UUSC begins Haitian garden project

This spring, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is inviting congregations to help families in Haiti plant vegetable gardens. Congregations are being asked to raise money to buy the necessary tools and seeds to enable Haitian families to grow their own food.

The Rev. Katherine Jesch, former director of environmental ministry for the UU Ministry for Earth, says that $250 will allow one family to be trained and supplied with tools and seeds for a garden. The UUSC hopes to raise enough so that 100 families can plant gardens.

Jesch said that individuals, youth groups, congregations, and other groups are being encouraged to support this project. She noted, “Once Haitian families don’t have to buy all their food they are better able to cover other basic expenses, like school fees for their children. Food sustainability can be at the heart of thriving families and communities.”

Donations of amounts smaller than $250 will also accepted. Visit the UUSC website for more information.

Social justice events to engage youth

Youth who want to pursue social justice interests this summer have several offerings to choose from through the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice.

There will be a gathering of youth on June 25 in Providence, R.I., the first day of General Assembly, to get acquainted and learn about the issue of raising the minimum wage. The event is described as “a primer for all youth who care about social justice, even if they are unsure where to begin.”

In partnership with the UU Living Legacy Project, both youth and adults are invited on the Mississippi Civil Rights Journey, July 5–12, honoring the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and exploring the continuing struggle to preserve voting rights. 
Application deadline is May 19. Cost is $1,280. Financial aid is available.

In July and August there will be three youth justice trainings in New Orleans, Boston, and Seattle. In partnership with local organizations, youth will learn about the realities of oppression and build skills needed to enact social change. The cost is $840, $1,860, and $1,100, respectively, plus transportation costs. Financial aid is available. Reservations are due by May 4, May 11, and June 1, respectively.

GA rebate offered to presidents

Presidents of congregations can get a $100 rebate on General Assembly registration fees this year.

The Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees hopes the incentive will entice presidents to come to General Assembly 2014, which will be June 25-29 in Providence, R.I. There is one rebate per congregation. It can be claimed by presidents-elect and chairs of governing boards, as well as presidents.

Those coming to GA would pay the full registration fee, which is $335 if paid by April 30 and then submit a rebate claim.

UUA Moderator Jim Key said the board approved the rebate because it wants as many presidents as possible to come to GA to take part in discussions “about the future of our faith and our Association.” The board has been working on ways to transform GA so that it is more meaningful to congregational leaders, more economically accessible, and more useful as a way to discuss big questions about UUA governance and the UUA’s mission.

In addition to sending presidents or board chairs to GA, the board is also asking congregations to elect people who will commit to serving as GA delegates for two years so there can be continuity in decision-making. A longer article on the rebate is at uuworld.org. Key’s letter to congregations about the rebate is here.

 

College of Social Justice needs our hands

The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice has a number of justice-oriented trips planned for the rest of 2014 and into next year to places including Haiti, Mexico, and India.

It is also offering Youth Justice Trainings in Boston, New Orleans, and Seattle, and it has twenty summer-long Global Justice Internships available for college-aged young adults. The internships are focused on issues that include justice for restaurant workers, immigration rights, and the right to water.

Internships are unpaid, but interns may apply for a cost-of-living stipend to cover basic living expenses and local transportation. Full information on all these programs is on the UU College of Social Justice website.

 

Restaurant workers subject of UUA Common Read

All Unitarian Universalists are invited to read the book Behind the Kitchen Door this winter and spring. The book, by Saru Jayaraman, is the 2013-14 UUA Common Read. Congregations are encouraged to use the book as part of adult education and book group discussions and also in worship, as a way of reflecting on congregants’ dining-out practices and the lives of those who create and serve restaurant meals.

The book describes how restaurant workers live on very low wages, and how poor working conditions, including discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens, affect the meals that are served to us. The author, who launched a national restaurant workers organization after 9/11, tells the stories of ten restaurant workers in cities across the United States as she explores the political, economic, and moral implications of eating out.

She explains that what is at stake is not only our own health, but the health and well-being of the second largest private sector workforce—10 million people, many of them immigrants and many of them people of color.

The author is cofounder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an organization working to improve conditions for restaurant workers. The book is a resource for the new minimum wage campaign announced July 18 by the UU Service Committee and the UUA. The campaign has a goal of raising the minimum wage to $10. The book, published by Cornell University Press earlier this year, is available from the UUA Bookstore for $21.95, with discounts for multiple copies. The book includes a free discussion guide.

Certification deadline is February 3

The UUA’s online system for annual certification of membership for UU congregations is now open. All congregations are required to log in to their online accounts and submit this report before the deadline on Monday, February 3 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Congregations must submit their certified number of members and financial statistics from their recently ended fiscal year, including total operating expenditures. Learn more and review the certification process online, or contact data_services@uua.org with questions.

Congregations that do not certify by the deadline are not eligible to send voting delegates to General Assembly 2014.

Congregations can use their online accounts throughout the year to update their lists of member names and addresses to ensure delivery of UU World magazine. Changes in leadership can also be recorded throughout the year using the my.UUA.org account system.

Thirty Days of Love campaign set

The calendar of activities for Standing on the Side of Love’s annual 30 Days of Love program is now available on the SSL website. The program, designed as a month-long spiritual journey and commitment to sustained social action and service, begins January 18 and culminates February 16.

This is the third year for the campaign, which invites and encourages congregations and individual UUs to engage in a different act of social justice for each of the thirty days. Congregations are invited to sign up and to share their activities on the website during the campaign. The campaign will also include opportunities for personal transformation.

The campaign will send an email about each day’s theme, but congregations and individuals can also plan ahead to identify or develop activities in their own areas that fit that theme.