A monthly feature electronic magazine of the Ohio-Meadville District
Ever Wonder What Youth Are Doing to Make the World a Better Place In-Between Social Action Cons?
Have you ever wondered what our Youth were doing when they weren't at a district conference or event? Many of our congregations offer programs involving our youth in social justice work, enviromental work, and other areas of congregational life. This month we asked our congregations what their youth were up to and here is what we heard. The second half of this issue is devoted to district wide youth events.
Columbus to New Orleans!
The youth of First Unitarian Universalist of Columbus are heading to New Orleans. When asked about it, Jolinda Stephens, their DRE, sent in the following thoughts: "The youth of First UU Church of Columbus are organizing their first annual Justice Trip to New Orleans. They will be staying at the Rebirth Center, located in the First UU Church of New Orleans, and working on grassroots projects identified by the Rebirth Center. Their week there doesn't begin until June 12th and already the excitement is palpable. Youth who have drifted away are returning and youth whose parents are new to the church and who thought we had nothing to offer their teens are asking if they can participate. Youth who never talk about their church at school are telling their friends about it. The adults are excited and we may end up with a multi-aged trip. Youth want to make their values real in the world. We've helped them develop those values; now we want to help them live them. When we do, we all come alive."
"We chose the Rebirth Center for several reasons. The first is that their attitude to this work matches ours. This is standing in solidarity with people. The second is that they put the work in context with a class on Race and Class in what happened in New Orleans and what continues. There is more informal orientation most evenings as members of the committee that runs the Center drop in to chat. The third reason that we use them is that they make it so easy to do this work. They provide the housing and most meals, including some good New Orleans cooking, and the work sites that are carefully selected for their fidelity to what the residents express as their needs and their efficacy."
OMD Environmental Work Camp
Two years ago, the youth of First Church of Toledo went to New Orleans, themselves. They took 7 youth and 2 adults, and worked with ACORN to help repaint homes damaged by the floods. But last year this same group headed off to a project a little closer to home, to an environmental work camp in Glouster, Ohio, at the home of Susan and Evan Young of the Athens UU Fellowship, an experience that was so successful it will be repeated this year.
All the youth will be staying in a house “off the grid.” This means that all of the “utilities” normally supplied for a home from a corporation or government entity must be developed on location. This excludes LP gas for the cooking stove and water heater because trying to do this with wood is just TOO DARN HOT. Electricity is generated from solar panels and a wind generator. Water is captured through a rain catchment system and filtered into the house. Youth will be introduced to ideas that help people live in a sustainable manner and within our actual means rather than simply within a paradigm of living in a manner that we can afford financially. The Youngs live on a property that is a land trust, developed by people living on the property in an intentional community called Edges. This means that there will be other people (close neighbors) that are impacted by use of the land and so they jointly make decisions on land use. This includes the use of land to conduct this work camp. The Youngs will work out agreements ahead of time so that the work camp can be fun and noisy (if need be) but respectful of others. There is a laundry facility within a ½ mile at an old farmhouse on the property.
Susan Young says, "We live on a ridge outside of Glouster OH, so are pretty far from a town. Plan on and think through the possibility of being isolated from normal distractions (beyond all the cool youth that will attend). If you bring stuff to have fun, think about the energy required to use the stuff and plan to be frugal. We will take one night and go into town and all have dinner together somewhere and hang out/walk around in Athens, OH. Be prepared to walk around independently with a buddy or buddies, and have your cell phone handy for communication!"
The week will include participating in service projects for two different entities, Rural Action and the Wayne National Forest. Rural Action is an organization that has a primary mission helping people get involved in issues that concern them locally. They are quite involved with the environmental issues here, as people deal with the poisoning that happened in the environment from coal mining and other industries in the area. Three of the four workdays will be spent helping Rural Action with their larger projects for recovery of the local watersheds so that people and animals have clean, safe water to drink and to live in.
Wayne National Forest (we’ll spend one day there) is currently working hard to eliminate invasive species from the forest such as garlic mustard, Japanese honeysuckle, and multiflora rose. The Youngs will supply all the implements of destruction, including shovels and whatnot.
Susan forewarns prospective campers: "This workcamp will involve some hard physical labor each day outdoors and takes commitment to complete. However, we’ll work to create tasks that will work for people with different levels of physical ability and strength. It will be necessary for youth to be able to be mobile across uneven ground and (most likely) get down in water in a creek or pond that is messy and muddy. Be prepared to GET DIRTY, WORK HARD, and HAVE FUN. Bring OK-to-be-messy-in clothes, sturdy shoes, and sun screen."
"I thought it was a great way to learn various ways to be environmentally friendly while enjoying a week with a bunch of other UU youth," said Will Strickler, a Toledo UU from last year’s crew.
News Around the District
West Shore UU Church youth are holding their second, annual Homeless of Hilliard on Friday, February 5. The youth and several very brave adults will be outside on the church's front lawn overnight, to experience homelessness and to promote awareness of it to all who drive by on the church front's busy street, Hilliard Boulevard. Last year, the youth raised that awareness and over $1500 for Interact Cleveland's Homeless Standdown. This is an interfaith youth activity, so we will have youth from other houses of worship in our town.
First UU Toledo youth volunteer two Sundays per month in a classroom (1x) and in the nursery (1x) and also Usher 6 times a year. They are on the regular volunteer schedule as "Youth Group" and the advisors make sure that the positions are filled each month. Sometimes the same teens, some different, but everyone in youth group is expected to volunteer for something. It turns out that the YRUU kids are some of the most reliable volunteers we have! Our young kids love them and it gives the youth group great PR within the church.
The Maumee Valley UU Congregation's youth are planning a trip to Boston for the summer. This trip is the capstone for our Coming of Age program. The youth and their parents have been doing some serious fundraising all year, and our next fundraiser scheduled is a fancy Valentine's Day dinner. We expect approximately 15 people (youth and adults) to go on the trip, a huge group for our small congregation!
Looking for more? Check out these District Options
Interested in Interfaith Dialogue? Here's the Training - Away and Home!
Thirty-nine youth and adults from congregations across the country came together in Atlanta over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend to participate in an interfaith leadership training and service event. This included Jack Blount and Inanna Felton from UUC of Erie, Kristin Schroeder and Megan McGrath from UUC of Meadville, and Lauri Nandyal and Samantha Nandyal from First UUC of Columbus. This program, designed specifically for UU youth-adult pairs, equipped participants with the skills they would need to be interfaith leaders in their own communities. For 2-1/2 days, participants worked and played together, learning about religious pluralism, UU theology, dialogue facilitation, event planning and more. On their final day together, participants engaged in a service project benefiting a local community organization that provides housing and other resources to homeless families. Inanna says the whole weekend was "a life-changing event I will never forget." Reflecting back on it, she says, "Even though the weekend is over, the experience has not yet ended. Jack and I are extremely excited to begin our own interfaith event that we will share with the world…that is where the next experience begins." And Jack and Inanna have gotten started. They have nearly completed the work of putting together a small covenant group of local high school youth in Erie!
This event was part of a larger partnership between the Unitarian Universalist Association's Lifespan Faith Development Staff Group and the Interfaith Youth Core, made possible by a generous grant from the Shelter Rock Large Grant Fund. LFD and IFYC will also partner to produce curriculum for youth, and to lead a camp slated for August 1-6 at The Mountain. Further coverage of this event as well as details about forthcoming events are available at www.uua.org/interfaithyouth.
So, you missed your chance, you say? Not so! If you are interested in interfaith work, too, and want to bring this work to your congregation and community, have we got the opportunity for you! That same partnership between the UUA and Interfaith Youth Core the Interfaith Leadership Training for Youth and Youth Allies, is coming to district events this year, too, including our own District Assembly, March 26-27. This training will equip teams with the skills needed to return to their congregations and be leaders in the interfaith youth movement. Participants will explore what Unitarian Universalism has to say about interfaith work, learn how to run interfaith service events, network with other UUs interested in the interfaith movement, and learn how to share your own story about faith and service with people from other faiths. This training will be held in three sessions, one on Friday night on the Interfaith Youth Movement, one on Saturday morning during the business meeting on Dialogue Facilitation and the final one during the first workshop slot on Common Action for the Common Good. You do not need to attend all three sessions and congregational delegates will not be able to attend the second session. Youth are encouraged to attend and participate in this event, or attend other workshops and be youth delegates from their congregations.
Youth may also stay in alternative housing at the local church, the UU Congregation of the Ohio Valley in Bellaire, OH. There are 20 spots for youth to stay overnight at this host church. But hurry! Space will be awarded on a first come basis.
In order to attend youth must have a sponsor and complete a youth sponsor forms. These forms are available in the DA brochure and on the OMD Website. You can find more information about the Interfaith Training at theworkshop page, and find the youth forms and housing details at the registration page.
Scholarships for 1/2 the registration cost are available to participants at District Assembly. Preference will go to those who are attending as delegates for their congregations and youth who are participating in the Interfaith Leadership Training. Deadline for applications is February 26th. Please see the application form on the registration page or in the brochure for details.
Registration is now open for District Assembly. You can register online or register with a paper form. Early bird deadline is February 26th, Advance Registration closes on March 13th. After that date you must register on-site. Congregations who were full fair share with the OMD and UUA Annual Program Fund for fiscal year 2008-09 receive a $10 discount on each person's registration fee. Youth and young adults up to age 25 also receive a discounted fee. For the full registration fee listing, to see if your congregation is a full fair share congregation and to find the forms or links to online registration, visit the District Assembly registration page.
Other Multigenerational Events To Remember
There are numerous opportunities for exploring multigenerational community, in “how to”conversations and in actual settings. For instance, there will be a Multigenerational Workshop at District Assembly, on Saturday afternoon, offered by the OMD’s Acting Consultant for Lifespan Faith Development, Rev. Tom Bodie, OMD YAC Con Dean, Jodi Lincoln, and youth chaplain, Drake Dunnett. There will be a Webinar on Multigenerational Congregations offered by Rev. Bodie on April 4, 2010, from 10-12. The day-long seminar on Transforming Whiteness, an anti-racism, anti-oppression workshop, will be offered at West Shore UU Church on April 24, 2010, and it has been opened to all ages participation. That same weekend, in that same church, April 23-25, 2010 at West Shore, this spring’s Chrysalis offering in the District will be a Chaplain Training, a training open to youth, young adults and adults. Details on all these events is available at the OMD Website.
That is, the apocalypse might be coming if we don’t change some of our ways to a “Culture of Peace.” That is the premise of this year’s Social Action Con, APOCALYPTICON, from the District YAC Program at First Unitarian of Pittsburgh, February 26-28, 2010. Apocalypse is the con’s theme, and averting it is the work of the weekend. There will be workshops on the rebuilding of New Orleans, breast cancer awareness, raising money for Haiti, and food chemicals. There will be two offsite service opportunities, both on the North Side. One will be clearing trash and painting with the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing. The other will be working with the Pittsburgh Project, who runs camps for youth living on the North Side. Wanda Guthrie, who works with the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, will be leading the theme-related activity for everyone on “Building a Culture of Peace.” Just for fun, each touch group is going to be given an end of the world scenario and has to figure out how to stay alive.
And don't forget the Spring Con for all ages May 14-16, 2010 at First UU Church, Columbus, OH.
We will explore a deeper understanding of our seven principles through the seven principles of street theater. Using exciting and engaging theater games and exercises, participants will mix and match UU principles and street theater principles to bring to life a fun, short, adaptable scene with the ability to be shown on the street or during other parts of Summer Institute. For our closing performance, we will collaborate and share our creative ideas to fuse together those scenes that correspond with our agreed upon mission or goal. We will create extravagant costumes, props and staging to entertain and educate our unsuspecting audience, making for a lighthearted and fun experience that both the audience and players are sure to enjoy!
|Sarah V Michelson moved to New York City after her graduation from Ohio University, where she created an original street theatre production entitled Wake Up! for her thesis. In New York, Sarah stage-managed The Brig directed by Judith Malina (Obie Award) and Er Toshtuk at LaMama ETC. She also directed a street theater version of Camino Real by Tennessee Williams for the Provincetown and New Orleans Williams Festivals. Sarah is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist from Akron, Ohio.|
|Sara Guarnieri has been residing in New York City as an actress for the past 5 years. She is currently on an international tour with the Tony Award winning National Theatre of the Deaf, in the show Tree Wise. She is also working on the silent film Jumping Jacks currently in production. Before her tour, Sara played "Betsy Bailey" in the Looking Glass Theatre's Production of Anna's Perfect Party, as well as the role of "Hermia" in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Sara Earned her BFA in acting from Ohio University in Athens, OH, where some of her favorite productions included, Romeo and Juliet, Top Girls, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Evita.|
After the morning theme speaker’s activities, you have several workshops to choose from. Perhaps you’ve seen everyone at SI with tie-dye shirts, but you want to step things up with a pair of tie-dye shoes? Maybe you have a song you want to practice for the coffee house performance, but you’re looking for someone who can lay down a seriously funky bass line? Or after an hour of theme talks, you’re tired of sitting inside and want to get up and move around? You have a couple ideas on how youth vespers could be improved? You’re in luck, because this year’s morning workshops will include Tie Dye, Music Jams, Outdoor Games and Worship Planning.