Meet our 2019 General Assembly Spark Leaders!

At this summer’s General Assembly, UUCSJ is excited to offer our third annual stipended leadership opportunity to alumni of our programs and related justice and leadership initiatives to support their engagement in social justice education, action, and outreach at GA. Read on to meet the team of awesome young adult justice-makers who will help “spark” connections and inspiration in the broader community of UUs gathered in Spokane, as part of our mission to inspire and sustain spiritually grounded activism for justice. Watch for them at Public Witness, the UUSC booth, at UUSC, Love Resists, and YA@GA workshops and events.


Henry 

My name is Henry Katzman and I’m excited to introduce myself as a Spark Leader. Faithful Social Justice work has been a calling I have delved into these past few years. I have been called to many projects, mostly mental health advocacy and mentorship, but recently have worked with local political protesters, women’s marchers, and immigration justice seekers. I combine this work with participation in Unitarian Universalist programming, having attended Summer Seminary (As a recently bridged youth), Meaning Makers, The Youth Ministry Revival (having participated at a young adult) and local congregational leadership.

I will be attending Lesley University in the Fall, graduating in 2023. I plan to dual major in both Sociology and Social Work, paving a path to some form of ministerial work in the future. In the meantime, before school, I plan on publishing a book (which is almost written) and incorporating a nonprofit (which is also almost done), based around community gardening for marginalized folks. While serving as a Spark Leader, I hope to connect with young adults across the country, networking, listening, and advocating for what the future of social justice work looks like in our faith.

I look forward to meeting people at GA; if you see me feel free to say hi!


Kaitlin 

For a long part of my life I thought that I was alone. I didn’t know that there were other people who looked, thought and shared experiences like me. I couldn’t comprehend that someone could live life as their full authentic self, and that place of isolation was dark. I decided that my life had worth, and so did every single other person’s, and the spark within me was lit. At the time, I didn’t have the words to express the racism and discrimination I felt blatantly and insidiously through micro-aggressions. As my journey continued and the fight for my life and for others’ got stronger and harder, I felt my world blossom and bloom into a full flame when I found Unitarian Universalism. Even beyond that, when I attended UUCSJ’s GROW Racial Justice / THRIVE program, I met friends and family who affirmed me and loved all of me. Now because of that, I am able to be my authentic fat, biracial, pansexual, musical and silly self. Once you’ve seen the brilliance of that fully formed flame, there is no turning back. It is my hope in life to help spark other’s flames and lend some kindling or to fan a flame when times are tough. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve on UUCSJ’s 2019 GA Spark team! 


KellyAnn

KellyAnn was born and raised in Spokane, WA where she attended the UU Church of Spokane throughout her childhood – she is so excited for this opportunity to once again be UU-ing in her hometown! After being involved in a campus UU group in college and spending a year in the Quaker Voluntary Service, she now lives in Rhode Island with her sweetheart and (too) many tomato plants. She spends her working hours as an Americorps VISTA helping efforts to end childhood lead poisoning, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, reclaiming gossip, trying to learn Spanish, attending free community trainings, singing random snatches of songs, and going to meetings (especially at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, where she is on the Sanctuary Committee).

Lately, her spark has been fueled by the presences and lessons of those who have stayed with the struggle – through difficulties, barriers, heartbreaks, and time.


 

Chloe

Chloe is a 21-year-old member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno-Clovis, California. She’s a senior at CSU Fresno majoring in Strategic Communication, and some of her favorite pastimes include traveling, eating, and writing. As an alum of Luminary Leaders, Activate, Thrive, Grow, and Meaning Makers, she loves having the opportunity to connect and support fellow youth and young adults. Fun Fact! If you give Chloe a sticker, pin, or button, she may just give you a high five. As she enters into her third General Assembly, Chloe’s looking forward to joining others in discussing, supporting, and building the Power of We.

5 Reasons to Visit the UUCSJ Booth at GA

5 Reasons to Visit the UUCSJ Booth at GA

Are you going to Kansas City for the UUA’s General Assembly 2018? UUCSJ is and we would love to have you stop by our booth to say hello. If you need some convincing, here are the top 5 reasons YOU should visit us at GA!


One
Get this year’s button!

Every year, we at UUCSJ pick a quote that connects to the theme at GA and spreads a message aligned with our values. General Assembly is your first (and often last) chance to get each button as we never print more than what we bring with us. Stop by our booth in the exhibit hall (this year we are with the UUSC) and grab yours.


2Talk to UUCSJ staff, Program Leaders and Alumni Leaders

As usual, Heather (our Senior Associate for Outreach, Enrollment and Administration) will be at the booth the most often, but you will also have chances to talk to Deva Jones (Senior Associate for Service Learning and Internships), Gina Collignon (Senior Associate for Immersion Learning), the Rev. Kathleen McTigue (our Director), our three alumni leaders and maybe even some of our fabulous program leaders.


3
Get a daily meditative reading in

This year, we will have a daily meditation at our booth, so wander by and take some time to spiritually center yourself during the hustle and bustle of GA.


4
Ask about our new congregational starter kits

Are you interested in getting a group from your congregation on one of our immersion learning journeys? Do you want more people to know about our internship and volunteer programs? Ask about our new congregational starter kits full of information and promotional materials to help you inspire social justice activism in your church.


5
The ribbons of course!

We have ribbons, yes we do. We have ribbons so can you! Stop by our booth and sign up to receive our monthly newsletter (or let us know you already are signed up) and we’ll give you one of our UU College of Social Justice ribbons to add to your collection.

UUCSJ Alumni Leaders At General Assembly 2018

UUCSJ Alumni Leaders At General Assembly 2018

This year, UUCSJ is excited to have three alumni leaders joining us in Kansas City for General Assembly. These three young adults have all participated in at least one of our immersion learning programs and are excited to assist with workshop facilitation and promotion, do some in-person and social media outreach, and help connect youth and young adult attendees to social justice opportunities at GA and to UUCSJ’s current array of programs. Meet this year’s alumni leaders below!


Rachael Milles

Alumni leader Rachael MillesRachael cultivated a passion for justice work growing up in the UU faith. She has served in various leadership roles both within her home congregation Main Line Unitarian Church, and on the national level at GA. She is grateful to MLUC for both “being the village that raised her” and helping her to attend UUCSJ’s Haiti service-learning trip.

Six months ago, Rachael moved cross-country to Tucson, Arizona to work in immigration justice, inspired by her first GA in Phoenix, AZ. She works with the Mayor’s office helping promote citizenship in the city and volunteers with No More Deaths, Keep Tucson Together, and the Tucson Samaritans. She envisions a country without borders where families are a pillar of immigration policy.

Favorite Quote: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Lilla Watson


Rosemary Dodd

Alumni Leader Rosemary DoddRosemary is a recent graduate of Wellesley College, where she studied Political Science and Spanish. After interning with RAICES Texas in the summer of 2016, she has deepened her commitment to working towards the end of family detention and for immigration justice. A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, she is excited about youth leadership and young adult involvement. She lives in Northern California and enjoys reading, crafts, cooking, and hanging out with her dog.

Favorite Quote: “Finding the right songs and singing them over and over is a way to start. And when one person taps out a beat, while another leads into the melody, or when three people discover a harmony they never knew existed, or a crowd joins in on a chorus as though to raise the ceiling a few feet higher, then they also know there is hope for the world.” -Pete Seeger


Alumni Leader Abby CrumAbby Crum

Abby Crum is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a BA in linguistics. She is a life long UU and hopefully a future seminarian. She has worked with the College of Social Justice as a summer justice intern in New Orleans with the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal. She is excited and grateful to be part of the Alumni Leadership team at GA this year.

Favorite Quote: “The final word is love” – Dorothy Day

UUCSJ at General Assembly 2018

UUCSJ at General Assembly 2018

We’re just about a month away from the UUA’s General Assembly 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri! The theme this year is All Are Calledand we at UUCSJ are getting excited to connect with so many UUs from all across the country and around the world.

This year, we have three workshops that we hope those of you attending will check out.


Kathleen and Padre Melo at a protest in Honduras

Kathleen and Padre Melo at a protest in Honduras

Saying Yes and Saying No

(Thu, June 21, 1:30PM-2:30PM)

Our common impulse to try to respond to every justice issue is a recipe for ineffectiveness and burn-out. This meditative practice helps participants get centered in their deepest calling, and recognize that saying YES is served by the imperative to also say NO, in order to focus attention and energy

Presenter: Rev. Kathleen McTigue

Love Resists Criminalization

(Thu, June 21, 3:00PM-5:30PM)

Criminalization is a tactic used throughout the country to dehumanize whole communities, especially Black activists, immigrants, and Muslims. This workshop offers ways to resist through grassroots partnerships, spiritual grounding, ongoing learning, and practical tools for action including direct accompaniment, creative forms of community protection, and campaigns to end cash bail.

Presenters: Viridiana Martinez, Hannah Hafter, Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Rev. Kathleen McTigue

Gina and Marissa in Nicaragua

Gina and Marissa in Nicaragua

Liberation of the Imagination: Art, Games & Social Change

(Thu, June 21, 3:00PM-5:30PM)

All are called to engage our creative spirits in the work of making change. Participants will explore ways to confront injustice through artistic expression and the creation of interactive games. We’ll discuss how art and play helps generate constructive feedback and builds skills that can transform our activism and ourselves. This will be a youth-focused workshop, open to participants of all ages.

Presenters: Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario, Gina Collignon, and UUCSJ Alumni Leaders

 


UUCSJ staff and partners are also involved with some of the workshops and events hosted by our parent organization UUSC. Learn more about that at https://www.uusc.org/general-assembly-2018/

If you’re coming to GA, please consider joining us at these workshops and events, stop by the UUCSJ table to say hello, and stay tuned for other opportunities to connect by downloading the General Assembly app and following UUCSJ on social media ( Facebook | Twitter | Instagram).

UUCSJ By The Numbers

UUCSJ By The Numbers

The UU College of Social Justice was jointly founded in the summer of 2012 by the UUA and UUSC, so this year we are celebrating a big anniversary. We are grateful for all of our alumni and supporters who have made our work possible!

In honor of of all of you and our anniversary, here is CSJ by the numbers (as of October 2017).

 

 

UUCSJ has been inspiring and sustaining faith based action for social justice for 5 years!

 

During our 5 years, we have run 39 immersion journeys for adults, with a total of 470 participants (78 of whom were ministers, DREs or seminary students).

 

Through 18 week-long youth focused immersion learning journeys and training programs as well as three one-day offerings during General Assembly, 392 youth have experienced how Unitarian Universalism can inform their work for justice.

 

We have placed 65 interns in summer-long immersion internships in over 15 different grassroots justice organizations.

 

We have sent 53 skilled volunteers to placements with partner organizations for between one to 8 weeks. Most of those placements were lawyers and Spanish speakers working with RAICES in San Antonio Texas to help the women and children detained in Karnes.

 

Total participants across our programs totals 1,063. This number does not include collaborative training programs like the UU-UNO Spring Seminar and the Goldmine Youth Leadership program which extend our reach even further!

 

Of the participants who have completed an impact assessment form, 88% said that, as a result of their journey, they have a deeper sense of the connection between their faith and the role it can play in social justice.

 

Participants – both those who came as individuals and those traveling in a congregational delegation – came from 260 congregations representing nearly every state in the country.

But Have You Cried Together?

But Have You Cried Together?

Mara Iverson is a young adult from the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, VT who recently participated in UUCSJ and the UUA’s GROW Racial Justice 2017 in New Orleans. Mara is a member of Central Vermont SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) and is the co-chair of the diversity and inclusion working group on the university campus where she works.


“Yeah, but have you cried together? Because we have,” a Thrive participant stressed.

I, a Shift participant, responded, “Well, we teared up at one point. So, I guess we white-people-cried.”

I have spent the weeks since our time in New Orleans this June thinking hard about the importance of the question “but have you cried together.”

For context, Grow Racial Justice is a program intended to “equip UU young adults of color (Thrive) and white UU young adults (Shift) with the skills, spiritual grounding, and community to engage in racial justice work within and beyond our Unitarian Universalist faith.” In the Shift cohort we dove into understanding the culture of white supremacy that is part of us and that we contribute to.

We started by writing a covenant that was meant to guide us and also acknowledge that we would break our promises. And it was intended to give us the means to come back together in love when that happens. The covenant helped us as we considered hard realities about white supremacy culture. We recognized how we strive for perfection and fear mistakes. We thought about how white supremacy culture lets us make excuses.

I want to draw your attention to words I used: considered, recognized, thought. We spent most of our time together thinking. We dwelled in our heads trying to memorize and practice. That, friends, is so white. It is so white to try to memorize our way to perfect understanding. Sure, we have to have information, but injustice is not just about facts and figures. It is about deep feelings

During an activity from the Beloved Conversations curriculum we explored the values that drive us toward our justice-seeking goals and the values that stop us from reaching those goals. We ended up wading into what secretly terrifies and freezes us. Suddenly we realized our racism is bound up in our own weakest places. From that time on we were differently bonded and open. But we had still only scratched the surface.

There was a painful moment just before the program ended when we had to face that even with our best intentions we sometimes still do harm. So we started again. We read our covenant again and recommitted to it. We shared feelings. Some of us cried. Some of us held hands or leaned against each other. Then with hearts laid open we brought our broken voices together to sing Spirit of Life.

I cannot do the work of racial justice with my mind alone. I cannot just watch documentaries or even just call legislators. I have to grieve that I contain and must unlearn white supremacy. I have to show up with vulnerability. I have to let love crack me open so that when I cry it will not be to weaponize my guilt. It will be to create bonds that hold me accountable to people of color and other allies as I teach my spirit to shift.

UUCSJ COVID-19 Update

As news of the  COVID-19 virus unfolds, we at the College of Social Justice are assessing next steps. While we are all in a state of uncertainty, we are acting with caution for the well-being of our participants, partners, staff, and most vulnerable community members.

With the guidance of the UUA, UUSC, and recommendations from the CDC, and in communication with our friends and partners, we have decided to postpone all CSJ in person programing (youth visits, journeys, etc) through May 2020. Those participants have been notified and we are grateful for the understanding, love, and support we have received in response.

These are the only programs that have been postponed for now, but things may change as we receive more information. We are also thinking of creative ways to bring more of our programming online and would love to hear ideas from you!

 We are all in community together and we are grateful for the ways in which you choose to show up, bear witness, and take action for the communities and partners we serve. Please be safe and if there is anything that we can do to be supportive of you, don’t hesitate to reach out.