Project Update: Bending...
We now have an extraordinary collection of video interviews and archival material illustrating almost all aspects of the Civil Rights Movement both during the 1960s (and earlier) and today.
Climate Impact & Environmental Inequity: Toward Justice for All
This assembly will promote dialogue among Environmental Justice Leaders, and with people of faith and conscience in order to foster relationships, catalyze collaborative efforts, and increase civic engagement.
We would like to provide scholarships to community leaders, who are fighting to get their neighbors organized to protect health and safety on the frontlines of climate change in the state of Florida; where existing inequities in infrastructure investment and disaster response compound chronic environmental health challenges posed by proximity to traffic and industrial waste in low income communities of color. After last year’s Assembly, FL-iCAN! decided to return to Parramore this year, to provide tours during the Assembly, to take up climate equity, and to involve leaders from Florida Environmental Justice communities on the frontlines of Climate Change in the design of the 2019 Assembly.
UUJF and the other affiliates of FL-iCAN! value the participation of the EJ leaders in the design of the assembly. The EJ Leaders have completed a survey regarding what programming would be meaningful for them. Lawanna Gelzer, the community leader from Parramore who will be coordinating the tours, has been serving on the Steering Committee Circle this year, and participating in program design. Programming will include: story and best practice sharing, tours of the Parramore neighborhood, communication skill-building, and time for praise and celebration of what’s been accomplished.
Here are some of the environmental justice leaders we would like to provide scholarships so they can attend:
Eric Bason is a resident of Shorecrest, Miami, which sits on some of the lowest lying land in Miami. He participated as a community leader in a UUJF Rising Together project in 2017 that addressed tidal flooding, and the public health effects of climate change in his neighborhood. He is currently providing leadership for his community in the Florida Disaster Resilience Initiative to increase resilience and hurricane preparedness, and to advocate for infrastructure upgrades.
Lawanna Gelzer is the founder of the Community Empowerment Project in Parramore, Orlando, a historically black community surrounded by highways, with two Superfund sites that have released volatile organic compounds and petroleum by products into the environment. Orlando has also created an Economic Opportunity Zone that is also a Brownfield area. This provides incentives for remediation of the toxins, and requires redevelopment after remediation. The Brownfield policy has fueled aggressive gentrification and displacement, and provides no funding for residents to test for toxins on their property. Lawanna’s non-profit, The Community Empowerment Project, educates residents about the environmental toxins, has advocated for a community health disparities study, and opened dialogue with the city about moving the dumpster storage site away from homes, where residents complain of rodents.
Crystal Johnson is the founder of Community Forum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit in Dunbar, Ft. Myers that supports programs that help children and families living in underserved areas, and empowers the community through education and collective collaborations. In addition to their work on improving communication between parents and schools; promoting dialogue among the faith community, the police and the community; and promoting wellness, the Foundation is taking on hurricane preparedness to address the inequities in disaster response experienced after Hurricane Irma.
Janice Lucas is a civic leader in Panama City in Bay County, which is still in a critical phase of recovery from Hurricane Michael. In her position as After School Program Director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County, Janice has seen the effects of Hurricane Michael on her community, and especially on families with children. She is currently working with a church to create a micro enterprise loan fund to offer startup business loans that have training or education as a requirement.
Kina Green-Phillips lives in South Bay, Florida, where she has started Her Queendom Ministry to teach girls and women about how to protect their health and the health of their families. A big part of that is learning the truth about the “black snow”: ash that falls from the sky when the sugar companies burn the fields. Kirin is providing leadership for her community in a Sierra Club effort to get Green Harvesting rather than sugar cane burning due to its effects on the health of residents and their quality of life.
Here is the portion of the Assembly Budget devoted to Scholarships for Environmental Justice Leaders:
Environmental Justice Expenses
|Van for Parramore Tours|
|Scholarships (EJ Community Guests: 8 Traveling Guests/Spokespersons + 17 Parramore residents)||25||$60||$1,500|
|Guest/Spokespersons||Quantity||Attendees||Tax & Surcharge||Unit Cost||Line Item Total||Category Total|
|Food not covered by Assembly fee||4||8||$1||$15||$480.90|
|Total EJ Expenses||$3,799|
RELIEF FUND Hurricane Michael Rebuild
This is a Disaster Relief campaign. The “All-or-Nothing” goal is removed. All pledges made will be processed.
On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall just east of Panama City, FL. Michael was just two mph shy of a Category 5 according to USA Today. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bay County was hit hard. The main building sustained roof damage but is otherwise ok. The two Religious Education buildings sustained much more significant damage. And approximately 63 trees have been broken and must be removed. In addition to the damage to our church home, many congregation members’ homes have been damaged as well, and some have already been declared a total loss by their insurance adjusters. This storm will take decades to recover from.
And yet, we have a lot to be grateful for. Every person connected to this congregation survived the storm. We have received some financial assistance for our main building, tree removal, and even to help some people in our community who were the most impacted by the storm. What we haven’t found funding for yet, is to repair or replace our Religious Education buildings. That’s where you come in.
As the community is working to put the pieces back together, our children need somewhere to gather. They need a little glimmer of hope. Maybe you can be that light?
This campaign is for $5,000 but that’s just a start to get us going. Any help you can give would be appreciated.
New Living Learning Laboratory at The Mountain!
And, we want even more people of all ages to experience what our unique Western North Carolina mountain environment has to offer. With your support of this innovative project, you can help us realize our vision of creating dynamic, experiential education center–our new Living Learning Laboratory. Perhaps you have been to The Mountain, recently or in the past, as a camper, program participant, retreat guest, volunteer or day visitor. If you have never been to The Mountain, we hope this exciting new project will motivate you to come and experience it for yourself.
What: The Living Learning Laboratory space will be the activity hub, resource center, and indoor work area for our Many Hands Peace Farm and established Farm Apprenticeship Program. This increased space will enable us to expand our educational programs for area school students and community groups, summer campers, retreat guests, and Unitarian Universalists from around the Southern Region.
The Living Learning Laboratory will be an organized educational space designed to be accessible, interactive, and inspiring for kids and adults alike. It will serve many functions: a demonstration space for examples of sustainable agro-ecology, a processing and storage station for produce and herbal products, farm stand, mushroom production, library, and classroom. This space will be the hub for our growing array of farm, wildcrafting, and edible forage tours, summer camp and local schools programming, and community workshop offerings. It will also house a year-round office space for the Farm Managers, seasonal farm apprentices, and volunteers.
This new facility will provide the necessary infrastructure to accomplish the following objectives:
- Educate 250+ summer campers each year with positive ecological solutions to real-world problems.
- Increase gourmet and medicinal cultivated mushroom production at least two-fold.
- Wash and process 100% of our harvests on the farm adhering to GAP standards.
- Sell produce and herbal products directly to farm visitors.
- Expand our indoor microgreen cultivation to at least three different varieties of crops.
- Increase and systematize product storage capacity for the farm.
- And provide a classroom to offer a wide array of onsite workshops, rain or shine.
For several years we have partnered with local school groups to plan farm field trips. These field trips offer students an opportunity to engage with and learn about the possibilities of regenerative farming and to understand how their food and medicine can be sustainably produced. As of 2018 we offer wild edible and medicinal plants tours, as well as workshops to summer campers, adult groups, and local community members. In 2019, we will be offering a new Farm Camp week to our already popular summer MountainCamps programming.
Another recent development is the Many Hands Peace Farm Food Forest, an educational and perennial foodscape designed to demonstrate an alternative agro-ecological system for food production. The Food Forest is newly established, with a goal of producing regional foods, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration services, while educating visitors on the possibilities for regenerative farming in other wooded areas.
The farm borders a small high-altitude meadow and bird sanctuary habitat protected and managed by local partners to increase native pollinator habitat. The Mountain and our Farm staff were fortunate to receive a Bayer Feed a Bee grant in 2017, for the purpose of developing our pollinator forage habitat.
We want to build upon these highly successful initiatives by creating this Living Learning Laboratory. With your donation of any amount through this Faithify project, you can make this vision a reality!
Why: Many Hands Peace Farm was founded in 2009 as working and educational farm intended to inspire learners of all ages with agro-ecological examples of positive change that can be brought back to their communities. The farm is located on conservation land trust property in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, which shapes all we do to responsibly manage the property and land use. We are committed to sustainability and the practices of low/no-till cultivation, completely natural fertilizers and supplements, and ethical wildcrafting practices, and demonstrating the possibilities of producing food and medicine without degrading soil, water, and wildlife habitats.
We believe in the importance of harvesting one’s own food and other beneficial plants with reciprocity and sustainability in mind. Our commitment is to facilitate the formation of personal relationships with the land, to nurture, sustain, and heal our natural environment and wildlife, as well as ourselves. In accordance with these beliefs, the Living Learning Laboratory facility will enable our Many Hands Peace Farm staff to expand our educational programs. immersive and practical farm tasks such as harvesting, seeding, planting, mushroom inoculation, and mixed-flock rotational poultry management.
How: We will be renovating an underused vintage stable structure to convert it to a functional and accessible facility for the functions and purposes described above. Some funding has already been raised toward the costs of basic materials for renovating the structure–flooring, electrical wiring, insulation, doors, windows, lighting and heating. This Faithify funding will enable us to complete these renovations and create the classroom, storage, and work spaces.
And guess what? There is even greater incentive to inspire you make a gift to this Faithify project and double your awesomeness…thanks to two generous Mountain supporters, we can double your donation up to $5,000!
When: The stable renovation and conversion process is scheduled to take place between November 2018 and the April 2019, in time for spring farming and environmental programs to begin. Most of the renovation will be done by skilled volunteer crews and work programs, under the supervision of our Facilities Manager and designed in collaboration with our Farm Managers.
Wellness Yoga for Petree Elementary School Students
The UU Fellowship of Winston Salem, NC, is raising $4,000 to enable Petree Elementary School to continue and expand its highly-effective yoga program.
Our Fellowship has a longstanding relationship with this Title I majority-minority school in our community. In 2015, with the help of a grant from the Mayor ‘s office and instruction from a non-profit called “Breathing Access,” the school implemented a yoga program for third-grade students to help them cope with the stress of crucial end-of-grade testing.
Yoga teaches a life-long practice of stress reduction and physical health. Yoga instruction improves behavior and focus, reduces anxiety and aggressive behavior, and supports children dealing with trauma. At Petree Elementary yoga has been used as an alternative to detention and other punishments with great success.
Although the program showed positive results and great potential, funding for this year is insufficient to continue and expand the program.
Funds we raise will reinstate the vital third-grade program and expand the program to fourth and fifth-grade students for a weekly elective class. This money will also give staff training in how to assist children exhibiting behavioral issues and to assist children dealing with trauma.
BUILDING LIFELONG SKILLS FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
Yoga empowered the students at Petree to feel in control of their bodies, and it gave them tools to calm their minds. As the children work together, they see each other as partners and develop compassion and empathy for each other. This program is extremely important for all students, especially those who have experienced trauma. Yoga helps them build resilience and teaches them a skill which can benefit them throughout their lives.
Christine Bloomfeld, yoga instructor at Petree
Dr. Essie McKoy, the principal of Petree Elementary who initiated the yoga program, observed an improvement in the behavior of the third-grade students participating in yoga. According to Dr. McKoy, those benefits included:
- Fewer disciplinary issues and fewer out-of-school suspensions;
- Less reactive behavior and an increased ability to reflect and devise alternative responses to conflict and stress inside the school, in the home, and in the community;
- Creation of relationships with other students outside of their normal interactions due to the different team techniques incorporated during yoga;
- Cohesion and trust within the small group exercising together;
- Increased creativity and increased enjoyment in being involved;
- Increased self-confidence.
In addition, some parents reported that their children lost unwanted weight during the program.
Dr. McKoy’s aim was to address the needs of the whole child. As the program unfolded, Dr. McKoy noticed that the children’s vocabularies increased as they were exposed to new postures and techniques. Yoga practice increased the students’ mental capacities and gave them a new sense of belonging to something special. More importantly, the children became excited about the program and specifically asked for the “yoga lady.”
This program, along with Dr. McKoy’s emphasis on the “whole child” improved academic scores. Petree began with a -3.32 EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) growth index, and in a short amount of time, achieved a +2.24 EVAAS growth index, exceeding expected growth. As a result Petree became a “Piedmont Signature School.”
BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN
Dr. Marlynn Wei wrote in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog:
Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12). Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
Emerging research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also boost school performance in children with ADHD. A growing number of schools now integrate yoga and mindfulness into physical education programs or classroom curriculums, and many yoga studios offer classes for school-age children. Yoga can be playful and interactive for parents and children at home, as well.
Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor, “More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children,” posted January 29, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-just-a-game-yoga-for-school-age-children-201601299055
“Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children ages 6 to 12.” ~ Harvard Medical School Health Blog
Most children in under-served schools in our county do not have the opportunity for the enrichment that this yoga program provides. Nevertheless, these students are the most in need of practices to help them with in-school and out-of-school stress and trauma. Yoga enables them to self-calm and to be less reactive in stressful situations.
Your generous contribution will ensure that this program is renewed. Please help us create a focus that is positive and restorative.
Help John get...
My name is John Bloom-Ramirez, and I am a recent graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School. I am scheduled to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee on September 28, 2018 and really could use assistance in funding my trip to Boston. I am currently underemployed – working for now 7 hours a week for a local church as their office administrator, so we are living off my husband’s income as an hourly supervisor at Disneyland. Making ends meet otherwise has been rough, and this assistance will help me complete this extensive journey toward fellowship!
Shelter Neck Summer...
Shelter Neck Summer Youth Camp, located in Burgaw, NC, provides a haven for UU youth across the state to grow in their identity. Each summer, youth come together for an engaging week at our historic UU property. Camp is staffed by UU adults from several congregations, including religious educators, seminary students, former campers, and folks committed to ministering with children and youth. Campers’ needs are at the top of our list, and providing a safe, fun, fulfilling and joyous experience is an endeavor that not every family can afford. Because of our commitment to UU youth, we provide generous scholarship funds to families who may not otherwise have the resources to send their child(ren) to camp. Please help us meet the needs of these families so that we can continue our mission and build fellowship.
Plano, TX Youth Service Trip to New Orleans
We are sending youth and adults from Community UU Church to New Orleans on June 12-17. They will work with local partners to learn more about the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina and to add their labor to current projects.
We can send our largest group ever if you help us meet or exceed our Faithify goal of $750.
Since the first New Orleans service trip in 2010, this service trip has grown to include more and more youth. Last year 7 youth and 7 adults participated. This year 12 youth and 7 adults signed up for the trip.
Our youth group is growing! The youth group has increased from 8 in 2017 to over 12 youth attending every Sunday. For the early May bake sale, 21-24 junior and senior high youth created wonderful treats in a member’s kitchen. The advisors regularly need to recruit additional volunteers to staff the youth classes. We are running to catch up with this growth.
Between fundraising throughout the year and grant applications, we are within $2200 of our goal to fund the service trip. This Faithify project is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.
Why do we go to New Orleans? The recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina continues for many neighborhoods in the area. For the past eight years, members of Community Unitarian Universalist Church have been coordinating with local organizers in New Orleans to complete individual projects for area residents. Members have an ongoing relationship with the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (http://celsjr.org). The Center for Ethical Living has its offices in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (http://firstuuno.org).
This year our housing expenses will support another service organization. We will stay at Molly’s House, a mission of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans (https://www.trinitynola.com/mission).
AID Atlanta Fund Raiser
AID Atlanta has been providing HIV/AIDS-related services, care, and education since its inception in 1982. The agency was established in response to the devastating impact that HIV/AIDS was having on gay men in Atlanta. In the face of fear and bigotry, founding members volunteered their time to provide support and education. The organization quickly expanded to engage Black and Latino populations and meet the evolving needs of our diverse community in response to the epidemic. Today, AID Atlanta offers a broad range of services and has grown to be the most comprehensive AIDS service organization in the Southeast. AID Atlanta currently offers HIV/AIDS prevention and care services, including (but not limited to) Primary Care, HIV/STD Screening, PrEP, Community HIV Prevention Programs, Linkage Services, Case Management, and a state-wide Information Hotline. The mission of AID Atlanta is to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life of its members and the community by breaking barriers and building community.
AID Atlanta is driving its strategic direction to achieve our vision to get record numbers of individuals tested and quickly linked to care. We are on target to achieve significant milestones towards the Agency’s transformation. Exciting ongoing initiatives include, expanded behavioral health and case management services and an onsite 340B and retail pharmacy.
In the area of HIV outreach and education, AID Atlanta continues to actively work in communities of high impact to reach those most at risk of HIV and/or living without knowing their status.