UULM-MD Annual Meeting: Report from Karen Russell and Nick IntVeldt

As an affiliate of the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM-MD), several UUCF members usually take part in its annual meeting, held at the beginning of each year’s legislative session. This year the meeting was January 28 and Karen Russell, Nick IntVeldt, and Monica Greene represented us. Steve Buckingham, as UULM-MD chairperson, presided. 

Below are Karen’s notes on the events of a very full day:

Address by The Honorable Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General: “Justice Issues Before the General Assembly”; he especially focused on:

  • Price gouging by generics manufacturers
  • Pre-trial Bail Reform bill (bail bonds are biggest parasite on the poor.)
Priority Issues: Because UULM-MD is made up of a small, but dedicated, group of volunteers, work is carried out by joining with like-minded groups and also by focusing on issues about which UU members in Maryland especially care. This year the issues selected are:
  • Economic Justice: Paid sick leave for all workers
  • Climate Change: Clean Energy Veto Override’ Fracking Ban
  • Death with Dignity: End of Life Options
  • Criminal Justice: Pre-Trial Release Reform; Transparency in Police Misconduct
Keynote: “Faith Based Justice in the New Political Era” by the Rev. Kathleen McTigue, Director of the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ)
Afternoon workshop by Rev. McTigue: “Taking It Back Home: Talking Our Walk, Channeling Our Power” Example of what to say: “My faith teaches that we are part of an interdependent web of existence.”
Nick IntVeldt added personal thoughts about the afternoon workshop.
“Talking Our Walk …” was a very appropriate title. We were lead through some exercises in communicating our truths, and one involved constructing a single sentence that we could say if, hypothetically, we were ever interviewed (by a reporter, for example) regarding a particular issue. While one might be tempted to simply say something such as “I think it is immoral to ban Muslims from our country,” Rev. McTigue encouraged us to ground the statement in our spirituality as Unitarian Universalists. For example, the above could be rephrased as “As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe in the worth and dignity of every person, and for that reason I am against banning Muslims from our country.” That is a much more powerful way to convey the message, it speaks from our faith rather than just from our heart, and as a subtext it conveys that there is a whole group of people (even an entire religion) that believes in the same principle. I totally agree with the idea that this is a much more powerful way to be persuasive, as it comes from the speaker’s grounding in UU principles.
Also, I do see us working with UULM (and others!) on priority issues.  Since Steve Buckingham, the chair of UULM-MD, is a member of UUCF, we have a direct liaison with the organization. As a congregation we may want to put more emphasis on such liaisons as well as targeted activism given the current political landscape.

Many thanks to the four who attended the meeting and especially to Karen and Nick for giving us a taste of the day’s events and a model for expressing our values in everyday conversation. 

Update: MLK Dinner, WMW, Oltorotua Well & Student Peace Awards

Potpourri means a mixture of things and that’s what you’re going to read about today.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Potluck Dinner

Thanks to everyone who attended a packed Asbury church hall on January 16th. Some people left without eating because the line was long and even getting into the room was a challenge, with not even standing room. But our hosts at Asbury, including the Rev. Mark Groover, were welcoming, and the crowd was diverse and friendly. Mike Morse did some networking that should be a big help in our Social Action work and was featured in an article about the dinner in the Frederick News-Post.

  • Knitting for the Women’s March in Washington & Frederick

Sip’nStitch was lively because of sipping and also energetically knitting a variety of hats for the Women’s Marches in DC and Frederick. Here are two photos of the local event. Since the Frederick march was created within about 36 hours, Andrea Norouzi and Jeannette Bartelt (pictured below holding the banner) told me they would have been happy if 200 marchers came out but about 1,000 lined Market Street at the Square, where Patrick Street intersects:

 

 

 

  • New Photo of Oltorotua Well

Kenya’s Masai Mara is experiencing a severe drought but Jackson reported the well is still providing Oltorotua village with fresh water. You can see from the photo he sent below how barren the landscape is.

 

  • Student Peace Awards in Frederick & Jefferson, WV

With advice from the Frederick Peace Awards Committee, Keola Raiser is working to expand the program into two high schools in Jefferson County, West Virginia. In Frederick, we hope all public and two private high schools will honor students at this year’s May 6 reception. The UUCF Social Action Committee has contributed $100 to sponsor the Peace Awards in both counties.

Why Support UULM-MD?—Watch our short Powerpoint!

UULM-MD: Not Alphabet Soup

UULMlogoInterested in climate change and other environmental issues? Worried about gay and transgender rights in a changing political climate? What about Death with Dignity? Or gun violence?

If you’re concerned how Maryland’s elected officials will respond to these and other hot button issues during the upcoming legislative session, support the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM-MD), our January 15 split-plate recipient. Yes, it’s a bunch of letters but UULM-MD is much more than alphabet soup. UULM-MD is the voice of liberal religious values in the Maryland General Assembly. 

You can also visit their website to get updates and donate. UULM-MD relies wholly on donations and membership. Membership dues are $25; membership + annual meeting (on January 28 at Annapolis UU church). See the mid-week announcements for information on car-pooling.

Annual meeting information: Opening Remarks from Attorney General Brian Frosh and Keynote with Reverend Kathleen McTigue. Saturday, January 28 from 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (McTigue’s optional Afternoon Workshop until 4pm). Click here to learn more and to register.

Want to contact your legislators? Just click here to go to UULM-MD’s webpage.

The Power of the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) in Prisons

avpAs many UUCF members know, my husband Carl volunteered for the Alternatives to Violence Program and was an ardent outside facilitator until his death. Other members of our congregation volunteer with equal fervor and dedication at the Hagerstown prison and, to offer support, AVP has been a split-plate recipient for a number of years. The following was published in The Transformer, Winter 2017,  a quarterly publication of AVP/USA.

Off with their Armor

By Patrick Larmour

In prison, being kind can be risky. Allow one person to step in front of you in line and pretty soon, everyone is cutting you off; offer someone a cup of coffee and they’ll try squeezing you for more; smile at a stranger as you pass by and they’ll stop to scowl back at you, wondering what your problem is. It is not surprise that, after a while, many prisoners just give up trying to be decent. Can you blame them? Years’ worth of punishment have taught us to shun kindness in all forms because it only leads to problems down the road. So, piece by hardened piece, inmates begin putting on armor in the form of hateful glares, shocking tattoos, clenched fists, harsh words – and rejecting any kindness that comes their way. And once it’s fitted, bolted and strapped into place, this armor is very difficult to pry off.

I have been an AVP facilitator for nearly four years. Over this time I have been amazed by the countless transformations I witness taking place in fellow inmates during our workshops. It is remarkable. It’s as if, with each new discussion and activity the group leads, I witness pieces of armor fall off. I can almost hear the chain-mail, helmets and breast plates clanging to the floor as the true, kind men beneath are revealed— men who have been there all along, but who only needed a safe environment to show themselves. This transformation is breath-taking in its beauty, and it is what keeps me coming back to workshops.

Three days is not a long time, but thanks to the loving energy that AVP brings into prisons it allows inmates the time to be humans again. During workshops, we can laugh, cry, reminisce, offer support and actually be humans again for a brief time in an otherwise inhuman place. While many of us have to put our armor back on once we go back to the yard, those of us who have participated in workshops can hinge up our iron masks and smile kindly to one another when we pass by. Thank you, AVP, for helping us shed our armor and learn to be humans again.

 

Lilian & Wendy's: 2 different justice issues

I apologize for not posting but typing since my hand surgery has been a pain in several ways. Please know  I very much support Lilian as a split-plate recipient!

Lilian Ochieng 

lilian-12-2016Support for Lilian’s final years in medical school at Kenya’s Moi University is our split-plate for December. We are proud of our Lilian!

Kenya has only mandatory elementary school and eight years ago, Lilian, despite good grades and the drive to succeed academically, was resigned to helping her mother raise chickens and grow vegetables in an effort to hold the family together since her father died. The school year had already begun when the first money from UUCF arrived. In fact, Peter Liech, then with Kenya Self-Help Program, himself drove this bright young girl to Alliance High School for Girls.

After successful years at Alliance High School, she earned a scholarship in medicine to Moi University. This pays for her tuition but not for books, food, travel, clothes, and personal items. Lilian depends on us to help her pay for these items. When I asked how she was managing with last December’s donation, she wrote:

Hello everyone!

2016 has been a very awesome year and my most favorite year so far in this school. We started our clinical years that basically entailed rotation in four different departments in the hospital:internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatrics. We were divided into four groups each with at least 28 students and each group started rotation from a different department.

I was in group A that started from Surgery. Rotations involved clerking patients and doing physical exam and presenting the patient during ward rounds that started from nine to twelve daily, we were expected to follow up our patients, their progress while in hospital and at times help with collection of lab samples. We also went to theatre and observed or assisted in various operations. Our classes were often held in afternoons or early mornings and during the night we had to go check on our patients or clerk new ones.

I actually loved clinical years because you could appreciate conditions you have always only read about, it was also nice participating in the care and management of your patient. The rotation I loved the most was obstetrics, watching and assisting in caesarian deliveries was always my passion ,I even started thinking of specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology (initially I was thinking of being a cardiologist). However I still have a long way to go and will make the decision on what I want to specialise in in the course of my training.

The challenge I faced this year was balancing between ward activities and creating time for personal studies as ward stuff was so time consuming .My worst experience was during my Internal medicine exam, I got a case (transverse myelitis)  we had never come across during the eight week rotation, it was such hard time trying to answer questions on something I was not so prepared on.

I am once again grateful for last year’s split collection, most of the cash was used for my academic and school requiments, I used [Kenya shillings*] 45000 to clear my this year’s school fees, 5000 I used for buying books and other revision papers and materials. For this year luck wasn’t on my mum’s side, she planted some tomatoes but the rains were inadequate so she didn’t get enough harvest and the money she raised from the sales could not cater completely for my sisters fees and needs so I had to assist her with 20000 .The remaining amount I have been using for my daily needs of food, clothes and other personal requirements. For this year financial I was ok thanks to your help, it also helped me concentrate fully on my academics.

*KSh 100 = US $0.979192

immokWendy’s & Immokalee Farm Workers

Bill Butler reported the following issue from Naples, FL, which he calls an “off-the-cuff report and observation of a current social action effort, further details of which I know not.” He also noted the first social action involvement he had with the UU congregation in Naples, back in the late 1990s, was in support of the Immokalee farm workers, then a small union.

Here in Naples we are close to a town named Immokalee, which is the home of a large number of agricultural workers and their families. Many, if not most, of them are immigrants from Haiti, though substantial numbers of Latinos as well. The UU congregation here has long supported The Coalition of Immokalee workers, a human rights organization fighting for improved farm worker pay and working and living conditions, and against human trafficking and gender-based violence.
Rather than participate in a Fair Food Program, Wendy’s abandoned the Florida tomato industry entirely, unlike Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Subway, and Burger King.  Accordingly the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Alliance for Fair Food, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance asks that we boycott Wendy’s , the world’s third largest hamburger chain, until it joins the Fair Food Program!
I encourage UUCF SAC (if not the entire congregation) to join the Wendy’s boycott. If you’re interested in joining the boycott, the contact is <organize@allianceforfairfood.org>

Our S-P for November 21–SHIP

SHIPEd Hinde, Executive Director of the Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership—better known as SHIP—of Frederick County spoke at today’s Friendly Forum. Because I couldn’t attend, Meg Menke generously sent me answers to several questions asked.

  1. “How will our split plate money to SHIP be used?” Answer: It will be added to funds that pay for emergency overnight lodging in a local motel. SHIP pays $60 per hotel night—SHIP money is used when other agencies run our of funding or when the family shelter is full.
  2. “How does SHIP deliver or distribute items (such as clothing, food, etc.) for homeless students? Answer: Anything SHIP provides is delivered to staff at one of our county public schools who then gives to the student. (Each school has a staff person designated as the point of contact for this purpose.)

    In addition, attendees learned that SHIP is seeing a growing number of teens who are homeless and not living with a parent. They survive by “couch-surfing” at the home of a friend, relative, etc. In other words, they are homeless in the sense that their lodging is not stable. Once kids are 14, they are too old to be placed in foster care. Last summer, SHIP offered 25 of these kids a summer work/study program to help them stay in school until graduation.

SHIP to me to be a good example of a program that does not simply provide money to help homeless youth but has expanded their program to meet the growing and diverse needs of those it serves. Please give generously on Sunday, November 21.

Become a SHIPmate

BECOME A SHIPMATE – Friendly Forum November 13, 10:30am, November 20 Split-PlateSHIP

During the 2015-2016 school year homeless students were located in 61 of the 66 schools with Frederick County Public Schools. This issue cuts across all grades and all ethnicities. And the numbers continue to grow each school year. SHIP, the Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership of Frederick, MD, is active on Facebook at “SHIP of Frederick County.” It is a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity that “provides urgent services to the hundreds of Frederick County Public School students experiencing homelessness each year. We provide clothing, food, funding for extracurricular activities, and when no other options exist, emergency shelter.”

SHIP is the UUCF split-plate recipient for the November 20. The funds we give will help SHIP provide food, clothing, funding for extracurricular activities, and, when no other options exist, emergency shelter.

For more information on SHIP, go to www.ShipFrederick.com and attend the Friendly Forum on Sunday, November 13th, 10:30 a.m. Ed Hinde, Executive Director at SHIP of Frederick County, will be the speaker. Click here to follow SHIP on Facebook.

 

 

SAC Items of Interest 10/28/16: Palestinian Olive Oil Ministry, Sip’nStitich + I’m sure I’ll come up with some other stuff by Friday

Well, I started this post last week but never got it published. Here’s an updated version!

SAC Items of Interest 11/03/16: Palestinian Olive Oil Ministry, Sip’nStitich +Other Stuff 

MLK 2017 Dinner: UUCF, through the Frederick Peace & Justice Network, has actively participated in planning the Martin Luther King January dinner. Contact SAC@frederickUU dot org if you’s like to help the Social Action Committee plan and/or work at the January 16, 2017, dinner. 

img_1537Sip’nStitch will meet at Mary Kruhm’s house on Wednesday, November 9, 6pm. Bring something to share—food, a craft project, good conversation. Come ‘on, after the election you know you can use a couple of hours of relaxing down time! Contact Mary for directions.

 

 

 

Climate Change Working Group Info. of Interest: Karen Russell shared the article below about a unique idea. Click here for the full article. For more info. about the Climate Change Working Group, contact Karen Russell, 1ceramicat at comcast dot net.

Walking on sunshine: Could the future of energy be in solar sidewalks?
SANDPOINT, Idaho — Scott Brusaw has a vision for the nation’s roads. He believes the solar-powered glass pavers his company makes could transform thousands of miles of pavement into a new energy source.

His business, Solar Roadways, recently unveiled its first public installation, in a downtown plaza in this northern Idaho resort town. It’s 150 square feet of hexagon-shaped solar panels that people can walk and bicycle on.

The company is working on proof that the panels, for which it has a patent, are strong enough and have enough traction to handle motor vehicles, including semitrailers.

“Our plan is to replace all the asphalt and concrete,” said Brusaw, noting concrete occupies over 48,000 square miles in the U.S. “If you cover it with solar panels, we can make three times our energy needs.”

UU Gettysburg shared this appeal to help people in need in Adams County, PA. How about a pleasant short jaunt November 19?
Join the Gleaning Project of South Central PA at the Adams County Arts Council (125 S Washington St, Gettysburg, PA 17325) on Saturday, November 19, from noon to 2pm for a seasonal apple treat served to you in a handmade ceramic bowl. Take your empty bowl home with you to remember those whose bowls remain empty in our community. Tickets are $10 and include a handmade ceramic bowl filled with homemade apple crisp. First come first serve.
Help us raise awareness about food insecurity and raise funds for the Gleaning Project’s efforts to make good use of agricultural excess, reduce hunger, and improve nutrition in Adams County.
Our fall Empty Bowls event is in collaboration with the Winter
Farmers Market at the Adams County Arts Council. Bring a few
extra bucks to purchase fresh fruits and veggies from our local farmers. See the Facebook invitation here.

Organic Palestinian Olive Oil: Friends Meeting is selling bottles of this olive oil, $20/16.9 fl.oz., two flavors, plain or Robust Pungent. Contact Mary who will give your order and check to Annette Breiling and then deliver the oil to you at UUCF. Questions? Email annette dot breiling at gmail dot com.

UU UNO Report by Monica Greene

img_2715Many thanks to Monica Greene from UUCF and especially the Social Action Committee! Over a number of years Monica has quietly done a competent job in many social justice projects and especially in representing us at spring UU UNO conferences.  

At last Sunday’s Friendly Forum Monica said she feels that our contributing to UU UNO is an excellent and much-needed use of our split-plate collection and  shared materials she brought home from her yearly jaunt to UN headquarters in New York City.

The UU UNO theme for the year is “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally.” The UU UNO office is working especially on the following four issues related to economic inequality:

  • Increase the minimum wage.
  • Protect our planet.
  • Remove private money from US elections.
  • Criminal justice reform.

The UU UNO office, unique as a faith-based office, has developed the following graphics to illustrate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals the UN has set. As noted on the first graphic, each goal has specific targets, which should be accomplished globally by 2030.

 

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If you want full size copies of the above goals, see Monica. A copy is also posted on the door of the Social Action Cabinet in the atrium. Monica will be glad to share more information personally if you ask. And thanks, Monica, for keeping us informed about our UU work at the UN.

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