.”
Brown ran for Utah House of Representatives District 5 during the last campaign cycle and said that although she didn’t win the election, she has become even more optimistic about the common values Cache Valley residents and Utahns share.
“This optimism motivates me to work with people of different political backgrounds for causes we believe in such as child abuse prevention and health care access,” Brown said. “That’s why I’m so excited about this new opportunity.”
Jelus has worked with several local women’s rights groups and put together the Women’s March in Logan.
“I felt that it was important to have something here in Cache Valley,” Jelus said, “rather than tagging along with activities in Salt Lake City. That’s too far for many people to travel, and we have voices and work to do up here too.”
Cache Valley United for Change will meet every first Wednesday of the month at the Logan Library at 6:30 p.m. and will host other educational events whenever possible. Upcoming meetings will focus on structuring the presidency and mission of the group.