Message from Rev. Richard ‘Bud’ Murphy, UUJF President

Just Saying 7/28/2021

 

When I am invited to hold myself or others accountable, I may feel criticized, blamed, as though I've failed to act morally or responsibly. I may try to defend myself or strive to comply just to avoid future criticism. If I process the information in this feedback as a source of guidance, I may be able to improve my performance and produce the results I desire.

Systems Theory identifies the following components of all “goal seeking” systems: inputs, throughputs, outputs and feedback. Feedback is literally observing the outputs, assessing the results and feeding that information into the system as additional inputs, informing systemic adaptation consistent with desired outputs/goals. Contrast this approach to the alternative of “blaming” often associated with accountability.

Accountability as the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions is essential to living our UU values. 

Historically some religions declared their independence from religious authority even while asserting the role of mutual accountability as a guard against false beliefs, essential to the celebration of mature religiosity.

Even open and inclusive systems must have a boundary function. The identity of the system depends on the exclusion/inclusion tension. We can make that tension creative, versus destructive by fostering an information rich resource in efforts to hold ourselves and others accountable for system stability or change whichever the circumstances require. 

Whether directed at ourselves or others, avoid using emotion as a motivator, such as using an aggressive or helpless tone. Avoid using words such as lazy, crazy, silly, stupid, bad or ugly. Instead, describe what would be captured in a video. What was said or done and what if any undesirable consequences might occur as a result. Then be prepared to Actively Listen to the reaction. No guarantees of success, but our efforts at accountability will likely be more effective.

Holding ourselves or others accountable can be experienced as a judgement and no doubt there is a judgement about the gap between what we want and what we are getting in the way of results. If we can lift our ego out of the transaction, we can be grateful for the opportunity to gain insight into what we need to do to be more effective. Whether a sport or our striving for a more just and compassionate society, accountability is essential to achieving our goals.


Richard “Bud” Murphy, UUJF Pres.

 

Legislative Update

The 2022 Legislative Session starts in January, preceded by six weeks of committee meetings beginning the week of Sept. 20 and ending the week of Nov. 29.  Form teams in your congregations or organizations and request appointments now, to meet with your legislators in their House and Senate Districts before their calendars fill up.

Edit this listing of missed opportunities from prior sessions according to interests and priorities in your group and ask that they be incorporated in legislation to be filed in the upcoming session.

1. Home Rule vs. Preemption to the State

  • Acknowledge that local officials must be entrusted to balance the

interests of property owners, residents, tourists, businesses and developers to protect the character of their neighborhoods, the environment, public health, public safety and jobs.

  • Curtail influence of special interest groups and their lobbyists
  • Require a supermajority vote for legislative preemption

2. Accountability of Police and Law Enforcement

  • Change the doctrine of ‘qualified immunity’ 
  • Ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, require use of bodycams and dashboard cameras and prohibit certain no-knock warrants.
  • Hold officers and officers accountable for misconduct and excessive of force

3. Health Care Affordability and Accessibility

  • Expand Medicaid 
  • Declare that universal and affordable health care is a human right
  • Treat mental illness, substance abuse and addiction as non criminal public health issues

4. Public School Education

  • Include the teaching of Critical Race Theory that examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism in public school curricula
  • Require charter and private schools to meet the same standards as public schools.

 5. Environmental Sustainability

  • Mitigate the causes and effects of climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Protect Florida’s aquifers, springs, rivers, coastal waters and open spaces
  • Replace pre-harvest sugar field burning with sustainable, burn-free green harvesting
  • Ban fracking

6. Representative Democracy/Election Reform

  • Restore voting rights of returning citizens who are unable to repay debts or legal financial obligations
  • Expand early-vote, vote-by-mail, and voter registration
  • Allow same day voter registration at the polls or automatic registration when applying for a driver’s license 
  • Pass the National Popular Vote Compact and Ranked Choice Voting

7. Human Rights

  • Support women’s reproductive freedoms
  • Pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act
  • Pass the Equal Rights Act
  • Reject measures that marginalize and stigmatize members of the LGBTQI+ community
  • Expand hate crimes laws

  • Ban conversion therapy

  • Recognize, acknowledge and end structural racism in health care and criminal justice

  • Affirm the Constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest

8. Public Safety

  • Require background checks for all sales of guns and ammunition 
  • Ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines
  • Send more inmates to home-based corrections programs for rehabilitation 

9. Budget and Taxation

  • Protect Affordable Housing and other Trust Fund accounts as intended in enabling legislation
  • Re-enact combined reporting, the throwback rule and eliminate corporate loopholes

10. Jobs and Economic Opportunity

  • Invest in infrastructure to support a green economy
  • Expand broadband access especially inleast wealthiest counties 
  • End cash bail and drivers license forfeiture for failure to pay fines
  • Prohibit employers from excluding felons from an initial interview for employment
  • Expunge the nonjudicial arrest records of children who completed diversion programs and keep their records private

11. Immigration

  • Repeal E-verify
  • Ensure all Floridians are trained, licensed, and insured to drive regardless of immigration status

12. Redistricting

  • Sign the Fair District pledge (https://www.fairdistrictscoalition.org)
  • Create independent non-partisan commissions to redraw district maps following each decennial census
 

UUJF Climate Resiliency Ministry

EPA Justice Grant Progress from the Climate Resilience Ministry

The United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) is a national-regional partnership working to provide new tools and forecasts to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment. Integrated ocean information is available in near real time, as well as retrospectively. The U.S. IOOS produces, integrates, and communicates high quality ocean, coastal and Great Lakes information that meets the safety, economic, and stewardship needs of the Nation.

As part of the nation's diversity inclusion efforts, the U.S. IOOS Office has shown a great commitment to making the work of environmental justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion core to what they do and how they operate within the U.S. IOOS enterprise.

On June 23, 2021, the U.S. IOOS  invited Lawanna Gelzer, the president of the Coalitions for 100 Black women, Central Florida division and Jan Booher, the Director of Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida’s Climate Resilience Ministry  to speak at the U.S. IOOS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Event. 

Both speakers discussed their knowledge, experiences and lessons learned to the office on several community projects they have led, including; 

  • Air quality in the high traffic volumes area in three historic African American Communities in the Orlando metropolitan area 
  • Sea Level Rise, Disasters Resilience and COVID response in Low Income Communities
  • Superfund Sites in Flood Zones in Tampa and Hillsborough Bays 
  • Community Science project where resident participated in coliform and depth sampling 
  • Climate change and homelessness 
  • Inclusivity with helping with the digital divide. 

The U.S. IOOS Office looks forward to learning from these experiences to promote environmental justice in the delivery of the U.S. IOOS products and services. 

Click here to view the NOAA Slide presentation:

Submitted by: Mequela Thomas, Environmental Compliance Coordinator,

NOAA/NOS
 
 

News and Events from Congregations, the UUA, UUSC and Affiliated Organizations

There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives. — Audre Lorde

Submitted by Unitarian Fellowship of Boca Raton (UUFBR)

Healing Justice Article for UUA

The Remarkable History of Hazel Johnson, Mother of the EJ Movement

by Dr. Debra N. Weiss

The public health impact of COVID-19 has highlighted serious longstanding racial health disparities in this country.  The life expectancy for all Americans dropped one full year in 2020 due to COVID-19.  For Black and Latino Americans, the life expectancy dropped 2 and 3 years, respectively, for the same time period.  Health is impacted by economic stability, education, neighborhood and built environment, health care, and social and community settings.  These social determinants of health reflect society’s ingrained racism.  Poor children of color have greater exposure to lead than do other children.  Low-income African American communities have been used as dumping grounds for hazardous waste.  Poor communities of color have not been afforded the same environmental protection as other, more affluent communities.  

The Environmental Justice movement evolved out of the civil rights movement in the 1970s.  Its founder was Hazel Johnson, a clerical worker and mother of 7, who lived in the Altgeld Gardens public housing in Chicago.  This poor, African American neighborhood was so polluted that it was dubbed the “toxic doughnut” because of the ring of hazardous waste dumped around it by surrounding industries.  This waste  polluted the air, water and soil, causing many health problems and premature deaths. Mrs. Johnson’s children had chronic rashes and respiratory problems.  Her husband, who did not smoke, got lung cancer and died.  Mrs. Johnson became an activist and found out which companies were responsible for the dumping.  She surveyed Altgeld Gardens residents about their health issues.  In 1979, she started People for Community Recovery (PCR), a not-for-profit community-based environmental organization. In 1987, PCR blockaded 57 dump trucks from unloading their waste in the neighborhood.  PCR skillfully used the media to bring its cause to the public.  The dumping was halted.  By 1992, Mrs. Johnson was attending environmental conferences in the US and abroad as the beloved “Mother of Environmental Justice.” (Chicago Public Library, 2009}

Recently, UU Fellowship of Boca Raton (UUFBR)’s Healing Justice Group has focused on a local EJ issue--namely, the pre-harvest burning of sugarcane in poor communities of color in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Sierra Club has called this burning “a toxic and outdated harvesting practice…[that] negatively impacts the health, quality of life, and economic opportunity of residents” (Sierra Club, Florida Chapter, 2021).   Other states and countries have banned or restricted sugarcane burning and now practice green harvesting.  Stop the Burn is an environmental justice campaign that seeks to replace pre-harvest sugar field burning with modern, sustainable, burn-free green harvesting. On June 21, 2021, UUFBR’s Healing Justice “Demystifying Black Lives Matter” service featured two leaders from “Muck City,” a poor, marginalized community of Palm Beach County most impacted by sugarcane burning. They have a “Go Green” campaign to promote green harvesting and stop the burning, as it has caused adverse health impacts on residents.  On August 8, UUFBR’s Healing Justice service will pay tribute to the work of Coretta Scott King, a champion of civil rights, gay/lesbian rights, and environmental justice.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He believed that, whenever we witness injustice, we must take a stand against it.  May we all be inspired by the remarkable history of Mrs. Hazel Johnson, a clerical worker and widowed mother of 7, who saw injustice, fought it, and won!  

 

Chicago Library. (2009). People for community recovery archives. Biography: Hazel M. Johnson.

 

 

UUJF Kick Start Matching Funds

What would your group like to continue working toward? 

What Beloved Community project would benefit from funding support?  

Start up, expanded reach, additional funding,  

UU Justice Florida is considering offering a funding opportunity to kick start, energize, supplement your Unitarian Universalist inspired outreach community work. The Board is thinking that a matching grant of up to $500.00 might be helpful.

Matching-What does that mean?  It means that however much you ask for, we would like you to say how your congregation’s justice group and/or your partners are contributing. Thus, the match can be  time, or/and transportation, or/and computer platform, or/and materials or/and money.

Beloved community means people working together, sharing and widening the circle. 

Tell us what you think. Share with us your possible use of a matching grant. We want the process to be simple with simple record keeping. Thus, we thought $500.00 maximum would be a practical way to start the relationship and the work.  The Board also realizes that more assistance might be needed in the future. Thus, the longest Time Line and the latest Report date is 6 months after funding is granted. If necessary ( ex. the project is going great but you need more funding  to continue the work), you can report early and ask for more funding.  See the draft Application form here. Send your comments about the amount and the application process to info@uujusticefl.org.

 

Connect with the UUA Side with Love Action Center

Working together guided by UU principles

The work that we do together to build a world in which all of us are free and thriving is interrelated. When we ground our spirits, grow our skills, and act strategically for justice in deep relationship with each other and our Movements, we choose to Side With Love.

Side with Love (SSL) Action Center is a place where we unite in work towards a world where we all thrive. Together we take action, Side With Love, and make deep impacts in this critical moment.

Will you join your UUA Beloved Community to work for a better local community, national community?

Subscribe to our newsletters:

  • Climate Justice,
  • Decriminalization, Ending Deportation & Detention
  • Democracy and Voting Rights
  • LGBTQ+ and Gender Justice
 
 

General Assembly and Justice

The Statement of Conscience
Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy
Three Actions of Immediate Witnesss (AIW)
 
 
 

The UUA General Assembly (GA) is the annual gathering of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), where delegates from member congregations conduct the business of our Association, and where all UUs are invited to gather and explore the theological underpinnings of our faith and lean fully into our mission and principles.

This year GA was held virtually again, from June 23–27. More than 4,000 individuals registered, and many more UUs attended selected programs open to the public. The business agenda included voting on business such as bylaws amendments, electing UUA Board members and others, and deciding on Actions of Immediate Witness, a Statement of Conscience, and Responsive Resolutions.

Three 2021 Actions of Immediate Witness were proposed, and all were affirmed:

The Assembly also voted to adopt the Statement of Conscience, Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy (PDF).

 

 

 
 

Please submit news and upcoming events in your congregation for the July newsletter to info@uujusticefl.org in time for publication June 25.

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Visit the UUJF website and UUJF Facebook group
View archived UUJF newsletters.
 
Does your congregation have an online sermon or event that addresses a Justice issue?
Is your congregation involved in upcoming social justice initiatives in our area? Send us a link or more information to publicize your programs and actions.
 
 

Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida Action Network
P.O. Box 1310 | Orange Park, Florida 32067
  info@uujusticefl.org

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